Day 45: 07 May 2014; Crooklands to Windermere
|Date||Wed 07 May 2014||Start to end time||07h 54m|
|Start point||Crooklands||End point||Windermere|
|Miles today||20.44||Cu miles||840.18|
|Ft today||2,013||Cu ft||117,331|
|Route miles left||644.65||Route ft left||81,426|
|Today’s weather||Grey and overcast first thing; started raining about 11 am, continued all day. Moderate westerly wind. Cold, about 9C|
(the red cross in a circle shows where I am at the moment)
|GPX based track of today’s walk
(click here to access to access downloadable file)
“Well I think it’s fair to say that “normal service” was resumed today. And more specifically, at about 11 o’clock this morning. I realise that I’ve essentially been walking on the flat, in dry weather, and with very simple navigation, ever since I left Snowdonia 12 days ago. Most recently, the five days alongside the Lancaster canal have been exceptionally easy. This all changed when I reached Kendal late in the morning today. The canal finished, and I headed off into the hilly terrain towards Windermere. And more significantly still, it started to rain. Pouring, cold, rain driven by an icy wind. Yes, this was Lakeland at its best!
The first part of the morning was easy enough, along the increasingly defunct Lancaster canal. There was still plenty of interest along the way – the bizarre bridges spanning fields where the canal had been filled in were a curious oddity, and the Hincaster canal Tunnel was of interest in its own right and a scheduled ancient monument. The tunnel was built to take the northern extension of the canal towards the Wakefield & Co. gunpowder factory at Gatebeck. I don’t know if they had to worry about business case justifications at the time they built this expensive tunnel, but in any case I doubt that the sums really added up because soon after it was built in the 1820s, the railway came along and took away most of its business.
Shortly before I arrived at Kendal, another significant landmark was crossed. The twig in the road marks 54.31 degrees North – which is precisely halfway in latitude between the Lizard at 49.96 degrees and Dunnet which is at 58.67 degrees. So on all measures, I am more than half way!
I stopped off in Kendal to find the obligatory café where I had a bacon roll and piece of millionaire’s shortbread, for a change. Fabulous, with hot tea to wash it down. Then I ventured out of the town and joined up with the last section of the Dales Way, which runs for 80 miles from Ilkley to Bowness. I was particularly glad to be doing this section of the Dales Way because when I was 18 I’d walked it but ran out of time to follow the “proper” route to Windermere and had had to road walk. So this felt like I was completing unfinished business.
I’d like to say I really enjoyed the yomp over the hills to Windermere – and I probably would have if it hadn’t been for the weather, which was truly miserable. About 4 miles from the end, I realised I could no longer feel my fingers, and that I really needed my gloves. But I also knew I’d consigned them to the very bottom of my rucksack when I left Wales, in the naïve expectation that I probably wouldn’t need them until I went up Ben Nevis. So I couldn’t get them out and I trudged on, getting increasingly cold and wet.
Eventually I made it to Windermere where I thanked my lucky stars that the campsite was full(!) and I’d taken the “soft” option of checking into a B&B for the night. I have to say I’m feeling a bit smug writing this in a comfortable dry room with a cup of tea as the rain lashes down outside. But I am also mindful that this time tomorrow I’ll be in a tent in what will inevitably be a soggy campsite in Langdale, wistfully remembering what it feels like to have a dry bed to sleep in…”