Ennerdale Bridge to Stonethwaite

The weather began bright as we entered the Lake District National Park. Unlike parks in the US, the parks of the UK believe that trail markers are unsightly and disrupt the beauty of the natural landscape. Therefore as we began our bridle path journey past Ennerdale Water (lake) and were headed toward one of our first major assents, Loft Beck, we were preparing ourselves for the possibility of becoming disoriented. Folks far more adventurous and talented than us took the high route to Hay Stacks and High Stile, two of the highest points on the walk. As we walked the low route to Loft Beck in the Great Gable mountainside some 1500 ft above sea level we passed Black Sail Youth Hostel, one of the most remote hostels in the YHA system.

Black Sail is a welcome haven, if for no other reason that it is the last place with indoor plumbing for several miles, before the steep assent and even steeper descent from Loft Beck. If I could create an App for clean spots with indoor plumbing for those who are shy relievers, I would be a millionaire. Black Sail has a unique character and they leave their door open for walkers to rest, warm up, and leave a donation for Mountain Rescue in exchange for a hot cup of tea or a piece of chocolate cake. There are many opportunities along the trail to donate to mountain rescue in return for services and like buying a letter of indulgence, I donated frequently and generously in the hopes that the good folks at mountain rescue would not have to come find me.

On our way up Loft Beck, the path, a fragmentation of enclosure walls, rocky and steep, was unbelievably difficult for me to walk along. Each step was a struggle in balance and the mist and rain did not help. My husband was usually about ten feet ahead of me as I tried to scramble and not look down. This was a day where glucose tabs continually came in handy.

At the top we had a view of the declining mine industry and we headed toward Honister Pass, the last surviving English mine. Our hotel for the evening was a walker’s delight. There are really only three things one wants in accomodation after a day walking in the rain:

1) Drying Room

2) Electric Towel Rack

3) A good restaurant/ Pub

The Langdale Hotel had all of these things, plus the most delicious home made bread. My pacing made us miss some of the fun sight-seeing opportunities-the Honister Pass mine tour-the scenic trio of towns in Borrowdale-but this was the first really @$$ kicking day of the trip and all that I really wanted after descending Loft Beck, was to sleep.

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About 30 Ways of Walking

Gina Liotta's writing has appeared in or is forthcoming in The New York Quarterly, Slate, The Paterson Literary Review, LIPS, and The Healing Muse, among others. She lives, writes and teaches in New York.
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