Leaving Patterdale we experienced our first day of warm weather and picturesque skies. This was important today, of all days, because we were going to face the highest ascent of the entire trip, Kidsty Pike (2,559 ft above sea level). The road to Bampton Grange was our moment of staring into the abyss: if we could make it to Kidsty Pike, then we could really do this. Of course, we were already doing it, but each night as we vaselined our tired feet, there were moments of doubt and frustration and panic. There was a tremendous amount of uncertainty within ourselves and then somehow, one foot in front of the other we made it to the point accentuated in the photograph above. The moment that we hit Kidsty Pike, we weren’t even half way across the trail, but yet knowing that we had scaled, what we thought to be, the greatest challenge point of the trip, gave us the confidence and strength to move forward.
By this point, we had begun to make friends with those who were following a similar walking schedule and we reached the top, shortly before M&G, a British couple who seemed to keep a somewhat similar pace. We took one another’s photographs and spent a moment in reverie. Out trip was almost completely free of social media. With the exception of two quick phone calls to the States and two intervals of about ten minutes checking e-mail- we went for three weeks without any form of global communication. To encounter our trail friends, for even a few moments on the path, reminded me of how I used to feel, in the days before wireless technology, when you unexpectedly ran into a friend in your neighborhood. So much has changed, so quickly.
We were walking high as we descended and my husband read aloud the part in the Stedman text where Stedman identifies a frustratingly steep climb on the walk around the lake into Bampton. Stedman is the master of understatement. It was an annoyingly steep climb, followed by an annoyingly steep descent and this walk was repeated no less than about ten or twelve times before arriving in the lovely, tiny, town of Bampton Grange. Tiny towns in Britain are deceiving. The gastropub movement has really taken over and our best meals were had in these smaller towns. The Crown and Mitre, where we both ate our dinner and spent the night. I had the most delicious steak with shallot butter and cooked tomatoes alongside a sun dried tomato and olive salad. It would be hard to find a meal that good, in a small town in the US. Knowing that the worst was behind us, it was easy to settle in for a night of Country House Rescue and Bank of Dave.