Time: 9:09 - 4:00
Elevation gain: 3,542'
Year to date miles: 241.3
We left Grasmere and had a choice of two routes at Great Tongue. We didn't know which route was preferable so I chose the harder higher route next to Little Tongue Gill. It was easy terrain but just a never ending slog uphill. We could at times see the other trail across from us. It seemed like everyone else was taking the lower route. We wondered if they knew something we didn't.
Eventually the two paths joined up and we reached a break in a stone wall where you can decide between one of 3 routes. We knew we didn't want to do Hellvellyn due to the weather and Glen's vertigo. When you read the mountain rescue reports, a fair number of the incidents they respond to are on Hellvellyn. We also knew that we would only do the valley route as a last resort due to poor weather. We were getting light showers with fog coming and going on the summits. We decided on St. Sunday's Crag, which is a long ridge walk, but safer than Hellvellyn.
Our guide book showed two ways to get to the St. Sunday Crag route. We decided to take the route further away from Grisedale Tarn (the lake). We made a navigation error and chose the incorrect trail. We were making our way up a scree sided mountain. We realized our mistake partway up. We were hiking up Fairfield mountain. Going back down the steep scree didn't sound like fun (my knees said no!). We studied our map and realized that once we got to the summit of Fairfield we could take a different route down to the trail for St. Sunday Crag. Near the top of the mountain, the trail disappeared and was only marked by cairns. The fog/clouds were rolling in and out. It was a little disturbing and I could see how easy it would be to get lost or fall off the mountain if it was foggier. After reaching the summit, we looked for the trail down to St. Sunday Crag. We looked at it and weren't sure if we wanted to do it. It was a rock scramble on a narrow ridge called Cofa Crag. Realize that it is very windy up there. We decided to try it, knowing that we still had plenty of time to turn around if we felt too uncomfortable. Once we chose the route I committed to it and forged ahead. The wind made it a little exciting, but otherwise I was fine, and was just careful going down.
We made it to another intersection and triple checked we were going the correct way. This was the St. Sunday Crag route, estimated to take 2 3/4 hours. We checked the time and we were still doing fine. The route was a ridge walk with steep drop offs on both sides. It was wide enough so it never felt unsafe. It was bitterly cold and extremely windy for the whole ridge walk. I wore all my layers - long sleeve wool shirt, wind jacket, wool hoody, rain coat, pants, rain pants, wool hat, and gloves. My fingers were freezing! If I had had my water proof mitts, I would have added those plus hand warmers. Again we had a brief bit of hail. Unfortunately I had not been eating, and my spirits were getting low. I grabbed a Larabar to give me a boost. It had been so windy, it was hard to find a protected place to stop. After heading down from The Cape (I think people find this the best view of the hike), we found a semi protected spot to have a fast lunch. From there we kept steadily descending on rocky terrain. Despite the very cold weather, I loved the St. Sunday Crag route. I'm so glad that we trained for this hike, so that we had enough energy to do all of the high routes. Even though this day was a little stressful with the detour, it was my favorite day of the hike.
We arrived in the village of Patterdale. We stopped at the village shop which is very geared towards Coast to Coast hikers. We picked up some energy bars, and I also bought a Kendal Mint Cake which I've read a lot about. They are basically just sugar and peppermint oil. Like a soft peppermint. It was fine, but not something I'd buy again.
We arrived at our Inn and headed to it's bar and tried some local ales. Other walkers were gathered there, so we all compared notes about today's adventures. 4 Americans, 2 Australians -Paul and Sue, 2 Tasmanians - Jim and Michael, and a couple of Brits who had done the Coast to Coast before. From there we headed over to the dining room for dinner. They are vegetarian and vegan friendly.
I liked the Inn owner, Ian. He and his daughter are quite the adventurers. His daughter is paid to do films promoting hiking in other countries. She's 11! I want her job!
Night: Oldwater View Inn
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Video: Best viewed in full screen mode