You really feel that you are on holiday on the first normal working day off. Today was no different, we woke up with the sun shining, a gorgeous if a bit hot lay ahead of us, the weather forecast ahead looked good, cooling slightly as the week progresses, which would be welcome, but today we were promised another scorcher.
The hot weather has made sleeping a bit interrupted we have kept the windows closed because the goats and sheep seem to bleat all night, and then the cockerel next door crows as the sun comes up at 04:51, but if they are the only complaints thing can’t be too bad!
Today we plan to walk up the river to the top end of the Esk valley, it should keep us around shade when we need it, and we have high hopes of seeing Dippers, as the river seems just the type that they would frequent. Highlights will hopefully include, Gill Force waterfall, Boot, Eskdale, and Dalegarth Station. The top end of the valley has a few pubs so if we can get there for lunch that will leave a short post lunch walk back to the station, and the train home.
We headed out at about 09:30 and after one hundred yards, had to go back because I had forgotten to put both of my walking socks on. It was already warm, so keeping to the shade was going to be the strategy, today. The bird were all out singing perhaps the crap spring has meant now is the chance for a second brood. There were lots of warblers, but our ID skills on warblers are crap so we only managed Blackcap plus 4 other assorted warblers. We got our first Stonechat of the holidays, as well as Wren.
About 2 miles out we had a rest sat by the river in the shade, the sounds of a river can be very relaxing, so far no Dippers. It was great keeping to the river as the going was flat, and there was plenty of shade. The habitat is quite different from what we are used to, there also seems to be a lot more birds about, perhaps due to the fact that we is in a far more rural location, and the landscape is quite ancient.
Soon we were rewarded by two Dippers one quite a fleeting view but the second we were able to watch hunting for stuff under the water by dipping it’s head under the surface of the water. After more woodland walking on a great smooth solid track we took another rest at hour two, near a bridge over a stream, just past Dalegarth Hall which is a mighty find building withe the fattest chimneys. Suitably refreshed we headed off to discover Gill Force.
Just before the falls we came across some stepping stones to cross the river, to a small church called St Catherine’s. We crossed and had a look round. The was a guy repairing the collapsed stone wall I did not envy him his job today, lugging stones about with no shade. The grave stones on the church yard were all very grand and large, I guess with all the stone and skills to mason it that is what you would expect, some of them were quite ornate, many had almost essays written on them.
Back over the stepping stones it was not obvious where the path went, so we followed the path that hugged the river bank. It turns out that it was not the footpath but after clambering over some fallen trees we were soon back on track. Ten minutes on we came a cross a lake of sorts with dragon flies and lilies growing, we took the opportunity for a sit on a bench and did a bit of bird spotting. We soon heard a Peregrin and spotted it gliding back and forth along the cliff.
The walk to the Woolpack in and Hardknott pass took about 20 minutes, it was 13:00 and time for lunch. The menu looked good and we could not resist the Falafel style veggie burger and chips, so we ordered one each and sat in the garden, I was supping and half of beer and helen a large lemonade with lots of ice.
Whilst we were sat waiting and trike turned up with lots of chrome and long front forks, the livery on the side suggested that guy did tours and they couple sat on the back seemed to have enjoyed themselves.
The veggie burger gets 3/5 certainly very welcome and filling. A Hercules flow low up the valley and reminded that I forgot to mention that two trainer jets flew over earlier in the walk. Now trying to build up some inclination to start walking again in the mid day sun. Perhaps another drink first.
We left the Inn and followed a sign pointing to Wasdale Head the plan to climb a hill and have a look at Eel Tarn, the climb took us from 60 metres to 220 metres in quite a short space, the climb was tough but the rest at Eel Tarn made it worth the effort. A pair Black headed gulls were nesting on the Tarn and we also spotted a pair of Mallards. Overhead at least 5 buzzards rose on the thermals.
The descent back down into Boot was a bit tedious and hard on the knees after the day spent on our feet. In Boot we stopped at the shop cum post office and bought some postcards, and a note book. It was hot in the shop and the shop keeper was, obviously feeling a bit tetchy as when I passed the time of day by suggesting that he was probably not selling too many has and gloves at the moment, replied that he loved it when people come in the shop and make statements of the obvious. Despite the great customer service we still purchased his goods! Down past the first pub and opted for the one near the station called the Brook House Inn a free house where the beer was really well kept. I had the summer all and Helen had Red Hawk something or other.
I had an ice cream as we waited for the train which departed on time and soon had us back to Irton Road station. We had spent almost 8 hours out a good day.