Spring Walk - 2010

By Andrew Walker

When Ian Harford asked me if I would do the write-up for the ski club spring walk, I was happy to volunteer, but then other things got in the way, mainly work. But here we are at last.

One hopes to see the Lake District in full May glory, with greenery and blossom breaking out everywhere and illuminated by warm spring sunshine, but most regular visitors have learned to temper their expectations even if hope does spring eternal. Wordsworth’s daffodils (reminding me of Byron’s famous barbed reference to him, substituting the first two letters with somewhat cruel, crude and derogatory alternatives), late as they were this year, were on their way out. The meeting was at 9:45 on a rather cool May Bank Holiday Sunday, with rain forecast, but we’re nothing if not hardy folk. The last time that I experienced rain on any ski club trip was in Fernie in March. As it was, the rain held off, but the wind and the chill didn’t.

The start point was Lancrigg Country House Hotel, where Ian had brokered a deal to use their car park at a mere £4.50 each for tea and scones afterwards, rather than paying £6 per car to park at Grasmere. With a good turn-out of around 20 people, mostly the usual suspects (plus Steve Wardle’s dog, Dolly), we headed up Easegill. This is a beautiful and fairly quiet valley. At a mile or so from Grasmere, and with little room for car parking, the tourists thin out, leaving space for the more adventurous or simply the more lost.

Trying to write up a walk is always made harder if you have neither planned it nor followed the route on a map. I do recall Ian explaining that the route he had originally planned had been hastily replotted and shortened in view of the rain forecast for later. Looking at my trusty 1” Lake District Tourist Map several weeks after the event I have had to use a combination of memory and guesswork to retrace the route, having mislaid the original plan. If this isn’t the route we actually took, let me take you on a flight of fancy instead.

I am given to wonder how some of the names came about. Once Easedale Beck reached its dividing point a mile or so up the valley, we turned left into Sour Milk Gill. I concluded that the route was straight up the valley after Easedale Tarn when a faint shout from below called me back. We regrouped and rested a few minutes, while some seized the opportunity for a snack and a drink, before turning off right, and picking a route up to Sergeant Man. At 2414’, this is no towering peak, but in the sunshine there were fine views to the south, taking in the more immediate landmarks of Stickle Tarn, Harrison Stickle and the Langdale Pikes, and further away Swirl How and the Old Man of Coniston.

With a rather cool wind, and heat generated on the way up quickly being dissipated, we didn’t spend long standing there, and by that time most people were looking for a lunch spot. We doubled back towards what I conclude must have been Fernhill Crag, and headed down Mere Beck towards Far Easedale Gill, stopping for lunch as soon as we could find a spot with sufficient shelter. Dolly, usually well-behaved or so we were led to believe, thought she was at a tapas bar and decided that having finished her own lunch she would like to try a selection of food from the various stalls around her. I would have tried it myself but having seen the reception Dolly got I thought better of it.

There’s not much you can say about walking back down Far Easedale. Once we got to the valley bottom the temperature was up and the wind was down, and tea and scones awaited. The Lancrigg Country House Hotel is now the Lancrigg Vegetarian Country House Hotel. The weather wasn’t really warm enough to sit outside, but it seemed churlish not to. The tea was hot, and the scones, heavily laden with jam and cream, came with free health insurance.

Thank you to Ian for his excellent organisation and planning.