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Ski Club of Manchester Spring Walks, Watendlath & Dock Tarn Walk, Borrowdale, Sunday 1st May 2016

Reporter: Bill Matthews

At 10:15 our excited group of ten (Ian/Lindsey, Helen, Anita, Alan/Caroline, Jonquil/Barry, Liz.and myself) huddled in Rosthwaite bus shelter, the size of 2 telephone boxes, as the only alternative shelter from rain was the similar size public toilets where communication would have been divided.

I had been delivered there by bus over an hour earlier and was now on chatty terms with Nos: 78 & 77 bus drivers as they made their short runs, Keswick to Seatoller and vice versa. They all stopped at the shelter on the assumption that we had conceded defeat by the elements and were awaiting bus transport. Not so brave comrades, onward we go!

Alan’s warning of popular parking was well founded because this is a very pretty area, the lower level varied scenery being well suited to our desires and, at times, limits of visibility. Although Rosthwaite Bridge, 100m away from start, already seemed a bridge too far we had soon warmed up and it wasn't at all bad after all.

There was a gentle level path southwards before a steady mile climb to the picturesque Dock Tarn which is suitably sheltered for the first refreshment stop. Encouraging hints of brighter weather conditions prevailed here. The oddly coloured faces of (Ryeland?) sheep were hereafter supplemented by a steady flow of oddly shrouded humans travelling towards us from the Watendlath cafe. We were encouraged by Watendlath Hamlet emerging like a mirage, a mile ahead.

Rather surprisingly for an obscure and presumably restricted seasonal business, the cafe owners operating out of the farmhouse rustic kitchen hatch, were very reluctant at 2:30pm on this bank holiday weekend to serve us tea and cakes it was only by dent of SCoM people power that they conceded and we got a chance to dry out. A "closed" sign appeared on the door as we departed.

It is not only the lower levels of the Lake District which suffered from the destructive storms; a substitute temporary wooden bridge has been provided over Raise Gill alongside the charming hump-back Watendlath Bridge that was severely undermined by flood water. One wonders how many years that will await reconstruction.

We were in high spirits (weren't we!?) on the last leg of the walk when, bless her, Lindsey became the 4th person to do a slide descent on to her bum. However, she loudly denied that she was down and refused to accept the compulsory 'ring-side' knockdown count to 10, fending off all helpers who were keen to repay her for the previous afternoon s fine hospitality at 'The Larches'.

Deep mud was hardly ever a setback as paths hereabouts are mostly pitched with rocks, making the walk slightly harder on the joints so that we were quite content with the days effort overall.

It was a little ironic that the drizzly rainfall only ceased completely at the end whilst just 8 miles northwards Steve Wardle’s Skiddaw walk enjoyed fine, if chilly, weather all day.

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