Friday 1st July Grasmere to Patterdale

A “short” stage.

Once again we awake to a great morning. How can this be happening in the Lake District? The view from our B&B window is just as stunning in the morning light. Downstairs the service is attentive, and the ornate chandeliers in the breakfast room a wonderful shade of pink. Nigella’s cookbooks can be seen in the corner.

After kitting up we set off for the village. This being such a short stage, we are not in a rush. Time to take the scenic route to the start of the walk. Down to Croft House Bakery, where the shop assistant is sitting outside in the sun, before we disturb him to purchase 2 cheese savoury rolls. It is altogether different in Grasmere this morning. Quiet, early morning dew filled air, a new start, a day full of promise. Instead of going back to the main road we retrace some of our steps from yesterday, and follow the route via Thorney How Youth Hostel, ambling up narrow deserted lanes overgrown with meadow sweet. Eventually, though, we cross a bridge to the main road, and the route proper begins.


According to the book we are about to begin “a protracted climb up a bridleway”.

A short distance ahead is a division in the path at which point you can choose the steeper route with views of Grasmere, alongside Little Tongue, or the easier slabbed route up the right side of Little Tongue. My natural inclination is to take the easier route, with a few reservations. But in the event, when we get to the point of choice, the National Trust have closed the bridge over to the right, deeming it to be “unsafe”, so the choice is made for us. I console myself with the thought that Ray would want to do the steep route, and no doubt so would Wainwright!!

Just at this point we meet a man who seems to need confirmation that the left hand path is the one. After a brief chat he steams ahead of us, up what soon becomes an ever steepening grassy track. We are quite impressed with this achievement, as we labour steadily behind. There are views of Grasmere. These may be enjoyed whilst trying to avoid heart attack on the way up. At one stop we catch up the lonely walker. He tells us a sorry tale of how his wife has had to give up because of the state of her feet. She is going into Cotswold in Grasmere today to see what can be done about her boots, and is hoping to rejoin him walking later down the track… He is obviously quite upset about her. We meet them again over the course of many days. The golfers from Kent… John and Trish.

Onwards and upwards, over a crag. At the foot of a large area of boulders scattered like giant scree we catch up the U3Aers having their coffee break, and Glynn his cigarette. They tell us how they saw the National Trust sign on the ground by the bridge, and thoughtfully decided to re-erect it before crossing over to the easier path themselves. Oh how we laughed. Luckily we all saw the funny side.


All good things must come to an end, and even the 1500ft ascent into the basin of Grisedale Tarn is at last gratefully achieved.


The lovely morning has become grey. We can see the famous ‘zigzags’ up Dollywagon Pike towards Helvellyn, and the black Tarn itself, which today looks rather brooding. I have had some kind of strange desire to get here to see the Tarn, and the Brothers Parting Stone, since we came to Ullswater 2 years ago. Or perhaps even before that.

The steep path we have just come up was one of the main ways out of the Lake District by foot, in days gone by. People wanting to get to Penrith would have come this way. Wordsworth would have used it, maybe when he and Dorothy went to Ullswater on the “host of golden daffodils” occasion. Definitely, when he and Dorothy walked so far from Dove Cottage with his brother John, who was leaving to Captain the East Indiaman ‘Abergavenny’ in September 1800. John was amongst the 300 drowned when the ship sank off Portland in 1805. Dorothy and William returned to the spot, to mark their parting, in June of that year, and William wrote ‘Elegaic Verses in Memory of my Brother’. In 1882, Canon Rawnsley formalised the monument here, and had verses from the poem carved onto it.

In spite of this, it is not immediately obvious where exactly it is!! It takes Ray some time to locate it down off of the track. It is a large stone, and the carving has become faint with weathering and lichen. Even touch cannot fully decipher the verse. I can just make out .. Here did we stop… and While each… descends. In spite of this I find the whole thing so simply moving. Somehow, emblematic of all partings, in this lonely empty place.

Later, the internet provides,

Here did we stop; and here looked round

While each unto himself descends

For that last thought of parting friends

That is not to be found.

Brother and friend, if verse of mine
Have power to make thy virtues known,
Here let a monumental Stone
Stand-sacred as a Shrine.

We had the family’s early history from the visit to their house in Cockermouth, and it was certainly tinged with sadness and melancholy.


We ate our sandwiches there, by the stone, in thoughtful isolation. Ray had wanted to go on up the St Sunday Crag route, and is disappointed that I now feel too tired to go up there. So when we set off down the Grisedale Valley we are fairly silent. It is steep down a rocky path, and the sky is still overcast. After a particularly steep bit there is a new bridge courtesy of the National Trust. A lovely stream, must be Grisedale Beck. I need a paddle. Boots and socks off, the water cold and delightful. Restorative.


. I am still putting my socks back on when two young men stop at the bridge… ON BIKES! They are happy to tell us that they carried the bikes up over Swirrell Edge to the top of Helvellyn in order to cycle down. Mind boggling even if the path was good, but its full of rocks… They aren’t wearing any protective gear either. The confidence of youth.

We decide to continue on to Glenridding instead of branching off to Patterdale Village, and the lane comes out just before the first boatyard. As luck would have it there is a tea shack beside the lake, selling scones with Damson Jam. Not to be turned down. Ullswater looks as lovely as it did last time we were here. We can see the lake steamer pier in the near distance. At regular intervals large noisy farm vehicles are transporting quantities of hay or silage along the main road. They must have decided today is the harvest somewhere around here.


It’s a fair walk further on along the road to Patterdale, with the obligatory stop at Patterdale Post Office. Not that we want to buy anything. And much further on again to our farmhouse B&B, dodging the traffic where there is no pavement. By the time we turn up the farm track we are definitely ready for a break. Unfortunately the farm, Greenbank Farm, is not well signed, and what with sheep shearing, and an over enthusiastic shearers dog, we do not spot it on the first pass. Nearby neighbours do not know it – allegedly! But we turn back, and all becomes apparent eventually.

We are in the company of three cheerful chaps tonight, two of whom have gone over Striding Edge, one of whom did not enjoy it!! The farmhouse meal is good, but there is one massive disadvantage. NO BEER!!!