Day 7: Tues. April 26 Ambleside

Woke to overcast skies, perhaps rain. My ankles have recovered after the easy day yesterday, so I’ve scheduled the next two days for day walks in the mountains. Today I’ll go north to Rydal, then decide whether to climb the Fairfield Horseshoe or stay lower. At the trailhead in Rydal, dark clouds up high looked daunting! Taking the trail up a ways, I got some dramatic views to the south and west but turned back after a couple of miles since there was a lot of rain up on Fairfield. I was told it is foolhardy to walk the Horseshoe in poor visibility.

I decided to follow the “coffin path” to Grasmere, skirting above the lake with mountains in the distance. The path starts at Wordsworth’s house in Rydal where he lived from 1813 to 1850 and ends in Grasmere at his Dove Cottage, 1799-1813. This was one of his favorite walks. Now I know why!

Along Grasmere Water

A clerk at Grasmere TIC was very helpful. He showed me a good path for returning to Ambleside (5-6 miles) which put me in high country over Loughrigg. I ate lunch, then took a lakeside amble before climbing steeply. Rough stone steps to the summit of Loughrigg revealed great views to the north but much rain to the east over Fairfield Horseshoe.

Grasmere Water looking north

Foot of Loughrigg, beginning the climb

It was a long climb to the top, a bit rainy, so careful with my footing. Down the south side there were paths shooting off in all directions, but I followed small cairns which marked the main trail. It was a steep slope. Suddenly, I slipped on the wet grass and fell on my left shoulder again. Drats! I cried out in pain this time with a short dizzy spell, but continued on after a short rest. With all the off shooting paths, I soon had no idea if I was still on the main trail, but eventually I could see Ambleside in the distance far below. After a precipice, a rock scramble and a beck crossing, I found a fence gate with a yellow arrow indicating the footpath. How did I do that? A track became tarmac past several farms to Loughrigg Brow and Brow Head, then across a park into Ambleside. I had time to browse the walking stores and bakeries before heading back to How Head for my usual tea and coffee and shower before dinner.

The Queens Hotel is one of the classy places in Ambleside with a choice selection of real ales in the pub and an imaginative menu. My choices were Coniston Bluebird Bitters and a baked cod mornay. Both excellent! As we have seen, the British culinary scene is far beyond the old steak and kidney pie tradition. Tomorrow, I may get a chance to see the Coniston microbrewery, a key part of the revival of the real ale movement in this country (no preservatives, no CO2, great taste).

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