Day 8: Wed April 22 Ambleside

Val is fixing me oatmeal along with her cooked English breakfast. Yumm! Patches of blue in the sky today. My plan is to bus to Coniston village, climb Wetherlam, then traverse over to the Old Man of Coniston. These are the two highest peaks in the area and is a classic if difficult walk (for me. anyway). My shoulder is still sore, but doesn’t really bother me.

After finding my way out of Coniston, it was a steep walk to the trailhead and even steeper to gain the ridge and on up to the summit of Wetherlam. I placed a rock on the cairn and marveled at the incredible views in all directions. Fairfield and the peaks of High Street to the northeast, Helvelyn northward, Scafell Pike, then the lowland fells westward to the Irish Sea. Behind me, Old Man Coniston, Black Sails and Swirl How are swirling in and out of black, dangerous looking clouds. Up here the wind is ferocious with periods of stinging sleet. The sun and clouds make dramatic patterns on Lake Coniston far below.

Climbing Wetherlam, Coniston Water in the distance

After a sausage and roll for lunch sheltered behind a boulder, I started across the ridge to Black Sails and the other peaks. However, as I came to a cross trail on the ridge, I realized that the wind, being so severe, would make it quite dangerous on this narrow ridge with a 1000 ft drop-off. I began to understand why no one else was around! So I prudently decided to back off my plan to bag the Old Man of Coniston and took the trail back down to Coniston village. It was a smart move. This was not the time for heroics!

On Wetherlam looking north

Coniston is certainly a picturesque little place if a bit touristy. Yes, I found the microbrewery behind the Black Bull Inn with tourists posing for photos. The bus back to Ambleside passed through Hawkshead village where Beatrice Potter lived. A lively tourist trade here on that.

Coniston Village, Coniston brewery is behind the pub

I emailed Cathryn, daughter Naomi and son Peter from the Golden Rule internet snug, quite expensive, two pounds! I ran into Val and Frank and friends in the pub and was invited to sit with them. As we drank a pint together, the bartender came over and sheepishly gave me a pound off the internet charge saying “I didn’t know you were Frank’s friend”.

Another dinner at the Queens Hotel, with Hawkshead Bitters and Lamb Henry, a shank in garlic and red wine, supposedly Henry VIII’s favorite dish. It was absolutely wonderful! Back at the B&B, Frank told me that How Head is 500 years old, rebuilt by Val’s first husband. “ You can tell its age from the circular chimneys; square ones came later.”

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