Day 4 .... April 30 .... Keswick to Dockray .... 14 miles

In the breakfast room, I saw Mike again and we had another animated conversation - that is just the way he is. He never did much with his doctorate. He reminds me of some older American hippies I have known in California, lots of education but would rather be a free spirit than be tied to a desk. He is now retired and an avid cyclist.
I’m out the door by 9 am and stop at a petrol shop to buy an apple for lunch. I soon reached Castlerigg Circle, an interesting grouping of ancient stones. Tourists were already swarming the site, even Europeans.

Castlerigg Stone Circle

Crossroads Of The Northern Lake District

Some more lane walking till I left the tarmac to climb over Low Rigg and down to the church in St. John’s In The Vale where I stopped for a bite to eat and a drink of water. I crossed the beck and idylic pastures to find the Old Coach Road. I hated to leave the beautiful Vale for this bleak and forlorn track stretching into the abyss.

The Church Of St. John's In The Vale

St. John's Beck Looking South

Blencathra With Hall's Fell In Center

The Old Coach Road is a long rocky track, high and lonely, wind blowing fiercely again. I was thinking of climbing Clough Head and/or Great Dodd but a local couple said “better not, the wind will blow you off”. I met another couple who said the same thing about severe winds - they had tried the climb, had to turn back and were presently picnicing in a cleft on the fell. So that was a good excuse to take it easy and arrive early at my hotel in Dockray for a restful afternoon.

The vista of Blencathra has been feeding my eyes all day on my left. I can make out Hall's Fell where I climbed last year. Walking along the Old Coach Road is the kind of walking where there is not much to intrude on my thoughts and I went into a kind of meditative state. It's very relaxing and a time for great insights but I won't bore you with all the revelations.

Mosedale Beck From Mariel Bridge

I stopped for lunch at Mariel Bridge on Mosedale Beck and met several cyclists. I looked longingly at the path up Great Dodd knowing that it was a path best not taken. My track skirted the base of first, Clough Head, then even more intimately, Great Dodd, with strangely interesting flora on the fellsides.

Later, I passed a mother and father with three small children, two on tiny bikes and one walking behind a pram ("you can't make me ride in that thing, it's too bumpy"). Miles from anywhere on this rocky track!! I am impressed with their spirit and wonder in what kind of world they live.

Ford Over Groove Beck On Old Coach Road

I crossed a picture perfect ford over Groove Beck, then met the road leading into Dockray. Arrived at 3 pm, just in time for some “do-nothing” relaxation. But I couldn't stop myself from having a little walk around the village, no shops, no B&Bs, just private homes and the hotel. There are quite a few bank holidayers drinking and picniking at the outdoor tables.

Royal Hotel In Dockray

The Royal Hotel is nice but does not have the feeling of welcoming guests. Only a couple of teeny-boppers running the place and they had their hands full on a double bank holiday weekend. It does have a fabulous shower and in-room telephone which I used to call Cathryn with my PO phone card.

I had dinner at 6 pm. Little choice of ales, nothing special; I had forgotten what ordinary ale tastes like! From the menu, I picked vegetable spagetti Provencal. Not a bad dish but, with English peas, its not exactly authentic Provencal. It could have used some Tabasco sauce. All the tourists are engrossed in their own worlds so I went back to my room for TV, writing and reading. I’m halfway through an engrossing Ken Follett book about a 19th century banking family in London full of near-do-wells, black sheep that make good, poor girls that marry rich and scheming matriarchs. All good stuff that Follett does so well.

<<< Previous                              Next >>>