Day 9 .... May 5 .... Patterdale to Ambleside ....14 1/2 miles

The hostel was purpose-built, has a sod roof and large windows The common room and dining room are huge with high beam ceilings. Dorm rooms are all on the main floor. Breakfast was not as good as at other hostels, but ok. They have fruit out for breakfast, so I took a banana and a plum for my lunch. I'm out the door at 8:45.

Today, I am not taking the Westmorland Way route which follows the valley up to Grisdale Tarn and down to Grasmere and Elterwater. Instead, I am climbing the ridge of St. Sunday to the Fairfield Horseshoe and down to Ambleside where I will briefly meet the Westmorland Way again. This is a ridge route I have never taken before (except for being on Fairfield summit), but skirted around it because of bad weather, so I'm really looking forward to it.

Quickly up the fellside, same path as last year but taking the left fork (instead of right fork towards Striding Edge) to climb up to Black Crag and Birks. It's very steep but eventually levels off to let me prepare for the long slog up to St. Sunday summit.

Overlooking Ullswater From Path Up St. Sunday Ridge

Looking Toward St. Sunday Crag With Helvelyn In Distance

A fast walker carrying a daypack passed me. There is a false summit, then another climb up to the crags and the iconic humpback ridge and summit. Tremendous views from here but clarity was obscured by a persistant haze.

Saint Sunday Summit Cairn With Ullswater In Distance

I dropped down to Deepdale Hause where a trail emerges from Grisdale Tarn along with three walkers coming up from the tarn to walk St. Sunday ridge to Patterdale. One has pushed ahead of the other two who are having foot problems. At least they are not climbing Cofa Pike.

Cofa Pike looms ahead with an intimidating needle-like rocky spire. My first reaction on seeing it was “Do I really have to climb to the top of the spire or does the trail go around”? I soon found out, yes, all the way up, steeply, with lots of scrambling over rocks. It wasn't as bad as it looked, but I was on edge the whole time.

Cofa Pike From Deepdale Hause

Deepdale Hause and St Sunday Ridge From Cofa Pike

Cofa Pike Summit Cairn

Gregg Braving The Elements On Cofa Pike

Then a less serious climb up onto Fairfield. Last year when on Fairfield heading east in snowy, windy conditions, I looked down at Cofa Pike and opted for a different route - a brilliant decision. Today the weather is better, but not ideal. It's cloudy, cold and windy. So what else is new? Seldom have I had perfect conditions on the tops. I'm just glad there is no rain.

Path Up Onto Fairfield From Cofa Pike

On top of Fairfield, I rested at the stone wind shelter with two walkers doing the full Horseshoe round. One of them will be my dorm mate at Ambleside hostel tonight. He took a photo of us at the shelter. I’m still waiting for it via email. We set off together around the Horseshoe, leapfrogging each other on the way to Ambleside.

Hart Crag With Dove Crag Ahead On The Horseshoe

There was a biting, cold wind, blustery and strong. The sky was misty and hazy so landscape photos are poor, little distinction of features. Going around the south side of the Fairfield Horseshoe involved more up and down than expected, even some scrambling. I followed a stone wall along the ridge. Surprisingly, there are paths on either side of it, take your choice.

Views seem poor compared to the north side which, as I remember, gave a more dramatic view of the lake's geography.

On Dove Crag With High Pike And Low Pike Ahead

Low Pike Overlooking Ambleside And Lake Windermere

I was in Ambleside by 3:15 pm and recognized familiar sights, the Golden Rule pub, the Queens Hotel, then Gregg’s Bakery where I get a coffee and muffin. At Boots, I stock up on Compeed - I have used my last one from last year's packs.

Ambleside Town Center, Queen's Hotel

Ambleside YHA Hostel

An hour later I arrived at the hostel, a beautiful, huge old stone building by Lake Windermere and the boat dock. Others have denounced it as being too large, but it is very nice and comfortable inside, wonderful common rooms and an ale bar. Richard, my Fairfield friend, was resting his back, will take a day off and then walk the length of High Street. No one else was in our six bunk dorm room. At dinner, I had a chicken caesar salad and a Magnum ice cream bar for dessert. With an excellent pint of ale from Hesket Newmarket, it made for a very relaxing evening. Our dorm window has a nice view overlooking the lake and dock. I saw a bit of rain out there. I’ll sleep well tonight as this was a tough day.

Lake Windermere And Ferry From My Dorm Window

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