Our first day of walking has been tough but very rewarding…
We started the day off this morning with a mammoth bowl of porridge to fill our bellies up for the task at hand then after bidding farewell to a rather sleepy Dave we set off to the monument in the centre of Ulverston which marks the start of the Cumbria Way.
We began our days walk with an initial steep incline following The Gill, a small beck, out of the town (shocking our systems into gear!). The terrain then evened out as we passed over farmland for the next 8 or so miles and it was here that we got our first views of the Coniston fells in the distance.
We had some interesting finds during this stretch. At one point we came across a rather grim scene – a dead sheep with it’s eyes pecked out and belly bloated. Zombie sheep! Also found a Barn Owl pellet (after each night’s hunting a Barn Owl regurgitates one or two black pellets typically about the size of a man’s thumb which contain the remains of what the owl has eaten but cannot digest – in this case the pellet had beetle wing cases inside, still intact!). We also heard the squeaking of what we presumed was a Vole as we crossed a stream. One of my favourite discoveries though was an impressive Bluebell carpet in a sheltered wood close-by to the path.
Spotted a number of different birds along the way too, including my first ever Wheater and Bullfinch, as well as a Buzzard being mobbed by crows, a Kestrel hunting for food and a Blue Tit’s nest and heard the calling of a Green Woodpecker and the drumming of a Great Spotted Woodpecker as we sat and had dinner on a bridge just outside of Gawthwaite (and just after the distinctive call of a Cuckoo!).
After dinner the terrain changed to a more rugged upland landscape leading to a tough steep ascent over Kiln Bank and to the remote Beacon Tarn, a really beautiful and quite isolated spot.
Towards the end of the walk we both became very weary and slightly lost with Coniston Water becoming increasing allusive as we kept on thinking it should appear around the next bend (this happening for a fair few bends).
We eventually made it though and descended down to a path following the wooded shores of Coniston Water.
It was on Coniston Water where the speed record by boat was broken by Donald Campbell in 1967. He reached speeds of over 300 mph here but died instantly when returning do do a final run, his boat “The Bluebird” catching a wake. See http://www.acrossthelake.com/ for more information…
We were going to wild camp tonight but on our way into Coniston we passed through a campsite just outside of town and decided to pitch here for the night. I think one of the main selling points was not that it was also fairly cheap but that the campsite sold cold cans of coke – you seriously cannot underestimate the value of coke after walking for 9 hours (Ann even admitted she would happily spend £5 on a can).
Just had soup for tea, cooking it on our stove by the tent (I’ve got a feeling soup will be a staple of our diet this week). We are both absolutely knackered and ready for some rest whilst equally excited to do it all again tomorrow.
*As I write this we can hear a lost sheep just outside our tent. Let’s hope it’s not the zombie sheep from earlier…