For this year’s Christmas meal (pre-Christmas meal?) we met in the beautiful Lakes valley of Eskdale. Quite a remote valley away from mobile communications, internet and TV. Our accommodation was in the YH, which we had exclusive use of. The hostel is almost at the head of the valley between the foot of Hardknott Pass and the Woolpack Inn.
Well on the Saturday it rained, it actually rained quite a lot, but we had an interesting walk along the footpaths of valley, visiting the waterfall in Stanley Gill and the waterfall behind the mill at Boot, which was like a mini Niagra. In the evening we sat down to a superb Turkey meal prepared by Pete, Trevor and John.
Sunday was a much better day and some of us decided to go up Scafell – the second highest mountain in England and conveniently accessible direct from the hostel by a nice path, more reminiscent of the mountain paths in Scotland (i.e. sketchy in places). The path meanders around the rocky tors above Eskdale and then takes a direct line up the south ridge of the mountain over the subsidiary top of Slight Side. The cloud was lifting and we were treated to some great views through the swirling mist but a brisk cold westerly meant we couldn’t linger. We reversed our route of ascent but took a slightly different route lower down past Stoney and Eel Tarns to drop down directly behind The Woolpack Inn. Here we we’re met by Rob, who informed us that Cumbria was virtually cut off by floods. The Landlord in the pub enlightened us that all roads out of the county were blocked and we were all doomed. After some procrastination we decided to wait, get a meal in the pub and see if we could get more information for a decision later, the manager of the hostel kindly offering to let us stay an extra night if we needed. Jim and Trevor just got in their car and drove off south at great speed in a cloud of dust (well, mud…).
Later in the pub, John managed to get in touch with Jim with one bar of signal on his phone; they had got through the floods at Levens with an escort from a tow truck. So armed with this information some of us decided to also give it a go with others making the decision to spend an extra night in Eskdale and make the journey in the morning.
Altogether a memorable weekend in the Lakes, its only when we got home that we discovered the true devastation that the floods has caused in the northern and eastern Lakes and we hope things get back to normal soon. Thanks to the Transpennine team for a great meal.