Not taking any chances of having the day ruined by another parking fiasco, we decided that this was one we could do from the front door, even if it meant my third walk around Buttermere Lake since the Tuesday. This was also a good idea for two other reasons: one because it extended the walk and on a perfect Summer’s day why would one not want to, and two it meant we had a chance to warm up walking on the flat ground rather than getting straight out of the car and into a steep ascent.
Anyway we all seemed well up for it, and to add a little bit of variety, we decided to go round Buttermere in the opposite direction to how we had done it before. So whilst Luther and Molly got into the swing of things with a good paddle, me and Helen messed around taking photos, with some exposing better than others. When we reached the car park at Gatesgarth cottages/farm which is the official start point according to the ‘Country Walking cut out’ I created a little bit of confusion as to which direction left actually was. Thus having continued along the valley at the end of Buttermere beside the farm, I created more ‘cut out’ confusion as to what was the actual path up towards Haystacks, perhaps my ears were still ringing from the fighter jet that had loudly shot over us. Anyway on both occasions Helen was able to put me straight.
So up we went and not alone either, as various walkers either pushed on up or straggled along behind us. As was the norm this week I pushed on with Luther off his lead, whilst Helen was a little way back with Molly on the lead. One of the good things about Haystacks is that there is no shortage of handily placed rocks to stop and have a break, and after several of these we decided to have half of our sandwiches before pushing on. Also most people we met up with seemed friendly and positive towards the dogs. Referring to the ‘cut outs’ I was on the look out for one or two vitally placed cairns to tell us we were on the right track, but basically there were loads of them all over the place, and the track was pretty bloody obvious anyway. Coming near to what was nearly the final scramble to the summit, we met a lad from Northumberland, who had passed us a long time back, puzzling over what was the best way up. Thus whilst I dithered over the correct route, Luther pushed on ahead of us, showing the right way up (a massive improvement on the Luther of the previous Sunday). No such good marks for Molly however as having finally been let off the lead, she managed to locate what must have been the only sheep up there and went hareing after it. With no Helen or whistle in sight, I gave my best Sargeant Major roar and she did come trotting back.
Presently we reached the summit making this our fifth Wainwright of the week at 1,958ft. Along with quite a few others we took a pew to finish off the rest of our lunch, whilst watching the odd helicopter and light aircraft buzz around. So with break over we had a minor difficulty finding a correct way down, as well as referencing which tarns we should be looking out for. Once again Helen was way out in front on the descent, as I concentrated on keeping my footing on the slippy slate and rocks, pausing only to chat to a guy with red socks. Luther and Molly for their part forgot all about me, and decided to keep in close attendance with the hand that feeds them. As we neared the bottom another fighter jet came out of nowhere and roared over the summit, leaving me wondering how many people it shook off the rocks in doing so. Once at the bottom we once again picked up the trail in the alternate direction around buttemere. Both Luther and Molly had a good time retrieving sticks from the water. Molly would swim out for hers, whilst Luther was only prepared to paddle to get his. On the other hand Luther had more of a taste for the bigger stick variety which he also likes to eat. However having been off the lead a while, Molly disgraced herself one final time by locating a sheep way up in the hills to chase, whilst Helen worried whether the ‘Dogs worrying livestock, will be shot’ sign was about to come true. That drama resolved we arrived home tired (more in my case than I realised) but happy.
So a slightly mixed week for me, with my problems on the downhills causing me to wonder whether I really want to come back to the Lake District again. Certainly overall the good outweighed the bad, but I was anything but pain free throughout the week, and which was unfortunately rounded off on my last night in the cottage with a sudden illness. That couldn’t have happened at a worse time and has slightly put a cloud over the whole week. So Coast to Coast next time anyone ?