We were up at 7.45 after an uncomfortably warm night in our small dorm, made a little more bearable by opening the door again in the middle of the night. We prepared our own breakfasts and ate it in the dining room where hostel breakfasts were also being served for £5.75. Michael asked the member of staff whether we could buy a couple of cups of filter coffee to go with our breakfast, as Dillan fancied one, and we were told that would be fine and we could sort out payment later. When we were leaving Michael went to reception and commented that he should probably have checked the price before taking the coffee, but the assistant warden assured him she wouldn’t be ripping him off. When she finished her calculations, we were charged around £4.40, that’s £2.20 per cup - more than Morrisons cafe and nearly as much as Costa!
The morning was fine and sunny, so Michael decided to wear his sunglasses for the first time in years, much to everyone’s amusement. Michael ignored the merriment as they do protect the eyes against UV light which causes eye damage over time, and when Tao tried them on later, he had to agree they were brighter than his.
We started the longest day of the tour by riding the flat route to Gosforth, and since the shop there stocked many interesting sandwiches and rolls for lunch we all bought lunch there. Michael, as usual, really wanted a morning coffee, but the coffee machine was not working for lattes. The woman behind the counter was very helpful, however, and offered to heat up a jug of milk if he got an espresso from the machine. He then settled down on the bench opposite the shop to enjoy it whilst George and Jude made friends with a local cat.
We had to stop briefly at the gated entrance to South Lodge to put a chain on. A large dog came over to see us off, closely followed by a woman who needed to know why we had stopped there. She seemed to accept our explanation but still stayed there with the dog until we actually left. When she found out we were riding to Buttermere she strongly advised us to take the “delightful road through Ennerdale” that she assured us was used by all cyclists going in that direction. Michael already knew that whilst the Ennerdale route was four miles shorter than our planned route through Cleator Moor it involved a good deal more climbing – 340m instead of 197m. She insisted it was flat and easy, however, even though she was not a cyclist, so in the end we just had to agree to differ and rode off to follow our original planned route.
Tao was quite interested in seeing Sellafield nuclear reprocessing plant and was a bit disappointed that they didn’t have a visitor centre! We got some good views looking back to it from the lanes beyond Beckermet, its buildings glinting in the morning sunshine. Years ago, we had wanted to get away from the area as quickly as possible, but now it seemed relatively safe.
Our relatively flat cycle route took us first through the high street of Egremont and then onwards to Cleator Moor where we visited the enormous Co-op. This had everything we could possibly need for today and tomorrow, so we filled our panniers. Jude and George tried and failed to tempt Michael with a new Innocent juice whose main ingredient was cucumber.
Re-joining the old railway cycle path, we stopped at the same conveniently-located seat near Frizington that was used in 2015 to eat our lunch. While we were there, an elderly woman walked past who had the appearance of a well-educated wildlife expert, but when she pointed out some Painted Lady butterflies in the hedgerow and told us they had migrated here all the way from Africa we began to think she was possibly a bit mad, knowing that butterflies are very fragile and only live a few days. As she wandered off, talking to herself, we felt sure this was the second example today of someone appearing to be knowledgeable who actually knows very little. When we checked Wikipedia later, we discovered that Painted Ladies have a lifespan of 12 months and that “Every year, painted lady butterflies make huge migrations from Africa to Europe and back again.”
We continued to Rorah and on past Loweswater, where Jude and George, eager for a swim, decided that perhaps the next lake would be preferable. We then took a bridleway shortcut around Scale Hill, Brackenthwaite, that we had never tried before, recommended by Google, and found it to be relatively easy and very scenic. There was even a small cave along the route.
Soon we had re-joined the road and reached the Lanthwaite viewpoint overlooking Crummock Water. The views of the lake and surrounding mountains were breath-taking and we stopped there for quarter of an hour to enjoy the views. While Michael was occupied taking some video shots, George helped himself to a yoghurt from Michael’s pannier, deliberately selecting the one that Dillan advised was Michael’s favourite.
The descent to the lakeside was very enjoyable, and when we reached the small beach near Woodhouse Island the temptation for a swim was just irresistible for George and Jude. Just a mile from the hostel we settled down for over an hour to watch the two boys swim out to the island, climb trees and then swim back again, giving us all a chance for a much-needed rest or sleep.
We checked into the hostel at around 5.30. In 2015 this was the first hostel we found that offered “Supper Club”, the inflexible meal scheme now offered at most non-city hostels, advertised as a return to traditional hostelling values but actually implemented to cut costs. It was a nice hostel in a nice location, and we did have an enormous room to ourselves, but there were issues: showers were slow and took ages to get hot, but worst of all there was only a single power socket in the whole room. We were able to borrow a distribution board from reception, however, so we managed to get everything charged.
Dillan and Michael had bought a ready meal and oven chips but working out how to switch on the oven proved quite a challenge. There was a knob for each hob, a knob for oven/grill temperature and another knob to select between lower oven, upper oven, lower grill, upper grill etc, but all the markings had been wiped off all the ovens. A piece of paper on the wall gave a clue about what to do, but it took some trial and error to get it working.
Jude and George once again didn’t fancy joining the rest of us for a walk around the village and lake, so after chatting with them for twenty minutes we wandered down to Buttermere and followed the bridle path that ran down to Buttermere Lake. This was another idyllic location with fabulous views and stunning peace all around. Tao wanted to get to the waterfall up in the mountains beyond, but the bridge over the river was closed off for six weeks of reconstruction and there was no other way across. We contended ourselves with taking some video shots, talking to the ducks and returning to the hostel via a different path to find Jude and George already in bed and fast asleep.
A group of “hostellers” were talking and smoking on the front porch of the hostel, just below our dorm, well into the small hours. We wondered why YHA would allow this when people needed to sleep and decided to ask the warden about it tomorrow.
Preparing to leave Wasdale YHA
Wasdale youth hostel
George makes a lovable new friend at Gosforth
Sellafield nuclear reprocessing plant, as seen from Beckermet
Jude eats his lunch within minutes of leaving Cleator Moor co-op
Lunch on the railway path near Frizington
A small cave on the Scale Hill bridleway, Brackenthwaite
Fabulous views over Crummock Water, from Lanthwaite
Woodhouse Islands, Crummock Water, where we stopped for an hour's rest and swim
Woodhouse Island as viewed from the "beach" at the south east end of Crummock Water
George considers testing out his new swing rope on Woodhouse Island, Crummock Water
Jude and George swim back to the shore from Woodhouse Islands, Crummock Water
Buttermere lake as seen from the bridleway during our evening walk
Tao attempts to cross the Buttermere Dubs river to the waterfall on the other side
View back to the youth hostel from the bridleway between Buttermere and Crummock Water
Final view of the Buttermere ducks and pines on our way back to the hostel
4K vikdeo footage from today's ride, with some HD cliips included
Approximate map of today's route