I Found the Stairway to Heaven: Day 2: Walking Across England: Coast to Coast

Lumbering side to side like a baboon because…

my back is so tight, I’m desperate for blankets and pillows to bolster my body.  But inside the Inn’s slim amoire, there is only one teeny weeny pillow. The kind a designer would sew a bright red cover around and toss on a couch to look at.

Except it was naked-white, without any coverlet, most likely left behind by someone else— AND MAGIC.

Before we left, I had asked friends for prayers, and if they weren’t into prayers,  to send good thoughts our way, please.

Part of those wishes arrive in the Perfect Little Pillow which fits in crooks, hollows, and snuggles beneath bones, keeping everything aligned as I sleep. Hallelujah! In the morn,I feel good enough put on my boots and consider walking another day. After an hour of stretching, we leave the Inn and I leave the little  magic pillow in the amoire for the next person. I’m pretty sure I can handle this next stage—a supposedly easy trek over the hilltop—after all we’ve hiked bigger mountains in the States. Little did I know….

Day 2: Ennerdale Bridge to Stonethwaite–14.5 miles

These things start out innocently, like they always do. A flat walk, long walk beside a

Photo by Houmous Monster

long, long lake. The Inn packed a big, fat lunch for us, and I am already snacking on homemade flapjack which is a buttery, carmelly, chewy granola bar, and this one is packed with pineapple, raisins, dates and nuts.

But we are going to do this long walk sanely. Stop often and stretch. So we duck into the first Youth Hostel we come to at Mile 5 for a cup of tea, and there is the young, 24-year-old Kim. We’re thrilled to see she’s made it safely this far (after being lost when we met her) and that she’s found another person to hike with, so now I won’t have to worry about her getting lost anymore.  (Since my own kid isn’t around, I adopt others to worry about).

12.Loft Beck to Ennerdale

The clouds cover the peak, of course, so weary hikers won’t give up if they see how far they REALLY have to climb beside that stream.

After a heart-pounding climb, from the lake into the mountains, we stop at another Youth Hostel for a cuppa. “Look at that lovely stream, coming out of the mountain,” I point with my trusty trekking pole. “I hope we don’t go up there.”

(As the days of the hike progressed, I learned that anytime I looked at the horizon and thought: I hope the trail doesn’t go that way.  That was ALWAYS the way the trail was going to head.)

The thin path parallels a crystal, splashing stream. And kind souls have laid stone all the way up the mountain, (perhaps 100 years ago?), so we are actually climbing on a stairway to the heavens. (There are other routes that travel even higher, but I’m just interested in keeping my heart from exploding through my chest,so we stay on what is considered the lower trail.)

The long, steep descent on the other side of the mountain is pocked with deep cavities of the slate mines. The tramway that used to haul the slate is the path, except the rails have been pulled and replaced with stones the size of grapefruits and slick from the drizzle that has started. (This is the wettest part of the U.K. Average rainfall= 185 inches per year)

The old mines (shut down in the ’80s) are now a visitors center. As soon as I make it to the curio-shop, I latch onto a hot

I just stood in front of a mining poster.

I just stood in front of a mining poster. And yes, it’s July, raining, and cold.

chocolate, a brownie, and a banana. I’m eyeballing the buses that pull up to collect the white-haired seniors on a day-trip.  I’m pretty sure I can overpower at least one old gal and get on the bus in her place.

A taxi pulls away with the mother of the hiking family from Hong Kong. She has wheedled her way into the cab, her mouth going a million words a second and the driver still shaking his head. Her daughter and husband hike down the road after her.

Dallas Cowboy Fan insists we stick to the official trail. I longingly look at the hikers  below us who have taken to the road.  It will cut out a half-mile, especially the section in which we slip and slide past the roiling Stonethwaite Beck (river) on moss -slick rocks by clinging to a wire attached to boulders.  Hoo-boy. We’re having fun now!

When we finally stumble into a settlement, Dallas Cowboy Fan  asks a man getting into his car, “Is this Stone-wait?”

“Thuuh-Wait,” says the man, his tongue poised on his front teeth blowing thuuh sounds. “Thuuuh-Wait.” He pronounces it a couple more times. “It means clearing, so this is a clearing of the stones. Stonethwaite.”

“Are we there yet?”

“Yes,” he says more gently, “you’ve made it.”

The Langstrath Inn has wi-fi in a 3-foot square spot. We wait in line to stand in the spot and get our email. There’s no phone signal. Our luggage is sitting in the bar, waiting for us. But SURPRISE SURPRISE, the Little Pillow is bouncing along the outside of my suitcase tied on like a limp balloon. Someone at the Shepherd’s Arms has sent it along. (Thank you, everyone, including the Head of the Universe).

And tomorrow will be a short day.

Or so I thought. It will also be one of those “husband” days that Dallas Cowboy Fan will NEVER live down for the rest of the trip (and probably even longer).

NEXT: Day 3: “Remember? You Said To Go This Way.” : Stonethwaite to Grasmere

If you’d like to receive an email notice when there’s a post to Before Morning Breaks, you can sign up. See the sidebar, Click “Do It!”….and thank you very much.


About Barb

I escaped from a hardscrabble farm in Oklahoma. I'm not sure why people think I have an accent. I miss the sunshine, but not the fried foods.
This entry was posted in A Laugh, Coast to Coast, England, Humor, Traveling and tagged , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

23 Responses to I Found the Stairway to Heaven: Day 2: Walking Across England: Coast to Coast

  1. riainthecity says:

    haha I wish I was travelling with you! I am going to Paris next year and stoked beyond words! 😀 Hopefully I will get to do a bit of England too. The husband and I are so excited!


  2. Recie says:

    Whoa.I feel as if I’m huffing and puffing along with you. What a trip! Glad you’re taking it for real amd I’m simply reading along.


  3. nrhatch says:

    Go you! I’m ready to hear more.


  4. What an amazing adventure. I’ve subscribed so I can keep track of you.


  5. Pingback: Are We Even on the Trail? (or It’s Longer Than You Think): Day 1: Walking Across England, Coast to Coast | Before Morning Breaks

  6. Rose L. says:

    Sometimes I go on little hikes and think “What made me think I was young enough for this!” I remember when I was over there we saw one area (from a tour bus!) which looked like a thousand Galapagos hiding under green grass! Rather large lumps! You survived the trip! So kudos to you!! Did you ever get another massage/ I would have requested one every evening!!


  7. Wow.
    I hope that skinny little pillow came home with you, and is now ensconced in a suitably plush cover.
    Loving travelling with you. And I would definitely have mugged an old lady or two. Good practise for my life in the nursing home…


    • Barb says:

      YOu know how people look at you, then quickly look away,hoping you won’t see them? Well maybe you don’t know because it’s never happened to you…but one old gal on the bus did that very thing, and I have to admit…I was eyeballing her seat with a hard and heavy look. Fortunately for her, the bus was FULL of seniors, but she looked punier than me. If I ever come to Oz, you and I can practice pitching people off the bus. We ALL must get ready for the nursing home someday, and I can’t think of anyone better than you who’d be more fun to practice finagling seats.


  8. jono says:

    This is fun. I’ve never hiked vicariously and it’s not at all tiring! Sending good pillow thoughts your way.


    • Barb says:

      Yes, hiking vicariously is good time management. And it’s strange how priorities change when hiking. Suddenly that pillow (which I assume was someone’s castoff) became very important….as did having enough water and food on me at all times.


  9. Al says:

    Those pictures are great. Despite your misgivings, you look like a world-class hiker!


    • Barb says:

      Awwww…shucks, Al. You’re kind. But we both know that hikers look like they do because they need a shower, a foot rub, and a couple of beers. But still, you’re kind. Each time I look at these pics I think to myself that I look like I’ve been through a clothes wringer (if you’re old enough to know what one of those was.)


  10. momaescriva says:

    Doing good. My hat’s off to you.


  11. So far, your trip has been Ennuithwaite. Very interesting, and invigorating. What an adventure! Sounds like you should patent that little pillow and make a mint. I think we could all use a magical pillow.

    Hmmm, I take it your hubby’s sense of direction takes a hit in the next installment? Oops.


    • Barb says:

      You know how in a relationship the ledger tips back and forth? Well, the ledger tipped in my direction after the next stage. Thanks for reading. I’m going over to your site to catch up with your life right now.


  12. Elyse says:

    You are a brave soul. I would have knee-capped that little old lady and taken the bus.


    • Alice Lynn says:

      I agree with Elyse! 🙂 I love every step of your adventure from a nice comfortable office chair. Mighty thoughtful of you to take us along. And I especially love that photo of you with staff, smiling triumphantly against the mysterious and slightly ominous mountain backdrop!

      Liked by 1 person

      • Barb says:

        Thanks for the kudos. I’m grinning like a monkey because I had no idea what lay ahead. The good thing about climbing into the clouds was that I couldn’t see how much farther I had to go.


  13. jmgoyder says:

    You are stronger than I will ever be – bravo!


Tell Me All About It.

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s