Day 1 St Bees – Ennerdale Bridge

I had waited for this day for months, the sense of anticipation over the last couple of weeks had been a fantastic buildup, but I dreaded the dawn and a sense of anticlimax due to the poor weather. Having driven from London yesterday, through 6 hours of rain, I woke to find the weather forecast was holding true – it was grey and overcast in Kirkby Stephen, just as the forecasters had predicted.

Thankfully by the time I had been driven to St Bees there was not a cloud in the sky overhead, my spirits soared. The Isle of Man was visible on the horizon, across the Irish Sea, as I carefully dipped my toe in the water and selected the stone that was going to accompany me to Robin Hood’s Bay.

I headed north to St Bees Head, and after an hour or so I was at the lighthouse. The wind had dropped and the white horses that had previously been charging south down the Irish Sea had vanished. Along the cliff top path spikes of bluebell flowers were being replaced with vibrant green fronds of bracken, and young brambles were nipping at my ankles.

Turning inland for the first time the primary objective of the day – Dent Fell – was visible on the horizon. It was a few miles off, and I was taking a short detour along the old railway line to avoid walking along the busy road. It was a slightly longer route but better to be surrounded by clouds of willow and dandelion seeds than vehicles and exhaust fumes.

Having made it to Cleator the gradient steepened and I was on my first ascent, on the way to the top of Dent Fell. Modest in proportion its cairn is at a height of 344m at the top of a fairly steep climb, the summit is a little further on at 352m. I made it to the cairn at 14:35.

Descending down the southern side of the fell, through Uldale Plantation, I reached Nannycatch Gate and a wonderful hidden valley where Nannycatch Beck flowed. Having reached the head of the valley I stopped briefly at a fake stone circle (the stones are real, but the circle is a recent formation). After 14.5 miles Ennerdale Bridge was a welcome sight as it was the end of the first day of walking.

Emergency rations: none
Blisters: none
Aching bits: both legs – from top to bottom (more accuratly ankle to bottom)

Center of map
View the map in Google Maps, or here is the Google Earth KML file.

More photos (from all the days of walking) can be found in the photo gallery.

5 thoughts on “Day 1 St Bees – Ennerdale Bridge

  1. Hello,

    I’m an italian guy, aged 49, and I’m planning with my daughter aged 12 the trail from St.Bee’s to Robin Hood Bay, approximately next august, 2009.
    I’ve visited your site, really interesting and full of news about this adventure, and if possible I would like to have 3 informations: which kind of training is it necessary (or do you suggest) to prepare the walk, if in your opinion a young girl of 12 is too young to approach the trail, and if is it strictly necessary to be organized with tent equipment.
    Thank you very much in advance for your kind reply, and compliments again for your travel site!

    Giuseppe, Florence, Italy

  2. @ Giuseppe,
    1. Training
    Yes, I strongly recommend some training – you must be comfortable walking 15miles a day for several days, and still feel like walking the same again the next day. I was walking up to 20miles as practice, my mistake was that this was mostly on flat terrain!

    2. Age
    If your daughter is able to walk and enjoy the training then I don’t see any reason why she could not complete and enjoy the walk. My concern is whether you are able to carry all the kit between you without overloading either of you – you could use one of the baggage services so that all you would need to carry each day is a small day pack.

    3. Tent and kit
    There are lots of B&B and hotel accommodation, and some youth hostels – so it is entirely possible to do the trip without a tent. I used B&Bs all the way, booked before the trip started, but I believe some people do it just by booking a night in advance (though they were also carrying tents!).

    Hope you have a good trip.

  3. I just say go for it, as long as your daughter is able to walk 15miles average per day with climbs and rough exposed ground at times. I will be walking the route July/August 09 with my nine year old son. He as completed the West Highland and Cumbria Way’s already and spent 2008 climbong the Lakeland fells all 70 off them!! with days of up to 16 miles with 5000ft + of ascend. James loves to walk, so I am sure your daughter will be able to complete the C2C.
    Carrying kit is a big no no, James can and as carried a backpack but it definetley takes the edge of his enjoyment. Have a grat time

  4. I am going with people short of money and so we will not be able to afford to pay for our backpacks to be carried by someone else.
    My question is, how much spare clothing do you carry and is it possible to wash and dry them during stays at B&Bs?

  5. @Chris
    Once I had started to hone down the contents of my pack a bit more I was down to:
    3 sets of underwear, a couple of t-shirts, a couple of pairs of trousers (and/or a pair of shorts depending on the season etc), waterproof trousers and jacket. That would give me a walking set of clothes and a dry set for the evenings.
    In most B&Bs I was able to quickly wash what was needed in the shower/bath and it was usually dry from a radiator overnight – if things were not dry (or if I knew the forecast was good) I would pin the damp stuff to the back of the pack to dry in the sun durning the next morning’s walk. This strategy worked well on the Pennine Way, Southern Upland Way, Walking the Kent Coast etc.
    Some B&Bs do offer a laundry service/use of a washing machine, and occasionally you come across a laundrette so this can also help.
    I know people take much less kit than this, but this amount gave me the flexibility and was not back breaking.
    Hope you have a good trip.

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