A Coast to Coast odyssey: Stage 2 – Cleator to Ennerdale Bridge

Last night we had a wonderful evening at the Jasmine Cottage B&B in Moor Row.


Our lovely host Jean couldn’t have done more to make our stay restful and enjoyable.  In the evening, she drove us to a near-by pub in Cleator for dinner and arrived exactly on-time to pick us up 2 hr later to ferry us back to the B&B.  As well, I inadvertently rushed out of the door the next morning without clearing out the hanging space in my room.  Jean kindly offered to bring my gear to our next overnight stay in Ennerdale Bridge for a small gratuity!  Thanks heaps Jean!

Our journey today took us through Cleator, then over Dent Fell and 0n to Ennerdale Bridge where we stayed at a local pub.

As we entered Cleator, we came across the local cricket club, with an excellent turf pitch and interesting covers (need them to cope with the English weather, I guess).


We were also interested to see a Royal Post van driving down very narrow lanes around Cleator, presumably to clear neighbourhood letter-boxes.  Please, no-one tell David Cameron that such inefficiency still exists!

IMG_0360aThe centre of Cleator consists of strip housing that was originally built for workers in the local mines.  Unfortunately, there’s not much that can be done to beautify them.  But outside the town centre, we were struck by the number of beautiful gardens.  Here are just a few examples:

IMG_0350a IMG_0348a IMG_0346a IMG_0345aOn the edge of town, there was an especially attractive row of gardens backing on to the local beck.

IMG_0372aMost of the small towns along the C2C route have a cooperative store that services not only the local community, but also the passing parade of C2C walkers.

IMG_0365aSo we stocked up with lunch to have along the path – in this case delicious individual quiches that were freshly baked in-store.  Visible from the same point as I took the previous photo was this …. what is it?

IMG_0366aSoon we were on our way out of town to Dent Fell.  It is the rounded rise in the background of this photograph.  Looks like easy stuff, right?  Well, we’ll see!

IMG_0368a Dent Fell is said to be a Lake District outlier – much smaller than the true fells of Lakeland … rather like a pimple on the Cumbrian coastal plain.  We were told that the ascent from this side is easy, but that the descent down the other side is much more challenging.  Can’t wait for that … it’s all been pretty tame so far!

IMG_0401aAs we climbed, we came to several ‘false tops’, only to find that the climb would go on after what we thought was the summit.  Around the lower slopes, there are extensive pine plantations.  Above, you can see reasonably mature trees on the right, a clear-felled area to the rear and some new planting on the left.  We couldn’t understand why harvesting was being done by clear-felling?  Why not selectively thin and leave the best stems to grow into large saw-logs?

So far, so good.  We had read dire warnings about deep bogs around this part of the path, but couldn’t really comprehend what thus would really be like.  I must have sensed trouble brewing because I started taking a series of photographs.

IMG_0391aAt the next step, one of our team was down …. and it was grit and mush up to the wast!  When the bog is so deep, it’s surprisingly difficult to extricate yourself from it.  You can see one of the men in our party appear from the plantation further up the track and another coming slowly to help … and with all of the hilarity, me continuing to take pictures.  It turned out to be women helping each other on this occasion!

IMG_0394aBut why wasn’t Tricia holding the other Tricia’s hand to help her up?  Because she didn’t want to be pulled over as well! There are limits, it seems.

Pretty soon we had passed all of the false tops (or so we thought) and arrived at a large cairn to mark our arrival.  The views back over the Cumbrian Plain were are simply stupendous!  About 300 degrees, with a patchwork of cultivated and grazed fields, a network of dry stone walls and both small and large villages, with characteristic sharp boundaries between agricultural areas and the towns (ie little acreage urban sprawl or ribbon development).

IMG_4053aThe sharp rise of the St Bees Headland could be seen clearly, IMG_4058aand the drop down from the headland where we left it during stage one (just before the town of Whitehaven) could be seen further to the north.   IMG_4051aThe other striking landmark from the top of Dent was the Sellafield nuclear power station.   We were told by an English C2C walker that the name of the station was changed after a significant nuclear accident several decades ago.  I have a vague recollection of the leak, but the public relations effort to rehabilitate the reputation of the station passed me by.  IMG_4067aOver a brew, we had an interesting conversation with a family group of three who were on the last leg of their east to west crossing.  They told us what a delight we were in for … some of it not easy (it’s really difficult to know what that means!), but very rewarding.  We bid them farewell as they headed off towards Cleator.  IMG_4062aIt turns out that the cairn at the top of the Dent climb is another false top.  The true top is further along, where the views are to the east.  So this was our first sighting of the Lake District and the Lakeland Fells.  And the boggy herb field in the foreground was also a pleasure.  IMG_0412aThe soil scientist in our midst was quick to notice the different parent material on the eroded path as we started to descend.  This was slate and would weather into finer material than sandstone, hence the bogs!


Our descent from Dent commenced with a sharp shower of rain (ie, everything was then slippery), and was quickly followed by a climb over a deer fence stile.  Best be careful here!  IMG_0423aThen, the descent began in earnest … Laurie about to head over the edge!

IMG_0432aWhile the path was mainly a grassy slope at this point, the gradient was steep.  Given that the horizon in the background of the photo below is horizontal, this picture gives an idea of the slope that we were walking down.  Stedman (the guide book of choice for most C2C walkers) says that this is the steepest part of the whole C2C path.  But I know that it’s not the steepest part of the whole route …. but more on that in a future post!

IMG_4069aTowards the bottom of the descent, there is an even steeper rocky and stony section – another one of our group lost their footing here, but thankfully only sustained a slightly bruised hand.

IMG_0457aAfter the rigours of Dent Fell, we followed a small stream up to its head-waters with the delightful name of Nannycatch Beck.  On the opposite side were steep pastures and occasional scree slopes.  One of the scree slopes reminded us of home!

IMG_0460aAnd even the sheep seemed to tire of the steep slopes of their pasture!


There were also rocky outcrops on the steep slope as well.  Here’s me in front of one, on the other side of the camera  (see Michael, I was there!).


For the first time, we noticed a box on the side of the road that appeared to be used in winter to hold salt for de-icing the roads (we came across many of these as we moved through Lakeland – sometimes full of rubbish!).

IMG_0474aI can imagine sections of road needing salting in the dead of winter.  But how is it applied?IMG_0476aThen, Tricia was off to find the first of many rock circles that apparently can be seen along the C2C path.

IMG_0480aWe read that his circle was constructed by a local identity several decades ago.  No antiquity here!

IMG_0485a But still worth pondering the historical purpose of these circles.  Some sort of pagan ritual? Or the site of some type of community competition?  Doug (the Soil Scientist) can’t decide!  IMG_0488a

When walking through these fields, it’s easy to forget that these pastures are actively managed and that people make a living from them (or not … but that’s another story!).  Here, a farmer appears to be heading out to apply fertiliser to some pasture.  IMG_0491a

It was good to finally arrive at The Shepherd’s Arms Hotel, our accommodation for the night in Ennerdale Bridge. IMG_0500a

Vital stats for Stage 2

Distance for Stage 2:  13 km

T0tal distance:  27 km

Level of difficulty:  moderate

Highlight:  the magnificent views over the Cumbrian coastal plain from Dent Fell

Update (from Brian): To access the whole Coast to Coast odyssey series, click on Len’s name or go here.


14 thoughts on “A Coast to Coast odyssey: Stage 2 – Cleator to Ennerdale Bridge”

  1. Thanks Len for reminding me of my mishap on day two. It really was very funny.

  2. No worries Tricia, glad to be of service! Pleased that no one has caught me on camera on any of my three minor spills so far (don’t worry folks, no damage – just a little muck and/or water).

  3. BTW folks, the easiest way of finding the whole odyssey series is to click on Len’s name at the top of the post.

    My beloved is suggesting that we do the walk in 2 years when I’ll be a sprightly 76!

    I think it may be a plot to finish me off!

  4. I’m enthralled and envious Len! Great account and wonderful photos. I hope there’s another ‘Jean’ when we’re crossing the Simpson desert.

  5. Brian, in theory, no worries about doing the C2C at 76. We came across an American guy in St Bees who is accompanying his 77 year old mother on the C2C. He said that she started long distance walking in her 50’s and has done many of the major walks around the world since then. Also, early in our adventure, we came across a Sydney couple who are about the same ages as you and Margot. They are being escorted by their daughter and are attempting the C2C as their first foray into long distance walking! We gave them no chance (the wife had a dodgy knee), but were pleased to see them still on-track when we chanced to see them again a couple of days later. Their daughter is a fantastic support and guide – she said that she couldn’t stay at home with them over here – she would have worried too much! (What do you think, Laura ….. are you in?)

    But there are some pre-conditions for success! No dodgy knees (that’s still my biggest risk factor) or ankles, and a big heart (I know you’ve got that). Plus heaps of walking and hill-climbing/descending fitness. And you’ll be good to go!

  6. Margot, turns out there are lots of ‘Jeans’ (as well as ‘Jacks’) around these parts! There’ll be more stories of exceptional generosity in future blogs.

    And I’m sure the Aussies out in the ‘red centre’ will be welcoming and generous as well. But out in the Simpson, we’ll be ‘on our own’! With you there to keep Brian and me on our toes, I’m sure we’ll be fine.

  7. Thanks a lot for sharing your adventure.
    Photo 9. What is it? It looks like an old English windmill to me. The white frame on the ground nearby reinforces that opinion – if it is one of the arms/sails/blades without its canvas.
    Dent? Wonder if that place could be the origin of the surname Dent? As in Dutton & Dent, the publishers. or as in Arthur Dent, the hero of “A Hitch-Hiker’s Guide To The Galaxy”?

  8. Hi Graham, Thanks for taking the bait! The whole thing is sitting just beyond the peak of a roof – they are roof tiles in the foreground of the pic. The next bit is a TV antenna, resting a little askew. Then, on the left is a normal house chimney with a glob on it that I don’t understand. And to the right of it – I’m really not sure. Looks like some sort of decorative chimney to me? And finally the grass. Well, in a past life, I was a pasture scientist. There must have been all of the pre-requisites up there on the top of the roof for some type of plant life to get going – maybe algae, then mosses. And then some grass seeds got up there somehow or other and germinated in the moist environment. So we’re witnessing pioneer plants getting going. Maybe in 500 years, when this house has crumbled down, someone in the future will be pondering how the temperate forest on this site got started!

  9. Len your blog is great – even though I am with you I enjoy reading all about our adventures – and we have had some! For anyone considering the trip, know that it is tough going in many parts – not for the faint- hearted – but the effort certainly brings great rewards of fabulous scenery, sense of achievement and camaraderie with others doing the same mad thing!

  10. Len @ 8: Ha-ha-ha 🙂 Caught by perspective – and finding non-existent dead-ground between foreground and subject.

    I shall have to go back to the library to find that book on life after humans; read it some time back. Surprise to read that a largish hole in a barn roof will put the barn beyond repair within half a century.

    Have you come across any more wildlife since the birds you mentioned near St. Bees?

    Happy wandering.

  11. Graham at 7: Sorry, I missed your ‘Dent’ comment …. I don’t think anyone will have been named after Dent Fell. As I said in the post, it’s a Lakeland outlier and some of the local people (including the lovely Jean) don’t to grace it with the term ‘fell’ at al, preferring Dent Hill. But given our several challenges (and vicissitudes) in getting across it, we’re steadfastly with the folk who use the term ‘fell’. BTW, there is an alternate road route that bypasses it altogether …. but what would be the fun in that??

    Graham at 10: Yes, but most of them are too quick for me, even with my ‘tiger tamer’ SLR. But I have captured a VERY strange looking military bird as well as a ground hugging bird of the feathered variety …. but you’ll have to wait for later posts to learn more!

  12. Tricia at 8: Many thanks for your kind comment re my ‘Odyssey’ blog posts. I am enjoying writing the posts (at least now that I am coming to grips with the technology). But as we discussed over our wonderful breakfast this-morning, it is more important to me to take the time to ‘be in the moment’ and enjoy the journey. The blog will just have to follow a rhythm all of its own!

    And I agree with everything you said about the C2C ‘walk’. It’s certainly a walk in parts – but also a trek, a trudge, a slog ….. even a scramble at one point! But endlessly exhilarating as well!

  13. It was great to meet you all en route. Part of the fun of the challenge is all the different and interesting people we meet along the way. We loved the idea of having a brew up along the way. Glad to have met you.

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