Thursday, 15th August 2002
The Queen’s Hotel, St. Bees, is not one of the better hotels which we stay at, and the breakfast left a lot to be desired. Nevertheless it provided nourishment to start the day. I had suggested that we should hold a “team meeting” each day with Tina in the chair, normally to be held on the evening prior to the following day’s walk. Obviously with arriving late afternoon the previous day and then breaking the ice with the 5 mile walk from St. Bees to Sandwith it was not possible to hold the meeting until this morning but, in any case, we were in no hurry to start as we had reduced the day’s exertions to approximately 9 miles by starting in Sandwith (at the point we finished the previous evening) in order to make our way to Ennerdale Bridge.
We started off at 9.40 a.m. and soon noticed a sign which stated “Robin Hood’s Bay 185 miles”. Pat took a photograph of this disconcerting sign and we then proceeded to follow the recommended route to Cleator Moor (app. 5 miles) where we arrived 2 hours later. About a mile short of Cleator Moor we had found a “Nike Jacket” on the floor, which we realised must have been dropped fairly recently. Pat picked it up and amazingly when we arrived in Cleator we saw three walkers having a rest and discovered that one of them was the owner of the jacket. He was very lucky as it was a good, expensive jacket.
Tina met us in Cleator and we had a lengthy stay, visiting a local shop to acquire drinks and cakes. John and Penny Freer, who had successfully completed the walk in June had advised us not to go over Dent, en route to Ennerdale Bridge, but to take the Fell road. This proved to be a wise recommendation as Dent rises to 1600 ft, whereas the Fell road, although slightly longer in distance, proved to be much less demanding.
We left Cleator just before 12.30 p.m. and arrived at The Shepherd’s Arms Hotel, Ennerdale Bridge, at 2 p.m. Tina had made all the arrangements at the hotel – our cases were already in the rooms, and we were able to relax quickly. We had bowls of soup together with the statutory beers and then went to our rooms to get a welcome bath or shower. The Shepherd’s Arms is a massive improvement on The Queen’s at St. Bees and the rooms and facilities excellent. We arranged to meet at 7 p.m. for the team meeting and Tina had arranged with the hotel restaurant for us to dine at 7.30 p.m.
We all agreed that it had been an immense benefit for us to have started the walk the previous evening and it certainly made today’s exertions much easier. The team meeting went well – Tina had met a local couple during the day and they strongly advised us to take the “left-side” route of Ennerdale Water tomorrow. Apparently one gets far more sun on that side of the Water (not sure why!) and it is a much easier route, we therefore decided we would accept the valued advice.
The evening meal was superb, quality and quantity excellent and our stay at The Shepherd’s Arms was proving to be most enjoyable – “heaven on earth” compared to The Queen’s at St. Bees. Our bathroom was self-contained and extremely spacious (even bigger than ours at home) with separate bath and shower unit. The bath was luxurious and especially welcome after our walk today, the sight of it probably made it seem better than it was but there is no doubt that The Shepherd’s Arms is better than some supposedly higher rated establishments which we have stayed at. Unfortunately, the present owners are retiring in three weeks but hopefully the new owners will maintain the high standards set.