Open the photo gallery >>

The Morning

Another morning in Grasmere. On the plan today was a trip to Honister to have a go at their Via Ferrata. We were booked for late morning so we had plenty of time to indulge in a serious breakfast beforehand.

We allowed a shade over an hour for the drive, what with it involving a loop all the way to Keswick and then down Borrowdale and up the Honister Pass.


At the top, we got ourselves parked up and went inside to see what was what. We had a few minutes spare before needing to assemble for our Via Ferrata, so we had a quick service break and a coffee before joining the rest of our party.

We’d all previously done a Via Ferrata in the Pyrenees but this one was our first in the UK. There’s only a handful in the UK anyway, three, I think, but nevertheless this was our first.

We were all dressed in our raincoats, because the weather didn’t look great for the morning. It was a bit suspect, to be honest, so the coats were a wise choice. Anyway, back at the plot, our instructor / leader arrived and gave all of us some instruction in how to wear the equipment and how to use it. These things are quite important when you’re hanging off the side of a mountain, so we all gave it our best attention.

We were in a group of about a dozen. There was a family of four from somewhere in Lancashire and a group of youngish women (younger than me, anyway). We arranged ourselves in roughly family order and started the relatively lightwieght route up to the Via Ferrata. Lightweight means it was essentially a test of our nerve before going on the steeper bit. There were a couple of dodgy little bridges over steep drops, and a few bits of (basically) steep path with ropes to fasten yourself too.

The Via Ferrata

Unbeknownst to me, one of our number was not enjoying herself. When we got to the official top of the steeper bit of Via Ferrata, the truth came out. I think it was around the time when people started disappearing over the edge of a vertical drop suspended a couple of hundred metres above the road below. To be honest, I started at it and thought twice. Daughterus Minimus thought about it, went over the edge, and decided she wasnt keen. So she came back again. We had a quick discussion with the leader and she said basically they could stay put and be escorted back down to the rope-assisted path. Kas very kindly volunteered to stay with Minimus while me and Maximus did the proverbial ironwork.

To be honest, it wasn’t a very long thing anyway. We were out of the top end in under 20 minutes, I think. We walked a bit further until we came out somewhere in the top of Fleetwith Pike, but not quite at the summit. From here we walked in a group all the way back down the old slate mine access routes back to the activity centre.

Splitting Up

Once back at the activity centre, Izzy said she was feeling like she’d not really got the best out of the day, so she asked Kas if they could go for a walk back up the mountain for a while. That was OK with me, because it meant I could go and grab a handful of geocaches at the top. It was also OK with Ami, because she was busily chatting to the daughter of the family from Lancashire. When she was done with that, she was busy having lunch.

My geocaches took me first down the slope a bit to the Youth Hostel, and then over the road to the path going up Dove Crag.

By the time I went back, Ami was getting bored, but Kas and Izzy were visible on their way back down, so the timing was all fine.

That just left us to jump back into the car and drive down into Borrowdale again.

Coffee and Cakes

Rosthwaite in Borrowdale is home to a National Trust car park. Many places round here have one of those. The one at Rosthwaite also has quite a pleasant little cafe where you can sit outside and admire the view northwards along Borrowdale. If you can get out of the wind (and regualr rain) it’s a beautiful spot. It had dried up a bit by this time anyway, so all was well with the world.

So we sat and drank some hot drinks and ate some cakes.

Andesite Lava Boulders, Batman!

Que? Very much as it says on the tin, the Bowder Stone is a big lump of andesite lava that fell off the Bowder Crag in Borrowdale between 10 and 13 thousand years ago.

We decided to pop along and have a look. There were a couple of geocaches, which always draws me in. There were a number of rock climbers there who were trying to free climb it. They had padded mats at the bottom to avoid any serious injury.

We took the wimp’s option, and climbed it using the ladder. On top, there was just about enough room for a couple of us to park our butts and have a photo taken. Not quite enough for everyone at the same time.

It was an entertaining diversion for an hour or so, but by this time we were ready for home. Getting home obviously took us the rough end of 40 minutes.

The Evening

In the evening we fancied a change from eating in the hotel, so we took a walk into Grasmere Village to see what we could see. It turned out though, that most of what we could see was restaurants with no free tables. The problem with this whole global pandemic thing was that not everywhere was open. As a result, everywhere that was open was full. To make things worse, one of the larger lodgings in Grasmere had a problem with the kitchen staff getting COVID, so their kitchen was shut. All their residents had to go elsewhere.

As it was chocker everywhere, our hotel adopted a policy of no evening wlak-ins and priority for anyone who was staying there. That proved very useful after we walked all the way around town and ended up back at the hotel. So we ate in the hotel again. It was fine. And there was some beer involved.