I mentioned in Day Two that the bus drivers we met in the Lake District were extremely nice and helpful. Last time it was like: “Are you going to Millbeck (on our way to Skiddaw)? I’ll stop at the path so you don’t need to walk on the main road.” This time, we took bus X5 to Old Swan Hotel. It must be the rucksacks and the outfits – the bus driver called me from the front: “are you traveling here?” Me: “(is he talking me?) Yes!” “Come to the front I want to tell you something.” “(Huh?) OK.” So I walked to the front in a rocking bus. At exactly that moment, I saw “the Bishop”.
“Is that the Bishop?! It’s the Bishop! Wow amazing!”
“You have done your homework then.” He smiled as if it gave him great pleasure that the Bishop was so excitedly pointed out.
The photos really do not do justice to the view of the Bishop from Old Swan Hotel.
What is the Bishop, or the Bishop of Barf? Quoting Wainwright, it’s a “upstanding pinnacle…… a venerable figure whose spotless vestments result from regular applications of whitewash”. It is said that the job is done by the Keswick Mountain Rescue Team. But I’ve no idea why it’s done like this. But it was such a special thing to see from even a couple of miles away.
After following the sign and crossing a gate saying “DANGER – Falling rocks”, we were on a clear path. The stone path looked awful steep and difficult very soon, if you follow the path to the right. Looking at AW Barf 6, this must be the path heading to the Bishop. We were out of breath pretty soon because, as humans, we are not used to walking on all four’s. The stones slipped down the scree at a scary rate. So we looked around, hoping to see an alternative. And there was: a path meandering among the wood at the opposite side of the stream Beckstones Gill.
Crossing Beckstones Gill.
After this, the path looked a lot more friendly…
The unique fragrance of wakening wood and humid air of April.
Seeing the Bishop and Old Swan Hotel from a different angle.
The path became a bit rocky later on and scrambling was needed at some points, which raised the question in my head again: is it better to go uphill on a difficult path or to go down on a difficult path? My tongue was sticking out like a dog, I did’t really want to think about coming down the same way. I could only cheer myself up by looking forward to the grand view of Skiddaw and its reflection in Bassenthwaite Lake.
Looking south towards Keswick and Derwent Water.
A cloud enveloped us in a calm and friendly way (comparing to the crazy cloud on top of Skiddaw the day before). It was quiet and very lovely. My husband and I joked about having a little wood house on the little heathery area behind Barf summit, greeting the postmen and the milk men every morning on the end of the forest road. An impossible thought but it made me smile.
The complete Skiddaw range was covered in the cloud (yes, that cloud is supposed to be Skiddaw!). I was a bit disappointed. I sat down on the cairn and sulked for a while. But hey, it didn’t rain on us and plus isn’t it an excuse to come back again?
We went down to Braithwaite through the wonderful forest road in Beckstones Plantation. This part of the walk definitely answered my question. It was so lovely to go down hill on such wide and smooth road.