With the first sections of your 25 mile route behind you you will soon by seeking refeshment, and near to the end of Mickleden is the Old Dungeon Ghyll Hotel. There has been a drovers inn on this site for centuries,but it has been rebuilt over the years, but it is old and replete in character, with a large range wood burning fireplace and hand pumped ales. It is a place where climbers who have tried the steep crags above, such as Middlefell Buttress come to rest and refuel. But centuries ago the place rang with the shouts of men and the bellowing of bullocks meant for the meat markets.
The route to Ambleside runs down the valley. You pass another hostelry, the New Dungeon Ghyll, next to which is the Stickle Barn, named after the mountain lake Stickle Tarn two thousand or so feet above it. This converted stone barn is one of my favourite places to refresh myself, and after our much loved walks to Stickle Tarn Maureen and I stop at the barn for drinks, which for us is an essential ritual.
The valley is a place of beautifully kept green fields, whose loose cropped turf reveals their use as sheep pasture. It makes a pleasant downhill walk, sometimes along the river that flows down to the lake below. At times through fields and at other times through patches of woodland,it is a joyful journey through a now peaceful land.
Further down the valley you pass Elterwater, whose name comes from elter, old Norse for swan.so swan lake, though I have never seen swans there. There are more hostelries and cafes in Elterwater and the villages of Langdale and Chapel Stile , through which you pass later on.
You see how the place names that I have mentioned reveal the complex ethnic history of the area. Norse, English and Cumbric, a dialect of Welsh all have left their traces in the place names. Farmers in Cumbria used to count their sheep in Cumbric until a century or less ago, yan,tan tethera [one, two, three... and so on]
By now you are well on your route to Ambleside, which is situated on Lake Windermere and is well blessed with hotels. We are staying there this summer while Maureen does the route as a sponsored walk for a cancer charity. I have done it already and have to work that weekend, it is examination marking time and I am under strict pressure to meet deadlines, so while she walks, I work, with my computer in the hotel room. I will find some time to enjoy the town and the lake