by Will Perry
The following morning I was up at 4am, hoping to avoid the midges at all cost as I walked alongside the lake into the mountainous terrain of the Lake District. My hopes were dashed as I was “midge food” for the next 6-7 hours. When I finally reached the peaks in the Lake District near Great Gable, the midges became far less present. However, while the midges became less of a problem, the arch in my right foot was developing a deep bruise and blisters were forming as a result of not being able to stop earlier to tend to my feet because of the onslaught of midges everywhere I went. As I reached the highest point of the walk thus far, I was noticeably limping with a pack probably 15 pounds too heavy and some very early foot problems.
As I descended past the Honister Slate Mine and past Rothswaite, I met a couple from Oxford that insisted I get my foot checked out in Keswick, as it would be my only chance to get medical help for the next 10 days. After a quick checkup in Keswick, my blisters were bandaged up and I switched to my Cloudster running shoes from ON Shoes who had sponsored me with a pair of shoes for my walk. The shoes were a God-send. I hung up my boots for the rest of the day.
The next day I picked the trail up again in Keswick, making my way to Grasmere, through the valley past Helvellyn into Patterdale. Along the way, I met a man who had noticed my Seattle Mariners ball cap asked if I was a Mariners fan. A big smile came to my face as I thought to myself, “finally, after one year of living in the UK, I can finally talk baseball with someone who cares!” Nearly salivating at the opportunity of talking baseball, after having been starved from its goodness for the past year, we swapped baseball stories as we marched on through the Lake District. Turns out, he’s from Vancouver, B.C., and saw ‘The Double’ when Edgar hit the game winning double to score Griffey and win the ’95 ALDS. As a kid, watching that moment on television was one of the most memorable and impactful events of my life. It solidified my love affair with baseball. He saw the baseball hanging from my rucksack and asked what it had written on it. I showed him what I had written, ‘Coast to Coast for Brazilian Baseball’ and explained that I was walking to raise enough funds to equip an entire under served community in Brazil with baseball gear (bats, gloves, balls, catcher’s gear, the works). Being a baseball guy himself, he got really excited about the cause and gave me a few pounds to help glove a young player in Brazil. It was refreshing to talk baseball again.
Patterdale was unquestionably the highlight of my walk to this point. The man who owned the post office-general store in the village was an American originally from Boston who had been living in Patterdale for years with his English wife. I told him I was doing the Coast-to-Coast walk to raise money for baseball equipment to send to youngsters in Brazil. He got pretty excited about that and wished me luck on my journey.
The walk out of Patterdale up the ridge to Kidsty Pike was breathtaking. The views in this easterly part of the Lake District were extraordinary. As I descended to Haweswater Reservoir, the rugged terrain of the beautiful Lake District chapter was coming to an end. Now I would be entering Shap and continuing on through Limestone pavement as I entered Kirkby Stephen. The next day’s walk was primarily through farmland until I reached the beautiful valley of Swaledale as I entered the Yorkshire Dales at the small village of Keld. When I arrived into Keld it was nearly dusk and the midges at the campsite where I would camp for the night were more numerous than the midges at Ennerdale on the first night of my trip. Donning my mosquito head net, I ran around trying to brush the armies of midges off my entire body before diving into my bivy bag. By the time I managed to dive into the bivy, an entire community of midges were inside waiting for me. I had no other alternative. I would later discover that Keld had a reputation for having the most midges in all of England, and gave the notorious midges of Scotland a run for their money. It was another long, sweaty, miserable night of having my body covered in bugs.