itself is around eight miles. Officially it's around a three-hour
walk each way, and that amount of time should be allowed for; do
not start the hike after midday. The going is not, in horse racing
terms, Good to Firm. 'Extremely Muddy' describes it better. Which
leads into cardinal rule number two: wear your scruffiest clothes.
The problem is that few people travel on their dream holiday to
the Caribbean with the kind of clothes they'd mow the lawn in or
paint the house. Nethertheless, I've seen many good (brand new,
even) training shoes totally ruined by a trip to The Lake. Good
walking boots are best, but any firm & comfortable shoe should
tip: schedule the trip so that the following day is a 'beach day'.
That is, will put no demands on your body whatsoever. Such as can
be had lying in the sun, or in the office.
Expect to get very wet as well as dirty. Wrap up you camera, etc.,
well. Having said that, 9 times out of 10 I've got to the Lake to
find it dry (the weather, not the lake). Think also of having a
change of clothes for after the hike.
as many people as possible! This theory suggests that with a large
group there will be others with your particular physical attributes
(e.g. out of condition, knackered). I have been on trips where people
have literally broken down in tears and said they cannot go any
further. With a big group you won't feel so bad when you do that.
While large groups have their advantages, I remember one occasion
when an individual, in the middle of the pack, was just far away
enough from the people in front and behind not to see when he
made a wrong turning. When the two groups finally converged at
The Lake itself, the first question was 'Where's X?'. I was none
too pleased to have to turn around straight away to find our errant
sheep. He had the good sense to find his way back onto the trail
and just stay put. He never did see The Lake.
A major innovation
was the introduction of wooden steps along a large
part of the track. All credit to
the Foresty Division who maintain this trail. There are points however
where the track is indistinct, or takes a sharp turn up a hill when
you least expect it to.
Part I: Titou Gorge
to Breakfast River
Time taken: Approx 1 hour
The starting point for the trail is Titou Gorge (1,690ft).
The path climbs steadily for about 45 minutes, and there are one
or two points early on where you can (carefully) look down on the
Gorge. This is perhaps the muddiest part of the hike, and on the
way back seems to go on forever! As you descend to the Breakfast
River there is a good viewpoint looking up the river.
Breakfast River is traditionally the first stop, where
one takes a breather and take breakfast. You need to - it's
uphill immediately thereafter and for the next hour. This
is the last spot for clean drinking water, so fill up!
Part II: Breakfast
River to the top of the Valley of Desolation
Time taken: Approx 1 hour
This is where the going
gets tough! From the river it's steeply uphill to about 2,500ft,
then a steady SE climb along the ridge to the top (3,168ft) where's
there's a clearing and a good point to stop and rest. It can provide
spectacular 360° views... or it can be cold, misty and miserable.
Coming back it at least represents the epitome of the 'it's all
downhill from here' attitidue (although it's not). The trail goes onwards for about
20 minutes to the top of the Valley of Desolation. As you descend
the ridge, look on the left for your first views of the steam rising
from The Lake.