After a quiet night and substantial breakfast I went to explore Alston. This did not take long, but I was able to replenish my food and pick up a paperback in a charity shop. Returning to the hostel, I was hoping to get a photo of the red squirrel that was playing around at breakfast, but unfortunately it proved elusive.
I spent the morning booking accommodation up to Jedburgh, and sorting out some washing. I was then able to relax for the rest of the day.
Today was a big day, over 20 miles and 1070m of ascent, to get over Cross Fell, at 893m the highest point on the Pennine Way. Yesterday walkers had turned back because of the high winds. Luckily, thanks to Alan and Katy providing up to date weather forecasts, I found that there was a window of opportunity between 10-12 before 40 mph winds and rain arrived.
I left Dufton at 7.10 and almost immediately began the first climb of the day. I crossed Great Rundale Beck, via a clapper footbridge and came upon a large black bull which took rather too much notice of my progress, but eventually decided he would let me pass unmolested.
The way continued up to cross Swindale Beck, before arriving at Green Fell (794m).
From here the path crossed a bog, before reaching a flagged path leading to the road to the radar station on Great Dun Fell. By this time the wind was getting up and storm clouds were racing in from the west.
I had left Dufton following an Australian lady, and we had swapped places throughout the morning, as one or other of us stopped for a rest. She led over Great Dun Fell (848m), and having crossed a col, stopped at the shelter on Little Dun Fell.
By now it was raining so we donned our waterproof trousers and decided that it would be sensible to keep one another in sight until we reached the track, leading to Greg’s Hut bothy, on the other side of Cross Fell.
Heading up into the mist we reached the intermediate cairn and followed a bearing to find the summit cairn. Another quick bearing led us safely out of the murk and the crossing was complete. In truth it had been quite easy. I have to confess that this is the first time I have climbed Cross Fell. 10 years ago I could not find the summit, in much worse conditions, and must have traversed round until I picked up the path down.
I stopped for a while at the bothy and then walked down the track to Carrigill. The track was being remade, to allow vehicles to access the moor for shooting, and the walk out was long and tiring. At Carrigill my colleague and I were looking forward to some tea, so it was a disappointment that the pub was closed.
A quick look at the map enabled us to follow a parallel track and we arrived at Alston at 4.45.
Once again I was the only person in a dormitory for eight. After a shower and sorting out all of the wet kit, I went to the Cumberland Hotel which provided a substantial meal. Then I had an early night.
My roommates were not early risers. and some were still in bed when I left at 8.15 so packing was done in the dark. Luckily I remembered that I had forgotten my Kindle when I was only 500m from the hostel.
The route goes up the Tees Valley past the cliffs at Falcon Clints. There are a couple of places where you have to cross large awkward boulders, which proved a pain with a large rucksack.
Eventually Caldron Snout came into view. This is the outfall from Cow Green Reservoir and is very scenic. You have to scramble up the rocks at the side of the falls, and a combination of wet greasy rock, heavy rain and a heavier bag made the trip rather more exciting than I needed.
From Cow Green you head off into the moors on a good track to Rasp Hill. Turning left I descended to Maize Beck which is followed to High Cup Nick. This should be the highlight of the day but yet again it was pouring with rain and very misty so there were no views. Keeping High Cup Nick on my left I eventually found the path and a straightforward descent took me to Dufton for 2.30. The hostel did not open until 5.00pm but the kind people at the Stag Inn let me get changed. In exchange I bought beer and passed a mellow afternoon.
Dufton Hostel was very comfortable, and I met an interesting character who claimed to have been everywhere and seen everything. Amazingly all the people in the dormitory were in bed by 9.30 so it was early to bed.
Alan dropped me back in Baldersdale around 9.15. The route goes down to Blackton Reservoir before climbing up past Hannah’s Meadow, species-rich hay meadows, named after Hannah Hauxwell who lived nearby at Low Birk Hart. As they had recently been cut there was little to see. The climb over Hazelgarth Rigg was followed by the descent to Grassholme Reservoir and yet another ascent to Harter Fell before going down into the Tees valley at Middleton-in-Teesdale.
Tea was called for and provided by a very nice tea shop just over the bridge.
During the 8 miles walk to Langdon Beck the trail follows the course of the Tees. The highlights are Low and High Force. Some kayakers had just run Low Force when I got there.
High Force is England’s most powerful waterfall and it must be spectacular when the river is in spate.
Langdon Beck Hostel was very comfortable and provided an excellent evening meal and a good breakfast. The worrying thing was that it was very quiet with few walkers.
I probably should mention that there were showers off and on during the day but overall the weather was reasonable.
Leaving Keld at 8.55 I was delighted that the sun was shining and the overnight rain had not materialised. However, within 30 minutes I was putting on my rain jacket and over-trousers, which stayed on for the rest of the day. I can only say that the weather has certainly changed for the worst, and at times the rain seemed to be falling in biblical proportions.
Two hours after leaving Keld I reached Tan Hill Inn. Like the Windmill they never close, so I was able to get a mug of tea, and a very kind gentleman gave me a £5 donation for Sobell House.
Leaving the pub you enter Sleightholme Moor, best described as bleak and boggy. Unfortunately this goes on for around 8 km. I am sure it would have enjoyed it more without the driving rain. Eventually Sleightholme Farm came into view and the path goes through a delightful limestone valley before reaching Trough Head.
Turning north the path descends to God’s Bridge, a natural limestone slab bridge, before climbing to cross the A66. From here to Baldersdale it was a hard slog. My rucksack was uncomfortable, the path was straight and boring and in danger of being washed away, as was I. The only interest was listening to the guns blasting away at the grouse on the hillside opposite. Eventually, just before 4.00 the best thing I had seen all day hove into sight: Alan’s car.
I barely had a stitch of dry clothes on me so did a rapid change at the car. Sometimes the small pleasures are best: just to be in dry clothes and out of the rain.
Returning to Middridge I was able to get some washing done but, as Alan does not have a dryer, I will have to use my Scotland kit until Jedburgh. The Bay Horse next door provided a fine dinner and it was good to catch up with Alan.
After a quiet night, as there was no one else in the dormitory, I left Hawes at 8.45. It took over 2 hours 30 minutes to climb up to the summit of Great Shunner Fell. For over 2 hours the views were magnificent, if you like the inside of a cloud. The weather had taken a turn for the worse, but luckily it improved after the summit.
Great Shunner Fell used to be notorious for its peat-bogs, but these now have large slab walkways. When these were introduced they caused some controversy with traditionalists. Personally I think they are wonderful as I have never found any pleasure in tracking through peat-bogs, a much overrated pastime.
From Great Shunner Fell the path descends to Thwaite, where I stopped for a pot of tea. Leaving Thwaite, I climbed up to Kisdon with fine views of Swaledale.
Traversing towards Keld I was swarmed by horse-flies which was very unpleasant. Do they serve any useful purpose?
Coming down to Keld it was time for more tea before arriving at East View, my B&B. Doris, who came from the Philippines, gave me more tea and cake and could not have been more welcoming. I dried off and visited Keld Lodge for a beer before a delicious dinner back at East View, which is highly recommended.
The main news is that I am in Hawes and my leg seems fine, which is obviously a great relief.
The day started early as for once my room-mates were keen to get up and get going. I left the hostel at 7.15 in bright sunshine making my way up onto Birkwith Moor before dropping down to Old Ing Farm and the National Nature Reserve at Ling Gill. This is a small rocky gorge with rare plants. On the bridge at Ling Gill there is a sign starting that it was repaired in 1765.
From Ling Gill the path joins Cam High Road, an old Roman road and packhorse way. This has good views over the famous Ribblehead Viaduct and Ingleborough.
At Kidhow you leave the road and contour around Dodd Fell at 580m with glorious views down into the adjacent valley.
Near Ten End the path left the track and I could descend steeply down to Hawes. I was a bit surprised to find that it was only 1.15. Luckily there was a tea-shop and I was able to get a snack and had an enjoyable chat with Jonathan, a walker I had met on the trail.
The hostel is Hawes is very quiet and at the moment I have a 6-bed room to myself. All the other people staying are around my age and all want twin rooms.
After another 7 days of rest with new antibiotics my leg seems to have improved. Yesterday I went onto the downs and walked for 3 hours with no adverse effects so I decided to resume my trip.
I have come to Horton in Ribblesdale for a number of reasons.
I could get there by train.
I could restart with 4 fairly short days.
The Craven Arms to Horton section is the lowest part that is left, and the weather there in October is likely to be better than in Scotland.
If it all goes pear-shaped I can get my brother, Alan, to collect me.
I have a few more days in hand before I have to be in Fort William so can shorten some days if necessary.
The train journey was uneventful and all the trains kept to time. I arrived at the 3 Peaks bunkhouse at 5.00 to find it almost completely empty. I have also managed to get into hostels for the next few days.
The big test will be tomorrow when I walk to Hawes. If that goes well I should be back on track.
I am apprehensive about tomorrow as the future of the whole trip really hinges on what happens. It is very frustrating that I have been forced to leave a section out, but I am happy with the decision that I have made.
When my lovely wife Linda died in June 2007, at Sobell House Hospice in Oxford, after a long battle with breast cancer, I decided to journey from John O’Groats to Land’s End to raise funds for the hospice and Cancer Research UK.
Now ten years after Ride, Stride, Glide I am going to walk from The Lizard, the most southerly point in England, to Cape Wrath in north west Scotland. This is a journey of around 1900 kilometres and 52000 metres of ascent. This time I am raising funds for Sobell House Hospice.
My route will basically link six of the long distance paths in the UK. In order these are the South West Coastal Footpath, Offa’s Dyke, the Pennine Way, the Southern Upland Way, the West Highland Way, and the Cape Wrath Trail. I will be starting my trip on June 28th and plan to finish in early October