Another great day. The forecast was that it would be dry and sunny all day, and I had the fun of company for most of the day ahead of me too. The view from my bedroom window showed me Great Shunner Fell which is where we were going. It looked so delicious in anticipation.
A very different vibe from the river this morning, it was calm and unlike the torrent of yesterday.
I had a short walk up over the fields to the Green Dragon pub, where I was meeting my friends Karen and Tim. Tim went onto forays of his own, leaving me and Karen to our own devices. We wanted to look at Hardraw Falls, the highest single drop waterfall in England. It’s a privately owned site, involving passing through a lovely looking tea shop where the very harassed member of staff was trying to talk to someone in the post office. We knew how that feels, so tiptoed past her to get to the falls. There were many warnings about not standing under the flow of water. Although it probably wasn’t in full spate it was still crashing down with some force. You’d have to be pretty daft to choose to take that on the head.
Then onto the Pennine Way again to start the climb. This morning was essentially one big ascent, of Great Shunner Fell. About 4 miles upwards. It didn’t take long for Hawes to be in the distance.
As before, the path was clear to follow. I was told this evening that £200,000 was spent this year on maintaining the Pennine Way, and it’s certainly been obvious that it’s looked after. People who I’ve met doing the Coast to Coast have talked about how they are concerned about how it will affect that path now that it too has just recently become an official National Trail. There’s a bit of the Wild West about the C2C, whereas the other National Trails are clearer and better maintained. But I think that if it encourages more people to use it, and to have confidence to be out walking in these amazing places then all to the good.
The hill was a blessing, as it meant that we had to stop regularly to take in the views whilst catching our breath. They were fantastic today, wide ranging in every direction.
I’ve said before how grateful I am to the people who make the long journey to come and walk with me. Karen was such good company, and seemed to enjoy the experience and be exhilarated by the views as much as I am. Although I don’t need an endorsement for what I’m doing, knowing that others appreciate the joyous things about it is great.
We ate half of our lunch at the false summit by the cairn, being blown about a bit, leading to me needing a jumper for the first time in 54 days. We met Mark and Heather from Edinburgh as they walked past, who are doing a section of the walk over the next week or so. We met them later at the summit when they were involved with a far more elaborate lunch than us, with their boots off, retaping their feet. It’s a glamorous occupation, long distance hiking.
Then the last push to the top. At 2349 feet Great Shunner is the third highest mountain in the Yorkshire Dales. The climb up showed evidence of the money spent on the path - large bags of slabs for building up the boggy sections. These will have been brought in by helicopter, ready to be used by the workforce. They were necessary, some of this section was very boggy, or underwater. We were very glad of our poles to use as tentative pokers to assess whether we were on solid ground.
The cairn at the true summit had sheltered places to sit on all four sides, allowing a feeling of having the place to yourself even when there are others nearby. We finished our lunch and took the required photographs. My hair was startled by the wind, and my hairband made me look less Una Thurman and more The Deer Hunter.
Then the beginning of the walk down. My favourite sight is a path stretching out in front of me with no obvious end. It allows the imagination to superimpose what one might find down there. To my delight Karen seemed as excited by it as I was.
Coming down was in many ways harder work than going up, as it often is. The knees take the strain, the surface was hard going, and my suffering leg started to object. So it was a fantastic diversion when nearing the end to see a couple of farmers working their dogs to bring a large flock of sheep out of a field. They took them down the road, using two quad bikes, two collies and a bit of shouting. One of the collies was absolutely up for the work. The other hung back behind a quad bike moving backwards and forwards across the road looking busy.
It was a fantastic sight, and quite exciting to see what happens when half the flock go the wrong way. Mainly it involves a keen dog and a bit more shouting. We followed them as some of the stragglers were removed from a front garden, and they roared and bleated their way up to presumably pastures new.
We were going to meet Tim in Thwaite at the recommended tea shop. Tragically for all, it was closed on Mondays. So minus any sort of cake or ice cream we said our goodbyes and they set off on the long journey home. I headed up the road towards Keld, taking the footpath across many fields linked with tiny stiles, and enjoying the large number of stone barns settled into the landscape.
I was here before. For Keld Lodge, the excellent old youth hostel converted to a hotel, is where the Coast to Coast path running from west to east crosses my LEJOG route from south to north. This is Swaledale, and last year I was here in the rain. I consoled myself then with Jake Thackray’s music set in this area. As I was approaching the same spot I played it again and remembered 2021’s fantastic walk. But I had to get over myself pretty quickly as I was unwarily distracted by my big thoughts, not noticing a boggy section and narrowly missing filling my boots with mud. A local man was approaching at the time and heard my gasp as I hastily extracted myself onto firmer ground. He nodded, and said laconically ‘aye, a bit swampy there….’ It’ll be swampier tomorrow, there’s very heavy rain on the way.
Distance travelled: 12 miles
Total ascent: 2329 feet
Calories burned: 2019
Local tipple: Black Sheep IPA
Dinner at Keld Lodge - very good
Baked goats cheese with salad
Fish pie with garden vegetables
Video of the day