Friday, 8 June 2007

The Girls join in!

Chris was up bright and early again making hearty packed lunches for us all. Mum was keen to drive "her car" again, a novel experience after all this walking, and we sang along to Dire Straits on the way. We dropped the car off at Middleton in Teesdale and drove back to Bowes. As we were getting further and further north we didn't start walking until 11 o'clock. After the sun came out it was a good walk across Cotherstone Moor. We found a nice spot for lunch by Blackton Bridge. Caitlin was map controlling again but with the new Pennine Way signposts it wasn't hard to spot where we were going and how many miles we had left either. It was a beautiful walk down into Middleton, across bright green spongy fields, a change from the bogs we couldn't help but avoid early on. Caitlin was wearing Mum's new shoes and didn't take long in getting them dirty, but justified it by saying they looked better with a 'worn-in' look. Middleton was a pretty little place to stop for an Ice Cream, Beer or cup of tea...but it was a LONG drive back.
To give Chris a break from cooking, she is a retired catering manager after all, we went to the Pub up the road for dinner. Huge portions for hearty appetites!
The next day (another rest day!) as I'm trying not to move too quickly out of here! We went into Leyburn again, Library & Lunch & then regretfully had to wave the girls goodbye.
Another lovely evening eating 7 chatting outside the Caravan, only marred by the site owner choosing to lawnmower round us while we were eating!
The next day, more "Goodbyes" as Keith & I were heading onwards & northwards. It's always a sad moment moving on to the next stage, having got used to a "base" with such hospitality...It's also quite stressful for me in that I can't leave anything behind. It shouldn't be that difficult, rucksack, hat & stick, but I start to worry, "Have I got all the maps I need?, phone charger?, compass?,money etc..etc..or, horror of horrors, have I left the heated rollers switched on?" No, that was way back in 1980, so don't fret about me far away in N.Z. Richard, no more "flights of fantasy" to catch! Travelling with me can be an "adventure", not everything is straightforward, as my friends & relations will testify!
Before we left, we put the Sheep's Skull back under the caravan where Sophie found it 6 years ago. It had been on her bookcase ever since & now there will always be a part of her in "the Dales" a place she loved.
We set off on the long drive back to Middleton, this time stopping for a coffee in the village before we got walking. This was a short hop across the moor, with rabbits & grouse to accompany us along the way. They were our only companions on what turned out to be a "long hop" for all of us. The first, and last, footpath sign we saw was at the beginning of the walk and we were never quite sure if we were where we should be. With a lot of compass reading, & possibly luck, we descended of the moor down to exactly the spot we were aiming for. We knew, because an information board told us "You are here" and we were! (at great Eggles Hope) We manouvered our way round to the road to Stanhope. At the top, we saw the village, except according to the map, it wasn't in the right location. Turned out to be Frosterley, so we manouvered westwards to the "right" place. In perfect timing, Angela was there to meet & greet us as we slipped off the "Weardale Way" onto the main road.
It was good to see her after such a long time, and better still she had a "Fab" home & a bath!
Stanhope to Blanchland, in the fog!
Started out at a cracking pace in cracking good time as well. Metres from Angela's front door was the start of today's walk. At 9.00 am we were striding along "Stanhope Burn" & then it got a bit tricky, walking precariously near the edge of a steep hill was not easy. Just as well it was dry. As we walked up through "Sheep Steward Meadow" the mist came down, and down until we could barely see 2 feet in front of us. Trying to find the cycle track, our only landmarks were the "Grouse Butts" and there were so many of them! By compass & ears we made our way to the top. Spotting a grey "van" shape moving along the road we decided to stick to it. It was a long trudge down to Blanchland. The only other folk on this lonely road were a party of student Ornithologists from Newcastle University out on a field trip with their binoculars & notebooks. Good luck to them, I'd be amazed if they spotted anything through the fog.
As we went down & down, the sun came up. An hour after shivering in our raincoats & wishing we had gloves, we were sitting by the river in the sunshine.

No comments: