Friday, 8 June 2007

Hawes to Keld - Or was it Thwaite?

After driving from York we set off from Hawes refreshed with coffee and tea cakes. The weather was warm and dry so no excuses to linger. We easily found the Pennine Way and made the long, slow climb to Great Shunner Fell. It was difficult to judge when we had reached the top as we kept seeing trig points along the way. Another dip and another climb and finally we reached the top, joining the party. It seemed like everybody was up there that day to eat their lunch and admire the views! We squeezed ourselves onto the only available bench. After lunch it was downhill all the way. We passed a few walkers on their way up and thought we could catch up with one serious hiker going down. He was laiden down with a huge pack and we finally caught up with him in Keld. We started chatting as we were all taking a break on the bench at the bus stop. He was doing the Pennine Way but was taking his time looking at churches along the route, having left Edale two weeks ago. I don't suppose he will catch up with me now! We'd stopped for a break for Keith to ring our "lift" back to the car. For the last week I'd rung home every night, same questions, same answers. E.g. "Have you organised that lift for us from Keld?" (Me) "No problem, guy from work, lives nearby." (Keith) The "guaranteed" lift turned out to live miles away and was on a course in Pudsey anyway. Making enquiries at the cafe it seemed there was only one taxi firm in the Dales. A party of eleven cyclists were booking the mini bus to take them to Reeth and I thought "Great, room for two more!" However, Reeth was in the opposite direction and he was going to charge us twenty pounds to travel 6 miles! There was only one answer...walking. We set off up the steep, zig-zag hill towards Hawes. Reaching the beauty spot of the 'Buttertubs' I was hoping to find a car there and sure enough there was a small car pointing in the direction of Hawes with three people admiring the view. "Mmmm, definately room for two more in this one, just need to steer the conversation round appropriately," I thought. "Hello" (Me) "Enjoying your walk?" (Them) "Well, not exactly" etc etc... (Me) and the next thing we knew we were in the back of the car on our way to Hawes.

Arriving at the Caravan we found Chris sitting in the evening sunshine. It was good to be here again although touched with poignant memories of happy family holidays. We soon settled down with a bottle of wine and I got my photos out. The view from the caravan window was as lovely as ever and I just wished the girls could have been there too.

The next day we decided to take a rest day as A) John hadn't arrived with the second car we would be needing for transport and B) I realised I would be out of the Dales by Sunday if I missed out the dog leg (Dufton to Alston) on the Pennine Way. An opportunity to take a rest day in Leyburn was a good idea as they had a library. A bit pricey though, £2.50 an hour on the computer! After a shared lunch at the "Bolton Arms"(huge portions) we went to the "Walking Shop" where I got some new boots! Comfortable as my old boots had become, after 550 miles there was very little tread left in them. In the late afternoon sunshine we walked, and I bounced (in my new boots) from the caravan, across the fields to the pub in West Burton. A nice evening stroll of 3 miles to walk them in.

The next day, after a long scenic drive to Bowes we dropped one car off and made our way back to Thwaite. John thought it would be cheating to start from Keld when we hadn't actually made it there even though i tried to argue the point that we had already hiked the 2 miles up the steep hill towards Hawes. We compromised on a short cut to Keld across the fields, picking up the Pennine Way from there. As we climbed up behind Keld and looked back on the view behind us we could see ahead a more rugged landscape as we were now leaving the Dales and heading into
County Durham. It was a long slog up to Tan Hill the highest Inn in England. When we got there it was humming right on the A road; it was a busy spot. Even the sheep didn't want to miss out, joining in the crowds round the picnic tables outside. We decided not to linger after John realised the sign said "Bowes 8 miles" not 3 as he had originally read from a distance. The last part of the walk was becoming tedious and definately more boggy. We didn't need to look at the map, it told us we were in the bog! Trying to keep my new shoes clean was impossible. The only enlivenment was meeting the 'Jogle man' he'd walked from John O'Groats to Lands End three years ago, completing it in 80 days with only 3 rest days and was now doing a shorter walk of only 800 miles and camping all the way! We swapped stories and sponsored each other for our respective charities. The only interesting thing about Bowes was the Roman Fort and it was along drive back to the caravan. Fortunately we just missed the rain and it poured!

In the car going back I tried to ring the girls but couldn't get any reply. Caitlin had phoned Keith earlier in the day...something to do with the oven, and didn't want to talk to me! Have I been away for so long I don't need to be consulted on domestic matters? Back at the caravan Keith took a call from her and I knew something was up. Suddenly they both burst through the caravan door! I was so happy and excited to see them! Poor Chris had only just been informed, while I was in the shower, and she had to quickly rustle up some extra food for the unexpected guests . She produced a lovely spread and we had a great evening chatting and catching up with news'

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