Tuesday, 29 December 2015

Wainwright's Coast to Coast - Day 9

To better enjoy the photos, please click on them to increase there size.

Sunday 20 September, 2015

Keld to Reeth - 21 kms
                          7 hours walking

Having read many of James Herriot's Vet books and watched copious episodes of 'All Creatures Great and Small', I was super excited to be finally in Herriot country. There were 2 routes to choose from. The higher route takes you through a part of Yorkshire that has forever been scarred by the activities of lead mining. In fact, lead mining goes back as far as the Roman times, but it was the industrial revolution that saw the rapid growth of mines throughout this area. Wainwright describes this trail as 'a grim trek amongst the debris of a dead industry,' so it wasn't difficult to choose our route for the day.

The lower route took us along the picturesque Swaledale Valley. It was to be a beautiful 'stroll' along the banks of the Swale River, but again, lack of signage saw us choosing a path that inevitably took us above, rather than along the river. The views were glorious, but the grey skies didn't make for good photography.

Our bunkhouse accommodation was a couple of kilometres outside sleepy Keld. Departing at 8.30 we walked along the sealed road into the village. Here the road dropped rapidly to the banks of the Swale, where we found a lovely wooden bridge to cross. A short distance on we were walking beside the cascading East Gill and delighting in its pretty waterfall.

Looking back toThe Bunkhouse nestling beside the Swale and woodland.

Lazy sheep dining on the lush green grass.
First of many tranquil, country scenes of the day.

Looking down on the rooftops of Keld.
A rather sizable inhabitant of Keld.

                East Gill Force

High above the narrow, upper Swale valley.

                 Rabbits aplenty.
         Adit to a lead mine.
We regularly spotted pheasants.
                 Hints of autumn

We could see the village of Muker. We had read it was a special village to visit, not least of all for its coffee shop. We yet again cursed the poor signage of the C2C, as our path took us away from and not
to Muker.

We contented ourselves with the thought that the coffee in the next village of Ivelet, would be just as special and delighted in these fine views.

Sadly, all we found at Ivelet, other than houses, was a red phone box and espalier apple trees.

The valley widened and just when we really thought the trail would take us along the banks of the Swale, we yet again climbed.

Gunnerside was the next village and by this time our tongues were hanging out for a coffee. Any coffee would do, as we had been talking about it for so long. First of all we had to manoeuvre 
ourselves through yet another stile. This was our narrowest yet. Narrower at the bottom, it took a super effort to force oneself through, hoisting the pack high so that it didn't become wedged.

Once we had conquered the stile, we were immediately impressed by the gardens and hanging baskets of the village.

We crossed the small bridge in the background of the photo below, and discovered the Kings Head Pub was opening at midday, just 15 minutes to wait. Tables and benches were arrayed outside, so we sat down and nibbled on snacks to await the opening of the doors. Well the doors opened early, but it wasn't to welcome us, but to berate us for using their tables, without their food. We tried to explain that we were filling in time until we could make purchases, but that had no effect, so we moved on.

Not far away was Ghyllfoot Tea Room. Luck was not on our side today. The Proprietors were in Spain for 2 weeks. At least they didn't shoo us away, when we sat at their wooden table, nibbling on our low supplies and admiring their sensational, tuberous begonias. These weren't the only ones on view.

Later on the sun broke through the grey clouds, to give us a brief glimpse of the splendour of this valley, if viewed on a sunny day.
More climbing.........
to Melbecks high moor. The wind sweeping up from the valley, soon had us putting an extra layer of clothing on.

I was constantly amazed by the unexpected mixture of heather and farmland.

From the moor we dropped down to a road for a couple of kilometres of walking under the canopy of trees. We were quite impressed with these bovine specimens.

Finally we were hiking beside the Swale, for the last half hour of the journey. Bliss!

Reeth is a lovely village sat around a large green and The Buck was another of your typical English pubs. So much character, comfortable beds and great food.
Most of our walking friends were booked here for the night. After dining, Margot Gail and I visited the Black Bull [same name as Kirkby Stepehen's] for a nightcap. It was very quiet here and somehow we managed to get into conversation with a psychic, with incredible powers to have the spirits of famous people visit those at his meetings. It took us quite some time to extricate ourselves. On our return to The Buck, a 2 piece band had our friends, dancing, clapping and totally enjoying themselves.  A great night was had by all.

Yes, you have seen this photo before. A mistake was made in Kirkby Stephen and has been rectified.

I wonder if you too loved James Herriot's books and the series all Creatures Great and Small. So wonderful to visit. Imagine treating those huge bulls! Hope you have enjoyed the day. I would love to read your comment.

Sunday, 27 December 2015

Wainwright's Coast to Coast - Day 8

To better enjoy the photos, please click on them to increase their size.

Saturday 19 September, 2015

Kirkby Stephens to Keld - 18.5 kms
                                            7 1/2 hours walking

It was nearly 9.30 when we finally left Kirkby Stephens, after our visits to the local bakery and church. We were delighted to set off under sunny, blue skies. On the outskirts, we crossed the River Eden via Frank's bridge. [my husband's name] Research has uncovered that this 17th century corpse lane bridge was named after Francis Birbeck, a brewer. There are stones at the end for the coffins to rest on.

It was a really pleasant walk that gradually climbed out of town. It involved some road walking, until we arrived at Hartley Fell. There were occasional glimpses of the 'pimples on the hill' if we looked up. When resting, we turned to the west, to gasp at how far we had come the previous day.
Kirkby Stephens is at the base of the fell and the cross marks roughly where we had hiked from the previous day.
                         Sheep were grazing.
Hang gliders were making the most of a glorious day.
Deep green moss was hiding among the reedy plants beside the trail.
Hounds were out being exercised and disappeared across the fields hunting for rabbits.

We appreciated a dry structure to rest and relax on with a snack.
Who can spot the  Nine Standards on the horizon?
It was a long, gradual climb. The higher we went, the ground became damper and we had to scamper across some of the boggier areas. 
A rare bridge helped us across here. Thankfully we were unaware of the myriad of bogs that awaited us on the other side of this Pennine watershed.

Finally we reached the remarkable Nine Standards Riggs, cairns built in a variety of sizes and shapes. Close up they were impressive, as were the views, but the cold, blustery wind was sweeping in from the east, so we didn't linger.
The origin of the Nine 'stone men' is a mystery. According to Wainwright, they are very ancient and marked on 18th century maps. They could go back as far as the Romans or to the Jacobite rebellion. They seemed too perfect for something so old. I have just now seen a reference that stated they have been continually rebuilt.

From the cairns we continued to gradually climb higher, on a broad but damp path, to White Mossey Hill. 
                              Looking back to the 9 Standard Riggs.
We thought the limestone would bring us relief from the damp, peaty trail, but it was so uneven we had to be extremely careful not to twist an ankle.

At this point below, we had to turn left onto the 'blue route', once we had crossed the deep, peaty, drainage channel. 
Due to severe erosion of the peat by walkers, there are 3 designated routes and they are rotated during the hiking season. 
Yet again we were relieved that the weather Gods were smiling down on us. I had read blogs of other hikers who traipsed across here in wind, sleet, snow, fog and heavy rain or a mixture of these. The weather can change so rapidly that one could easily be caught out. It would be so exhausting and frightening to be out in. We were complaining about sinking to our ankles. Imagine sinking to your knees time and time again. 
We had assumed that once we crossed here, and began our gentle descent to Whitsunday Beck, that we would fly along the grassy path before us. We were constantly deceived by the vegetation before us and the next couple of hours were a hard slog, as we navigated around, over and through the quagmire.

Approaching Whitsundale Beck the beauty of these wild moorlands was vast and sprawling. Seemingly uninhabited, but as on other days when walking in apparent isolation, the bleating of sheep grazing would be heard, even if they could not be seen. 

A welcome break for lunch near Whitsundale Beck, before we followed its path down to Keld.

The worst was behind us, but we were never allowed to become complacent.


Not long after seeing pheasants amongst the heather, we were mightily relieved to find ourselves on a sealed narrow road. Soon after, we rounded a bend and quickened our pace when we spotted the famous Ravenseat Farm and hoped Amanda was home and not out with the sheep.

The story of Ravenseat Farm - Telegraph

 Owen, 40 from Huddersfield lives on a 2,000 acre hill farm in the Yorkshire Dales with her husband Clive, who is 21 years her senior at 61 and their brood who are aged between 14 and 5 weeks old.

She shunned a career in modelling and left her comfortable town life in Huddersfield to look after more than 1,000 sheep ..... and now her 9 children.

After trading the rat race for the sheep 
amble, Amanda now feeds 11 mouths on just 130 pounds a week and says 'I'm living the life I dreamed of.

Our good fortune continued and it was not long before we were enjoying coffee, scones, jam and cream beside the gurgling beck which we had been following.

We had now entered Yorkshire and the picturesque Swale Valley, with its distinctive field barns and rock walls that are a legacy of upland hill farming. The barns were built in the hay meadows to house the annual crop. The cattle were kept in the byre end of the barn during the winter months. Built around 1750 - 1850 they have a density of one to every 100 metres. Now the farmers are having to spend time and money to repair them. 

The remainder of the hike was most enjoyable with the barns or laithes, green fields, sheep, tumbling beck and waterfalls.

                              How Edge Scar
                     Wainwath Force [Falls]
Lower Wainwath Force immediately outside our very comfortable bunkhouse accommodation.

We were able to order a delicious home cooked meal and drinks from our hostess and relax in comfy chairs around a table with other hikers. A most pleasant evening ensued with the sound of the beck lulling us off to a good night's sleep later in the evening.

It was a demanding day, but again I relished all the challenges and thrived on the beauty of this seemingly remote area. I hope you too have enjoyed the day, especially without all the mud. I would love to read your comment.