Thurs 15 April
Distance: 19.5 miles (Tot: 422.5 miles)
Number of rabbit carcasses: dozens
What were you doing on this day in 2008? I know what we were doing. We had just completed the first day of our LEJOG walk, and had done so in stunning weather. Little did we know at the time that 2 years later we would be nearly half way up the country on our second end-to-end.
But back to the present: we enjoyed a bit of a lie-in this morning (intentional this time!), and so the sun had risen high enough to hit the tent before we packed away, and it was 8am before we stepped out onto the moors for another cracking day in cracking surroundings.
With jaws almost literally agape the loveliness of our surroundings (typical dales scenes with the valley bottoms and lower sides being divided neatly with dry stone walls and with a healthy scattering of immaculate stone built barns) we made our way towards Kettlewell.
The morning may have been sunny, but it was also spectacularly cold in that headwind, so our packs were lighter as we wore everything warm (I even broke the buff out for the first time). Dropping out of the wind, a slight warmth of the sun was felt but the real warming was had in the tea-room in Kettlewell. Following LondonBackpacker's tip yesterday, as we topped up provisions in the village store, we likely would have indulged in bacon/egg sandwiches, except the tea room had cunningly made its presence known by putting an advertising board on the approach into the village. Needing to kill a little time during the day so as not to arrive at our night-stop too early, a sit down with a cup of tea seemed like a good plan.
The tea-room was deserted as we entered, but we timed our arrival well as within a quarter of an hour there was not a seat to be had (the arrival of Seven Platoon from an Army Training Academy (in matching logoed gear) and their instructors particularly swelling the numbers). An hour, multiple cups of tea and full-cooked breakfasts later, and we had to concede that we couldn't bask in the warmth of the sun streaming through the window for ever, so back out we stepped.
Quite a few of D of E-esque groups were seen, although it took Mick to convince me that it wasn't the same group we kept seeing (going in circles, I thought) as each one had one person out of the six or seven who had a pack on his back and a tent in his hand. Didn't strike us as being a comfortable way to carry a tent over any distance.
Riverside walking then became the order of the day for a few hours, with the riverside being much quieter today. Even with fewer people around we did have one chap pass us as we faffed only to double back a few seconds later to thrust money into my hand with an apology that it was all he had on him. We thanked him kindly and after a brief chat our paths diverged.
Passing Hubberholme at half past noon a pub threw itself directly in our path such that it would have been rude to ignore it. After our huge, late breakfasts we weren't in need of food, but did pop in for a sit down and some pop. A nice pub (can't remember its name), but it was a bit like being back at school in that you had to go to the barman to ask if you could go to the toilet (the toilets are outside, across a yard and to prevent people weeing unlawfully they keep them padlocked. The key will only be released to paying customers).
Even though the day had clouded over, we couldn't complain about the afternoon as once again our surroundings were first class. We had noticed how clear the river was yesterday afternoon, and this afternoon it wasn't just clear but packed with interesting geological features, like the rock beds featuring perfect round basins which have been eroded into the rock.
Except for a trio out picnicking in deckchairs and wrapped up against the cold ("We're not mad", they shouted across to us), we were on our own and so we continued for some miles until we were on the track along Oughtershaw Beck, when another D of E group was met as well as a few workmen.
Heading up out of the end of that valley we met up with the Pennine Way at a cairn that I clearly remember from when we passed it 2 years ago. On that day we saw absolutely nothing from within half an hour of setting out from Horton until the following day, after we left Gayle. By contrast today was beautifully clear, so we got to see the views that we had previously missed.
Even better were the views from higher vantage point of Gayle Wolds, where there were hills all around in the near distance as well as definite lumpy things in the far distance to the North West.
We were ready to find somewhere to pitch by that time, but it turned out to be easier said than done. A pathless yomp had been taken up to Gayle Wolds, where there were any number of suitable pitches (and quite a few patches of snow), but no running streams (admittedly we were right at the top of those streams, so perhaps not surprising they were dry in the recent spell of weather). Considering our options, we continued a way, chose a stream and followed it down until it started to run convincingly. The problem then was a lack of flat and level ground. We did come up trumps after a bit of poking around. We're pitched by the confluence of two small streams, well hidden from the nearby farm and road and with views to be enjoyed. As a side effect we've also walked further than intended today, making tomorrow shorter (tomorrow we end at a campsite, so an early finish is welcome so that some washing (of us and of clothes) can be done).
(Other stuff: Thanks to everyone who confirmed the pronounciation of Appletreewick. My guess had been 'Appletrick', but it seems I wasn't missing out enough letters.)
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