The Road goes ever on and on; Down from the door where it began;
Now far ahead the Road has gone; And I must follow, if I can;
Pursuing it with eager feet; Until it joins some larger way;
Where many paths and errands met; And whither then? I cannot say.

[JRR Tolkien, Lord of the Rings]

Tuesday, 23 July 2013

Friday 19 July: Tan Hill Inn to Holwick Scars

My annoyance at the chatting men the previous night turned to amusement as I left the tent early on Friday morning. It had been completely dark when they had pitched (although they did have head-torches), but even so the angle at which their tent was sitting had me burst out laughing:


Wall-to-wall sunshine was again the order of the day (look at the colour of that sky below!) and again it was hot even at 7am, as we set out across Sleightholme Moor.


The last time we crossed Sleighholme Moor, in June 2011, it was laughably wet, such that we gave up any pretence of trying to avoid the worst spots and just waded on through. This year, the only problem we were having with water was finding it, and we crossed this famously-soggy moor completely dry-shod.

By the time we stopped for second breakfast at God’s Bridge, just before we passed under the A66, I was doubting my ability to put in another long day in such hot weather. I’m far more accustomed, at the moment, to sitting behind a desk in a refrigerated office than I am to putting in back-to-back 20 mile days in extraordinarily hot weather. I reminded myself that there have been plenty of times before when the morning has seen me thinking “I can’t” when the reality is that I can, so I focussed on that thought as we headed up over Conistone Moor. With the first ten miles of the day being on open moorland, only broken by the A66 and with few farms to be seen, I had to marvel again at how big and empty this area is. A very pleasing place to be on a fine day!

With 11 miles walked by 11am, there was absolutely no rush and so the breaks started coming quick and fast.

A huge tree and a pleasing wind saw us take a prolonged elevenses break, and just two miles later we stopped at a picnic area beside a reservoir for lunch (although, with none of the tables being shaded, we opted to sit on the grass under a tree). In between elevenses and lunch we witnessed, not for the first time, the great industry of the farmers in this fine spell, turning their meadows into winter feed stores. In the field shown below the line of the path was obvious, although we did have to step over some sizeable mounds of grass. In other fields the grass hadn’t yet been collected into rows, thus obliterating the path, and following the correct line took a bit more guess work.


Our next stop came just a mile later, when we saw a lady out in her garden and took the opportunity to beg some water. She gave us directions to her outside tap and told us to help ourselves to her gloriously cool, fresh water (good timing as I only had about two sips of the tepid, plasticky water left in my bottle by then).

It wasn’t more than a half a kilometre later that we left the Pennine Way. I would certainly recommend the route of the Way as it passes Middleton-in-Teesdale and heads up the riverside, past Low Force and High Force. I particularly like the river Tees and those are fine features. However, we’ve been that way twice before and with a need to reach Appleby by Sunday morning at the latest, we needed to cut out a few miles, so I had planned a shorter route over Lune Moor to Holwick Scars. It was lovely! Firstly on a track, then on a path across the open moor, it may not have had the impressive features of the riverside, but it boasted excellent views and was a great open space. It also featured what we dubbed ‘five star shooting butts’, but unfortunately I didn’t take a close-up photo and in the only snap I have you can only just make out what they are, so you can’t see how substantial and well-built they are.


We nearly ended our day at Rowton Beck, which supplied some very clear water, but there hadn’t been sufficient grazing in the area to give a bowling-green pitch, or anything approaching lump-free, so we continued on a while, until a fine pitch was found. It was a pitch with good views in every direction.


My only complaint was that there was no shade, and even with a keen breeze, it was almost unbearably hot until about 7.30pm.

The stats for the day were 17.75 miles walked with 2100’ of up.


  1. On my recent Kennet Avon trip I walked 15 miles per day without camping equipment, and on the flat, and under those hot conditions that was almost too much. I may set off on another trip next week, full backpacking and have it in mind to scale down to 10 miles or so per day if it continues to be so hot. Your twentyish miles per day seems a bit too far in these conditions, but you are a bit younger than me.

    1. I probably wouldn't have walked that far per day, in that weather, if it hadn't been for the distance between the convenient railway stations and the limited time available to walk between them.

      Look forward to seeing where you're off to next.

  2. When you have the light and the weather its amazing how the miles tot up. Sounds wonderful and i’m envious. i’m sure those fellows on the slope would have drank enough not to care.

    1. It was wonderful - even if a bit sweaty!

      As it goes, I don't think the two chaps had been drinking. They arrived late and, in the morning, the case of beer sitting outside of their van was still full. Perhaps that's why they were up at the same time as we were, at quarter to six - to have a look why they kept sliding around in the tent!

  3. So much fun in the sun. Enjoy as we will all be moaning soon its too cold.

    1. You've captured the very reason for the trip. The heat may have been hard work, but it would have been such a shame not to have been out in it.

  4. Replies
    1. I'm not sure you would have enjoyed the heat, JJ :-(