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]

Sunday 21 July 2013

Wednesday 17 July: Ribblehead to Gayle Wolds

A couple of years ago we were discovered to be walking across Scotland with three Thermarests between us. This week we went one better by being out with an excess of tents.

When Mick had been packing his bag last Sunday night, he was just shoving Rita Rainbow into his side pocket when I stopped him and pointed out that, as there was no chance of me being able to join him this week, he may as well save a couple of hundred grams a some bulk by taking Connie Competition.

Little did I know that just 24 hours later my boss would, completely unsolicited, positively insist that I was to take Thursday off and to go and join Mick. The work would still be there waiting for me on Monday, she promised, and who was I to question such insistence?

Monday and Tuesday evenings were a little frantic in sorting out how and where I would meet Mick, printing more maps, buying food and cooking and dehydrating even more rations, not to mention the mundane household chores and the watering of the vegetables. Wednesday was equally hectic, with 7 hours of work being followed by 7 hours of travel before before my walk even began.

Setting out from Ribblehead at 7.30pm (happily, an hour and a half earlier than I expected), the first mile and a half were along the B-road, complete with many a speeding motorbike. You can just about make out the track I was to take, in heading uphill on the right hand side of this snap, and on the left of the road is a ‘wild camper’ in a rather large family tent:


Leaving the road to follow the Dales Way up to Cam Pastures, I hadn’t got very far when I spotted some barriers across the path and then saw the dreaded sign:


For amusement value, I read the closure notice. The closed part of the footpath extended for about 100 metres. The diversion that had been put in place was 14km long! Really?! In what world was the Rights of Way Officer, or whoever approves these things, living?


There was no chance of me ignoring the closure and continuing up the path, as there was quite an obstacle, in the shape of a new bridge which is under construction:


I resolved instead to cross the river about 20 yards downstream, where there was an obvious vehicle ford. When I got there, I found I didn’t even need to get my feet wet. Dry stream beds became a bit of a theme of this trip:


With that excitement over, the rest of my walk was perfectly uneventful, and very pleasant in the cool of the evening. The walk was exclusively ‘up’, but on such a good track it was fast and easy:


If Mick hadn’t found a phone signal, then our plan to rendezvous would have come unstuck (and I would have had fun pitching my tent, as I had decided that I didn’t need to take any pegs), particularly as Mick had been unable to find a good and discreet pitch at the grid reference I had suggested, so had continued another mile and a bit uphill before heading off the track. There was no way I would have found him without any clue as to where he was located, but the phone signal had allowed him to let me know the revised grid reference. As it turned out, I didn’t have to navigate. He kept a lookout, saw me coming and walked down to the Pennine Way to meet me (and I resisted handing him my pack to carry up the last bit of hill, even though I’d lugged a full resupply for Mick, as well as my own supplies, up that hill – gosh that pack felt heavy!).

It was a good pitch he had found (if you take into account the Neo Airs are very forgiving of bumpy ground!) with a stunning view, and with the hour having passed 9pm by the time I got there he wasted no time in unpitching Connie…


…so that we could pitch Rita:


After a bit of a catch-up on the notable points of our respective weeks, bedtime was declared, with an early start planned for Thursday, so as to get ahead of the heat of the day.

My stats for Wednesday were 4.1 miles with 1000’ of up.


  1. Ha ha! That's quite a diversion...
    I would not have hesitated in handing over my pack, but I am inherently lazy.

    1. As I can easily match you on laziness, I'm not quite sure why I didn't hand over my pack. I certainly complained about the weight of Mick's resupply though as I huffed up that final hill!

  2. Many years ago I was a Land Rover nut,and with the club, drove my old Land Rover across that ford when there was lots of water present. We continued over Cam Fell and then down to Hawes. My thoughts on all that have changed a little since those days.

    1. It's such a good track up there these days that you could drive a car up and over Cam Fell, never mind a Land Rover!