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]

Monday 2 June 2008

Day 49 - Dufton to Alston

2 June
Distance: 17.5 miles
Number of red squirrels seen: 1

This is one if those posts typed whilst supping ale and carrying on a conversation, so don't expect it to be coherent.

The day had seemed so fair as we set out this morning and we made jolly good time up Knock Old Man, appreciating our new-found fitness as we made our way up the hill side.

Alas, by the time we got up there we were in the cloud and as we continued into the increasing gloom I realised that I had erred in my choice of eyewear.

With the weather forecast being fair I had worn my glasses. The problems were two-fold. Firstly the dratted reactions lenses believed that it was very bright sunshine even though the light was low.

Seconldy, the cloud was being blown onto my glasses, continuously obscuring my view.

Not that there was a view to be had.

The guide book says that the radar station on the top of Great Dun Fell is a good navigational aid in all but a white out. Well it was far from a white out today (by my definition anyway), but even from the perimeter fence of the radar station we couldn't see the 'golf ball'. We stood and stared until eventually the cloud drifted away for a few seconds and we got a slight glimpse.

Making our way on we decided that there was little point in going to the top of Cross Fell when we could instead take a path around ("Short cuts make for long delays, Mr Frodo"; it proved not to be the case today).

For a while there was a faint path too, but then it hit bog and petered out. In the gloom and without visibility it turned into a good and interesting navigation exercise.

Where the path started to contour around the hillside we decided that a direct route back to the PW would be more expedient. More compass work with scant sight and bog trotting a-go-go and we came out in exactly the right place. I was most proud of myself.

Another detour was taken before Garrigil which gave more yet interesting navigation, even though by then we had dropped below the cloud.

We arrived in Alston to find that a lot of travellers are in town on their way to the Appleby Horse Fair (lots of horse drawn caravans and lots of horses) and then to find that our campsite is far less than desirable. That it is accessed via a scrap-yard was the first off-putting feature; then there are the facilities. They have to be seen to be believed. I'm not sure whether I was more bemused by the access arrangements or the nature of the shower. It goes without saying that for this lack-of-luxury we're paying one of the higher prices. Any thoughts of a day off here were soon scrapped.

I hear that the weather conditions for tomorrow are forecast to be dreadful, so we'll be looking at the map later and considering a different route to a different destination.

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