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]

Friday 16 April 2010

Day 25 - Gayle Moor to by Sedbergh

Friday 16 April
Distance: 14 miles? (Tot: 436.5)
Number of killer alpacca: 2
Number of killer dogs: 1

I don't want to make any complaints about the current run of weather and would love for it to continue - but it doesn't half cause some cold nights. By the time we pitched last night the sky had cleared again and by the middle of the night it was decidedly nippy.

It wasn't an overly comfortable night for me either. The pitch had seemed so good until I lay down to find that not only did I have a lump on my side of the tent, but we were on a slight slope too.

I still managed to drag myself out of the sleeping bag this morning and in spite of the temperature we managed to get one more cup of tea apiece out of a near-empty gas canister (took a while, mind!) and by 8am we were yomping through dew-laden grass to pick up the Ribble Way.

Within a mile we were back on the Dales Way, and it was a road walk for 3 miles (we had two sizeable road sections today, which has been unusual in this walk).

The general theme of the day was more riverside walking, which was as pretty and as clear as the previous two days, but with more bird-life today (or maybe I was just paying more attention).

There was an exception to the riverside walking, when we went very slightly up the valley side, through farms and through a forest that has been recently felled and is just being replanted, so it's now a forest of stakes sporting green mesh sappling-protectors.

In between two chunks of such forest, a small field had to be crossed, and that field contained two massively fluffy alpacca. Mick got across unscathed, but upon seeing me they both ran straight at me. "Like being charged by a teddy bear" was how Mick described it.

About 8 miles through the day the river suddenly disappeared. That is to say, we were still walking alongside its bed, which had become bouldery, rather than its earlier state of stone slabs, but the river was apparently running under those boulders. When it did reappear it was hard to believe that so much water could have been hiding!

Arriving in the lovely village of Dent just after 11.30 we did things a little out of order by walking past the shop where we needed provisions in order to find the public conveniences, then on the way back to the shop we fell into Stone Close Cottage Tea Room. In a village that seems to have more than a generous sprinkling of pubs and tea rooms, we made a good choice: pleasing interior, excellent food (just wish I could have fitted in the chowder too - it smelt fantastic!) and nice owners.

Tummies full, we set out back the way we had come, as we still needed to visit the village store, but an hour and a half after entering the village, and on our fourth pass through it, we did manage to leave.

Beyond Dent there was a noticeable change in our surroundings again. As well as bigger hills imposing over us, the immediate scenery changed from the typical dales scenes that were with us until Dent, to less distinctive pasture-land.

According to the itinerary, and taking into account the extra distance we walked yesterday, today should have been 16 miles long. However, a quick tot-up at lunch time told me that we had walked the best part of 9 miles and only had about 5 to go. Now, I know that I can be a bit stupid when it comes to simple arithmetic, but that seemed to give us an unexpectedly short day.

No bad thing, though. Not only was I tired today (in contrast to yesterday when I felt fit and strong enough to climb any mountain) but we had campsite chores to do so arriving early was good. With the sun beaming down, the washing is drying nicely on the fence as I type.

Alas, on the way to the campsite we discovered that the disused rly bridge, which we had hoped to use to get us back on route tomorrow, so as to avoid a 2 mile road walk via the nearest road bridge, is not usable. It's not just the 'private property' signs preventing us from nipping across (it's only about 50 feet across to join a footpath one side with the Dales Way the other), but the massively tall palings liberally strewn with balls of barbed wire. They *really* don't want us to cross the river that way.
The choice we have now is whether to go for the 2-mile walk around, or whether to start the day with freezing legs by wading the river. It looks safe enough to do, but it's wide - and awfully cold for a nesh bird like me.

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