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 April 2019

Easter Weekend Backpack - Day 1

It was only a few days before we set out on our current trip that it occurred to me that Easter hadn't yet happened and with April marching on apace, it had to be coming soon. That led us to realise that our timing was poor; we wouldn't usually set out on the roads, to visit tourist hotspots, on the day before a sunny 4-day bank holiday weekend. Plans were too far advanced by then to change them radically and I'm pleased to say that everything has worked out just fine (excepting the mile-long queue of vehicles trying to get onto the M6 or into the Lake District, which held us up when we were on our way to see Conrad).

A slightly meandering journey over the course of two and a half days, brought us to Brampton, just outside of Appleby-in-Westmorland, yesterday (Saturday) lunchtime. We soon had Bertie settled onto a pitch at the small campsite here and after lunch and a bit of faffing, we hoisted packs onto our backs and joined the footpath that runs straight through the campsite about 5m away from Bertie's door.

Making our way across fields to pick up a green lane that would take us into Dufton, the hills we were to visit on this trip were set out before us, albeit under a heavy haze. Such was the temperature that I don't think we'd made it a mile before I had to pause to remove the legs of my trousers - it turned out to be the warmest day of the year.

Behind Dufton Pike, all other detail is lost in the haze

Beyond Dufton the Pennine Way became our route, where we almost immediately met an obstacle in the form of cows who had decided that faced with the options of a stony green lane or a field full of lush grass, they preferred to loiter in the lane.

The last time I walked this section of the Pennine Way was in 2008, when we were on our way to John o'Groats. The main thing I remember of the first half of that day is that I had opted for glasses, rather than contact lenses, because the day was forecast dry. The reality was a driving mizzle that kept my view fogged up throughout. Perhaps that's why so little of the ascent rang any bells in my memory.

Nearly at the top of Knock Old Man, with the 'golf ball' of Great Dun Fell just above my head.

When we passed over Great Dun Fell in 2008 visibility was so poor that, from this same vantage point, we could make out the mushrooms but not the golf ball.

Cross Fell was the real purpose of this walk, (given the weather in 2008, we couldn't see any point in going over the summit, so skirted it) and at 1815 we had it all to ourselves, although I'm sure it had seen plenty of visitors during the day.

Photo of the day! I got a new phone last week and we both need to get used to the position of the camera lens; eight of the photos taken in the last 24 hours have a finger across the lens.

Our day ended half an hour later when we arrived at Greg's Hut - a location we had expected to be inhabited, if not busy, on such a sunny bank holiday weekend. Incredibly it was empty, although we still opted to pitch the tent and use the building only for cooking and eating.

If I'd taken this snap when we pitched the tent, rather than at bedtime, it would have been a bit lighter!

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