2011 Lakes and Dales Walkabout, England


This walk grew out of a desire to see some of northwest England that I have missed on previous walks. Who I am; Gregg Neilson, American, age 73, and have previously been on eight long distance walks in the UK. You might say I am addicted, as I come to the UK every year just for the walks. 


Where have I not been before that would be of interest? I noticed that two lesser known older walks, the Cumberland Way and the Westmorland Way, satisfied this criteria and were linked at Appleby. I then became aware of a relatively new walk, A Dales High Way, that sounded like a satisfying finale to a grand walkabout of about 233 miles.

The trick was to link all three walks together without spending much more than two weeks on the trail so my wife back home in California would not get too anxious about me, or worse, forget me. So here was the plan: 

1) Walk the Cumberland Way from Ravenglass to Penrith, cutting out the last day to 
Appleby by taking the train 

2) Walk the Westmorland Way from Appleby to Troutbeck, leaving off the last two days 
to Kendal and Arnside

3) Jump over to Dales High Way near Newbiggin and follow it down to Ilkley, cutting off 
the first and last days described in the guidebook. 


For navigation, I was able to obtain all three guidebooks, even though the first two were out of print, also a bundle of OS maps and map printouts plus my indispensable compass. I think I relied on my compass more on this walk than ever before. To assure a seamless trip, I booked all my overnights months ahead of time. Train tickets were booked six weeks ahead. Now all I had to do was stay well.

In the eight days before leaving home in Sonoma County, northern California, I did four final conditioning walks with a full pack (16 lbs), 1) 9 miles in Annadel State Park, 1500 ft elev, 2) 10 miles at Hood Mtn, 2740 ft elev, 3) 12 miles in Annadel, 1850 ft elev, and 4) 12 miles at Jack London State Park, 2460 ft elev. Trailheads are at 100 - 150 ft elev.

My boots are my trusty Lowes, but probably for the last time since they are getting a little worn. Same for my Marmot rain jacket which I had to douse with a waterproof renewing agent. For extra warmth, I have a fleece vest. My socks are Smart Wool and Wigwam with Wright inner layers. I am very happy with my Osprey 50L pack which has plenty of room for all my clothes if the weather gets too hot. It carries my 15 to 16 pounds easily. Also, for unexpected cold weather, I have waterproof gloves and an earmuff cap I picked up in Glenridding.


My United flight from San Francisco to Heathrow was a freebie using air miles, otherwise I would have flown into Manchester. To get the best advance train fares, I bought separate tickets to Manchester, then to Ravenglass via Carlisle - took a little longer, but worth it for ⅓ the regular fare. 

On the train from Manchester to Carlisle, I had two seat mates at our table, one reading the classic “Ascent on Everest” by Hunt. I started a conversation by asking about landmarks we were passing and found both were long time walkers, near my age. Once they started talking about walking I couldn’t shut them up, not that I wanted to.

On the train from Carlisle to Ravenglass, I met another older fellow and complimented him on his unusual wool cape (it was Scottish, as was he). He started talking and practically told me his life story, teaching sailing and outdoor sports in Scotland, building a 45 ft sail boat and circling the world twice, with so many adventures along the way.

Ravenglass was smaller than expected, just a row of houses on the main street looking out on the estuary with several boats. There were two pubs, a hotel and a couple of B&Bs, no shops except for tourist crafts. My single room at Rosegarth B&B was very small but comfortable with a nice view of the beach and water.

My B&B In Ravenglass

Estuary And Beach At Ravenglass Across From B&B - Where Rivers Mite And Irt Meet

A pub is next door but was hosting a large funeral party so, after a shower, I went over to the Ratty Arms. A good selection of ales and pub food, fairly busy. I was not very hungry so I ordered a bowl of soup and the guest ale. The bean and lentil soup was actually a vegetable soup and was excellent, as British soups usually are.  They offered my favorite dessert, hot sticky toffee pudding but, thinking it might keep me awake, I reluctantly declined.


Day 1.... April 27.... Ravenglass to Wastwater .... 14 1/2 miles

Neil, the B&B owner, is former military, trained soldiers in mountaineering and has been all over the hills. He and his wife settled in Ravenglass just so he would be on the doorstep of some of the best mountain climbing in the UK. He told me about a ridge route to Wastwater, Muncaster Fell, a much more interesting way to go compared to the standard Cumberland Way route on the lowlands. He suggested I take the Ramblers route toward Scafell and loop back to Wasdale on Whin RiggMuncaster Fell route, since my printed maps were limited and didn’t show that area clearly.
Roman Bath House

I left the village along the beach, passed by the famous Roman ruins, reputedly a bathhouse, then inland past Muncaster Castle and up on the ridge to the trig point on Muncaster Fell summit. There are clear views of the sea westward and mountains to the southeast, just a few clouds in the sky. After a beautiful walk along the ridge, I descended to Eskdale Green and crossed over the narrow gauge Eksdale Railway. 

Muncaster Fell Summit

Muncaster Fell Trig Point

Descent To Eskdale Green

After stopping at the PO shop at Eskdale Green, I climbed up over Irton Fell and through Mitterdale Forest. Thoreau’s cabin (replica) appeared as a mirage, an art project as the girl resident explained, a primal ecological experience for students willing to stay long enough. I think I’m having my own primal experience.

I burst out of the dark forest into bright sunlight on a high ridge overlooking Strands (Nether Wasdale) and Wastwater. I followed the Whin Rigg ridge a little way for the views and not a little curiosity, then turned back to the path down to Wasdale. It's early yet for the hostel opening so I diverted over to the Strands Inn for a pint of Marlston's Oyster Stout and sat outside with three walkers.

Overlooking Wasdale From Whin Rigg

Strands Inn At Nether Wasdale

After good conversation and a few laughs, I was ready to go but, being in a holiday mood, the three forced another pint on me. Oh well, I thought, what’s the hurry. It's a beautiful day, good company and a nice view of the Screes Inn across the road. The ale was exceptionally good too.

Screes Inn At Nether Wasdale

Not used to drinking two pints in the afternoon without food, I stumbled over to the hostel, reaching it about 17:30, a fabulous 1829 mansion overlooking the screes across the lake. Mediocre food but an easygoing atmosphere, a nice lounge and a to-die-for view of the lake through the dorm window next to my bed. A congenial group of walkers here, mostly day trippers with their cars. This was one of the nicest, most interesting hostels I have stayed.

View Of The Wastwater Screes From Nether Wasdale

Wastwater YHA

View of Wastwater Screes From The Hostel

Day 2 .... April 28 .... Wastwater to Buttermere .... 16 miles

After a fine breakfast with croissants, I walked into a glorious day for photos. There was almost five miles of road walking to Wasdale Head but the views are so spectacular I don’t mind the tarmac. The play of morning sunlight on the hills illuminates and magnifies the colors. The rising sun changes the shading of the landscape continuously. I am mesmerized at nature’s display. I have a constant view of Wastwater, one of the most magnificent scenes in the Lake District.

Edge of Wastwater At The Hostel

Morning View Of Wastwater From Near Hostel

Bowderdale B&B Nestled Beside Yewbarrow

I passed Bowderdale B&B next to Yewbarrow, not at its foot or in its shadow, but nestled comfortably beside the hill on a saddle high above the road, sharing the majesty of its neighbor. Someday I would like to take Cathryn there.

At Wasdale Inn, I rejected the guidebook’s directions that say stay left of the beck, but crossed the bridge and started the climb to Black Sail Pass around the foot of Kirk Fell. A large group went straight up the steep slope of Kirk Fell, struggling. I overlooked Mosedale Beck and saw where my guidebook path fords the beck and climbs to meet my path. Further along, a path follows the beck as it turns west towards Pillar. My path turned northeast, crossed a rocky stream with falls and rose toward the pass. I passed a couple of seniors and we chat. They are planning to go up Great Gable and Kirk Fell. I was concerned and wonder how they will do - it seems like a hard day for them as one was already struggling. 

Bridge Over Mosedale Beck At Wasdale Inn

Looking Back To Wasdale Head From Path

Path Crossing A Rocky Stream

Approaching Black Sail Pass 

North of the pass, I looked out over Ennerdale, Black Sail Hut (YHA), the C2C route up Loft Beck and my route today, up to Scarth Gap and over High Stile and Red Pike above Buttermere. This is a view that gave me a whole new perspective on the coast to coast route and it's relation to the surrounding mountains.

Overlooking Ennerdale, Scarth Gap And Black Sail Hut

View Of C2C Path And Loft Beck Rising Toward The Brandreth Fence

Lonely Black Sail Hut

At Black Sail Hut I talked to several C2C’ers, fixed two cups of tea, and ate an apple and energy bar.  I needed to prepare for what I expected to be a very hard climb up and over the High Stile ridge. Fortunately, it was a surprisingly easy walk up to Scarth Gap. Here I met all the day walkers from Buttermere doing Haystacks and High Stile. Looking up at my route, I realized that I would need all my energy for the steep, rocky climb up Seat and for the even steeper climb up High Crag. There was treacherously loose gravel on the path that made me pause and question my sanity. People were having a dangerously hard time with it. I even thought of taking the easy path down to Buttermere Water. 

Path To Seat Looking Down On Scarth Gap

Looking East Across Scarth Gap To Haystacks

However, I perservered and the views were well worth it; east to Haystacks, south to Pillar and Great Gable, northeast to the long ridge from Dale Head to Hindscarth and Robinson and north to my ridge walk tomorrow, Whiteless Pike, Crag Hill,Sail and Causey Pike. How lucky I have been with such fine weather, just a little haze to interrupt the clarity of photos. The feeling of being up here on the ridge was fantastic.

Steep, Rocky Path Up High Crag - All the Way To The Peak

Ridge Between High Crag And High Stile Looking West

The climb over to the summit of High Stile was almost anti-climatic, but the constant views both north and south kept my eyes whirling. There were dramatic drops off the north crags to the lake below testing my vertigo. At High Stile summit, a fellow walker and I took each others photos at the cairn.

Gregg At High Stile Cairn Looking North

Looking West From High Stile To Red Pike

Over to Red Pike I followed a man trying to keep up with his four teenage girl charges. The girls were charging all over the ridge having a great time, but seemed completely worn out after reaching Red Pike. He was as well. On Red Pike, I had a choice of going down the screes on the north face or off the west side on a long loop to Buttermere. I took the more direct north side. It was a horrible descent down the steep screes past Bleaberry Tarn. I would definitely recommend going the longer way to Buttermere by way of Scale Beck. Apparently, the condition of the screes has been getting worse each year.

Buttermere, Whiteless Pike And My Ridge Route Tomorrow

One Of Two Buttermere Pubs - Across From Tomorrow's Trail Head

I reached Buttermere by 1700, one hour longer than expected, due to the long and taxing walk across the ridge after Scarth Gap.  Staying at the hostel, my dorm room was filled with rowdy bank holidayers with far too much luggage so I could hardly make it to my bunk. Pub food at the Fish Hotel with a pint of Sneck Lifter put me straight again. My feckless dorm mates came in late and snored all night. I slept anyway - there are advantages to being worn out.

Day 3 .... April 29 .... Buttermere to Keswick ....12 miles

Today is Royal Wedding day and this day I have arranged to walk with a friend to Keswick, Stuart Greig of Lonewalker fame on walkingplaces.co.uk. After a satisfying hostel breakfast I saw Stuart driving up and we arranged to meet at the trailhead where he will park. Weather was partly cloudy with an overhanging haze, not great for photos. We agreed to walk the ridge route instead of the lower Cumberland Way route along Sail Beck. Nice walk through the trees along the beck, then a slow climb up Whiteless Pike as several youngsters passed. It must be nice to have so much energy.

Beginning Today's Walk Along Sail Beck

Looking Back On Buttermere Water, Haystacks, Scarth Gap, High Crag, High Stile

Gaining Altitude Quickly On Whiteless Pike

The Climb Is Getting To Be A Challenge

Higher up, severe winds tried to blow us off the ridge, I went down once. We estimated 50-55 mph, probably a 9 on the Beaufort Wind Scale. Two walkers are traversing on the leeward side which was a good idea. Stuart said that if he were alone he would have turned back to go the lower route along Sail Beck.

Stuart On A Windy Whiteless Pike Summit

We finally reached the Whiteless summit cairn, then cut over to Wandope summit cairn. Walkers that passed us are sitting around. Will they continue on the ridge or drop off the back side? Wind was still blowing strong. We ascended to Crag Hill, highest point on the ridge at 839 m, then down and up to Sail.

We Keep Following The Ridge To Crag Hill

Gregg At Crag Hill Summit Bracing Against The Wind

Crossing The Scar To Sail

Gregg At Sail Summit - Causey Pike In Background

More downs and ups to Causey Pike, it was like being on a roller coaster. The views were spectacular, winds have lessened, and Stuart is very glad we plugged on through the wind, it felt like a challenge well met. Off the pike, we crossed the road and some fields to join up with the Cumbria Way. Many people were out for the holiday climbing up and coming down Cat Bells. I don't think I've ever seen so many walkers in one place.

Entering Keswick - Interesting Sign

We reached Keswick about 3:20 and Stuart caught the 3:30 bus back to Buttermere. We agreed that it has been a great walk and have really enjoyed each others company. I stopped for an ice cream and met Mike, a cyclist I talked with at Buttermere. We had a spirited conversation about philosophy and American politics - he had studied American society for a doctorate. I’m not sure why! At the hostel, I sent wife Cathryn an email to let her know my progress and to assure her that I am well.
Dinner time - I went to the Oddfellows Arms and had another Sneck Lifter and a Buttermere trout. I had a Buttermere trout last year as well - it has a distinctively wonderful taste. The pub was full with a very congenial crowd. I sat next to a couple, saw their walking packs and started a conversation. We had a lively discussion about the many places to walk. They live near Newcastle and know of the Gregg family (of bakery fame) who may be related to me from the distant past. At the hostel, no rowdiness, no snoring, a nice quiet night. How nice it is.

Day 4 .... April 30 .... Keswick to Dockray .... 14 miles

In the breakfast room, I saw Mike again and we had another animated conversation - that is just the way he is. He never did much with his doctorate. He reminds me of some older American hippies I have known in California, lots of education but would rather be a free spirit than be tied to a desk. He is now retired and an avid cyclist.
I’m out the door by 9 am and stop at a petrol shop to buy an apple for lunch. I soon reached Castlerigg Circle, an interesting grouping of ancient stones. Tourists were already swarming the site, even Europeans.

Castlerigg Stone Circle

Crossroads Of The Northern Lake District

Some more lane walking till I left the tarmac to climb over Low Rigg and down to the church in St. John’s In The Vale where I stopped for a bite to eat and a drink of water. I crossed the beck and idylic pastures to find the Old Coach Road. I hated to leave the beautiful Vale for this bleak and forlorn track stretching into the abyss.

The Church Of St. John's In The Vale

St. John's Beck Looking South

Blencathra With Hall's Fell In Center

The Old Coach Road is a long rocky track, high and lonely, wind blowing fiercely again. I was thinking of climbing Clough Head and/or Great Dodd but a local couple said “better not, the wind will blow you off”. I met another couple who said the same thing about severe winds - they had tried the climb, had to turn back and were presently picnicing in a cleft on the fell.  So that was a good excuse to take it easy and arrive early at my hotel in Dockray for a restful afternoon.

The vista of Blencathra has been feeding my eyes all day on my left. I can make out Hall's Fell where I climbed last year. Walking along the Old Coach Road is the kind of walking where there is not much to intrude on my thoughts and I went into a kind of meditative state. It's very relaxing and a time for great insights but I won't bore you with all the revelations. 

Mosedale Beck From Mariel Bridge

I stopped for lunch at Mariel Bridge on Mosedale Beck and met several cyclists. I looked longingly at the path up Great Dodd knowing that it was a path best not taken. My track skirted the base of first, Clough Head, then even more intimately, Great Dodd, with strangely interesting flora on the fellsides. 

Later, I passed a mother and father with three small children, two on tiny bikes and one walking behind a pram ("you can't make me ride in that thing, it's too bumpy"). Miles from anywhere on this rocky track!! I am impressed with their spirit and wonder in what kind of world they live.

Ford Over Groove Beck On Old Coach Road

I crossed a picture perfect ford over Groove Beck, then met the road leading into Dockray. Arrived at 3 pm, just in time for some “do-nothing” relaxation. But I couldn't stop myself from having a little walk around the village, no shops, no B&Bs, just private homes and the hotel. There are quite a few bank holidayers drinking and picniking at the outdoor tables. 

Royal Hotel In Dockray

The Royal Hotel is nice but does not have the feeling of welcoming guests. Only a couple of teeny-boppers running the place and they had their hands full on a double bank holiday weekend. It does have a fabulous shower and in-room telephone which I used to call Cathryn with my PO phone card. 

I had dinner at 6 pm. Little choice of ales, nothing special; I had forgotten what ordinary ale tastes like! From the menu, I picked vegetable spagetti Provencal. Not a bad dish but, with English peas, its not exactly authentic Provencal. It could have used some Tabasco sauce. All the tourists are engrossed in their own worlds so I went back to my room for TV, writing and reading. I’m halfway through an engrossing Ken Follett book about a 19th century banking family in London full of near-do-wells, black sheep that make good, poor girls that marry rich and scheming matriarchs. All good stuff that Follett does so well.

Day 5 .... May 1.... Dockray To Appleby ....15 miles

Royal Hotel breakfast started at 8:30 so by then I was having cereal and ordering coffee. I passed on the English cooked breakfast and ordered scrambled eggs and smoked salmon. A beautiful presentation and perfectly cooked, so much I could hardly eat it all. Young girls running the place were slow, or overworked, so I didn’t get out the door until 9:15. I wanted to make it to Penrith by 3:50 pm for the train to Carlisle/Appleby, so I was anxious to get away.

I walked down to Aira Force, the main tourist attraction of the area other than Ullswater just a little further south. As I have each day, I ignored the outdated Cumberland Way paths and followed newly waymarked paths and my instinct. The force is all its cracked up to be, stream and falls over picturesque rock formations, a beautiful area. Only two other people roaming around.

Aira Force

Aira Beck With Aira Force In Background

The Cumberland path skirts around Gowbarrow Fell, well above Ullswater. At a crag, I took a higher path that leads to a secondary summit and cairn at 464 m. It was worth the climb. From here the whole Helvelyn range opens up to the south beyond Ullswater. I could see other walkers on the lower path but how would I get back down? On the map I saw where the path crosses a beck so I found the headwaters and followed the gully down on sheep trods till I was just above the path and could make my way to it.

Ullswater From Gowbarrow Fell

                                                        Gowbarrow Summit Cairn

After crossing through the wood of Swinburn, there are a lot of farm crossings and lane walking, neither of which I care for very much. At Dacre, I followed a local man’s advice and took a direct path to Stainton which is different than the Cumberland Way and had no tarmac walking.

Watermillock All Saints Church

Church At Dacre

I reached Stainton, 2 ½ miles from Penrith, at 2:45 pm so I decided I better take the bus to the train station since it might be a little tricky to walk it. Just as I made that decision, I found myself at the bus stop.

Even though it was Sunday, the bus was scheduled to be by in five minutes. No show! Canceled for bank holiday? I asked a homeowner if he knew anything about it. No he didn’t but he was going to the DIY store in Penrith next to the station and would be happy to drop me there. My savior! Lucky thing too because the train to Carlisle was canceled for rail work and the replacement bus was leaving at 3:20. The train from Carlisle to Appleby was on schedule so all worked out. Sometimes everything just falls into place.

Arrived in Appleby at 5:20 pm and called Cathryn but had to leave a message. Turns out she was at a conference in Wisconsin which is two hours difference from the time we had set up for the call. I walked to Bongate House but no one home. I read for ½ hour on the patio, then walked down to a shop at the bridge, angry about not being able to get in. I asked the shop keeper about other B&Bs, ready to try another one. He couldn’t believe that John had forgotten about me so he called and found that John had just gotten back. John was very apologetic but didn’t offer to pick me up. I was livid about it all. However, he was very agreeable when I met him and even offered to wash my dirty clothes. After five days, I needed it. Tea, shower and quickly down to the pub. I had a pint of Hawkshead Bitters and a plate of calves livers. Very good but took a long time to get the food since the place was packed with people. Back at the B&B, same routine of reading and writing before sleep time.

Today I finished the Cumberland Way, tomorrow I start the Westmorland Way, so now is a good time to check up on my wellness. With so much sun and wind, I have been slathering my face with sun cream. No problems at all with my joints and my muscles are holding up well. There are some problems with chaffing of my toes, especially on my left foot, so I have been wrapping the toes with plasters, some microfiber medical tape and two small Compeed patches. I used a large Compeed on the ball of my right foot for a blister trying to form. 

No, no blister, stay away and don’t come back another day! 

No rain so far so my rain jacket has mostly been in my pack except on the ridge out of Buttermere for the wind. My fleece vest has usually kept me warm enough in the mornings but I’m able to shed it afternoons. Overall, I feel very good. 


Day 6 .... May 2 .... Appleby to Shap .... 17 miles

Breakfast at 8 am was porridge, sausage and eggs with toast and fruit. I’m cutting out some of the extraneous food. My clothes were nicely washed, no charge. I have forgiven the episode of last night and in good spirits. I’m off by 8:50. This will be a 17 mile day of relatively easy walking, no mountains or ridges, hopefully not boring. 

I forgo the short walk from Bongate to the path over the footbridge - I wanted to walk through town since I didn’t have time to look around yesterday thanks to my forgetful host. I think I'm still little steamed about it, but I'll walk it out.

Appleby Town Center

A truly beautiful main street leads up 
and around the castle. I followed the River Eden most of the way to Great Ormside crossing numerous stiles with doggie doors. This is apparently an upper class path that caters to their dogs. 

Old Sycamore Tree In Great Ormside

A giant sycamore with a church behind is a main attraction of Great Ormside. From here it's mostly a road walk to Rutter Force and the old mill, now a tourist shop. A couple took my photo on the footbridge over Hoff Beck. 

Rutter Force And Mill

Gregg On Footbridge Over Hoff Beck

On to Great Asby (I keep thinking Great Gatsby), then due west on a track across sheep country and a greenway to Crosby Ravensworth. I’ve had superb views of the Pennines all along the way, but they are too far to get a decent photo. At 1 pm, I stopped for lunch at a disused sheep fold across from Gaythorne Hall. What a peaceful spot for a rest! 

Sheepfold Near Gaythorne Hall

From Crosby Ravensworth, its cross country over the moors and limestone pavement country. I found two old stone circles along the way, then an old stone quarry filled with water, quite beautiful in the slanting sunlight. Limestone pavement covers the hillside.

Limestone Pavement Near Hardendale

Two Curious Fellows

I crossed the M6 on a footbridge and dropped down into Shap at 4:30 pm.  New Ing Lodge is at the top end of town, a big old stone building - lodge aptly describes it. I had a large airy room with double bed, very clean, shower and toilet across the hall. With a friendly staff, it's almost a hostel atmosphere but with all the amenities of a B&B.  I decided to eat here. The vegetable lasagna and salad were excellent with a complimentary drink. Three C2C’ers are camping out back and ate dinner with me. They are struggling with packs much too large along with attendant foot problems. They are beat and plan to turn in early. I went to the pub for a pint of Wainwright Ale and two other guys from dinner joined me. They stayed for a second pint and I went back to the lodge. It's a very cold wind blowing tonight, glad I’m not in a tent.

Day 7 .... May 3 .... Shap to Pooley Bridge .... 14 miles

Breakfast at 7:30, cereal, scrambled eggs and sausage with toast, all very good. Saw all the guys from last night. Everyone survived. I took an apple from the hall table and stopped at the co-op for a candy bar. That will be lunch. Off on the path to Keld (near Shap) at 9 am. I passed the Gogglesby Stone, an ancient standing stone most probably a glacial boulder. It stands alone in a field as farmers work around it.

The Ancient Gogglesby Stone In Field West of Shap

Lovely Houses Of Keld

Keld is a small village of older, well preserved houses. A path leads across pastures to Shap Abbey and passes above it. I like the view looking down on the Abbey tower. The path continued through pastures, many pastures, high above the River Lowther. Across the river, I could see the C2C path as it makes its way to Shap Abbey. On my path, I met several C2C couples who had stayed overnight in Bampton and are taking the alternate path to Shap.

Shap Abbey - Now A Lone Sentinel

Overlooking River Lowther And C2C Path To Shap Abbey

I passed through the picturesque village of Bampton Grange, then followed the River Lowther until I reached a suspension foot bridge. It was a true suspension bridge that bounced up and down as you walked.  Crossing the bridge, I joined a lane leading to Whale, a village adjacent to the huge Lowther Estate.

Suspension Foot Bridge Over River Lowther

Clapper Bridge Over Whale Beck Leading To Whale Village

House Next To Path In Whale Village

From Whale, I followed the Lowther Estate track all the way to Askham. A very attractive village, Askham has two pubs, a shop and a PO. I took lunch on a park bench in the center of town. It was another lane walk and several pastures to Barton Church. A local parishioner was tending the cemetary and let me into the church for a look see but it was too dark to see anything, no lights. The church was built on the site of a ruined St. Augustine Abbey using the original square Norman tower and nave. There is also a sundial mounted on the church wall similar to one I saw a few years ago in Eyam.

Barton Church

Norman Tower And Sundial On Barton Church

The final walk to Pooley Bridge was a little frustrating. Like many of the directions in Hannon’s Cumberland and Westmorland guidebooks, tracks, paths and other manmade features have changed so that, often, I have to, god forbid, rely on my wits, my compass and my instincts. This can be hit and miss but the experience does keep the mind sharp.

I arrived in Pooley Bridge at 3:30 pm. The village is at the northern end of Ullswater and is a popular access point for the ferry cruise up and down the lake. Ullswater B&B looked quite plain next to the Sun Inn but my room was large, comfortable and nicely updated. The village was bustling with tourists. I got an ice cream, walked around to see the famous bridge, then cleaned up and adjusted my toe bandages. My left little toe was getting mauled and needed the blood cleaned off.

Sun Inn At Pooley Bridge

The Sun Inn had the same Jennings beer I’ve seen everywhere so I went over to the Crown Inn and got a pint of Speckled Hen and a vegetable curry with rice. I first found Speckled Hen ale in Wales several years ago and like it very much. There were not many customers in the pub. After the last ferry leaves, the village becomes quiet as a mouse so I went back to the B&B to delve into my book again.

Day 8 .... May 4 .... Pooley Bridge to Patterdale .... 15 miles

Nice breakfast of fruit salad, croissant w/nutella, eggs and salmon, English muffin. Excellent coffee which always puts me in a good mood. Out the door at 8:45.

It was an easy walk to the fells and onto High Street, the Old Roman Road. I soon stumble across the “Cockpit”, an ancient stone circle large in diameter with smallish stones. Small stones for such a large circle.

High Street Approaching Stone Circle, "The Cockpit"

I leave High Street to traverse around the lower slopes of Arthur's Pike and follow the length of Ullswater southward. If I hadn’t wanted to rest my feet, I would have taken the path up to the summit as I see two walkers doing.

Path With Boulders On Slopes Of Arthur's Pike

View Of Ullswater Looking South To The Helvelyn Range

I came to a place near Swarthbeck Gill with a lot of boulders that tumbled down from the crags of Arthur's Pike. I can imagine Arthur hurling them at walkers who hadn’t come up to pay their respects. On my right is the glorious view of Ullswater and the ferries to and fro.

Rough And Tumble Swarthbeck Gill

Nice Spot To Rest And Have A Bite To Eat

After passing by Howtown, I crossed a stone slab footbridge on Fusedale Beck then over the hill into lovely Martindale. What a treat to gaze over this isolated valley, just inland from Ullswater.

Clapper Bridge Over Fusedale Beck At Mellguards

From Sandwick to Patterdale, I stayed with the Ullswater shoreline along the lower slopes of Place Fell, looking across the water to the Helvelyn range and, tomorrow’s walk, St. Sunday Crag.

I met many day walkers out of Patterdale. One group of youngsters, with teachers, were struggling with their camping gear and soda bottles. Soon I found a huge 3 L bottle of soda sitting beside the trail. I don’t blame anyone for leaving it - I wouldn't want to carry it - but I do blame an adult for allowing someone to bring it.

Outskirts Of Patterdale Looking West

I came to the outskirts of Patterdale and turned right to walk the mile over to Glenridding where I remembered a Cyber Cafe from seven years ago. Yes, it's still there so I got a coffee, a shortbread and computer time. It was only 2:30 pm, so I could catch up on email and write friends and family at my leisure. 

I walked back to Patterdale and stopped at the venerable Red Phone Booth next to the White Lion (you C2C’ers know the one I mean) and called Cathryn for a long satisfying talk. I popped into the White Lion for a pint.  They had a guest ale from Tirrel Brewery which was excellent. I passed time talking to several locals and two girls walking the C2C. One was dropping out because of leg problems. This happens so often, usually because of lack of preparation, too heavy a pack and not realizing how strenuous the walk can be. In this case, I think it was all three. Such a shame!

Downtown Patterdale - White Lion Inn On Right With Red Phone Booth

At the hostel, my dorm mate was Martin from Coventry. He is retired from building Jaguars and now does a lot of walking, is going to Pooley Bridge tomorrow via Place Fell and High Street. After cleaning up, we went to the White Lion for dinner. I had a lamb shank that is good compared to a California lamb shank but mediocre for Cumbria or Yorkshire. Martin had a gammon steak. Frankly, I don’t expect great food at the White Lion but I come for the atmosphere, friendly patrons and good ale. This is the fourth time I’ve been there and I’ve never been disappointed.

Day 9 .... May 5 .... Patterdale to Ambleside ....14 1/2 miles

The hostel was purpose-built, has a sod roof and large windows The common room and dining room are huge with high beam ceilings. Dorm rooms are all on the main floor. Breakfast was not as good as at other hostels, but ok. They have fruit out for breakfast, so I took a banana and a plum for my lunch. I'm out the door at 8:45. 

Today, I am not taking the Westmorland Way route which follows the valley up to Grisdale Tarn and down to Grasmere and Elterwater. Instead, I am climbing the ridge of St. Sunday to the Fairfield Horseshoe and down to Ambleside where I will briefly meet the Westmorland Way again. This is a ridge route I have never taken before (except for being on Fairfield summit), but skirted around it because of bad weather, so I'm really looking forward to it.

Quickly up the fellside, same path as last year but taking the left fork (instead of right fork towards Striding Edge) to climb up to Black Crag and Birks. It's very steep but eventually levels off to let me prepare for the long slog up to St. Sunday summit. 

Overlooking Ullswater From Path Up St. Sunday Ridge

Looking Toward St. Sunday Crag With Helvelyn In Distance

A fast walker carrying a daypack passed me. There is a false summit, then another climb up to the crags and the iconic humpback ridge and summit. Tremendous views from here but clarity was obscured by a persistant haze. 

Saint Sunday Summit Cairn With Ullswater In Distance

I dropped down to Deepdale Hause where a trail emerges from Grisdale Tarn along with three walkers coming up from the tarn to walk St. Sunday ridge to Patterdale. One has pushed ahead of the other two who are having foot problems. At least they are not climbing Cofa Pike.

Cofa Pike looms ahead with an intimidating needle-like rocky spire. My first reaction on seeing it was “Do I really have to climb to the top of the spire or does the trail go around”?  I soon found out, yes, all the way up, steeply, with lots of scrambling over rocks. It wasn't as bad as it looked, but I was on edge the whole time.

Cofa Pike From Deepdale Hause

Deepdale Hause and St Sunday Ridge From Cofa Pike

Cofa Pike Summit Cairn

Gregg Braving The Elements On Cofa Pike

Then a less serious climb up onto Fairfield. Last year when on Fairfield heading east in snowy, windy conditions, I looked down at Cofa Pike and opted for a different route - a brilliant decision. Today the weather is better, but not ideal. It's cloudy, cold and windy. So what else is new? Seldom have I had perfect conditions on the tops. I'm just glad there is no rain.

Path Up Onto Fairfield From Cofa Pike

On top of Fairfield, I rested at the stone wind shelter with two walkers doing the full Horseshoe round. One of them will be my dorm mate at Ambleside hostel tonight. He took a photo of us at the shelter. I’m still waiting for it via email. We set off together around the Horseshoe, leapfrogging each other on the way to Ambleside.

Hart Crag With Dove Crag Ahead On The Horseshoe

There was a biting, cold wind, blustery and strong. The sky was misty and hazy so landscape photos are poor, little distinction of features. Going around the south side of the Fairfield Horseshoe involved more up and down than expected, even some scrambling.  I followed a stone wall along the ridge. Surprisingly, there are paths on either side of it, take your choice.
Views seem poor compared to the north side which, as I remember, gave a more dramatic view of the lake's geography.

On Dove Crag With High Pike And Low Pike Ahead

Low Pike Overlooking Ambleside And Lake Windermere

I was in Ambleside by 3:15 pm and recognized familiar sights, the Golden Rule pub, the Queens Hotel, then Gregg’s Bakery where I get a coffee and muffin. At Boots, I stock up on Compeed - I have used my last one from last year's packs.

Ambleside Town Center, Queen's Hotel

Ambleside YHA Hostel

An hour later I arrived at the hostel, a beautiful, huge old stone building by Lake Windermere and the boat dock. Others have denounced it as being too large, but it is very nice and comfortable inside, wonderful common rooms and an ale bar. Richard, my Fairfield friend, was resting his back, will take a day off and then walk the length of High Street. No one else was in our six bunk dorm room. At dinner, I had a chicken caesar salad and a Magnum ice cream bar for dessert. With an excellent pint of ale from Hesket Newmarket, it made for a 
 very relaxing evening.  Our dorm window has a nice view overlooking the lake and dock. I saw a bit of rain out there. I’ll sleep well tonight as this was a tough day.

Lake Windermere And Ferry From My Dorm Window


Day 10 - May 6... Ambleside to Shap .... 20 miles

Another excellent hostel breakfast. I took an apple and rolled up cold meat and cheese slices for my lunch. I called my B&B in Shap to let Margaret know I'm on schedule and to expect me about 5 pm. Weather was still rainy, so I put the Duck’s Back on my pack, put up my hood and off I went through the woods to Troutbeck via Skelghyll. I had not a thought about weather conditions higher up today. My head is already in the clouds.

Through The Woods To Troutbeck

My route will take me up to High Street, over to Nan Bield Pass, down to Mardale Head and over the Old Corpse Road through Swindale to Shap. Meanwhile, it seems a long trod through Troutbeck village. 

Overlooking Troutbeck

When I reached the Mortal Man Inn, I took a lane behind it to reach my path to Troutbeck Park and the fells. After Ing Bridge, Trout Beck turns northwest and I followed a smaller beck northeast until it splayed out in the rise onto High Street. At its upper reaches, I passed through a gate onto the fells. A sock, mounted on the gatepost, points the way. I was climbing straight into the clouds, still not concerned about visibility on High Street.

New Ing Bridge North Of Troutbeck

Gate To High Street - Sock On Post Points The Way

The rain was still falling, above me nothing but dense clouds. On Park Fell, I met a man and son coming off High Street bagging peaks. I climbed into even heavier fog, and on High Street I could hardly see. The wind had become quite strong. I passed iron posts noted on the OS map, so now I was sure of where I am, however, as I walked on into the dark mist I was not so sure. Further on, I thought I found where the path goes southeast toward Mardale Ill Bell and Nan Bield Pass but there is no way to know for certain. Mist was too heavy to see any landmarks. My compass was proving its worth. It's really all I had.

Two Iron Posts Marking Path On High Street

I stumbled on four fellows having lunch on the leeward side of a stone wall, out of the wind. I sat with them and ate my apple. They thought I should be going a different direction, but as they leave, another walker came by, going my way to the pass. We walked together and, yes, I was headed on the right path in the right direction. Dave had been here before and, 
as we dropped lower out of the heavy mist, he  gradually began to recognize features along the path .

On Nan Bield Pass Looking South

Dave and I parted at Nan Bield Pass, he went south and I dropped down to Small Water and Mardale Head. What a difference in the weather! The skies started to clear as predicted on TV for the afternoon, the sun lit up the water and mountainsides, waterfalls are sparkling and glorious. It's a whole new day.

Overlooking Small Water, Haweswater Beyond

Outflow From Small Water

Reaching Haweswater, I go a short distance up the road and turn onto a path along a gully leading onto the Old Corpse Road. On the above photo, the gully is the dark line rising from the lake just north of the group of trees along the shore. The path leads over the moor as The Old Coach Road. What a lonely stretch of moor. I pass a couple arguing over which way to go, not lost, just indecisive. The path then drops sharply down into Swindale where a lane carries me to the beck crossing. There are no waymarks, so I'm relying on my map. Clouds are hanging tough, sun peeking through occasionally.

Lonely Old Corpse Road

Descending Into Swindale

Path Out Of Swindale Looking Back

After climbing out of Swindale, there is a boggy area so I diverted over to the lane at Tailbert Farm. Then it's tarmac to Keld and a short walk across the pasture into Shap. I didn’t arrive in Shap until after 6 pm, and got to Brookfield House at the south end of town at 6:30. I was worried that Margaret is worried that I am late. It's been a long hard 20 mile day full of challenges and adventures. 

After leaving my boots outside, I’m ready for a pot of tea and Margaret’s incredible scones. She doesn’t disappoint, but apologized for being out of cakes and other goodies. Scones were so good and plentiful, they were certainly enough. And yes, she was worried about my arriving so late and quizzed me about my route and how I liked it. I said the Swindale route was fine except for a lack of any waymarks, so a good map was a necessity.

Brookfield House In Shap - Remnants Of Royal Wedding Flags

For some reason, I was not very hungry (must have been the three scones), so at the Greyhound I only had a bowl of soup and a pint of Black Sheep Bitters. Then a shower and my usual writing and reading.  Margaret insisted on doing some washing for me, said it's no trouble, a little fairy will sprinkle some dust overnight and I’ll find clean clothes at my door in the morning. What a sweet lady!


Day 11 .... May 7 .... Shap to Sedburgh .... 16 miles
Margaret gave me a good sendoff from Brookfield. Wonder when I will be back. I went to Tebay by bus, then walked 4 ½ miles over to Bowderdale, near Newbiggin, to pick up the Dales High Way. I will be skipping the "last" day of the DHW from Newbiggin to Appleby as described in the south to north guide. 

From Tebay, I followed a lane running just south of and parallel to the A685 and crossed several farm pastures. At Bowderdale, just before the bridge over the beck, I turned sharply south on a bridleway that doubled as the Dales High Way. I’ll follow the Dales High Way all the way to Ilkley.

Long Greenway From Bowderdale Onto West Fell

I passed a sheep ranch and stopped to talk with the rancher riding his big wheel buggy like a wild west cowboy. He was curious and wanted to talk about my walk. Through the last gate and I was up on the fells, following a greenway all the way over the Howgills. I was a gradual climb on a ridge to the summit of West Fell at 542 m, then another climb to Hazelgill Knott. I met two cyclist screaming down the Knott having a great time, interrupting my meditative state. Incredibly, I’ll meet them again tomorrow. Its deering-do out here with all the mud hags.

Grain Gill From Hazelgill Knott

Weather was overcast and started a slow rain, so I put on the Duck’s Back. I was on a high ridge that turns southwest, climbing more as I topped a couple more summits. I could look back and see my path all the way down to West Fell.

Looking Back On Long Ridge Approach To The Calf

I met a couple with their young son walking back and forth. They were searching for a path (found on the internet) to Cautley Spout, supposedly the highest waterfall in England. I tried to help find it with my maps but no luck. The spout is not far but is straight down the mountain and no discernible path to it. The mother was apparently worried but the father seemed capable so I left them and headed for the trig point on The Calf at 676 m.

Then a huge black cloud swooped in with harder rain and virtually no visibility. It was practically a total blackout. I worried about the threesome and hoped they had the sense to abandon their quixotic effort and follow me. There are several offshoots of the path but my compass kept me in the right direction until I passed the tarn and the main path was obvious beneath my feet.

A Hard-To-See Trig Point On The Calf

Finally I saw a phantom of a pyramid rising out of the dark fog as I almost bumped into it. I was able to take a photo and move on, still worried about the family left behind. As I walked further, the fog cleared a little but the wind became ferocious. Challenges were one after another. I had been checking my compass every few minutes to make sure I was going the right way. Mist cleared enough to see around me but the wind was too strong to enjoy it. Regardless, the hills are truly magnificent - Wainwright called them “a herd of sleeping elephants”. Its still quite a long, tiring walk to Sedburgh. I didn’t get there until 4 pm.

Sedburgh From On High

I was scheduled to call Cathryn today but the red telephone booth next to the museum didn’t work. I found a newer working one next to the information center and called my sweetie for another long chat.

I walked the kilometer to Holmcroft B&B - very nice, reminds me of Brookfield. A pot of tea, shower and off to the Dalesman for a pint of Black Sheep. Their menu didn’t grab me so I walked down to a relatively new restaurant called DUO. A friendly place, I got grilled cod and a glass of white wine from South Africa. Something different than my usual pub fare. Stopped at the co-op for chocolate chip cookies, went back to my room and devoured them. Like I said, something different tonight.

Day 12 .... May .... 8 Sedburgh to Ribbleshead .... 15 miles

DHW leaves Sedburgh by the southeast corner of town, over New Bridge and up past several farms onto Frostrow Fell and Long Moor while skirting Holebeck Gill. This route is northeast of the Dales Way and at a considerably higher elevation. Oh drats, my camera card is full and I can’t get it to reverse through past photos to erase the bad ones. I’ll have to work on it later.

As I descend towards Barth Bridge, I stopped to chat with the old farmer at Lunds Farm, a lively and curious sort of fellow although hobbled by a lame leg. Coming into Dent, I pass fields of campers acting like its another bank holiday weekend. Dent is such a picturesque little village, too bad my camera is acting up. Leaving Dent, I joined the Dales Way to Bridge End, then started a long trek on a rocky path gradually ascending onto the moors. The weather is calmer than yesterday but, as I approach Wold End, there are low hanging clouds covering the top of Whernside which looms beside me, getting closer and closer. Since Sedburgh, this route has been waymarked as the Craven Way, an old packhorse route very important in olden days.

Wow, here they come whizzing off Wold End, the two cyclists I met in the Howgills yesterday, today with a third buddy. So fast they can’t stop but give me a big wave and hello. They are definitely having a good week. I know my son would love to be riding with them.

Descending from Wold End, I came to the Carlisle-Settle Railroad and Blea Moor Siding with its beautifully restored signal box and, a little further on, the iconic 24 arch Ribbleshead Viaduct. I wandered under the viaduct, rubbing my hands over the stone arches, marveling at their artistry and engineering and contemplating the enormous amount of human energy and suffering expended. Oh, how I wish my camera was on duty.

Its only a short walk to the Station Inn where they are expecting me. I arrived at 3:30, had two cups of tea, a coffee and a shower, then down to the bar for a pint of Hobgoblin ale. Friendly barkeep and patrons, everyone seems to be here for day walks. One guy has a Helms Deep teeshirt. He got it from a friend who was on movie location in New Zealand. If you don’t know what movie it is, I can’t help you because I don't know it either, but it's supposed to be famous.

Later, I had a vegetable lasagna, salad and pint of Old Peculiar, then tucked in for the night. This is the second time I have been here. The food is not as good as last time but they still have a superior selection of real ales. There is something about the Station Inn - I really like this place and would go out of my way to stay again.

Day 13 .... May 9 .... Ribbleshead to Settle .... 15 miles

Breakfast is not served until 8:30, a policy not appreciated by walkers. I went down early for cereal and met a walker couple doing the same. We all groused about the late breakfast time. When the English breakfast came, it was huge with two each of sausage and bacon all sourced locally, good enough to take some for lunch. I guess this makes up for a mediocre dinner. After paying my tab, I was out the door by 9:15.

As I approached Ingleborough, I had to decide whether to climb it or go around it on the alternative route. The sky was chancy with clouds hanging around so, remembering yesterday and the Howgills, I opted for the alternate route. This led me over several pastures, then a track passing by a private area filled with pot holes and caverns in the limestone escarpment. Pothole and cave explorers can register at a farmhouse to get permission to explore. Further on, I passed under limestone scars and climbed up on the top to see the pavement formations, stones jump out everywhere. I crossed the Three Peaks track and debated whether to take it toward Ingleborough to intersect with the DHW path descending from Ingleborough but decided not. Ingleborough still had clouds hovering over it but the summit was clear. I could kick myself for not climbing it

Next I came to the main DHW path but didn’t recognize it thinking the intersection was further ahead. I soon realized my error and turned back onto the path I want. The problem was the many paths here and my trying to follow the guidebook backwards. If I turn around and walk backwards, it all makes sense. This problem will crop up again today at Wharf village, two miles further, where I turned into the village too soon and couldn’t find where to continue. Finally I went to the far end of the village where the landmarks were all too clear. If coming from the south as the guidebook is written, it would be impossible to go wrong.

After Wharf, the next village was Feizor, a surprisingly lovely place with an outdoor tea room and an inviting B&B. Here the DHW turned east past Smearset Scar towards Stainforth. After passing over more limestone pavement, I diverted from the eastward path to Little Stainforth and turned southeast, downhill, on faint farm tracks to emerge on the road just south of Stackhouse. This cut out most of the walk along the River Ribble and saved a bit of time. I was suddenly anxious to get to Settle so to have time to explore the town. A few steps along the road and I turned onto the Ribble Way leading along the river, then over the main bridge into Settle. I am only a half mile from Giggleswick - I love that word - made famous by Bill Bryson. My bed tonight, Whitefriers B&B, is just down the street near the Shambles, or marketplace.

Arrived at Whitefriers about 4 pm, a very old two story house with a beautiful lounge. I have a small room but nice. After a pot of tea and shower, I was out to explore the town, very old and interesting buildings. I landed at the Golden Lion and had seafood pasta w/watercress and a pint of Thwaites Nutty Brown. Talked to an Irishman who has been here 40 years. He didn’t seem to remember much about Ireland, but like most Irishmen he loves country western music and likes to spend a lot of time in the pub, being sociable, you know.

I finally sorted out the problem with my camera and will now have photo space for the rest of the walk. Yeahhh!

Day 14 .... May 10 .... Settle to Malham.... 9 miles

I had a little different breakfast today, wonderful homemade muslei (kudos to the cook), fruit, poached eggs, kippers and toast. I would come back here just for the muslei. Today is market day in Settle, booths set up around the marketplace. I salivated over the cheese display, breads and sweets. The sights delayed my departure until 9:30. I planned today be a short, restful day so I was in no hurry.

Morning Market In Settle

Sweets Booth In The Market

Cheese Booth With Bread Booth Beyond

Steeply up on the fells, I passed a photo shoot, probably for a TV ad, of a cyclist having a grand time testing the fells. The sky was a bit cloudy but, looking back, a spot of sun highlighted my walk of yesterday from Smearset Scar.

South Of Settle Looking North Toward Smearset Scar

A Trio Of Curious Fellows (Or Ladies) On The Fell

I was heading due east, passing by the peaks of Warrendale Knotts and the cliffs of Attermire Scar with over 40 caves tucked away in their back reaches, physically impressive but a mostly gray color that lessens the visual effect. I noticed a couple behind me, slowly gaining ground.

Warrendale Knotts and Attermire Scar

The Wooley Mammoth Lives

As I pass above Stockdale Farm, I stopped for a short rest and water. The two walkers catch up, we chat and they notice my DHW guidebook. She says “we wrote it”. The are none other than Chris and Tony Grogan, the DHW guidebook authors. I introduce myself and they know of my walk from the walkers forum. Meanwhile, it starts raining and we put on rain gear. We chat and walk awhile together to Landscar where they loop back to Settle, just out for a day’s walk. It was a pleasure to get to know them.

Chris And Tony Grogan With Faithful Friend

Gregg and Chris Posing For Tony

The DHW path to Malham Cove led over a delightful limestone pathway, then through Watlowes, an unusually narrow, steep and rocky valley just west of the Pennine Way path. I loved it's ruggedness and yet an almost nurturing feeling.

Limestone Walkway On The Dales High Way

Looking Down Watlowes Toward Malham Cove

I arrived at Malham Cove and inserted myself into the crowd, then tried to get away from the crowd by spending time on the northeast side of Malham Cove, high up on the cliff, watching the Peregrine falcons swoop around. One seemed to be nesting and fought off another bird. There are a few bird watchers, their big lens cameras were out clicking. 

Malham Cove From Top Of Eastern Cliff

There was rain earlier, now the sun is in and out. Tucked in a limestone cleft, I had a lunch of banana, sausage and cookie. Lots of people are out here climbing about. One couple had a plastic bag blow away - I thought he was going to go over the cliff chasing it. 

Overlooking Malhamdale

I walked across the famous limestone pavement and passed a student group on an outing to study the geology of this glaciated area. I dropped down the 260 ft stone staircase to the valley where I saw a climbing group going up sheer walls, just a practice climb. Following Malham Beck into the village, I arrived at Beck Hall B&B at about 1330, a great place to have a half-rest day.

Glaciated Limestome Pavement On Top Of Malham Cove

A walk around the village, then a stop at Lister Arms for a pint of Thwaites Bomber. I sat at the outside table and talked with a retired man with two Jack Russells. He is local and comes here often. I returned to Beck's Hall for a spell to clean up, then over to The Buck Inn for a dinner of Lamb Yorkshire Pudding and T. Taylor’s Landlords Ale. I ended the day at Beck's Hall reading in the comfortable B&B lounge in front of a roaring wood fire. This place is more like lodge than B&B.

Beck's Hall B&B In Malham

The Buck Inn In Malham

Day 15 .... May 11 .... Malham to Skipton .... 14 miles

Another breakfast of smoked salmon and eggs, a break from sausage and bacon. Talked with two guys walking the Pennine Way, a Brit and an Australian from Perth. I left with an apple and a banana for lunch, generously provided on the breakfast bar.

I was off by 8:50 and walked the 1½ miles to Janet’s Foss. Foss is the old Norse word for waterfall, Janet means the local fairy queen who typically lives in a cave behind the falls. Its a wonderful, hidden, intimate spot, boulders strategically placed by Janet to guard the pool, water from the falls streaming over the rocks surrounding the pool and into the beck threading through trees. The trail along the beck is lined with wild garlic giving off a heady smell, its stems a pungent taste. This is a very feminine place, almost erotic.

Trail To Janet's Foss Featuring Wild Garlic

Janet's Foss Featuring A Meditative Solitude

A half mile off the DHW brought me to Gordale Scar, a narrow, rough cleft in towering limestone walls with two waterfalls, a magnificent sight revealed suddenly as I turned a corner. The visual effect is truly stunning, more so because the earth colors of the rock walls were enhanced by wetness from rain. Gordale Scar has a decidedly masculine quality. This place and Janet’s Foss are so different, yet fit together so well as a single site to be visited less than a mile apart. Not to be missed!

First Look At Gordale Scar

Closer Look Of Waterfalls At Gordale Scar

from Gordale, it's an unwelcome trudge up a narrow, steep tarmac road to a turnoff onto a short track to Weets Top. At the summit is a standing stone. I turned around and, half hidden behind a stone wall, I found the trig point, the true summit at 414 m. I don't know the story behind the standing stone but it looks quite elegant.

Standing Stone On Weets Top

There is a long track across the moor, a popular bike trail, several cyclists passed me, to Moore Lane which leads into Hetton. This section of the walk is best spent in meditation, nuff said. In Hetton, I passed the Angel Inn which seems like a good place to overnight if you want to vary your day distances.

Out of Hetton, I crossed pastures and followed becks to Flasby where the DHW turned east to climb up Sharp Haw and another trig point. This is a nice little climb with some boggy areas to maneuver across. From the trig point, there are good views of Skipton to the south and Gargrave to the west.

Approaching Trig Point On Sharp Haw

Overlooking Skipton

It's a gentle tedious descent to Tarn House Farm, across the motorway, then over pastures, through a golf course and up and down a hill to the edge of Skipton city center.

Entering Skipton The Back Way

It was rather a shock to climb over the stone wall stile to suddenly be within two blocks of High Street, the center of town with grand government buildings and a variety of store fronts. To add chaos confronting a lonely walker, today is market day with numerous vender booths lining High Street on both sides. I always enjoy the market days, even if I don’t buy anything.

I went to the Unicorn Hotel, dumped my backpack, and made my scheduled phone call to Cathryn. I stopped at the library for a half hour of internet time - must keep communicating with demanding friends and relatives - made a ritual stop at the market for snacks, and back to the hotel to clean up. The room is large, a huge bed, good amenities, with a definite hotel feeling. Faucet water is labeled Not For Drinking - they supply bottled water in room.

The strange thing about Skipton is an apparent dearth of B&Bs within the town - even the list from the TIC only show them in outlying places. What is a walker to do? Perhaps more research is in order.

I found the Wooley Sheep pub only a block from the hotel. It's a little different from most pubs in that a waitress seats you at a table and takes your order, more upscale than a scruffy walker expects. I had a pint of Timothy Taylor Bitter and a crab linguini dish with watercress sprinkled on top. Both are excellent and I love having the pungent watercress with the pasta, a new presentation for me since I first found it at the Golden Lion in Settle. Is this a regional foodie tradition or is it something sweeping Britain, from France perhaps?

Day 16 .... May 12 .... Skipton to Ilkley .... 12 miles

Today is my last day of walking. Instead of continuing to the start of the DHW at Saltaire, I am stopping in Ilkley to catch the train into Leeds where I will meet a fellow walker for a couple of pints, stay the night and take an early train into Kings Cross and the tube to Heathrow for my flight to San Francisco.

To start the day, I have a continental breakfast of orange juice, cereal, toast and coffee. Its a long walk out of town on Short Bank Road, through trees up over the quarries to begin a long straight trek across the moor on “Rombalds Way” or the Roman Road. It's seven miles to Addingham where I took the alternate DHW route through town instead of the bypass route. My previous time in Addingham was on the Dales Way which also bypassed town center, so I decided it was time to see what it looked like. I was not disappointed - a very nice looking main street with fine old buildings and a pub that made me want to stay awhile, particularly since it was advertising Jazz Night.

Pub In Addingham - Jazz On Wednesday

I turned out of town to cross the motorway to Addingham Moorside, then uphill onto Addingham High Moor. On Moorside, I met three different groups of people walking the Dales High Way; a group of four, 50 to 60 years old, another group of four, 60 to 70 years old, and a couple about 75 years old walking it for their second time. Everyone was having a great time, in high spirits, loving every mile of it.

Entryway To Addingham High Moor

Climbing up to the High Moor, I saw a strange sight perched on a high rock ledge. Is it a bird, is it a plane, is it an antenna calling to aliens in outer space? On reaching the ridge top, I see it is a sculpture of an animal or large bird made of heavy wire or willow wood. Later, I find out it is called the “Hound of Windgate Nick”. No one seems to know who made it or put it there. I have no idea what Windgate Nick is, perhaps the crag it sits on.

The "Hound Of Windgate Nick" On the Addingham Crags

Noonstone On The Addingham Escarpment

Its a long walk along the high escarpment with wonderful views, but cloudy and rainy weather limit photo opportunities. Passed by a huge glacial boulder called the Noon Stone, then an iron fence around a boulder called the Swastika Stone for its ancient markings. I don’t know if it's the Swastika curse but, after passing the stone, I felt a twinge in my right knee which had me limping for the next few hours. 

Just past the reservoir, I cut down to a gate that leads into Ilkley by way of Panorama Ave, passing Darwin Garden on the way to the train station. I could have stayed on the moor path for another ¾ mile before dropping onto Panorama Ave, but the avenue was lined with interesting houses if you like that sort of thing. Today's walk of 11 ½ mi took 5 hrs, a bit longer than expected. The train dropped me in Leeds by 3 pm.

I just want to mention how well the DHW guide book served me. Details and directions were outstanding once I got used to walking "backwards." I am anxious now to try it in the "forward" direction. Hats off to Chris and Tony for a job well done.

Leeds Kirkgate Market

I cleaned up at the Novotel and walked (just a slight limp now) to Kirkgate Market and the Corn Palace, more sightseeing down Briggate St and back to the hotel in time to meet fellow walker Pete Stott, who I got to know on the walkers forum. We had a lively chat, shared walk experiences and several pints of ale at the Victorian Pub and left it with the idea of trying to arrange a day’s walk together next year. I had a quick bite to eat and went back to the hotel to take advantage of my uncommonly luxurious room and get ready for the train to London and my flight to San Francisco.

Last Impressions And Thoughts

No broken bones, sprains or falls. No cuts or bruises, but a couple of minor blisters. Lots of bandaged and taped toes which kept them in fairly good shape except for some blood on my little toe. Muscles and joints are in good shape (except for the Swastika curse) and my stomach is a little flatter. I feel like I'm in better shape than when I started and certainly healthier after 16 days and 233 miles. 

I'm very pleased with the routes I've linked up, an interesting variation of terrain, some very challenging days and some easy, and quite a few interesting geological features. I'm happy with that! I particularly like walking a linear long distance route where I have a predetermined destination each day. It provides me a certain motivation and, I think, keeps the adrenaline flowing to meet each days' goals. It's a whole different psychological feeling than day walks.

Cost of accommodation and food?  Everyone is always interested in that.  For the 16 days, £546 or about $874 for lodging.  Of course, the hostels were relatively inexpensive, averaging £24.20 per night.  The B&Bs averaged £38.64 per night.  This does not include my last night in Leeds which was a splurge.  I don't really count that as part of my walk lodging.  Food costs will vary significantly with the individual, but my total came to £215 including a nightly pint, almost £13.50 per day or $21.50.  This does not include breakfasts which are included in all lodging costs.  Not bad, eh.  But then, I'm not a big eater. 

My friends in the USA, not having experienced walking in the UK, ask me why I do it. In short, as a retired American, I appreciate the convenience of carrying a light pack, landing in a village after a day of walking, eating and drinking in a pub and having a place to sleep at night. In the states, we are either restricted to day walks or we have to camp out on multi-day hikes. At my age of 73, camping is not an option anymore, both for pack weight and creature comfort considerations. That is why I appreciate the British national trail system and come back each year. Besides, I always have a great time!

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