When – 11 May 2013
Where – Keld to Reeth (the high route)
Distance – 12.5 miles
Walking with – Annette
Home for the night – The Black Bull
Weather – Mainly light rain. Highs a balmy 5c.
Despite only have 12.5 miles to walk today, we set off on our walk at an early doors time of 8.40am – which meant we were done and dusted by 1.20pm: a tad too early, even with the three pubs of Reeth to keep us company.
The reason we started out so early is because the other couple in our B&B last night were walking the Pennine Way, and had a long day ahead. Bearing in mind the guy was an over-bearing, opinionated type ( yeah yeah – too like me) I found it pretty funny when he realised at our drop off point that he’d forgotten their map. Back to the farm to pick it up went our host…
Anyway, the walk… It was pretty company-less today. Annette and I walked into the four-person group we call the ‘flag party’ (they carry flags and are doing a sponsored walk on behalf of the Stroke Association) earlier on today, last encountered on the moorland out of Shap. Did an impromptu country dancing session with Steve (really), the maddest member of their group, by East Grain, but that was about it for human action today until we (separately) bumped into the ‘Gang of 15’ (spilt into a gang of 4 and 11) in pubs in Reeth.
Lack of social interaction aside, it was a pleasant walk through pretty Daleside (is that a word? If not, can I invent it?) and although it rained most of the time it wasn’t heavy, the wind was to our backs and – biggest victory of all – my feet stayed dry. The bliss!
The Dales, as well as being a lovely part of the planet, is also blessed with some great place names. My favourite one of the day was the Noel Edmunds-esque sounding Cringley Bottom, just after the very grand sounding Surrender Bridge. Not sure if Cringley Bottom was the name of the steep hillside we had to navigate our way down and back up or the river we crossed by way of a sweet little wooden bridge!
Anyway, before we got to either of those exotic sounding locales, the first great nameplace of the day was Crackpot Hall, the ruins of which we reached after half an hour of climbing ever higher above the very pretty River Swale. It wouldn’t actually have been anything as grand as a hall, just a house, and apparently Crackpot means ‘deep hole or chasm that is the haunt of the crows’ rather than anything more sinister. Still, it’s a fabulous name.
Shortly after we met the Flag Gang at East Grain, and then picked up the first of many easy to follow tracks – this one across Gunnerside Moor – that made this a simple day for navigating. The tracks all seem to be there as a legacy of the huge amount of lead mining that used to happen in the hillsides of the local area, and which has of course left it scarred (but in an inadvertently beautiful way) and covered in the ruins of all mine buildings. The prettiest of those spots was the Brakethwaite Ruins – a steep climb down from Gunnerside Moor before an even steeper climb back up through the moonscape like landscape of Melbecks Moor.
Once back up on top of the moor, it was another easy track along the top. We had an early lunch sheltering from the rain shortly before the remains of an old smelting mill, and carried on with the track until the aforementioned (and splendidly named) Surrender Bridge. A little negotiation of some boggy ground and then our final track of the day took us past farmland and a number of farmhouses before heading downhill into the very pretty village of Reeth. Where I probably had too many pints of nice Yorkshire award winning ale, and a very nice pizza, while half-watching Wigan win the FA cup in the excellent Buck Hotel.