Date: Tuesday 2 June 2015
Walked from: Dufton, Cumbria
Walked to: Alston
Distance: 19.5 miles
Stayed: Alston House Hotel
Weather: Bit of sun, lot of wind, rain
Today was all about the highest point on the Pennines – 893 meter high Cross Fell – and tackling what is described in my guidebook as ‘a serious mountain walk… it should not be undertaken lightly’. Throw in some high winds that were pummelling the UK today and the bad weather was about to close in and take away the visibility, and you have all the ingredients of an exciting day of walking!
Annette and I walked with Chris today, and without his knowledge of the Fell and the GPS mapping he was using, it would have been easy to get horribly lost on the way down – as some other people did. The bad weather was coming, so we set off as early as breakfast timings allowed, and had an initially sunny climb up to Knock Fell. Things started to get seriously blustery on the approach to Great Dunton Fell, where all additional layers of clothing and waterproofs (they help with the wind too!) were donned. We had fabulous views from that Fell, which allowed us to see the weather was closing in on us fast, and although Cross Fell was no distance at all, by the time we got to it the visibility was all but gone (with the exception of a glorious and momentary parting of the clouds) and we were walking in clag and rain as well as pretty full on wind.
Chris navigated us to to the charmingly named ‘Corpse Road’, a clear track that runs for miles back down the Fell all the way to Garrigill. Easy going one you’re on it, but in poor visibility not all all easy to find. First stop once on the track was lunch at Greg’s Hut, a two roomed mountain bothy that is named and maintained in honour of a mountaineer called John Gregory who died in a climbing accident in the late 1960s. For us today the bothy was welcome respite and a chance to eat our lunch out of the wind and the rain, but for others it’s often been a lifesaver in poor weather conditions – as attested to be the comments in the visitors book they keep there. We also caught up briefly with our friends Peter and Colin at the bothy, but unfortunately I was too cold to wait for them, so off we went.
Garrigill’s pub provided welcome respite from the wind and the rain, and then it was an easy few miles through fields and along the river to Alston, to dry out, soak in a long, hot bath and have dinner and a well-earned bed for the night!
Photos: leaving Dufton / slabs ready to lay on approach to Knock Fell / clouds parting at the top of Cross Fell / Drying out my boots at the pub in Garragill