Originally posted: Monday, November 9th, 2009
I’ve now got a route planned (mostly) and I’m starting to add the pieces of the B&B puzzle into place.
For a while I gave some thought to not using a baggage courier and saving some money – but I’ve found somewhere that will do it for about £200 now, so all-in-all that’s not too bad when you think there’s 18 stops – only about £10 per drop. I think I’m willing to pay that much for the knowledge that I can wear clean underwear nearly every day and I can carry a couple of books and a change of shirt, fleece, trousers etc.
The route I have planned is as follows:
All distances and heights are based on Memory Map routes
I have a nice three days between Hawes and Middleton, thanks to the Bowes alternative – that’s 3 days of about 12 miles per day – almost the same as a rest day – with the exception of the climb over Great Shunner. And then I have a 7 or 8 mile day between Greenhead and Once Brewed, another stroll.
I’ve selected B&Bs based on lists from the Sherpa site and the National Trail website for the path and then chosen them based on proximity to the path, having an email address and having a single room. Not everyone has singles though, so the first criteria comes into play then – how far from the path do I need to walk?
Using establishments with an email address allows me to speculatively enquire about availability and nightly rates for multiple places in the same town, without immediately having to make a choice – it’s just a personal thing – I tend to make rash decisions on the phone and have ended up booking places without looking at alternatives first. So now I filter with email and then ring and confirm.
So far I’ve emailed places up to Bowes – 1 in each village to begin with. I’ve used Google extensively to search for comments for each B&B and the Sherpa site records walkers’ comments for some places and they can be helpful if they’re not 5 years old.
I’ve also had 6 out of 9 responses – all with availability and all saying “of course it’s not too early to book for next May”, once place has already taken a booking for September! Keld Lodge is in the bag – quite expensive, but well worth it I think. Some places are even more expensive though – B&Bs in Hebden Bridge seem to be able to charge whatever they like for a room – especially as it’s a Friday night I’ll be there – I’ll be paying £45 that night – shocking!
I had an email from Keld Lodge, telling me that in the 24 hours between them emailing me to say they had two rooms free and me emailing back to say I’ll have one – they sold them both! Double Bugger! That really pissed me off for a few minutes and I stomped around the house looking for a pet to kick – but the dog had sidled under the table to avoid me – she knows my moods 🙂 (Obviously for any pet lovers reading this I wouldn’t have actually kicked her – honest!)
The loss of Keld Lodge is a big blow – that was the one place I really wanted to stay at. They offered me a double – but at £60 it was a luxury too far. Or they said I could stay at their other concern in the village Butt House – but I had my heart set on the Lodge, so I’m now considering changing the start date. Which of course means contacting 6 B&Bs and trying to shuffle forward three days – great!
Although I couldn’t get into Keld Lodge, I have found room in Butt House for the 12th May, which means I can keep my original start date of the 5th May and I don’t have to cancel any of the bookings I’ve made so far.
It seems that speaking to Pat at Keld Lodge and Trish at Butt House that May is already getting pretty full – and as they’re the only B&B accommodation in the village now (there used to be East View, but that’s a holiday let now I think) it’s getting to the point where you need to book a long, long way in advance – especially if you’re planning on staying there on a Friday, Saturday or Sunday night. Trish said they had bookings for next October!!
You could bypass Keld of course and head to Tan Hill, but that’s in almost as much demand and they have the novelty value of being the highest pub in England. You can also say you’ve stayed in the place they made the original “Everest Double Glazing” advert.
Looks great doesn’t it!
Anyway it looks like I’m back on track.