Pennine Way 2010 – Day Nine

Keld to Bowes
Approx: 13 miles

“Ahh, get that, country air, nothing like it”
“Smells like normal air, with cow shit in it”
“Exactly, nothing like the all pervading stench of faeces to take your mind off your troubles”
Jimmy & Fletch – Lesbian Vampire Killers

I passed my half way point today. Just before arrival in Bowes I walked through a dreadful, shit-ridden, stinking, sess-pit of a farm called Lady Myers. This place isn’t going to win “farm of the year”, but it was the point at which it’s easier to walk to the end than it is to walk back to Edale.

I had a slightly emotional morning, as I said farewell to the C2C bunch from last night. All I could think of was the lonely evenings ahead of me, sitting on my Jack, in quiet pubs with just my iPhone for company. I envied them the camerarderie of the walk they were doing. Don’t get me wrong, I love the solitude of the walking during the day, the quiet paths and desolate moorland of the PW are just what I was hoping for. But the lack of other people’s company in the evening is becoming a bit tiresome, it makes the separation from my wife, kids and grandson all the harder to bear.

Butt House is a great place to stay and breakfast is a rowdy, communal affair – there’s only one breakfast time, which you need to agree as a group the night before. After we’d finished we all congregated outside at about 09:00, shouldering packs and getting boots on. The C2C bunch were waiting for their bubble to come together, with some coming over from the Lodge. I was waiting to see Dave and Rachel, to say goodbye and to wish them well for the rest of their walk.

I got a photo of them together with Rachel’s rubber chicken mascot and then walked down to the start of the path with them. I said farewell as they waited for someone and I ended up walking over the bridge with Little Ben, Dickie and Paul. These last two were walking to support East Midlands Air Ambulance and they look like they’ve been kitted out by the same outdoor retailer, with matching jackets and walking poles.

I headed left over the bridge, on my own, and their caterpillar headed right, up towards Crackpot Hall. No that wasn’t a tear, I had grit in my eye.

I took it really easy up to Tan Hill, I had loads of time and very little distance to cover today and I wasn’t sure whether I’d be able to get into the b&b much before 16:00. The path to Tan Hill is mostly uphill so I was happy to walk slowly and admire the distant
views. It was good walking weather all the way, bright and sunny with very little wind and not too cold or too warm. I managed to see the whole day out with just base layer and fleece.

I arrived at Tan Hill and was pleased to find it open and serving tea and coffee. I found the Aussie Ladies inside and said hello, but they were packing up to leave, so I sat outside and chatted with a day-walker who was waiting for his friends to arrive. I sent a few texts and emails with the signal that I now had, having left the black hole in Keld.

At about 11:15 I pushed on across Sleightholme Moor, one of the wettest places on the whole route so far. Fortunately the recent dry spell had tamed it somewhat and although I managed to lose one foot up to the shin in a wet patch, I mostly crossed the 3.5 mile bog unscathed. After rain this place must be a nightmare. I can’t state how lucky I felt being able to cross so easily. The road runs almost parallel to the moor and after any sort of rainfall this would be the best route to take.

I passed the Aussie Ladies as they took an “orange break”, in the middle of the moor, no shelter protecting them from the chill wind and they soon followed me across this barren moor. I could still see Tan Hill in the distance behind me, it must be a torment for N-S walkers who see it way ahead and never seem to get any closer.

Once I reached the road I started to look for somewhere to stop for lunch. I wanted some shelter though, so it wasnt until I reached Sleightholme Farm that I managed to find a spot behind a wall to sit down and have a break. I heard the Ladies pass me, twittering amongst themselves, but I was out of sight so they didn’t see me.

A little while later I passed them again as they sat taking lunch at the wonderfully named Bog Scar. It was here that I took the first unintentional diversion of my walk. I somehow missed the path as it rose away from the river and I found myself stuck between a wall and the riverbank and obviously needing to be higher up than I was. I scrambled up the bank beside the walk, over a drystone wall and through someones front garden (they weren’t in) aiming for a fingerposts I could see on the otherside of their hedge. I finally managed it and found the sign was a PW sign! Bonus!

I strolled into Bowes, along lanes and through fields, quite aware that this is an alternative route and nowhere near as well trod or well signed as the main route. Farms in particular seem reluctant to admit there’s a path through their property and once or twice I felt I was unwelcome. However, Bowes Castle soon came into view and I had a little mooch around it before heading off to find the Ancient Unicorn.

I’ve not had much to complain about on the b&b front so far, but I’m not really happy with this place. The room is very dated, single bed is ancient and lumpy, bathroom is minging, no shower, radiator will not switch off, everything creaks or clicks and the window won’t shut properly. Plus, to cap it all, the village shop has gone, so I can’t buy lunch for tomorrow. End of moan.

Feeling really strong physically but psychologically feeling quite low, possibly due to the great night last night and possibly due to the feeling that 17 days is too long to be away from home. I don’t think i want to do this amount if “away” time again, I miss home and the people there. If I was doing the C2C I would only have another 2 or 3 days to go, whereas I have another 8 still to do – it feels like a lot at the moment.

lonewalker

Fell-walker, trig-pointer, peak-bagger, Wainwright-er & Pennine Way author, with a passion for long paths, malt whisky, fast cars & Man City

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9 Responses

  1. Dickie Bird says:

    Lone Walker,

    It was a great pleasure to meet you at Butt House on 12th May. We did have some laughs I seem to remember, maybe the Wainwright beer had a little to do with it? Thank you so much for your donation to our charity Air Ambulance. Good luck on you future walks, I will keep an eye on your web site.

    Best Wishes and regards.

    Dickie Bird

    • lonewalker says:

      Dickie – you’re more than welcome – a just reward for you and Paul and your magnificent efforts!
      Well done on finishing the C2C – imagine how much you could both raise if you did the Pennine Way next year 🙂

  2. LizA says:

    Hope you are still feeling better! I found the PW to be lonely too but as my plan was to do it in 14 days, I mainly walked and slept! I missed out between Black Hill and Malham, as my walking partner was injured, but did the 10 days from Malham as sheduled… I thought I’d meet lots of other walkers but in fact I only met very few and nobody set out to do the whole thing in one go as I wanted to, either. But as I had such long distances to cover, I did not miss the company all that much. I am sure it is different when you arrive in the afternoon….anyway, hope the weather will be good to you and good walking!

  3. lonewalker says:

    It’s strange. I expected the Pennine Way to be a challenge, I just thought it would be physical and nothing else. None of my other walks (if you ignore Offas Dyke) have felt this tough emotionally.
    It’s great to see so many comments though and I’m beginning to feel much better. I plugged in an audio book today and marched into Teesdale feeling great.
    I have had glorious weather, despite the days of wind and the February feel to the temperatures and I feel grateful for that too. Tomorrow the scenery steps up a gear and I can’t wait for that – it will be good to concentrate on a physical challenge too for a change – with a 20 mile day, the first 15 of which are uphill!

    Posted from the wonderful Belvedere House. She’s promised me bacon butties in a doggie bag in the morning 🙂

  4. Stottie says:

    You’ll be in glorious Teesdale by the time you read all our encouragment, and if that doesn’t lift your spirits then nothing will.

    A lot of people get the blues around the midpoint – so I’ve heard. I think the increasingly austere landscapes have something to do with it, after the delights of the Yorkshire Dales.

    Your next 2-3 days are fantastic. Hadrian’s Wall is worth savouring. The trek to Bellingham is actually easy, though not pretty all the way. The day after that, to Byrness, is bleaker than Bleaklow, which makes it exceptional in its own way. The Cheviots are excellent walking country.

    Keep at it, LW. A couple of weeks ago when you hurt your leg I was expecting you to auction off your BnB bookings. Now you’re steaming along. As the French say, “Bon courage!”

  5. Dave (davesjournals) says:

    Chin up buddy your doinga great job out there. You’ll think back on these down and out thoughts in a couple of days and kick yourself for being so soft in the head. Try thinking more about what you’ve acheived so far and how chuffed you’re going to be when you’ get to the end. Left right left right.

  6. Jim says:

    Excellent Blog. The PW is certainly more of a mental than physical challenge. Although you have 8 days to go, they include some of the best days of the whole walk (walking alongside the Tees, High Cup, Hadrians Wall, The Cheviots). You will make it!

  7. Welly says:

    Thank you for the great post – I had fun reading it! I always enjoy this blog.

  8. Tim says:

    Pleased to see you’re hanging tough despite the Lone(some) Walker’s blues! I recall similar feelings pulling out of Horton one cold, wet November morning after a raucous night in the pub with a group of Royal Marines on a weekend walk/crawl. There were few interactions after that and my journal got progressively introspective as Kirk Yetholm drew closer. Days without seeing a soul and conditions underfoot truly appalling (perhaps fewer flagstones and duckboards back then). Your point re camaraderie is well taken. I guess that’s the main argument in favour of the C2C.I wonder if the SUW is similar to the PW in this regard? Writing this at the moment in the middle of Manhattan surrounded by office towers, with sirens sounding endlessly, the PW and all its real hardships is where a walker should be. Cheers and may the wind be at your back.

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