Alternative Dales Way – Day 3
I lost my WiFi signal last night, so wasn’t able to post yesterday’s update until just a few moments ago, sitting in the bar of the Green Dragon Inn in Hardraw.
Today has been grey and overcast for the most part, with occasional drizzly showers and no sun at all. Fortunately there was very little wind either, so I can forgive pretty much any weather in that case. Wind is what I hate above all.
Today was also much tougher than the last couple of days and my calves certainly felt it on the long ascent out of Langstrothdale and the crossing of Dodd Fell Hill, which was sloppy in places and squelchey everywhere else.
My encounters with strange birds didn’t continue today, unless you count the woman taking pictures of sheep with her iPad! Really? You mean you couldn’t find something smaller to take pictures with on your walk today?
I left the Buck Inn after too much really good beer and if I’m honest I could have happily stayed there all night, but the thought of a hangover and beer tummy in the morning brought me to my senses and I left while I could walk (mostly) in a straight line.
I slept quite well, but dreamt of Arctic Voles eating my clothes in the dark. I have to thank @Chrissiedixie2 and @bpackingbongos from Twitter for that little treat.
I was down for breakfast at 8am, and had an excellent bacon and eggs (West Winds YorkshireTea Room) and I was out and walking by 9am. The first few miles were along the flat, beside the River Wharfe, through the lovely little villages and settlements of Hubberholme, Yockenthwaite, Deepdale and Beckermonds, easy going on the well-signed Dales Way. Again, it was pretty much the only path I could use this morning, without being ridiculously perverse and heading up high.
I mentioned my foot yesterday, it had started to feel sore mid-morning, by Starbotton it was feeling a bit worse and by the time I descended into Buckden it was beginning to worry me. The pain was in the instep, somewhere I’ve never experienced foot pain before, so that was also worrying. It felt like I’d bruised it somehow, but nothing was visible when I’d looked at it. I hoped an evening of rest would put it to rights and it didn’t really feel off when I walked back from the pub (I know why now of course). Within 10 minutes of setting off this morning it felt just as bad as it had done yesterday afternoon. I popped both Paracetamol and Ibuprofen and that seemed to help a little. I spent the rest of the day counting down the time to when I could take some more painkillers. The dull ache of yesterday was now very painful and every other step was ouchy. I alternated Para and Ibu every 2 hours and on the way into Hawes it eventually stopped hurting. I hope tomorrow is better, but I should be able to cope if it isn’t, it’s the last day.
I fell down twice again today, once on a peat hagg on Dodd Fell, which resulted in a thin brown layer of peat all down my right hand side and again, on the way down the rocky Cam Road. A wet, flat rock, slanted away from me on the track and even as I put my foot on it I thought “that’s a bad idea” and sure enough, next second found me on my back flapping like a landed fish trying to get back into the water.
The scenic section of the Dales Way finishes at Beckermonds, where it heads out of Langstrothdale on the tarmac road. It’s quiet enough, but it’s a steep bugger and I was on it for a good 3 or 4 miles, but it felt much further. A few cars passed me on the way and I watched the views change as I climbed higher. I ticked off the distance counting the marks left by highway engineers, who labelled each of their proposed repairs with a number. I joined at 79 and followed them to 150, at which point they ended and my mind returned to the pain in my foot and the steepness of the climb.
At pretty much the highest point on the road, just before Long Slack Gate, I turned off left, following a track on the map that doesn’t exist on the ground anymore. Fortunately the gates in the walls do exist (albeit one was locked) and this gave me access to the foot of Dodd Fell Hill. I found an already damaged low point in the delicate dry stone wall, and crossed it, thereby managing to avoid a 1/2 mile diversion.
Dodd Fell was exactly as I remembered it from my previous visit. Wet, soggy and very uneven. It played havoc with my dodgy left foot, which hadn’t fared too badly on the tarmac. As I climbed, the temperature dropped and the wind came up and I was glad I’d brought my thicker soft shell now. Hood up, hunched into the wind I soon made it to the trig point and headed for the Pennine Way path on the other side of the hill. As per previous sections, I shunned the Pennine Way which I would normally take into Hawes, for a previously unused path, that leaves the Pennine Way at Ten End and follows the Cam Road and other minor tracks down to Gayle. I passed my first other walkers since seeing the odd girl with the iPad at Beckermonds, on the way into Gayle and was soon among the crowds of folk in Hawes.
It was only about 2.30 so I decided a hair of the dog was in order. I stopped into The Crown and chose the Grouse Beater instead of the Old Peculier (better to be safe than sorry I figured). They’d just stopped serving food so I made do with a bag of crisps until I eat in the Green Dragon later.
I stocked up on provisions for the long remote walk tomorrow and wandered out to Hardraw. A sheep dog demonstration was in progress, with quite a few people watching the shepherd control a pair of dogs with deft whistles and commands.
A couple of minutes later and I was in the Green Dragon. I’m in a big room with the first double bed of the trip, and writing up this in the bar waiting for them to start serving food.