11th May 2010 – Horton in-R to Hawes – 13.6 miles
Horton to Hawes: For most of this stage even a lame packhorse with a coal sack over its head would have no problems [route finding].
Trailblazer Pennine Way Guide Book.
I never expected to be walking the Pennine Way in winter – in fact I went to great pains to walk the path in May, one of the driest months of the year and one of the consistently best for walking weather. However the weather gods have something else in mind. From the car park of The Crown, there came the sound of people scraping ice off their car windscreens this morning. The view from my window belied this though; glorious blue skies with high, white, fluffy clouds – surely a perfect day?
The forecast for today was for scattered showers, cold wind and another overnight frost. I actually got sun, light breeze, snow, a hail storm, more snow, bitter northerly wind, dark, lowering clouds but thankfully no rain again.
Today felt like winter though. I had all four of my layers on at one point, and three of the four for most of the rest of the day. It was to be a day of juggling layers as I tried to keep the body temp regulated. Base layer vest and fleece to start, which was too warm in the early morning sun, then vest and shirt, then vest, shirt and coat, then vest, fleece and coat and so on. As I finally descended into Hawes it was warm enough to revert to vest and shirt. I ended up almost running the last 1/2 mile or so in an attempt to avoid a huge rain cloud that had been following me and slowly gaining since I joined Gaudy Lane. As it was I managed to add another day to the “not been properly rained on yet” tally.
The TGO Challenge is scheduled to kick off shortly. If you’re not aware of this event, it makes my luxurious PW walk seem like a stroll in the park. I hope the weather picks up in time for all the challengers!
Breakfast at The Crown is only available from 08:30 and as I only had a short day I thought that would probably be OK, but when I saw the glorious sunshine from my bedroom window I decided to try and get out as soon as possible. I packed rapidly and was one of the first in the dining room. Tea and toast, instead of a cooked meal meant I was out the front door by 08:45 and into the beautiful sunshine. As I’ve already mentioned this didn’t last long.
I could see a solo walker ahead of me on the narrow walled track of Harber Scar Lane, which the PW uses to leave Horton and he was walking really slowly, so even with multiple stops to adjust my clothing regime I still caught him quickly. He’d camped in Horton and was taking as long as liked to get to Kirk Yetholm. He’d allowed 28 days to do it in and even at the pace he was moving I think that should be long enough 🙂
We walked and talked for a minute or two but he was concious of slowing me down so he increased his pace for a while. We came across a tiny lamb beside the path, I initially thought it was trapped in some discarded fence wire that was beneath it, but as I lifted it free I could tell it was much more serious. The lamb was close to death, it’s eyes fluttered as I moved it but it was barely breathing and made no effort to move at all. It was a truly pitiful sight. I wondered briefly if I should put it out of it’s misery, but quickly realised that (a) I had no idea how to do that and (b) wasn’t sure I had the stomach for it anyway. It didn’t appear to be particularly distressed, it was so close to the end, so we moved on.
It became apparent that my pace, even though I’d slowed it, was causing my companion some problems, so I told him I’d see him in Hawes and I slowly pulled away from him. I didn’t pass another walker all day. I saw a few, in the distance, walking the Dales Way by the look if it and I said hello to a cyclist, but that was it for interactions until I arrived in Hawes.
I made great time today – I fairly yomped the first 8-9 miles or so and stopped for lunch on the West Cam road, just beneath Dodd Fell. The views down into Widdale were awesome. In fact today’s views were some of the best. The clouds were incredible – every shade from white to black – huge towering monsters, sheets of rain were visible beneath many of them and I kept expecting to be dumped on at any time, but it never happened.
The varying cloud cover meant that the surrounding fells were constantly changing their appearance. As the day progressed, Whernside and Ingleborough became more visible, the former being in sunshine for most of the day and looking absolutely majestic.
I don’t want to alarm readers unduly (I’m thinking of Tim in Canada here), so when I say I had snow today again, it wasn’t a proper snowfall, it certainly wasn’t enough to stick to the ground, the few flakes that made it that far were melting very quickly, but it was still snowing! The hail shower was intense but short and the ground was covered with tiny pellets for a few minutes. The real winter feel is provided by the air temperature and the wind chill. Both of which contribute to make a strange walk.
It was a grand day today though – some cracking views, solitude, easy walking and one of my favourite Yorkshire towns to end up in. Tomorrow brings Great Shunner Fell and my most favourite village – Keld. Bring it on.