3rd August 2022 – Garsdale Head to Askrigg – 11.9m
I’m feeling knackered right now and it’s not even 9am, furthermore I’ve not even started walking yet! I don’t think I slept at all last night. I’m not sure what happened, but it felt like I was constantly awake – perhaps it was my subconscious not wanting to relax too much in a strange, empty building. Perhaps it was one of the doors on one of the other empty rooms that kept doing a little double-bang as it caught a breeze – a completely unnatural sound that made me think someone was moving around the building. It was quite windy last night (it’s not much calmer this morning) so perhaps a badly fitting door would bang that way. Anyway, I was pretty much fully awake at 5am and I basically counted the minutes until about 7am when I tried to get a weather forecast on the TV. There is no mobile signal here for me and the WiFi in the room is so woeful that I couldn’t be bothered trying to get one online.
With no breakfast available, I’d brought a simple picnic for my room. I hate continental breakfasts, they have a huge calorific value but just don’t give me that ‘filling’ feeling that a good cooked breakfast does. I doubled down on the calories by using a hot chocolate sachet instead of tea. The tap water in the Moorcock is not great, as I discovered on my previous visit. It smells ever so slightly of sewage – I’m sure it’s not, in fact I’m sure it’s perfectly safe to drink (even if it is a bit cloudy) but it’s not easy to convince myself to use it, even in tea. Unlike last time, I’d brought plenty of water with me, so I wasn’t going to have to rely on it for my walk today.
The weather looks a bit crap, it’s cloudy and grey and the wind is blowing quite strongly, although it’s mostly from the west, so it should be at my back for the best part of the day. The forecast suggests there may be a bit of rain just before lunchtime, so I’ll pack my waterproof at the top of my pack, for easy access.
I let myself out of the pub at 9.30am, no point setting out too early today as I only had just over 11 miles to do and I’m in a B&B tonight, so don’t want to turn up much before 4pm really. I met a group of walkers leaving the pub car park and silently prayed they weren’t going my way (they headed off up the road thankfully, so probably doing Wild Boar Fell). I cut across to the Ure at Yore House and wasn’t surprised to see it in spate, crashing over the waterfall beneath the double bridge. It may have been the driest July since records began, but only in the south east, not up north. The Ure had run dry at Aysgarth Falls (which I pass tomorrow) last week in the hot spell, but there’s been plenty of rainfall since then and the river has recovered quickly.
It was boggy in places as I walked beneath Cotterside, and the couple of little becks that run down the hillside into the Ure were much wider than I remember them being in previous visits. The waterfall at Mossdale was also in spate and looked very impressive and a little way beyond it, at Mid Mossdale as I was crossing a soggy meadow, I went nuts deep into a hidden boggy spot. Only one leg went in all the way fortunately, otherwise I could still be there. I had to lean forward and use my other knee to lever my leg out of the sucking bog. My feet were now completely sodden (as were both legs, one to the knee and one all the way up) so I stopped trying to avoid wet spots, and just splashed through.
I got some new lightweight boots a couple of weeks ago, but I’ve only used them once, for about 5 miles. I’ve learnt never to use untested equipment on a multi day walk, so I’m using my Inov-8 Roclite 345s on this walk, based on the old adage ‘better the devil you know’. As such I was expecting my feet to be wet at times this week. Within an hour or so my trousers were dry and I’m hoping my boots will mostly dry out tonight.
As well as wet feet I began to get wet everywhere else after a mile or so from the start. The rain that had been forecast for just before lunch was early and it came and went for the next two or three hours. Even though there was a strong wind, at my back, it was too warm to just leave the coat on all morning, so it was coat on, coat off all the way into Hawes. It wasn’t ‘proper’ rain. Proper rain, as defined by an old walking partner is when all the rain drops join up to completely cover a surface. This rain was very fine drizzle, with mixed big drops that certainly didn’t cover the stones on the path. It would have soaked my soft shell though, so I needed the jacket.
Shortly after starting out this morning, I’d been overflown by a pair of RAF Typhoon fighters. They’d been flying so low I hadn’t been able to get my camera on them quick enough. They’d been low enough that I’d been able to see the pilots and I’d waved as they blasted past me. Shortly before I reached Hawes they screamed back down the valley, a little higher this time and I managed to get a little video of them. They sounded magnificent as they roared off.
It was still raining when I walked into Hawes, so I popped into the Crown, hoping they may have Old Peculier on tap – and they did! It was 11:45 so I ordered a pint of the black nectar and a pint of Diet Coke with two side orders; chips and garlic bread. I didn’t fancy a full meal, but my pains of chocolate hadn’t really filled me this morning, so I needed more than a butty. I savoured the OP, chased it with the Coke and snaffled the carbs. I set out, fully refreshed about an hour later. I’ve not really done any drinking for months, so I had a nice little buzz going on as I wandered out of town.
The afternoon was much better. The weather improved and the sun came out for spells and the path was much drier than the mornings stretch. I don’t know how anyone manages to take a picture of a Kingfisher, I saw one as I crossed a beck outside Hawes, just an iridescent flash as it flew beside the water, it was come and gone before I even got my hand close to the camera!
I’d taken it really easy in the morning, hoping to time my arrival in Hawes with lunchtime, but in the afternoon I let myself go a bit and kept a steady pace along the old railway towards Askrigg. I put my headphones on and finished the Crusades trilogy and really enjoyed the first couple of hours of a new Roman historical novel series, Marius’ Mules, by SJA Turney. Its easy going along the old railway through Wensleydale, to the Yore Bridge outside Bainbridge and then into Askrigg. I arrived about 3pm, popped into the shop for an evening snack and a bottle of pop and then wandered up to the Crown. I thought I’d kill an hour in the pub before calling into my B&B about 4pm. There’s no hard and fast rule for most B&Bs (except where they specify an arrival time) but I tend to aim for 4pm as a reasonable arrival time. Unfortunately the pub was shut, so rather than walk back down the hill to the tea room I’d passed on the way up, I decided to chance my arm at the B&B. I was in luck and although I got a “you’re a bit early” I was shown up to my room. I’ve stayed in Thornsgill House a couple of times previously and it’s a lovely place.
I had a shower, put my damp and sweaty stuff on hangers, took the insoles out of my boots to aid their drying time and had a very welcome cuppa. At 4.30pm I went back over to the pub and sat in my usual corner seat and began work on today’s journal. As I’d been walking out of the B&B, two ladies had been checking in. They now appeared in the pub and came to sit down near me. We got talking about long distance walks and how they were three days into Lady Anne’s Way. They’d had a head wind all day and been quite cold on the tops as they’d come over from Cray. We chatted happily for over an hour, having done many of the same walks and as they were heading for Garsdale tomorrow, I offered a couple of route suggestions as they aren’t slavishly following the prescribed LAW route. I think I saved them a three mile road walk and showed them a new path down from the High Way to Garsdale that wasn’t shown on their map. They left just after my food arrived as they were eating at the King’s Arms.
I’m back in my room now, feeling pretty tired. My legs know they’ve done 12 miles and walking in wet boots all day has given me sore feet, plus I’m knackered from lack of sleep last night. I’ll probably have an early night!