Up early again. But this time it is actually neccessary as my train really does leave at 6.00 am. I'm semi conscious until Leeds where, like last time, I am startled into some sort of wakefullness by the rush hour. Trains empty of commuters who go charging by in great herds and you have to avoid them. I get a coffee and something to eat and jump on the Carlisle train.

This is nearly empty until Skipton when suddenly it fills with a great party of people who all seem to be retired and enthusiastic about trains. The couple who join me at my table buy a guide to the Carlisle-Settle line when the tea trolly guy comes round. It is crowded enough for me to be glad to get off at Dent and to step into solitude. And solitude it is. As I charged up the hill in much hotter weather to get the train last time, I only have a gentle rise to deal with as I carry on up The Coal Road. Immediately I come across orchids on the verge. There are dozens of them, almost drifts in places. 

I dive into some forestry for a needed toilet break and find that I am getting attacked by horse flies. It is overcast. Not cold but much cooler than the last time I was here and very humid. I carry on up the road. There is no traffic at all. My own personal highway.

But I am not entirely alone. As I reach the end of the trees I spot a movement on the road ahead. Something darts into the verge. I stop and turn the camera on. A moment later a stoat runs back out onto the road. I know that it is too far for me to get a decent picture but I am sure that if I walk towards it it will be gone in a flash. So moving slowly I take a picture from where I am and then try to get closer. As I expected the stoat dives back off into the verge, appearing a moment later on the top of a drystone wall. It runs off along this away from the road.

I walk on. One or two cars to pass eventually but the road is very, quiet. I wonder what it is like when the school holidays are on. They start in most of England in a couple of weeks and I am planning to give up my walk for the duration.

As I get near the top of Crosshills Wold I get my first of Garsdale to the west. The road flattens for a while and then begins the descent to Garsdale station. This is steep and I use my walking pole to help my knees. More orchids on the verges. Most are past their best but these verges are still fabulous, festooned with wildflowers.
          In the middle of the verge I pass an ancient rusty bicycle. Yesterday someone on an internet forum said something about me going to Stornoway on a rusty bicycle and I replied I didn't need one as I was walking. But here was the very rusty bicycle. I decide I am better off on foot. 

Just past the station I join a busier road and as I do a blue mini-bus pulls up. It says something about Good Neighbours and Ilkley Community Transport and the passengers are all elderly. The driver asks if I know the way to Muker. I don't but after a brief discussion I tell him that I don't think it can be the way he is going and he says he will turn round. I take a look at my map and find Muker so when he comes back again I flag him down and show him where it is.

This all feels a bit strange because I run a good neighbour scheme and only yesterday I was navigating a community transport bus full of elderly people to Malden. I am supposed to be on holiday for feck's sake! The driver offers me a lift but decline and tell him I would only have to come back and repeat it.

I pass another fine viaduct on my way to The Moorcock Inn. This is supposed to do good food and I have been debating stopping. It is just coming up to twelve, a bit early for lunch. But there is no where else that I can see as I don't believe in the pub marked in Mallerstang on the OS map (no sign of it on the internet). So I decide that 12 is late enough for lunch and stride over to the pub. Only to find that it is still closed.

I could hang around for a bit, presuming that it will open at twelve or soon after, but I think nah, fuck it, and continue. The first footpath I take is remarkably well made, it winds up to a very picturesque bridge and waterfall. But the good path seems to be going to a campsite, and my one soon deteriorates and, as it rounds some houses with the rakish name of  Blades, deteriorates into a soggy right of way.

Soon I am back to guessing. Crossing rough pastures that slope steeply up the hill. A movement catches my eye in the grass. Something small and jet black with its belly pressed against the ground. With wiggle it is gone. A mole! It had to be a mole! I cannot remember ever actually seeing one before. Inordinately pleased with myself I press on up the hill, and after a few hesitations I get myself on the greenway marked as "The High Way on the map but also known as Lady Anne Highway.

I pause to look back and can see a great deal of my walk so far today, with the Coal Road winding down from the far hill.

This is excellent walking. Easy to follow the track, springy turf in places. I make good time though, every now and then I have to find stepping stones over a stream. I had been a bit surprised to find that the river by the waterfall near the Moorcock flowed east into Wensleydale. Surprised because the valley seems to run due north.

Lady Anne's road takes me north too. It is very like the old road up Ribbledale that I took on my last day's walking. Much higher than the new road or the railwayline it gives fine views and these soon get better. What must be Wild Boar Fell rears up ahead of me.

There is a difference to the walking from last time though and that is that I am crossing many more streams. It has rained since that walk and conditions had been very dry and certainly the becks are in spate now. But though I am more aware of them, as I have to cross with care in places, I am still sure that there are many more around here. The map still marks plenty of sink holes but I think the geology has changed, and more water is making its way across the surface.

At one point I cross Hell Gill but unfortunately I am not aware until later in the evening (reading about it in the Youth Hostel) that this is the very start of the River Eden. It may be the watercourse I took a photo of but I cannot honestly say that I remember.

For a while the road is even better than before, a very wide stretch is covered with close cropped and springy turf. If the whole way to Stornoway was like this my knees would be happy.

Wild Boar Fell has been my companion to the left for quite a while. And now Mallerstang edge rears up in front and to the right. I come across a sculputure which I later learn is called the Water Cut, placed on a spot where there is a great view up the Mallerstang valley, fields and trees in the valley bottom make the wild fells look inhospitable in contrast.

After the sculpture the track runs down to meet the road. It has been drizzling on and off for a while but just as I get to the church yard at Outhgill it starts to pour. Oh, well. I was wanting a break for food anyway and I get some shelter from the foliage that makes a tunnel at the gateway. Eventually it eases off and I set off again.

I decide to walk along the road even though it is quite fast and moderately busy because I want to pass by Pendragon Castle. Ever since I saw that on the map the words Pendragon Castle in Mallerstang I had to go that way. It is probably a bit of  late mediville Arthurian romanticism, though Lady Anne Clifford had it rebuilt in the 1600s.   http://www.freewebs.com/mallerstang/visit2.html  Now it is a scenic ruin. Scenic enough for some people to be doing a photoshoot as I pass it.

Thankfully I leave the main road for a much quieter one at Pendragon Castle, and soon after leave that one for a track that winds round a hill. This follows river Eden, already a fair size, at first. To begin with the river is a below me down a steep slope but the track slowly goes down to meet it as the hillside flattens out.

Here there are dozens of piebald ponies. Well, I am not sure if they are ponies or horses to tell the truth. They are not very tall but very solidly built with hairy hooves like shires.

Back on a right of way across pasture I pass another ruined castle. This one called Lammerside. Another of Lady Anne Cliffords. It seems a little odd that this ancient edifice is left to rot this way, in a private field.

The path takes me past Wharton Hall and this is even more amazing. A crumbling keep, a fine old house built on to it, and then the whole subsumed in a mass of horrible modern cowsheds that seem to be made of asbestos cladding. The heritage industry clearly has not tidied up everything in this country yet. Partly I quite like this, though the sheds are quite spectacularly horrible - and the building seems to my untutored eyes inordinately wonderful. There is a farmhouse on the Cartmel peninsular that the train goes past. That has an old fortress, crumbling, with the house built onto the side and I love to see it as the train goes by. But Wharton Hall is on another scale. An ariel view reveals it is even more amazing than I thought.

The rain gets me again as I take the track from the hall and I sit under a line of trees to eat a museli bar and wait it out. I have made good time thanks to Lady Anne's delightful highway,  so I have no need to press on. Eventually it eases and I set off again. The track meets a little road which takes me almost to Kirkby Stephen, but just as I am almost at the main road the rain begins to bucket down. I had just past a little nature garden and decided not to stop and look because of the weather, but there was a sort of shelter so I hurry back to it. In fact the shelter is rather lovely. Unmarred by graffiti, clevery designed and set in a little clearing in the woods which is studded with more orchids. 

Not a bad place to stay but I go a bit to early and am pretty damp by the time I get to the Youth Hostel which is in an old Chapel.

Kirkby Stephen proves to be a little miracle of convenience. Opposite the hostel is a coop open until ten, and I get supplies including wine for the evening. And there is a choice of three chip shops. The one I pick on the grounds that it is called the Archway chip shop does some of the best chips I have had in years and, after some deliberation, I decide to have a "baby's head pudding," with them. I have not had one of these since the chip van that used to come to Keele in the mid seventies.

Happy and replete with steak and kidney, I go back to the hostel to look at maps and try to work out how I am going to get to Dufton, something that is far from obvious. There are a dozen or so people staying, and it seems like all of them are doing the Coast to Coast walk. This is a surprise because I am not running into many Pennine Way walkers. I finish the day drinking too much wine and talking to a guy from Stoke who is in agony because of his blisters.


  1. Anonymous said...

    Hey, can't you take a closer-up orchid photo than that? Even I can do better. :)
    They look very different to Oz orchids.


  2. Spencer said...

    Hey, I was trying to get the mass of them on the verge, not just one flower. Actually they were just past their best so a close up might not have done them any favours.  

  3. Patricia said...

    What is "baby's head pudding"? It sounds grim.--Patti  

  4. Spencer said...

    It is an individual size steak and kidney pudding. Very nice with chips if not exactly a healthy option.

    Really, the only grim thing is the name, which I guess comes from it being aproximately the size and shape of a (very small) baby's head! http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Steak_and_kidney_pie  


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