Sunday, 27th July.
Where the hell am I?! Last thing I knew I was in the familiar environs of Appleby, and throughout the walk until that point I knew most of the places and landscapes pretty well, but now....
Well I know I'm in a village called Nenthead. I know that it looks like a village in the Welsh Valleys. I know I'm staying in a pub that's better than I expected. I know that it's busy for Sunday. I also know that it's full of Geordies. The simple fact is that I planned the last three days of this walk using the Ordnance Survey maps I had, finding interesting looking paths until I happened to notice Housesteads on Hadrian's Wall and thought it would make a good finish. But it's only just occurring to me now just how far north I am and that I know nothing about this part of England. The only place I've heard of on the signposts round here is Carlisle, and that's 30 miles away (and not full of Geordies). So if you've heard of Alston or Middleton you'll know where I am better than I do.
When I set off this morning the temperature was a chilly 18.9 (under 20 at last!). When I reached the summit of Cross Fell it was 10.6 and I felt hypothermia coming on. Thankfully I had my fleece jac... oh bugger I sent it home.
I was walking at 8:30 today because of the distance I had to cover, most of it on the Pennine Way. I spent last night at Bongate House in Aspleby, the second excellent B&B on the trot. Both have got the ability to cater for both walkers and posh people down to a t (is it just a t? Or a tee? Or even a tea?). The chap at Bongate made me smoked salmon and scrambled eggs for breakfast and took my photo for his walkers collection (!) before I left. Incidentally his voice sounded exactly like Jim Bowen's (of Bullseye fame). I also said goodbye to the two girls I'd bumped into on a number of occasions during the last few days, who had also completed the Dales High Way and were heading home.
Showers were forecast from midday onwards but they were already lurking when I set off. One passed a mile behind me and another ahead hit my main target Cross Fell, which made it look like Mordor. Otherwise it was sunshine as usual, albeit a bit cooler.
Panorama of the day - keeping an eye on the showers behind me.
The day was spent either tankin' or chillin'. I tanked the 3 mile road walk at the start, then chilled through some woodland, then tanked up to the top of the ridge. I wanted to get to this point before any rain hit me, which it did ten minutes later. At 11:42 the first shower of the entire walk got me. I still think it's amazing when you're looking at a view from the top of a mountain, then everything just disappears. I could see it coming a while before it did so togged up and walked straight into it. Of course being so high up I was in the cloud rather than under it, and for the next three mountains the cloud lifted and dropped, lifted and dropped. So Great Dun Fell with its spooky building was in mist, whereas Little Dun Fell was clear. Cross Fell itself, a bit of a beasty at 893 metres (exactly the same height as Cadair Idris and a tenth as interesting), was both as it takes so long to cross.
On top of Great Dun Fell. Take me to your leader.
In and out of cloud on Cross Fell.
The remainder if the walk was an extremely long and chilled descent to Garrigill, interrupted only by two further showers, followed by an up (tanked) and over (chilled) to Nenthead. Garrigill was a sad place. The pub had closed and there was nothing else there. I could imagine the locals pacing the Main Street at night in a ghostly manner, clanking empty beer glasses together.
The middle of nowhere, earlier. I'm still in it.
As I looked down on Nenthead before the last descent I was pretty tired from the ascent and distance covered, and my feet hurt because of the paved nature of the Pennine Way (I know it's needed but at this rate in 20 years you'll be able to walk the Pennine Way entirely on paving), but the only thing I was thinking was, where the hell am I?
-- Posted from Kev's iPhone