Monday 9th October, travel St Mawes to Burnsall. 09:44 train St Austell to Paddington, then Circle line round to Kings Cross, then the 14:30 Virgin Train to Leeds, upgraded to First Class, well worth it, big comfortable seat and free drinks and food. Arrived Leeds on time and caught the 17:02 Ilkley train. Lift with friends to Burnsall and The Red Lion. Good food in the bar and a decent night’s sleep, but mattress a bit soggy in the middle and the rooms sound proofing not great.
Tuesday, a good cooked breakfast, excellent sausage and black pudding. The luggage pickup man arrived a bit early at 09:15, but was very polite when we asked him to wait fifteen minutes while we finished our breakfast.Started walking about 09:45, lovely walk along the Wharfe to Grassington, saw lots of ducks and a heron. Decent coffee at first coffee shop we came to in Grassington, enjoyed listening to the four old locals discussing politics etc at the table next door.
The path leaves the river here and we walked in the hills, got slightly lost. Need to follow instructions in the book a little more closely. Came across some beaters for a shoot, they were friendly and explained they were driving partridges to the “guns”. Arrived at Kettlewell about 13:30 and straight into the Kings Head for lunch. Excellent soup, with a very nice menu if you wanted more.
Left about 14:30 and followed the river to Buckden, there left the Dales Way to walk on the road to Cray, where we are spending the night at The White Lion. First impressions are excellent, room is comfortable. The evening meal was excellent, we both had pulled pork – delicious.
Wednesday. After a decent breakfast we started walking at 09:35 in light rain.
There was lots of surface water and the Wharfe was roaring. Decided as forecast was terrible that we would walk on the road all the way to Oughtershaw. Saw 2 cars a lorry and a bus driver who stopped to offer us a lift as by then the rain had turned heavy and persistent. Not wanting to get the slightest bit lost we followed the instructions in the book very closely, however reading it in the downpour was not easy. In Oughtershaw discovered a new use for a telephone box, reading the map out of the rain! Just as spirits were sagging (the rain was seeping through our coats and we were thoroughly cold wet and miserable) we were passing Nethergill Farm and I saw a sign saying the barn was open for hot drinks! We were straight in, warm dry and with an honesty box in the kitchen for coffee and an honesty box in the toilet for a flush!! We had coffee, ate some lunch and swapped our soaked t-shirts for fleeces kept dry in our back packs in a bin liner. So with 6 miles still to go woolly hats on, zipped up coats we set off along the farm track to Swarthghyll Farm. Instantly we opened the farm gate and instead of a road there was a raging torrent. We headed upstream to find a place to leap across. I went first and just made it, Ami second, half across but one leg in the water - not a good start.
Picture is Ami standing in the pouring rain by the sign showing the Dales Way and The Pennine Way joining together.
We continued across desolate moor towards Cam Houses, jumping flooded streams every few minutes. An hour later we arrived in Cam Houses (commenting it was one of the most desolate places I had ever seen). We saw an open barn and desperate to get some shelter to consult the map we went in. A light shone from a room at the far end so I went to ask if they minded us using the barn. Out came 2 men (gamekeepers as it turned out) who insisted on sitting us down, making us 2 hot cups of coffee and reassuring us the last 3 miles were straight forward. What wonderful people you sometimes meet just when you need them. Warmed up and reassured we headed for the highest point of the walk (520m). The rain was driven into our faces by the howling wind (the gamekeepers had said that the weather wasn't that bad - the moral is don’t venture to Cam Houses when they say it is bad).
Anyway we found the path across a very boggy moor and past the edge of the wood, that has now been cut down, up to the point where the Dales Way and the Pennine Way combine for a while, the path becomes a gravel road which we trudged along for 2 miles until after crossing the B6255 we arrived at our B&B for the night "Shepherds Cottage" the owner was out but left a note telling us to let ourselves in. A beautiful warm room awaited and after a hot bath (note the water everywhere is a bit brown) we collapsed for a well earned mid-afternoon snooze. Kate arrived home later and drove us to the Station Inn at Ribblehead for supper, not memorable food I am afraid.
Thursday. After a good breakfast we set off dried out and refreshed across a soggy moor. We had wonderful views of Whernside and Pen-y-ghent.
After a mile or so the path joins the road, it passes under Dent Head viaduct and then follows the river for some while.
We arrived at the Sportsman’s Inn, at Dent Head, sat on the wall outside and enjoyed our first snack. Continuing along the river bank we saw signs of the previous days floods which would have made this route impassable. We arrived in Dent at 13:30 we met some friends and had a slightly disappointing lunch at The Sun Inn, but did very much enjoy their warm fire. The dales gave way to the more rounded Howgill Fells as we approached Sedbergh in the afternoon. We left the path to walk the short distance into Sedbergh. Straight away saw evidence of the way the school dominates the town. School children were everywhere, playing football at the back of a boarding house, dismounting from a bus and just wandering down the streets. We stayed the night at Summerhill bed and breakfast, a pretty Victorian Villa and ate a good supper at the Dalesman Pub close by, interesting to note in today’s world that they only take cash, fortunately they have an ATM on the premises.
Friday – the forecast was terrible and river in flood so we cheated and got a lift to Kendal - Stayed at the Bridge House B&B in Kendal. The owner Sheila and her husband Ian were very friendly and the house a smart stone built building 5 mins walk from the centre. We ate a decent meal at the Deja Vu bistro.
Saturday - Sheila gave us a lift to Burneside to start our walk. We were walking uphill again alongside the river Kent to Staveley, it reminded us of the walk from Burnsall to Grassington. At Staveley we diverted into the town and had excellent coffees at Mr Duffins Coffeee shop and bought sandwiches for lunch at the Brewery Yard.
The path then wound uphill through some muddy fields and then onto the moor. We had our sandwiches huddled behind a wall. Then in the mist (unfortunately no views) we started descending towards Bowness. The landscape became more park like in places and then we were there at the bench that signifies the end of the walk. We proceeded down into Bowness and drank overpriced hot chocolates on the edge of Windermere.
The seat above Bowness at the end of the Dales Way
Sunday - a rest day, we took the steamer to Ambleside, and had a good roast beef lunch at the Wateredge Inn. Then we visited the cinema in Bowness, the building looked a bit run down from the outside and doesn't take card payments, but the actual cinema was wonderful Art Deco style, with an organ at the front. We saw “The Snowman” a Norwegian crime thriller starring Michael Fassbender (I would give it 6 out of ten).
Monday - we were catching the train from Windermere and decided to walk to the station. It was a bit longer than we thought, quite an energetic 30 min uphill walk carrying our bags to catch our 09:42 train. After train changes in Oxenholme, Birmingham New Street and Tiverton we arrived back in St Austell at 18:45.