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Deborah and Gwen's
Coast to Coast Diary
DAY 8 – the formidable Doreen Whitehead
Monday 24th July
Kirkby Stephen to Keld – 12 miles
Gillian served a good breakfast and stayed to chat for a while about returning to her town of birth to run Fletcher House. She seemed to have a sadness about her, she mentioned she had lost her parents in recent years which may explain her disposition.
We set off at 8.40 to the promise of another hot day. Kirkby
Stephen was a convenient place to overnight and stock up on
essentials but it is rather an uninspiring town with a lot of heavy
traffic. We bought lunch provisions from the CoOp and left via
Franks Bridge soon to reach the charming hamlet of Hartley. A 1½
mile stretch of road, uphill, past a huge quarry led us onto the
moor again and the long pull up to the famous Nine Standards Rigg.
The retrospective views over the Eden valley opened up as we climbed
but the promised views of the Lakeland hills were obscured by the
increasing heat haze. The nine cairns on the horizon seemed to move
each time they came into view but at 11 a.m. we were finally there.
On the way up we had been passed by a new C2Cer who boasted that he
was doing a ‘double leg’ today, “all the way to Reeth” so he didn’t
have time to stop to admire the view as we were doing. He was long
gone when we reached the top and good luck to him! – can you detect
my sarcasm? It wasn’t long before we were joined by Henny and
Albert, Tracy, Steve and Sean and a lovely couple out on a day walk
from Hartley. We hung around for an hour and I even dozed in the
sunshine for a few minutes. Tracy set off before us after tales of
her 26 mile trek yesterday – she had got very lost. We finally moved
on at noon joining the rerouted permissive path signposted from the
top. This alternative route, designed to reduce erosion, seemed to
take us way too far to the south. It was so disconcerting to see my
GPS continually indicating that we were off route that I eventually
put it away and we just followed the marker posts. It took a long
time to descend and we were very hot as there was very little air
movement and absolutely no water to be found anywhere on the ground.
We caught up with Tracy and together we walked the remaining mile to
Ravenseat farm where be met up with Henny and Albert yet again. They
all carried on whilst Mum and I paddled in the shallow ford and ate
lunch under an insect infested tree. We made good use of the
hosepipe in the farmyard to refill the bottles and generally cool
off. Feeling refreshed we set off on the final leg, meeting up with
Steve and Sean, for evermore to be known as ‘The Blister Boys’. As
we approached Keld the temperature soared and we kept away from the
road for as long as possible. We walked into the tiny village past
the YHA where the two Dutch lads were sitting enjoying the view.
At 7.30 sharp we were all assembled in the sitting room, joined by 3 other guests who were walking the Pennine Way. Dinner was served by Ernest whilst Doreen scurried around in the kitchen. The food was all homemade and delicious; we even had the option of alcohol with our meal as Butt House is licensed. I tried a bottle of Black Sheep Ale which went very well with the beef casserole. Coffee was taken back in the sitting room and Doreen reappeared with her notepad once more whilst Ernest cleared the table. Breakfast orders were taken with great efficiency, strictly in room order with no butting in – that would really mess up Doreen’s system. Finally orders were taken for packed lunches and then we could relax. Doreen stayed to chat and we learned a bit more about the life of this amazing Dales woman and her husband Ernest.
Thought for the day:
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