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Pennine Way 2008

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Deborah and Gwen's Pennine Way Diary
Day 13

Day 13 - A spectacular finale to a windy day
Saturday 24th May
Forest-in-Teesdale to Dufton           14 miles
 

The large farmhouse bedroom at The Dale contained two of the most comfortable double beds we had ever slept in. Although the night had been cold we were toasty warm under acres of soft bedding. The room had three windows and we awoke to superb views over the valley below. After breakfast and the usual farewells we walked up the road to Landon Beck youth hostel before descending to cross the river to head up towards Upper Teesdale. It was much cooler today with some ominous-looking clouds ahead. Gentle farmland gave way to the more rugged moors. We met a lone bird watcher below Cronkley Scar then no one until a group of male walkers marching in near unison just before Cauldron Snout. Mum did not enjoy negotiating the potentially ankle twisting boulders below Falcon Clints but they were nothing compared to the scramble we were about to encounter up the side of Caudron Snout. We had a coffee and marvelled at the awesome power of the water, it made me want to come back in winter when the river would be in full spate. As we started the scramble I carried Mums’ poles so she could concentrate on using her hands on the rock. Near the top we met a couple from Durham who warned us that it would be very windy at High Cup Nick but it would be well worth the walk. We were greeted only by barking dogs at the remote farmstead of Birkdale and did not stop for lunch until we reached the Maize beck crossing where we were able to gain a little shelter from the ever-increasing wind. Donning all our layers, including Mum’s new gloves bought for £1 in Middleton, we pushed on towards the top of the moor. As we approached High Cup Nick, along open grassy moorland, there was a sense that some dramatic change of scenery was about to occur. We were not disappointed – the massive U-shaped glaciated valley opened up before us, dropping steeply from its rim where we first encountered it. Mum felt very uneasy venturing anywhere near its edge and the high winds just added to the drama of the landscape. After a few photos we headed along its northern rim on our way to Dufton. Mum stayed as far away from the edge as the path would allow and finally we met some other walkers but surprisingly few considering it was a Bank Holiday weekend. On our way down we were in for one final surprise – in the distance, struggling up the steep rocky path were three lads on motorised trail bikes. Mum said she had seen it all now as we stopped to let them pass. The descent to Dufton was uncomplicated and we stopped half way down for a rest where I could of easily fallen asleep on the grass in the sunshine. Yellow gorse-lined paths led us into the pretty sandstone village of Dufton with its lovely village green flanked on one side by the youth hostel and by the Stag pub on the other.

We booked into the YHA and ordered dinner and packed lunches. We took advantage of the fact that Pennine Way walkers get free use of the washing machine. The showers were not very hot but at least we had a 4-bed dormitory to ourselves tonight. We were sharing the hostel with a large group of ramblers from a club on the East coast. They were very vocal but not very friendly. The only other guest was Margaret, a lone hosteller bravely coping with the disabling affects of a stroke she had suffered three years earlier. We sat down at the long dinner table with some commotion in the group about who should sit where; in fact some of the group were quite rude, stating loudly that the large bottle of homemade wine was to go no further than the end of their group. Mum admitted later that she was glad that the Welshpool Ramblers don’t behave like this group. To be fair, the gentleman sitting next to me during dinner was very polite so I was shielded from the bulk of their behaviour. Mum and I exchanged a few knowing glances across the table as the meal progressed. Dinner started well with onion soup and some excellent homemade bread but due to the large numbers the service was a little slow and the food wasn’t very hot. My veggie lasagne was ok but Mum’s salmon was cold. We were glad when the brandy and marmalade bread and butter pudding came so we could make a hasty retreat to check our washing.

We braved the wind to cross the Green and sampled the hospitality at The Stag. It was warm inside but packed to the rafters, we shared a table with three holidaymakers up from the Stourbridge area. A brother, sister and a friend, they were lovely and whilst chatting we discovered that the man had cycled from Lands End to John O’Groats just two weeks ahead of Tom and I in 2005. We were back in the hostel by 10pm and glad that the beds were not too squeaky tonight

Thought for the day:
Deb High Cup Nick exceeded my expectations in stark contrast to my disappointment with the company of my fellow hostellers

Mum   In many ways a challenging day but amongst very dramatic scenery. My natural maternal concern emerged as I watched Deborah approach the edge of High Cup Nick to gain a better position for her photography

 

Pictures

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Walking along the river in Upper Teesdale

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Deb at the bottom of Cauldron Snout Waterfall

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The footbridge across Maize Beck

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Deb at High Cup Nick

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View into High Cup Nick from its northern rim

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Optimistic riders!

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Heading for Dufton

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