Sunday, 5 July 2009

Tuesday 30 June

Today was mainly overcast, although the sun did put in the odd appearance or two. We drove to Surrender Bridge, situated 3 miles west of Reeth. It required the negotiation of a narrow road between Healaugh and the Bridge, and even the opening of a gate. We arrived at 10.45. The old Smelt Mill was quite conspicuous, a sad ruin down by the river. We crossed the Old Gang Beck and turned onto the track that leads to the Old Gang Mines. These are reached after just over a mile, and remain a forlorn wreck of its former industrious past. It suitably rained. And I was duly punished for assuming that it wouldn’t rain today. It didn’t rain heavily though. A couple were mousing through the ruins. We proceeded up the track and passed the High Level Bridge about half an hour after leaving Old Gang Mines. The route for the Coast to Coast walk (A. Wainwright’s St Bees to Robin Hood’s Bay 190 mile epic) turns off west towards Blakethwaite and Keld, but our route wound its way further north. It passed two open minelevels (which descended ominously and steeply into the hillside) after which a gentle descent took us to the high point of the walk, at 580 metres / 1,930 feet. A lot of spoil heaps about and it gives the scenery a slightly lunar aspect. From this altitude, the track west towards Keld could be seen winding its way across the distant moor. Swaledale appeared to be full of cloud and murk. We descended from Great Pinseat in the general direction of the road between Low Row and Langthwaite and stopped for lunch. We broke up when the rain came on again. Without any bother, we reached said road and ambled back to the car. Next destination: Tan Hill, 10 miles to the northwest. Firstly, we went through the watersplash, observed by two pedestrians who looked on with glum faces. What do you expect if you stand right next to a ford and a car drives through? A steep descent brought us to the northern outskirts of Langthwaite, and we turned north towards Whaw and Tan Hill. Whaw’s bridge was washed away by the remnants of Hurricane Charley in 1986. The road passes over open moorland, past countless sheep, and oh, did I mention the lapine corpses that litter the roads? Just before 2pm, we reached Tan Hill, situated at 526 metres / 1830 feet above sea level. It was fairly busy there, with hikers and bikers. It stands on the Pennine Way, a long distance footpath stretching from Edale in Derbyshire to Kirk Yetholm on the Scottish border. The nearest habitations are Keld, 4½ miles away to the south, and Bowes, about 10 miles to the northeast. Power is supplied by an industrial sized generator. A man was seen walking south to Keld with a cat. Others were discerned marching off towards Bowes and Barnard Castle. I believe I could make out the towers of Teesside far away, more than 35 miles to the east. It once more spitted with rain, so we drove down the road to Keld, which was a bit narrow. Our return to Reeth, along 12 miles of the B6270 was a challenging experience for the driver, my dad; it is a narrow and winding affair, particularly on the stretch between Keld and Muker. We gained Reeth at 3pm, had a nice icecream and returned to Hurst for some tea. More walks are planned for the days ahead – prefer the rain to the 90F temps they were forecasting for central London today. Supper? Cauliflower and curry sauce, spuds and fried sausages.

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