Sunday, 5 July 2009

Wednesday 1 July

The second half of the year started off warm and muggy. Dad had been to the shop already by the time I showed my face, at 9 am. We were therefore able to go on our planned walk a bit earlier than in the last few days. At 10.15 am, we parked up outside the Youth Hostel at Grinton Lodge, on the southern face of the valley. Other walkers had already parked up there. I ambled into the courtyard of the hostel, where a Dutch van was preparing to take the luggage of a party of C2C walkers to its next destination. They had originally booked onto a farm at Marske, but the farmer had to cancel due to haymaking. We headed west above Swaledale, with the village of Reeth in broad view. One of the farms was busy making hay, with five tractors hard at work to beat the forecast and looming rain and thunder. We rose to the eastern flank of High Harker Hill where we met up with two older ladies who appeared to be on the same track as ourselves. We made it to the top of High Harker Hill in good order, meaning that was the end of the major climbs for today. The next few miles was high level (1,500 feet) walking, with Swaledale laid out at our feet. By the time we were abreast of Low Row, a mile or so west of Healaugh, the track veered south. By 2pm, we entered Apedale and our walk veered back east. It was very, very warm (28C / 80F) and we were grateful for the breeze. The thunderheads began to form around us and a low rumble emanated from the west. Whereas we could previously see as far as Kisdon and High Shunner Fell, the upper part of Swaledale was now hidden by the thunderstorm. Earlier on we could also see the location of yesterday’s walk near Surrender Bridge. Continuing down into Apedale, the showers kept building to the south (where our view was restricted to), but it stayed dry until 2.45pm. By that time we had issued from the dale and were heading north towards Grinton again. Big drops started falling and we sought relative shelter inside a shooting butt. The showers showed no sign of letting up, so we continued. No, we did not bring coats. Fortunate for us, the downpours only turned into thunderstorms by the time they were north of our position. Would have been hairy over at Tan Hill today. By 4.15, we reached the car at Grinton Lodge and made for the Bridge Inn in the village below for my large helping of coca-cola. Returned to Shiney Row at 4.45. During supper, the power kept going off as a large thunderstorm settled down to the north and kept interfering with our electricity supply. Even as I type this, at 7.15pm, the 5-second power-outs are carrying on. The laptop has a battery, so I don’t have a problem. Earlier this evening, a female pheasant squatted on our fence and set about preening herself.

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