"A Walk on the Moors" - John's Pennine Way Ramble, Day 9 - July 9th 2000, Keld to Baldersdale
|Day||Date||Start||Finish||Approx. Miles||Hours Taken||Accommodation|
|9||Sun. 9th July||Keld||Baldersdale||14||6.25||YHA - Blackton, Baldersdale, Barnard Castle, Co. Durham, DL12 9UP, Tel. 01833 650629|
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Youth Hostel breakfasts are really something! After a great night's sleep there's nowt like porridge and sausage, eggs and bacon to fuel a walker for 14 miles, crossing the halfway point of the Way.
Noelene took a couple of Coast to Coasters to Kirkby Stephen in the car and I set off in excellent spirits meeting Uncle and Auntie at about 09:00 in bright, clear weather but with threatening clouds. Surely it couldn't rain, could it?! We'd seen Peter packing his tent and leaving about half an hour earlier and we set off in hot pursuit. The route backtracks to the Way, crossing the Swale and we stopped to look at the waterfalls of East Gill Force. Very pretty.
The Way climbs uphill from here but it started to rain so we stopped to put on the waterproofs. It was one of those put 'em on, take 'em off days until the rain set in properly and they remained firmly on as it turned from showers to a steady downpour! We crossed the Coast to Coast path and continued to the edge of West Stonesdale and then onto Stonesdale Moor. We reached Tan Hill Inn, reputed to be (at 1,732 feet - quite a few metres) England's highest pub. It looked a bit dilapidated with holes in the roof and a desolate air about it. But it was in business and people were arriving there for their Sunday lunch (was it really Sunday!). I stopped to use their facilities and was told that these were the ones that campers also use. All I can say is that I'm b****y glad I didn't camp there. Much to Harry's chagrin the Tan Hill Inn also marks the border between Yorkshire and County Durham. We showed our passports at the border and noted that there are no longer visa restrictions between the two nations. Must be something to do with the EU!
After Tan Hill we ventured in awful weather onto Sleightholme Moor, probably the worst going since Black Hill and a section that you aim to cross as quickly as possible. The Moor is a wretched wasteland of spongy peat, very wet and boggy underfoot, with the Way very undefined and poorly marked. It really is bleak up there with not a house, building, tree or person in sight. There weren't even many sheep around. However, the walking was at least more kind to the feet than the previous days trek down the stony path from Great Shunner Fell to Thwaite so I was grateful for small mercies. The weather became worse and we hurried to be off this unpleasant stretch.
Once we reached Sleightholme and some semblance of civilisation, the walking became more. We followed Sleightholme Beck, through fi,elds and not long after, we headed north towards the A66 rather than north east to Bowes, a possible overnight stop. After crossing Wytham Moor (unmemorable so I guess it was okay) we came upon God's Bridge, a natural stone crossing of the small River Greta. I stopped for a while to have a look at this fascinating natural phenomenen and took a couple of piccies.
Just after this I caught up with the Yorkshire Two. We could see Peter ahead but he was steaming along and it was a while before we reached him. Before that we crossed what I reckon is the half way point of the Way, the footpath through a tunnel beneath the A66, the (almost) motorway from Penrith and the M6 in the west to Scotch Corner and the A1 in the east. We had no champagne and, as the wether was getting worse again, we didn't stop for anything else. But I hollered a bit! Half way there, I could hardly believe it.
Eventually we caught up with Peter and climed uphill for a while over Ravock where we able to see the ruins of a castle. Well, we didn't see 'owt and Harry and Elaine in their three Pennine Way walks haven't seen it on any of them either. By now the rain was persisting down and we were thoroughly wet but happily squelching around in the muddy morass of Cotherstone Moor. We passed Clove Lodge where Noelene and I had planned to stay in the camping barn and I was relieved that there was room for us at Baldersdale (or Balderdash as it became known to us) YH. That's all there is at Baldersdale, just the YH and we arrived just after 15:00 to find that the showers weren't working. However, the couple who run the place were excellent people and let us check in early, turned on the drying room and generally cared for all our woes.
Noelene had great trouble finding the hostel but eventually arrived and we sat down to the best (and largest) meal that we'd had at any of the Youth Hostels (and were to have). Afterwards, the four of us walkers synchronised our diaries. In other words I combined the Greenhead to Once Brewed to Bellingham two days into one long 25 miler and committed myself to doing the very long Byrness to Kirk Yetholm leg also in one day rather than two. We were now officially a gang - and to celebrate we had a beer or two with dinner, courtesy of Noelene and the cool box in the car. There was only us five plus an Australian family and two decorators, painting the hostel, in that night. We later found that the plastic box that we'd put our cutlery in was actually for catching the water from the leaking roof - much to the amusement of the Wardens.
It just goes to prove that the weather and the beauty of the scenery don't necessarily control whether or not a walker finds a day good or not. Day nine would seem to have been a nightmare. The weather was terrible, Sleightholme Moor in particular was especially unpleasant and the showers at the YH weren't working. However, I really enjoyed the days walk but I don't exactly know why. Maybe it was the camerarderie as we crossed that dreadful morass since, now out of Yorkshire, we were all in foreign territory. Perhaps it was the achievement of passing the half way point. It could have even been my perverted sense of just doing it against the elements!
Baldersdale YH is also a special place with unusual and wonderful people running it and, once the roof's mended, the showers are working and the new carpet is fitted it will be even better. I'll be back!
Sausage meat baked pie
Bread and butter pudding and custard (excellent)
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