"A Walk on the Moors" - John's Pennine Way Ramble, Day 11 - July 11th 2000, Langdon Beck to Dufton
|Day||Date||Start||Finish||Approx. Miles||Hours Taken||Accommodation|
|11||Tue. 11th July||Langdon Beck||Dufton||13.5||5.5||B&B - Mrs. E.M. Howe, Dufton Hall Farm, Dufton, Appleby, Cumbria, CA16 6DD, Tel. 017683 51573|
Click on any picture to go to a larger version. to go to the full set of Pennine Way photographs for this day.
Little did I realise, when we set off from Langdon Beck YH, what a special day our eleventh on the trail was to be. We left at about 09:10 in bright but very cold weather, Elaine and I wearing gloves and waterproof jackets to keep out the chill wind. And this in early July! We passed again the friendly welcoming sign from the local farmer and retraced the last half mile of yesterday's walk down to the Tees just past Cronkley Bridge.
Having followed the river for a short way the path went away from it, through meadows and pastures (anyone know the difference between a meadow and a pasture?!) with some very easy walking. After a while the track returned to the river bank and we found ourselves picking our way around, over and between huge boulders. All the way, I'd had a fear of twisting an ankle or breaking a leg and I was convinced that this was where I was going to do it. But I escaped and we stopped for a while to watch about ten shepherds with almost a score of dogs herding together an enormous flock of sheep. Having rounded them up the men left the dogs on guard as they wandered off to sit down and take out their flasks of tea ("How did I know it was tea?", I can hear you asking. Well, I didn't but I expect it was. They looked like tea, not café latte, men!).
We continued to follow the river as it turned north towards Cow Green Reservoir where we clambered over rocks leading up the waterfalls of Cauldron Snout. It was a pity we couldn't have seen the falls a day earlier when they would have been in flood with the river swollen by the heavy rain. But they were pretty impressive nonetheless and we stopped for quite a while to admire the view as we followed the strenuous climb up the path beside them.
At the top of the falls we crossed the Tees and this was the last we were to see of this wonderful river. Following a tarmaced road we entered Cumbria for the first time and were able to look back to wonderful views along the Tees valley. There were red flags everywhere and I was hopeful that there had, at last,been a Socialist revolution whilst I was away. Harry was convinced that the massed troops of Yorkshire had invaded Cumbria. But it was only an MOD firing range, so we were both disappointed.
I was disconcerted to realise that we were gradually heading south westwards when I'd believed that the Pennine Way goes from south to north (or, in the extreme, from north to south). But here we were heading the wrong way and the story of today's walk is that we ended up two miles further south than when we'd started. And we'd following the correct (ish!) route all the way.
The main stream was now Maize Beck and we followed it for some time, eventually reaching a point where Wainwright and Hopkins disagree about whether or not the stream should be crossed. The flow of the water made our minds up for us and we stayed on the north bank. After much deliberation Harry and Peter (the great navigators) decided on the alternative route (or official one, depending on which guide you follow) up Maize Beck Scar. The going was very wet, boggy and mossy underfoot with the Way poorly defined. I was sure that we were on the wrong path but, after being allowed to lead the way for about 100 metres, I had to just shrug my shoulders in resignation of another failed attempt at navigation, much to the others' amusement. We eventually found the footbridge that crosses the beck and headed on.
Suddenly and unexpectedly we came upon the most spectacular piece of scenery I've ever seen in Britain and one of the most stunning anywhere in the world - High Cup Nick. Ever heard of it? Well, I hadn't until I started to read about the Pennine Way. But no reading could have prepared me for this sight. Harry and Elaine had seen it before but, like Peter and me, they stood gaping in amazement at the rugged wonder of it. The Nick is a blind ended valley running from east to west towards the Lake District hills, visible in the distance. It must be about 200 metres deep and at least 500 metres across and it's beautiful beyond words, especially on a bright, clear day as this had become. We sat down and ate our lunch, hardly taking our eyes off the sight that lay beneath us with the twinkling High Cup Gill running through it like a silver thread. It was the highlight of my Pennine Way, so far, and has remained my most favorite place of the whole walk ever since. Why is such an incredible place almost unknown? Well, I have no idea other than that the nearest car park is a tough three mile walk away. And long may that remain so.
We walked down towards Dufton rather more quiet and contemplative than normal and I kept looking back as the view gradually disappeared. The descent into Dufton was down another stony path and it brought back to me the realisation that my feet were still b****y sore. We walked into the village and had another surprise. For this was one of the prettiest places we had stayed in so far. The four of us and Noelene sat outside the Post Office, come General Store, come Tea Room and had tea and cakes as our reward for the day's walking. Though what better reward could there have been than the view of High Cup Nick.
Dufton has everything. There's the place I've already mentioned, the village pub, a Youth Hostel, places to camp and our B&B, the very ancient and excellent Dufton Hall Farm where we had one of the best rooms of the trip. We ate at the YH with Uncle and Auntie and joined Peter for a couple of beers at the pub. There we met the "soon to be famous" Dutch Boys, Dave from London and a father and son, the first Pennine Way walkers we'd seen for many a day. The three Dutch Boys seemed to be walking the Way from pub to pub, camping all the time and living off Mars Bars of which they seemed to buy the pub's entire stock. I thought that I had sore feet but every time I saw Dave he seemed to have his boots off and was rubbing his as if trying to revive the circulation in them. The Dutch Boys told us of their walk over Black Hill when they'd followed the Taxi Boys tracks and had therefore gone just as wrong. Also, like the Taxi Boys (and me on my training walk), they had turned right a little too early after coming down from Kinder Scout and had ended up at the Snake Pass Inn rather than crossing the A57 near Bleaklow. But it only necessitated an extra three miles on an already tough day!
Noelene and I went to our very comfortable, almost luxurious bed, very contented and happy. Unfortunately she woke in the middle of the night with her face badly swollen (I didn't touch her, your honour!), we think, as a result of some sort of allergic reaction. The next day it looked awful and I had visions of abandoning the walk to take her to hospital. But she would have none of it, took a couple of Nurse Elaine's anti-histamine pills and met us in the evening almost fully recovered.
Every day, so far, has been a good day but day eleven was exceptional if, for nothing else, than the view of High Cup Nick. I really am in love with that place. The rest of the day was great too and we had a lot of fun arguing about whether or not to cross Maize Beck (The Dutch Boys had and had then to walk down the unmarked south side of High Cup Nick) and which route to take to get to the footbridge crossing. It was good to sit and relax over a beer or two and just listen to the chat of other walkers. Apart from Harry and Elaine the only other occupants of the YH were a bunch of very upper class school girls who certainly looked down on us lot as much as we disregarded them. The food was completely forgettable!
to go to Day 12, to go back to the itinerary or to return to the starting page.