Keld to Baldersdale (15 miles) Friday 16th August 2002

This is the half way point. Now you have two feelings about this. (a) You’ve been going a bloody long time and you are only half-way there, and (b) the end is dimly visible on the horizon.

Early on we can upon an abandoned pair of waterproof trousers. Which way had the owners gone, north or south? They didn’t look as though they had been there all night so we assumed they had been dropped recently by someone leaving Keld, so we took them with us in case we overhauled the owners. In warm bright sunshine we arrived at Tan Hill, and at the pub met a bunch of walkers, one of whom was sans waterproof trousers. Job Done. Tan Hill is also the highest Pub in England, so it would have been rude not to stop for a drink.

Leaving the pub, we left the official route and walked 3 km east along the road to Great Cocker, then followed the Sleightholme Moor Road north to rejoin the PW. This was to avoid floundering around in the mire the K assured me lay in wait along Washfold Rigg. “Over there,” K waved a trekking pole at the moor “is where Ian mistook a dead sheep for a rock, and put his foot through it, the smell…” On the road we passed a military land rover looking for some lost servicemen.

Just shy of Bowes we crossed the River Gretna at “Gods Bridge” and noticed a towel lying on a flat rock. Our Good Deed for the day having already been done, we left it there. Taking a shortcut to avoid walking into Bowes, we crossed the A67, dodging the traffic and ducking the Hawk Trainers flying low-level sorties up and down the road.

In lovely afteroon sun we arrive at the hostel catching up with R&J. It’s only 4PM so we sit down at some picknick tables to wait for opening time. Blackton Hostel is in a fantastic spot just below Balderhead Reservior, very quiet and peaceful,(when the jets aren’t flying). The towel turns out to have belonged to R&J. They decide not to go back for it. A head appears out of a window “there’s a pot of tea on the table, come in when ever you like”. A moment later, “and I’ve put out some cakes”. We take the hint, and are soon tucking into to some super home-made cakes. The warden here has the perfect job in the perfect place. His hardest decision of the day seems to be “mow grass or make blackberry jam?”

K does running repairs on his feet, then settles to some more study. I find some stone basins and attend to laundry duty.

It turns out that there are only five of us staying at the hostel, us, R&J and a (I think) New Zealand lass who seems to be alternating bits of wandering, with casual working in restaurants. She passes on her health and safety training by getting us to dry the washing up with paper towels to avoid spreading germs from re-used cotton tea-towels. This is one of the few hostels left wher you will get asked to help out with some chores, but hey, the fantastic catering makes it only a fair exchange of labour.

K wants to send a post card to the kids. “I can give it to the postman, but I may not see him till next wednesday”. Just across the fields is High Birk Hatt, where Hanna Hauxwell lived for many years

~ by @mmonyte on August 20, 2006.

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