Friday, 9 May 2014

Day 11 ; Langdon Beck - Dufton/Appleby (20km)

Total distance covered so far : 268 km

My alarm wrenched me out of sleep at 6am and as I struggled to focus on the window pane, I saw rain smearing down it! Another wet day! I rolled over and started pulling the beat-up parts of myself together. And with the return of consciousness, my nose remembered that I have a cold and started to run. What did I do with those paracetamol last night?

The farmhouse in which I'm staying is a jolt to the senses after the country-cottage decor of the place I was in the night before. Shared bathroom downstairs, no water at all upstairs, chickens and shit outside the scullery door and the watchful eyes of a chained dog in a kennel in the yard. Peacocks, dogs and chickens served as a living doorbell and a 'we don't stand on ceremony here, help yourself to a coffee from here' welcome. This was a different world. But not necessarily a worse world. These guys live a basic, open and honest life and love it. They are warm and caring and give what they have. Which is, neglecting the not insignificant fact that I was paying, why I found myself in their bedroom while they sleep on the floor elsewhere.

The place is surprisingly popular it seems as five other people were staying on the same night. All quite 'captain of industry' types as well. This is not a backpacker squat! It's a very real, very functional farm. It also happens to be just about the only place to stay for miles once the pub a kilometre away is full. And frankly, it's probably the better option. I enjoyed staying there.

My hike today took me to Dufton via a longish trek along the side of the river Tees, which was not at all the easy wander you might imagine. It pissed with rain intermittently while the wind never really let up. The path is often actually in the river, presumably to do with it being somewhat in spate right now. And then there's the issue of a couple of boulder fields that require full hands on scramble to get over. And again, much of a slip, and you will be getting wet, properly wet!

The path leads to Cauldron Snout waterfall where the Cow Green Reservoir overflows downs a huge ravine. Super impressive! Vast amounts of ochre coloured water thunder down the ravine. And the path scrambles right up the side of it, often in the bed of tributary rivulets. Another all hands, legs and knees job and once again, don't look down. Not technically difficult but not a place to slip either, even if it is soaking wet.

Then finally, after more lonely miles over the sometimes paved and always desolate and remote moor, along the periphery of a military firing range, you emerge quite suddenly on the lip of High Cup Nick. It is a really very vast and shockingly 'U' or even 'V' shaped valley. As perfect as any textbook could ever describe. With wonderful views out over the vale at the open end of the valley.

A lovely, but wet, but anxious making, but desolate, but oh no not again, but if I slip now I'm in serious f''ing trouble, but Wow! Look at that!, but I hate climbing, kind of day!

That river is actually very fast flowing...
Here's a place where you need to 'man up' and not slip. It's a lot steeper than it looks here!
A comfortable margin of safety... Almost!
It's a BIG waterfall
And the path goes up the right hand side! You are looking right at it!l Actually it's a scramble/climb not a path!
The dam at the top of the ravine
More miles of desolate moor
Won't be going that way then... Not even by accident!
High Cup Nick. It's very very impressive!
It's about 200m deep and about half a kilometre across!
Tadpoles in a puddle, and a tree it seems!
This village has chickens running around on the 'main' road
It also has rabbits running around of the verges!
And a very picturesque boozer!

Done for another day!


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