May 31

Day 15 Whitestone Farm to Colne 8 miles

After a consultation with our online physio we have been instructed to do some shorter days until the kniggly knee settles down. Finding accommodation, on the Pennine Way within our new range, proved to be impossible. However, the Bronte Way passed right behind last night’s refuge. The Bronte Way could lead us to Colne where The Crown has a bed.

This morning’s emails reminded us of the time we were walking over Blsckstone Edge and the company of Alison and Bob. Not only did we get an enjoyable email but attached was a picture of our retreating backs as we strode off into the distance. We do not have many photos of the two of us and in this photo people are spared front views.

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Back to today. Our hosts told us that the moors have been bought by a billionaire who wants to use them for a gigantic grouse shoot. The council, due to shortage of funds, seems unable to do anything to stop this. Enjoy them while you may.

We left Whitestone Farm down a rhododendron lined path. Rhododendrons seem to grow everywhere in profusion here. Our path took us across an open hill and past a farm house. It was the farm house to which last night’s taxi had taken us in error. Had we known this we could have just nipped across the field.

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Walking along the Pennine Way we have been spoiled as the way is straightforward, difficult sections have been paved and the infrastructure is in good order. The bronte Way, on the other hand, is more of a Cinderella and appears to have been forgotten by its creators. It is beautiful but the way is full of very boggy sections. Thankfully there are massive beds of soft rush which work very well as bog carpet.

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Thank goodeness for the ladders over the walls. I wouldn’t fancy the idea of struggling over these obstacles without them.

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Trees are truly amazing. We passed an enormous tree today perched on a massive boulder with its roots wrapped around the boulder suspended over the road. The only reason as far as I could see for it to remain vertical was one of its branches growing to the ground and propping it up.
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Our hosts of last night told us that today’s walk was very good and that we would pass through a lovely village called, as far as I could tell, White Collar. I immediately assumed that this was a village of retired accountants, bankers and stockbrokers. When we arrived the prettiness of the place convinced me that I was right about the occupations of the inhabitants if not the name. The outskirts of Wycollar have a ruin. It appears that its owner had run up such enormous debts in its refurbishment that no one could live in it. Over the last 120 years or so timbers, stones, fireplaces, porches, slates etc have all been quietly removed to refurbish other properties by more prudent proprietors giving a more modest yet sensible investment.

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Wycollar has an interesting stone bridge with the stones worn down by previous walkers. It also has a tea room serving cream teas at lunch time, lucky old us!

So now we are in Colne. Where we go tomorrow is yet to be decided. Perhaps we should start thinking about it but, perhaps not just yet.

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June 1

Day 16 Colne to Earby Youth Hostel

Colne let us rest peacefully. The blokes using the hammer drill in the street outside our bedroom didn’t start work until we were awake, washed and ready.
As today’s stroll is short we could set off lateish and loiter up to our first gate.
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So here we are in Earby, me fiddling on a fone as Janet meddles with a map.

It is a good job that youth hostels don’t check for youthfulness.
My fat fingers are being stressed today as I must scribble on the keyboard of my mini phone as my laptop thinks that there is no internet connection. Today’s stroll has been short and filled with the smell, if not the temperature, of early summer.
As we ate our lunch of saucisson, cheese, yesterday’s salad and a tangerine from the breakfast buffet while seated on an isolated bench, a farmer stopped for a chat about his holiday in Norway and the fearsome price of beer. Another couple turned up a bit later, the wife part telling us that she lived on one of the farms 60 years ago and walked miles to school. For her it was a trip down memory lane.
The youth hostel is in a delightful spot having wisteria growing over its old stone walls
We haven’t checked in yet as it opens at 5:00. Tomorrow is our wedding anniversary so we will be spending tonight with Janet in a women’s dormitory and me in a men’s dormitory. Romance is not in the air.
Tomorrow is looking a little difficult with regard to accommodation. Time for a planning conference perhaps.

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June 2

Day 17 Earby YH to Gargrave

Last evening’s stay at the Earby Youth Hostel was very interesting as our fellow hostellers were all travelling by different means and for different reasons. One was a JOGLE person, whose brains we picked for a good route through southern Scotland. Another was reliving his youth by travelling on a 200cc motor scooter around the Dales, yet another cycling. All were enthusiastic hostellers, all were of the grey haired type of youth, much like ourselves raally. One chap came from Sheffield and was certain that Sheffield had everything that one could want in a town. He had decided though that it was time that he got to know Lancashire so had come for a few days rest and sightseeing.

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We packed and left without breakfast, intending to stop soon and eat on the road. We have been very fortunate with the weather these last days. The only minor fly in the ointment has been that we have been walking northwards and the wind has been coming from the north. This doesn’t make one want to sit about and have a leisurely picnic.

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We began walking, years ago, by doing an unnecessary mile every day. Well today, due to my stupidity, we did another unnecessary mile, uphill too.
One of our fellow hostellers was describing her disquiet at having to pass through groups of cattle and we were telling her that cows are curious and will follow walkers but that it means nothing. We also told her not to worry if a bull is in a field with cos as he will be interested in his ladies not the casual walker.We did say that dairy bulls were a different kettle of fish and to beware if she sees a friesian bull. Well, blow me, we were sauntering across a field of cows and there was a friesian bull amongst them. Thankfully, he too was more interested in his ladies.

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It was a delight to meet the Liverpool Canal and to see that a teashop might be on the cards as we were beginning to feel the need for some breakfast. On we strode towards the teashop passing a livery stable with hearty girls mucking out and wandering about with wheelbarrows full of stuff. One of these hearty girls told us that the tea shop was closed on Thursdays. We sat at the empty table and ate our own breakfast of bacon cooked two days ago, some Lancashire cheese and an apple which Janet had bought in Shrewsbury a week ago. A delicious repast fit for a king and queen.

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So here we are in the Mason’s Arms in Gargrave, lazing about with a tea, coffee and a biscuit. The sun is shining so, after a spot of shuteye, we can stroll out and see what Gargrave has to offer.

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June 3

Day 18 Gargrave to Settle

It is difficult to write about a day in which all navigation has been perfect, all weather perfect, all trees perfectly in blossom and skies perfectly blue.

We left Gargrave via a short chunk of the Pennine Way after having posted a few redundant maps and receipts home.
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The Pennine Way soon wends its way across fields but we wandered up a lane lined with may blossom instead. The map indicated that there was a path on the other side of the walled lane, up which we strolled, in a field more or less parallel to the lane. Our slightly sunken and tree lined lane trapped the perfume of the trees just for us. In addition to the tree perfume there was also that of cows. Some people find the smell of fresh cow droppings offensive but for me the smell is a reminder of my past and I find it comforting.

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The Pennine Way is full of various energetic types, people running, cyclists cycling at great risk to themselves and other, slower, persons and sometimes a family of kiwis striding forward like chamois. Today, being off the track was by contrast quite different, we have seen no one. We did see an ancient couple standing in the lane and looking at a house but that was it. If we say that they were an ancient couple you can imagine how ancient they were.

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The leafy lane, along which we strolled, was very beautiful but lacked logs or other suitable seats on which we could take our ease for a moment. The margins of the lane were infested with nettles and where there were no nettles there was nowhere on which we could perch. Over these last couple of days our knees have worked beautifully when in an upright, standard, operating position. The difficulty has been in the transition from horizontal to vertical so, in order not to have the undignified spactacle of us rolling about until we can stand we sit on logs and boulders.

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Having found boulders and refreshed ourselves we marched on, commenting on the perfection of the day.
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If there are any cows in a field I usually take photos of them. The cows today being Highland Cattle so I took lots. The poor blighters looked really hot and uncomfortable in their heavy fur overcoats. The calves in particular were roasting as they have much thicker coats than their mothers.
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I learned today that the road our path joined for the last mile or so into Settle is used by cyclists doing the coast to coast run. We must have seen at least 30 whizzing past as we approached the town. Then, alarmingly, on the side of the road was a sign warning of a descent of 12% into Settle. We lengthened our knee protecting sticks and started to descend. We were met by many red faced and panting cyclists pushing their cycles upwards. Without exception they all wanted to know “Is it much further?” The first ones we met we replied “No not too far, just around that bend there.” Further down we had not the heart to tell them the truth about what was ahead so just wished them well and suggested courage

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Settle is such a lovely town. After dumping our stuff at the Royal Oak we went for a stroll around in order to enjoy the sights, buy maps, blister plaster and a whopping ice cream each. A lovely day.

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June 4

Day 19 Settle to Ribblehead

Well! what a day. The day started with no breakfast, a faulty credit card and then a lavatorial mishap with my mobile phone.

Having said all that, the rest of the day was wonderful, finishing at Dent. I shall finish this lot tomorrow.

In order to get a good start we rose early, packed and went down to breakfast. Imagine our dismay as we realised that nothing had been prepared, all was in darkness. Other eager walkers, cyclists and holiday makers gathered in the gloom all trying to appear calm in the face of disaster. At last a man appeared out of the kitchen, saying that someone else usually turned up to set out the breakfast things. He went back into the kitchen to mull things over then bringing a jug of orange juice and another of milk to the hungry horde. At this point we realised that the delicious breakfast we had anticipated was not to be.
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Of course our disappointment quickly disappeared as we found the Ribble and followed it through farm and field.

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Finally finishing at the beautiful Ribblehead Viaduct where we caught the train to Dent to spend an evening with friends. The day began with a few minor disasters but finished very well indeed
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June 5

Day 20 Ribblehead to Dent

A Dent breakfast takes a bit of beating, and no trouble eating. We were then chauffeured up the fearsome Dent Station hill and caught the train back to Ribblehead and its magnificent viaduct. We went into the station buffet and had a coke talking to the very friendly and informative volunteers, one of whom was once a teacher at the Priory School in Shrewsbury

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Then, having refreshed ourselves and been entertained, we set out upwards in the hot sizzling sun.

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The landscape looked parched. It was quite obvious that, at times, this landscape is a boggy bog. Today everyone walking was smeared in sun cream. I can’t imagine that this is always the case.

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The path before us was clear. Walkers of all shapes and sizes were moving resolutely up the hill. We resolutely followed these experienced and athletic walkers. Unfortunately for us everyone, apart from ourselves, was engaged on a different walk to that on which we had set our hearts. Discovering our mistake we had two choices. One, retrace our steps to the error point or two, strike out over tussocky moorland and hope for the best. We could see our target, a railway tunnel breather tower, so headed for it

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The path was long and steep.

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Arriving at the breather tower we stopped for a breather ourselves. We were delighted when we could hear the rushing air in the tower as a train approached underneath. It grew to a crescendo and then changed tone as the train moved on and air was sucked back in.

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That first tower led to others, all higher up the hill than the last one.

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The map showed us that we would pass through a wood on our descent. We were looking forward to sitting in the shade and enjoying some cheese and an apple. Imagine our disappointment when we discovered that the wood was a wood no more.

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We had dawdled so much at Ribblehead Station and at other beauty spots that our intended destination was not manageable in the time. We decided to make for Dent Station in order not to make the day too long. It became fairly obvious that we might not even get to Dent station in time to catch the train so we had to really pick up the pace. If anyone knows the hill to Dent Station then they would agree, I think, that haring up there with a heavy pack is taxing.

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Finally, at the station, on time, we sat and waited. The time passed and no train came. It is at this time that one starts to doubt first the timetable, then the reading of the timetable. I rang the signalbox man at the box prior to Dent who gave me the glad news that the train was late but on its way.

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June 6

Day 21 Dent to Kirkby Stephen

One of the nice things about wandering about as we are doing is that we come across the same wanderers from time to time. We also have a chance to chin wag with others who are having their own adventures. Some, like a group of Australians we met today, having completed the coast to coast walk threw their walking boots in the bin forever. Still others, like a family living in Malta who love trains but have none at home were looking forward to the Ribblehead viaduct, all have interesting stories to tell.

Having ground our weary way up to Dent Station yesterday we were delighted not to have to do it again today. We left Dent Station via the coal road turning right as we left the station yard.
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We had no idea that the coal road went up and up. Luckily for us our heavy packs were sitting in our youth hostel bedroom. Today only one back at a time felt the weight of water, some cheese, some blister plasters and sun cream. This lack of encumbrance meant good and cheerful progress towards Garsdale, our first target.
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We have noticed that the river beds here seem to be made out of eroded concrete. I’m sure that this is a peculiarity of nature rather than the hand of man but it does look odd.

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After Garsdale we climbed upwards and made our way to an old drovers road. After the initial climb the road was flat and soft. We could feel the odd drop of rain but welcomed its refreshing coolness. Lunch was a simple affair of cheese and other stuff eaten as we sat on rocks. The rain began in earnest more or less after we had finished the cheese. I didn’t think that we needed rainproof clothing today, Janet thought otherwise so at least we had coats but nothing else. I suppose the rain lasted for half an hour or so. From head to waist we were dry, from waist to ankles soaked.

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We spotted this monument on a hill. I have no idea what it might mean. There was nothing to indicate its function or creator.
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It looked as though we might be out of luck in the breakfast department again this morning so were feeling a little sad. I found some eggs and attempted to boil them in a frying pan. I found it tricky to get the water to boil so left the eggs in the hottish water for about 15 minutes. As the day wore on we began to flag. All was well for the first 15 miles or so but then we needed rest. Janet had one chocolate egg left and sat down to eat it. The joy with which she devoured the egg reminded me of my own genuine egg. I found the egg and started to peel it. A previous egg had been nearly cooked so I expected the same from the second egg. When the white ran down my wrist as I removed the shell I knew that only Janet would have the pleasure of an egg today.
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So here we are in Kirkby Stephen. A traveller’s caravan parked in the main street managed to entertain motorists trying to get home. This week has been the Appleby Horse Fair so quite a few travelling people are about. To complete the rustic vision Crook Morris did a few dances outside the pub as we ate supper. Now for a shower, some beer and bed ready to do it all again tomorrow.

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