DAY EIGHT – KELD TO REETH – 11 MILES
FRIDAY 15th JUNE
I woke up to find the expected dark clouds, strong winds and driving rain. It looked like it was set to stay for the whole day. At breakfast I saw Perry and Angie, and also Sandra and Mick, whom I had first met back in Patterdale. Everyone agreed that the best route to take would be the lower level alternative that follows the course of the river Swale. Wainwright always recommended the higher level route because along the way you had the opportunity to see and explore the ruins of various buildings connected with the mining industries that in previous centuries had so dominated this part of the Dales. Even without the bad weather it had been my intention to take the lower path, as following the course of this beautiful river held more appeal to me than exploring the mine workings of a bygone age. Also, with my blister still very much on my mind, I considered that the lower path would be the best option.
As I left Keld for the footpath down to the river, I met an American couple (whom I later discovered were called Scot and Fran, from Houston, Texas. We all stopped to admire a little flock of swallows that were swooping in and out among a group of sheep. The swallows were diving in between the sheep, catching midges as they went. I wish there had been some swallows back on Day Two to catch the midges that bit be nearly half to death!
A little later on I came to a beautiful waterfall. The overnight rain certainly seemed to have made a difference to the flow of the river.
The beautiful Swaledale valley. You can see how low the cloud was. Visibility on the high level route would have been poor.
Evidence of the mining industry that used to dominate this valley.
You can see that the day was brightening up a little.
Osyter Catchers. I was surprised to see the coastal waders here. You can hardly get more inland than this!
I decided to make a little detour across to the other side of the river to visit this thriving little village of Muker. Despite its name, it is a pretty little place. After the collaspe of the mining industry, it reestablished itself as a centre for the Swaledale woollen industry.
The lovely little church at Muker.
As I prepared to cross the river back to the path, you can see that the sun was now shining. The day was turning out better than expected.
The view across to Muker from the other side of the river.
The path took me through beautiful meadows very close the the river’s edge.
In one meadow I came across this sheep and her two lambs. They were running around in a way that sheep usually do only when being chased. They seemed very alert and flighty, but I couldn’t see any reason why. Have a close look at the adult sheep. She either has a serious moulting problem, or seems to have escaped from the farmer in the middle of being sheared! As I passed by I heard a whistle and turned round and there was the farmer with his sheep dog. The escapees had been tracked down!
The exquisite Ivelet Bridge.
One of the joys of today’s walk was the beautiful meadows full of wild flowers. It wasn’t just the yellow buttercups, there were many other little flowers which don’t show up on the photo. It was certainly the right time of year to do this walk.
After a long walk along the river bank I came to the hamlet of Gunnerside. I had been told that there was a good cafe here, and so, as I was taking my time, I decided to treat myself to a nice lunch. When I arrived I found that Mick and Sandra and Cliff and Fran were already settled there, together with serval other C2Cers I didn’t know. I had a lovely bowl of soup, and beautiful cup of tea and to finish off, a delicious piece of lemon cake.
Conversation got round to blisters, and it turned out that Fran had a couple too. I recalled seeing them in the chemist in Kirkby Stephen yesterday. Fran very kindly offered me some pain-killers to take the edge off the pain. I can’t pretend that my blister isn’t painful to walk on, because it is, but it is bearable.
After lunch I set off, but it was now raining relatively solidly. As I returned to the path, I had an encounter with cows. As I got to a stone stile I could see a huge cow standing with its head right through the stile where I needed to go. It looked at me and I looked at it. I thought to myself, what am I going to do now. Fortunately the weather came to my aid. The rain started to come down very heavy and the cow didn’t like it. It ran across the field and joined the others. “Good”‘ I thought. But before I could start across the field the whole herd went running round the field, right towards the stile where I needed to exit the field! I thought about trying to outrun them, but realised I wouldn’t make it. Fortunately, they stopped just past the stile, so I was able to gingerly sneak past them. I was never so glad as to get out of a field in my life.
You can see that the sun had come out again.
The dark clouds were from the storm that had passed over.
(above) Here I had to walk along this wall that formed part of the flood defences. The photo doesn’t show how high it was. Care was needed as it was slippery.
More dark clouds coming in, time to put the waterproofs back on.
The guide book said “…jumping nimbly over stones to ford Barney Beck”. But when I got to Barney Beck this is what I saw:
There was no way “jump nimbly” here! In fact, trying to cross would have been dangerous. The stones were large but uneven and the water was running over them deep and fast. I decided that discretion was the better part of valour and turned back to the road. Once there I met Fran and Scott. I warned them of the situation and they followed me along the road until we were able to rejoin the river further on.
I had been seeing rabbits all day, but they were so quick that they were gone before I had the camera out. But in this field there were about a dozen, so I was finally able to shoot one…not literally, of course.
A few more miles brought me into Reeth. My feet and legs were protesting “Shaun, why are you making us walk all these miles each day?” “Just keep going”, I silently said to them.