Day 9 - September 10th 2004

Hawes to Tan Hill - 16 miles


Not the best night’s sleep as the ale called frequently and the toilet was down the hall. The weather was misty but not raining. I met Brian as arranged and he guided us out of town. I believe that without his assistance I might have spent quite a bit of time trying to follow the directions in the book and still might have been found wandering about asking directions.

Once out of town, the Way was pretty easy to follow. From shortly after leaving Hawes, it was over six miles and between two and a half and three hours of steady up hill walking to the top of Great Shunner Fell. Although the weather remained misty with the ever present breeze, I wore just my long sleeved caporelle shirt and was fine. Also we were assisted by the fact the path was generally good and the breeze was behind us.

At the top of the fell we took a short break for water and a photo op in the cross shaped wind shelter and then it was off downhill to Thwaite. This part of the day’s walk was worse than the climb although the first part was OK on stone slabs. After a bit we struck a track which was surfaced with loose rocks and then very large pieces of gravel. It was tough going and we both commented on it. Once again I thanked the fact that I had my trekking poles as they certainly aided in keeping me upright on that uneven footing.

After the long downhill run, the small village (no pub) of Thwaite awaited us. We had an outside sit down lunch of sandwiches and crisps. It was nice to take a load off after that long stretch of poor walking and knowing that I had about seven more miles to go before reaching my destination, the Tan Hill Inn. Of course that seven miles was predicated on not getting lost. After our brief sit down lunch it was back into the fields and, no surprise, climbing again. Once we reached the shoulder of the hill, the view down and ahead to the right made the climb almost worthwhile. Although I did not know it at the time, I was looking into Swaledale and it was beautiful. I even paused to take a photograph. After walking around the shoulder of the hill, Brian and I parted company as he was staying in Keld and I was on my way to Tan Hill. We agreed to meet at the Youth Hostel in Dufton, in the morning four days hence, to climb Cross Fell.

After crossing the creek and the Coast to Coast Path, I once again started a gradual climb. It was pretty lonely on those moors without Brian’s company. The weather, fortunately, was not a problem with just an overcast and not much wind. Route finding, far up on the slope of the hill, was once again a problem. It was probably me but I found the directions in the Pennine Way South to be a bit less than clear. After leaving the last farm building I attempted to follow those directions but found them, at least in my opinion, to not be accurate. Therefore, I simply struck out diagonally up the slope, finally coming across what appeared to be a human path as opposed to one of the many sheep trails. I continued up that path to the top and from that point on, the way to the Tan Hill Inn was quite clear. About half a mile from the inn I found Connie sitting on a rock waiting for me. From there it was an easy stroll to our lodgings.

We had a wonderful room at the inn, complete with a bathtub which I made use of. My feet were very sore and that hot bath was unbeatable. Connie massaged my feet and I fell asleep for a bit in the tub. Showers are fine but you have to stand to enjoy them and after walking sixteen miles, being able to clean up while off my feet was a much better idea.

After the excellent bath it was down for a pint of Old Speckled Hen and then a half of Old Peculier. Dinner was a very hearty vegetable soup and we split a chicken tikka jacket potato. It was then up and to bed with lights out at 8:45. This was a long and tough day. 

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