Day 10 - September 11th 2004

Tan Hill to Middleton-in-Teesdale - 17 miles


I slept very well last night despite the wind which really whipped most of the night. The old stone building stood up well. I kitted out in my full rain gear as it not only was very windy but rain was coming down. After a quick breakfast I was on my way. Connie took a photograph which shows my rain gear all blowing out to one side. A quick review of Pennine Way South showed that in bad weather Sleightholme Moor “can be a dangerous place.” I looked around, decided that the weather was, indeed, bad so I took the alternate route down the road for two miles and then off on Sleightholme Moor Road, rejoining the Way near Sleightholme Farm where I left a message for Brian in a gate closure.

Once I crossed Sleightholme Beck, the Way was pretty clear and the walking easy. I elected to give the Bowes Loop a pass as I thought 268 miles was quite enough, given the choice of not having to add to it. After crossing God’s Bridge, finding the nature built structure not particularly heavenly, it was under the A66 and then an easy and pretty undistinguished walk up the moor. It was still quite windy with fairly frequent showers but as the wind was behind me, for a change, I did not find it uncomfortable. After reaching the crest of the hill and descending for a while I decided it was time for lunch. As there was no convenient place to sit, I chose the step on the far side of a fence stile, ate a quite hurried lunch, as it was still raining, and continued on.

It was at this point, walking down to the first reservoir, that I became a bit confused after reviewing the map in Pennine Way North. After looking about and again checking the book, I realized that while I was looking at Blackton Reservoir, I had the book open to the page showing Grassholme Reservoir. No wonder what I was looking at and what the map showed and its description did not match. I found the walk around both bodies of water to be pleasant and certainly not difficult. Also, once I realized the error of my ways, route finding at this point was easy. I did have to ask directions at one point to a resident of a farm, the only person I saw on this day’s walk.

Climbing out of Lunedale and across the B6276 also presented no problems in directions. However, once past Wyeths Hill Farm, the uphill wandering across the fields commenced once again. I was following the directions in the book and my compass but it was still not a lot of fun what with many sheep trails and no distinct path for the Way. More than once I found myself on an uphill slope staring at a stone wall with not a stile in sight. I think the odd way marker every so often on a wall could not hurt. After getting to the top of the hill I could see a village down below and it was Middleton. A quick downhill run and then through a gate which almost knocked me off my feet when it opened and there was Connie waiting for me. The time for the day’s walk was six and a half hours so the tail wind helped.

We found our B&B with no problem, cleaned up and went out for a walk to see if there was a good pub and place to eat. Well, there certainly was not in Middleton. Fortunately I had seen a sign for a pub up the road where I had exited the Way. We drove up to the Strathmore Arms where I had two pints of well kept Old Speckled Hen and we both had pretty good Indian food. On the way out, as I was standing at the bar waiting to pay, I stepped back and all of a sudden there were red hot needles going into my calf. I shot up in the air and the pub cat that I had stepped on took off in another direction. Not one of those experiences you forget as well as its being a bit sobering. Back at the B&B it was read a bit and lights out at 9:30. This was supposed to be a tough day but to me it was a piece of cake; I was never cold or wet and it certainly was not difficult walking other than the one instance in route finding. However, the weather forecast for tomorrow did not bode well.

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