Day 28 Fri 27-05-2005
Horton-in-Ribblesdale to Keld
I was up at 6:30, having slept surprisingly well. Richard was staying here to meet his fiance and son for a few days R&R, so it might well prove that this really was a parting of our ways. My plan was to get to Hawes by lunchtime, and Keld by evening - a demanding day's walk of about 27 miles, over hilly country.
The Pennine Way crosses limestone, and is dotted with caves and potholes. I stopped for a while at one fascinating place, where a sizeable stream disappeared into a huge hole in the ground!
Pressing onward, I reached Hawes at lunchtime. That was 50% of my day's objectives achieved. Trying not to be overawed that this is the home to Wensleydale cheese, I looked around for maps. Success! A tiny gift shop has plenty, enough to see me over the border into Scotland. I've tried not to think too far ahead, but I can't help anticipating the thrill of crossing the border, having walked the length of England.
There are many motorbikes parked outside a cafe, and trusting the biker's judgement, I entered for an "all day" breakfast. They weren't wrong - the British fry-up was at it's best.
My task for the afternoon was to reach Keld, with no room for failure as there was precious little habitation on the way. I climbed steadily, until mid afternoon when I reached the summit of Great Shunner Fell - 716 metres above sea level. Then a long descent to Thwaite (a tiny village), and then turning north, I followed the valley of the river Swale.
The path was high up on the side of the valley, with steep drops below to my right, and magnificent views. Unfortunately, the weather was hazy, overcast and damp, so no photo opportunities.
At Keld I was resigned to camping, but someone suggested I try the Youth Hostel. It had a room! I hung my tent up in the drying room (how civilised!), purchased a couple of cans of Guinness (ditto), and put my feet up in front of a roaring coal fire (double ditto). Bliss.