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Day 29 Sat 28-05-2005

Keld to Dufton

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My only roommate (in a dormitory of three bunk-beds) was an Irish photographer who was into sunrises. Despite going to bed well after midnight (but he didn't snore), he was up at 4:30 - good going! I had been studying my maps and decided to abandon the Pennine Way at Tan Hill, and take a short cut via Brough to Dufton, where I would join the P.W. again. I estimated that it would save me around 15 miles, and was more focussed on LEJOG than doing the PW in it's entirety. I planned to return another time to finish the odd bits I'd missed.

Britain's highest pub

I set off for Tan Hill around 7 a.m. The route was boggy, along hillsides above Stonesdale Beck. I got to the highest pub in Britain at 9:00 - the Tan Hill Inn. It was incredibly windy, and I sheltered against the wall of the pub and snacked on digestives and chocolate. The landlord came out, and asked which direction I had come from. Apparently, most people were much muddier than I was if they had just done that stretch of the P.W. I can't help being a fussy walker!

Towards Brough

I abandoned the P.W. and headed north west along a desolate lane towards Brough, which looked a good spot to lunch at. I passes a group of around twenty cyclists stopped for a break, and threw back a bit of their friendly banter.

Apart from the howling wind, the weather was good, with tremendous views west where the mountains of the Lake District were clearly visible. I kept up a conversation in my head with Richard, I had got used to his company.

I descended into Brough at noon, and decided to walk on to Warcop, where the map showed the welcome "PH" - a pub. It was low level, out of the worst of the wind, and the occasional spot of rain. As always when walking across farmland, the route was difficult to follow, and several fields contained cattle, with warnings about cows and their calves. I gave them a wide berth, "Afternoon, cows," and eventually got to Warcop.

Three local youths resided in the bus shelter, smoking their Saturday away, and I asked where the pub was. They pointed, sniggering. I followed their gesticulations along a narrow street, to find the pub closed, looking forlorn and abandoned. I walked back to the youths, and asked if there was a shop. They pointed me in the opposite direction to the pub, and assured me it would be open.

It was. The proprietor very kindly offered to make me a hot drink, I politely declined, and left with cheese, biscuits and... crisps (live a little, why not). The wind was still very strong, I found a sheltered spot in the village, and lunched.

Once again, I passed the smoking youths, whose numbers were now swollen, bid them a good afternoon, and headed for Dufton. I walked through an MOD firing range, full of signs warning of dire consequences if warning signs were ignored, and then along lanes to Dufton, where at around 5 p.m. I found an extremely busy campsite.

I had a coffee and chatted to an Evertonian in the local shop, showered back at the campsite (great showers), and later sat in the local pub perusing my maps. Tomorrow would take me to Cross Fell, which at nearly 3000 feet would be the highest point on the whole walk.

Back at the campsite, I chatted to two hardy souls, one of whom had a bivvy bag (a sleeping bag which thinks it's a tent). They had followed the P.W. from the north, and said that the wind on Cross Fell was the worst they had ever experienced. Hopefully it would have dropped by the morning. Being Saturday night, the campsite was full of student types, playing music and enjoying themselves. I didn't anticipate a good night's sleep, my experience a week ago in Edale had given me a taste of how these campsites were on busy summer Saturdays.