Day 30 Sun 29-05-2005
Dufton to Alston
My suspicions yesterday evening were well founded. The dear young students played music, chatted, and generally behaved well - ALL BL**DY NIGHT! If only I had the nerve to tell them to shut up...
I set off just after seven, and climbed up through the moorland, over Knock Fell, Great Dun Fell (with it's sci-fi radar installation), Little Dun Fell, and on to Cross Fell. The views were fantastic, all the way from the Lakes to South West Scotland, I was lucky that there was no low cloud. The wind seemed fierce to me, but was relatively gentle for that section of the P.W. Gentle or not, it wrenched my back-pack cover off, and I had to give chase down the side of Little Dun Fell to retrieve it.
I had become quite used to walking without seeing another soul ("morning sheep"), and was busy chatting to myself as I approached the stone shelter at the summit of Cross Fell. It was occupied. The man sitting there seemed unperturbed, and we talked while sheltering from the wind. We walked on together for a mile or two, my companion was from Doncaster, and often had a day's walk on the Pennines. He had been the only walker in sight one Christmas when a photographer from the Yorkshire Post wanted a seasonal photo for the front page! He had his fifteen minutes of fame, even if it was wrapped around someone's chips.
Eventually, I dropped down into Garrigill, where I was able to get a pint, but no lunch ("We don't serve food after 1:30 !!!!!") Walking along the River South Tyne to Alston was a pleasant change after the bleak high ground of the morning.
The Youth Hostel had a bed for me, and I had a look around the town. There was an evening meal offered at the hostel, which I happily accepted. At seven, I ate: tomato soup, chicken risotto, and jam roly-poly - wonderful! The Pennine Way seems to have sorted out my appetite as well as my legs, which by now seemed ready for anything.
I found out that the wardens at most rural hostels were volunteers, either local people happy to help, or visitors spending a couple of weeks, or a season, there. As I progressed north, I visited more hostels, and was always impressed by the wardens, who were never less than helpful and friendly. Maybe in the future I could spend a couple of weeks as a warden...
I spent a happy evening reading a book from the hostel's library (Joanne Harris's "Chocolat"), and retired early to bed.