Sunday May 7 Hawes to Keld

Breakfast was a delight, a great selection of cereals, yoghurt, fruit, eggs, quality sausage and good coffee, all in a sunny dining room looking out to the garden. Best B&B by far!

I left town by the Railroad Station Museum, a steam train on display, and crossed the River Ure. Across fields to the village of Hardraw, home of the George & Dragon Pub and Hardraw Force. Hearing of the unfriendly welcome at this place, I didn’t linger but followed an old drover’s track uphill. I will ascend steadily for six miles to the summit of Great Shunner Fell at 2350 ft. The sky is cloudy, but I see Hawes receding in back of me, Dodd Fell shrouded in clouds beyond Hawes and Little Shunner Fell off to my left. Pastures give way to moors as the track becomes a slightly discernible path and the moors become really boggy moors with lots of hags (peaty, muddy sculptures brooding over the landscape). Finally, I’m walking on slabbing over the otherwise virtually impassable bogs, following cairns that show the way.

I see someone way off to my left. Lost, or just a wanderer? I worry about him, but he is too far to communicate. The sky is getting darker as I near the summit. Rain begins to fall, the wind picks up and it gets colder. Visibility is poor. As I pass cairn after cairn, the next one peeks out of the fog in the distance. A cross plan stone monument with benches marks the summit, but wind, rain and sleet push me ahead. I stop only to put on my gloves and earflap cap. This is a terrible storm and amazingly cold at this elevation. It’s a four mile descent to Thwaite through some of the worst bogs I’ve seen. The soles of my feet are much better with the Compeed, but my right ankle is hurting so I walk gingerly.

Outside of Thwaite, I try to take a photo with my digital camera but it is acting up like the rain affected it. Finally, it works, but I’m worried about the moisture affecting the photos. Later, I’ll find that my worst fears are realized. The familiar sight of the Kearton Tea Room is a joy to behold. I was here at the hotel 1 1/2 years ago when walking the C2C and loved it. I order a pot of hot tea and savor it for an hour, breaking out my sausage, cheese and cookies. It’s nice to dry out, warm up and relax.

At 2:30, I finally leave for Keld, a long 2 1/2 miles. The climb around Kisdon Hill gives great views of Thwaite and Swaledale. The rain has stopped, but the sky is water and cloud laden. This route is a simply beautiful walk, high up above the
River Swale, crossing stone walls which trace downhill to the river. The path is actually quite tiring because of the many stones to negotiate. Now both my ankles are hurting. I am relying more on my trekking poles, both for balance and to take weight off my feet. They are certainly proving their worth!

I’ve been seeing many waterfalls as the Swale gets narrower and wilder. At 4 pm Keld appears around the corner, but its another 15 min before I reach the center of the village and East View B&B. Margaret and Keith are very welcoming. A couple from Alaska, walking the C2C, arrived just before me and we all sit around chatting with coffee and cake. My room is small but comfortable, toilet across the hall, shower downstairs. Allowances are made for a rustic miner’s cottage. Dinner, meat and potatoes, is mandatory since there is no pub in Keld.

I relate my dilemma of not finding an internet on the PW, so Alaska Liz offers the use of her telephone card, which she bought at the Post Office, to call my wife. This made my day and Cathryn’s also. She was getting worried.

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