Wednesday May 10 Langdon Beck YH to Dufton

After a mediocre breakfast, Oliver and I bid Ruth goodbye and set off for Dufton. She may spend a night at Oliver’s mother’s house near Edinburgh. Along the Tees, we find wildflowers that are famous here, pink primrose and spring gentian. Beautiful little things, the riverside is covered with them. All the farmhouses are painted white, very unusual, part of a lease agreement dating back several hundred years.

The Tees snakes its way through Silurian slate which was used for pencils in school days long ago. We make our way over boulder fields between the river and steep rocky cliffs called “clints”. Falcons make nests up on the cliffs named Falcon Clints. The boulders are tough walking, the many redheaded grouse that live here seem to have an easier time of it. We climb over rockfall after rockfall, no discernible path, then we hear a loud roar, round a bend and there is Caldron Snout, a great spew of a waterfall, a torrent from a narrow cleft below Cow Green Dam.

We take photos in front of the snout, then rock climb up to its top and cross a bridge to continue the path on the far side. Over pasture and farm to Maize Beck, a rocky stream that Oliver, ahead of me, fords. He points downstream to a bridge that I cross. Several more miles and we arrive, 1 pm lunchtime, at High Cup Nick. This is a highlight of the whole trip, an absolutely beautiful geological formation that photos do not do justice. The world suddenly opens up beneath you, a giant curving up to the right and to the left but also descending to the Eden Valley miles away below. It is truly awesome!

A Ramblers group was lunching here, but soon moved on, leaving us alone to bask in the glory of the view. We ate something and then started the four mile descent to Dufton. It is very hot today, but the sky is clear and you can see clearly the surrounding hills and the valley below. At Dufton, I am tired. Oliver hunts for a camping site and we both buy fruit from the only shop in town. Coney Garth B&B is a very long mile out of town, a twenty minute walk. The B&B was advertised to be only a five minute walk from town, quite a miscalculation I would say.

I cleaned up, rested, and walked back to the Stag Inn to meet Oliver for a pint and goodbye. He will be leaving early tomorrow and traveling fast to make the 21 miles to Alston. I will only be going to Garrigill and walking slower. We sit outside the pub as I eat a very poor Lamb Henry (worst I have ever had in England) and talk with a touring motorcyclist. I won’t see Oliver again, but we do exchange emails. I later heard that Ruth did stay at his mother’s house.

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