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There are several pot-holes in the vicinity of the path. We stop at Sell Gill Holes for a cuppa. Charl collects water from the gill. It is the colour of tea before we start but makes a very good brew. Sell gill disappears underground here. I try to look into the hole but canít see much without risking life and limb.
It isnít raining!
We swap one packhorse road for another and continue to Ling Gill Bridge where we have lunch in the sun!
We cross Cam Fell on a path that is purportedly prehistoric but certainly used and maintained by the Romans. The path is used by vehicles including many trail bikes so it is badly rutted. The ruts are full of water from the previous rain and this makes for awkward walking but the fine views more than compensate. We climb to about 1,840ft and the route then levels off. We meet the West Cam Road, another old packhorse route.
We descend along the crest of Rottenstone Hill, through the village of Gayle and so into Hawes. We buy fish and chips in the town and eat them by the river in the sun. Our planned campsite turns out to be residential only but we eventually find another on the outskirts.
We begin the ascent of Great Shunner. It is a long one from brow to brow - cairn to cairn, but the going is easy and enjoyable. We reach the summit where there is a cross shelter and we have our lunch and chat to day trippers. We descend, once again, from cairn to cairn. Great Shunner is 2340ft. and is quite a fell, being really ďgreatĒ as it covers a distance of 20 sq.. miles!
There is still some distance to go today. The path into Thwaite is deeply rutted and awkward.
We are pleased to arrive in Thwaite. We were hoping for a shop but at least there are decent tea-rooms where we have a great cup of coffee and then enjoy a solero on a bench by the bus shelter. We still have another 3 miles before Keld, our destination for the day. I look at the bus time-table but do not consider it seriously. Well, not very!
It is a long three miles. The path runs along a limestone shelf and climbs to the summit of Kisdon at 1636ft with a sharp drop to the right where we can see the River Swale beneath. The way is indistinct but always follows the shelf. The going is arduous but never boring. There is a sharp descent into Keld where we arrive tired and with no dinner. Rather than retrace our steps into Hawes centre this morning, we were hoping to get supplies in Thwaite.
We have visited Keld before on the Coast to Coast walk last year. The midges are just as bad if not worse! Charl begins to hint at returning home and finishing the PW another time. The weather, the going and the midges have all combined to make him depressed. I agree the rain, the mud and muck along with wet clothes and no chance of drying them, has made the walk much more arduous than it would have been in better conditions. Not one for giving up I believe we should go on. I still have to persuade Charlie.
Having no dinner tonight does not help the mood!
It is hard to describe just how squidgy the path is here. It is rather like a sponge and as my foot goes down the water seeps out all round but I prefer to look at the sky which is bright blue.
It is sunny all day. We do our washing, sit in the sun, snooze a little and generally take it easy. We have dinner in the pub and fully refreshed Charl decides not to hang up his boots after all.
We head off across Sleightholme Moor taking the alternative route. We are at last walking in dry socks and do not want to spoil this luxury. We cross the moor, pass Trough Heads and onto Godís Bridge. This is a natural limestone rock bridge over the River Greta. It is very windy and quite cold. The sunny periods are brief and interspersed with squally showers.
We cross the A66 via an underpass.
We continue over Cotherstone Moor and go down into the valley of Lunedale. We cross the reservoir (haven't seen one of them for a while) by the Blackstone Bridge and up the other side to Wythes Hill. We intend to go on to Middleton for supplies but as we approach Wythes Hill a cold, blustery wind blows up together with quite a squall. We decide to pitch at Wythes Hill Farm. We choose a place behind a wall of silage for maximum shelter. The only food they can offer at the farmhouse is three eggs and a tin of baked beans. As we are absolutely starving, these provisions along with some bread and butter make a marvellous meal.
Of course the stormy conditions disappear as soon as we are pitched!