Day 54 - The glorious 12th and a glorious B&B
Trip Start Jun 12, 2010
147Trip End Nov 18, 2010
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However Debby's meal topped his as a small bowl of vegetable curry was accompanied by a large plate of rice and a large bowl of chips. Di chose the healthy option. She had two enormous potato patties, called salmon patties, on the basis that a fish had laid next to the potatoes before they were mashed. Di's healthy option meant she declined the chips in favour of a baked potato in is jacket
August 12 is a notable day in the English Country calendar. It is known as 'The Glorious 12th', the day on which the Grouse shooting starts. We felt this could present some difficulties for Di who is notoriously anti-bloodsports. We were relieved, if somewhat surprised, at breakfast when Di commented on how nice it was to see three men sitting at an adjacent table dressed in traditional English country field attire. Plus fours, Tweed jackets, check shirts, yep they had it all. As we set off on our walk back down to the Cronkley Bridge over the River Tees we mentioned that the shooters would be out in force today like the three men we had shared breakfast with. Di was horrified! How could she have been deceived into thinking they were such a cute quaint addition to the breakfast room when they were really evil, bloodthirsty murderers! We moved quickly on.
Our morning walking was easy. A lovely stroll along the course of the River Tees and the weather stayed quite fine for us. We passed a huge quarry on the left bank, quarrying the local whinstones and then reached the highly acclaimed High Force waterfall which precedes Low Force further down the River
We sat at Low Force for our morning tea by which time we had been walking for our customary two unbroken hours. It was 11.30 and we knew there was still a lot more walking left to do today. Despite this, Debby took the time to soak her feet in the chilly waters of the River Tees. Shortly afterwards the inevitable English summer rain began to fall and on went the waterproofs. With heads down we walked on for a further two hours reaching the only town we were likely to see today, Middleton-in-Teesdale. We sat on a bench in the middle of this small town, basking in a brief sunny interlude
Whether it was the sunny interlude or our general feeling of joie de vivre, having watched and listened to the babbling river and the abundant insect and bird life along the path this morning, but we were so relaxed that we took our rest in this village for nearly two hours. We went to the co-op and carefully selected our food for tomorrow's lunch, knowing that we would see no civilisation tomorrow at all. We then took afternoon tea with yummy homebaked, in the aga, fruit scones at Cafe 1816. As we were tucking in, the rain came back and we realised that we still had several hours walking ahead of us and were being far too casual
Keith had reviewed the maps and said there was no time to lose now, as we walked up the hill out of the town. We forged on, round the corner for another 500 mtrs before realising we had gone the wrong way! Not a good start. We went back to recover the route and at last headed up out into the open moorland over Harter Fell. Finding no signs whatsoever of the route coming down from Harter Fell, we then passed our first group of shooters, nonchalantly carrying guns cocked open over their shoulders. In the background another group were banging away merrily trying to down those silly birds. Perhaps Di is warming to the whole grouse shooting thing as she commented there was something fetching in the look of these shooters swaggering along. Shortly afterwards we lost the path again and had to double back on ourselves and then treble back on ourselves. Not for the life of us were we able to see how we could get back onto the route we knew we needed to take. So, we took a detour to recover the Pennine Way and knew that our final challenge for the day after crossing Grassholme Reservoir was the long tramp up over Mickleton Moor and then the descent past Hannah's Meadow
The weather did it's bit to slow us down as we regularly removed our wet weather gear only to put it on again as the rain began to fall. As evening had settled around us and with what we now know to be Clove Lodge, our destination for the night, sitting up ahead of us to the east, we again took the wrong track. A bit more exhaustion, and another 30 minutes of wasted foot slogging. What's more, a cloud of midges, or the English equivalent, descend upon us. It doesn't affect us in the moment but a day later Keith would be scratching his arms and legs uncontrollably, while Debby even commented that she had found two bites. We phoned Clove Lodge twice about 7.30 pm to ensure it was the building we could see to the east and then we pushed on back down to the Reservoir and up the correct lane to our final destination. It was 7.45 pm, our latest arrival in 8 weeks.
We arrive soaked, exhausted and Keith is so very very frustrated. He has identified so many fundamental errors in the guide book that the air is blue. Gradually the frustration subsides as we are enveloped by the warm, sincere hospitality of Caroline and Kit's amazing home. Nothing is too much trouble for them and we feel like they have held out a large warm bath towel to step into to be cossetted and comforted
To describe just how welcoming and delicious the dinner was is not possible. Suffice it to say homemade capsicum soup began to thaw us out and set us up for chicken in a tasty sauce with bowls accompanying spilling over with fresh vegetables. Oh the joy of simple things that we used to take for granted. And then bowls of apple and blackberry crumble were being distributed, and peppermint teas were produced which we gratefully accepted. We politely ask to take out teas up to our bedroom and then set out tired legs their final challenge of the day to carry us up the one flight of stairs to our beds. Its 10 pm as we snuggle into bed and reflect on the 33 kms that we have covered to be at this Lodge some 320 mtrs above sea level. The air is clear and however tired we are right we know that by tomorrow morning we will be revived and restored and ready to tackle any other challenge the Pennine Way can throw at us.