(15th February – 19 miles)
For the first time on my walk and on the penultimate day, the sky was blue and the sun shone. Today was the longest day of my walk and I was grateful for warm sunshine on my face, with no need for Yaktrax.
After grabbing a sandwich for lunch (and paying for it), I left Sedbergh and retraced my steps to where the Dales Way struck off westwards along the River Rawthey. It wasn’t long before I went astray (are you seeing a pattern yet?) and entered a small industrial estate … and a dead-end. Some workmen watched me curiously, as I slowly completed a wide circle, nodding intently to myself as I studied the loading bays, lorries and car park, and, without pausing, strolled back out again. My quick thinking had convinced them that the estate had been on my list of ‘must see’ places.
The Howgill Fells were close by for most of the day as I traversed Lunesdale. I saw these fells again the following year on the Coast to Coast. One day I might even climb them.
It was a fine, easy morning’s walk as I passed through woodland and across pasture.
Another Victorian masterpiece straddled the valley but unlike Ribblehead, the Lune Viaduct is no longer used. It sits there magnificent; redundant. Does someone pay for its upkeep, I wondered? I hoped so as I passed underneath and worried a little about falling bricks.
The path briefly climbed to face the Howgills once more
before dipping down to follow the River Lune. Apart from Dales Way walkers, Lunesdale is little visited and I didn’t meet anyone on these few miles.
The narrow, old packhorse bridge at the Crook of Lune is graceful and beautiful – unlike the accompanying noise of the nearby M6 and mainline railway.
I dislike walking near motorways (who doesn’t) and hurriedly crossed the M6 to leave the roar of traffic behind me. I found a muddy tussock to sit on, unwrapped my rucksack-squashed tuna sandwich and messily devoured it. It wasn’t a sight to share.
By early afternoon, I had my first peek of the sugar-dusted Lakeland fells – which I’d be climbing within a couple of days. With the DW almost complete, I was pleased that I had given myself a further four days to cross the Fells to Keswick.
The afternoon was a long one, with the maps in my book teasing me: my progress across the maps seemed interminably slow.
I began to regret my decision to over-night in Staveley and not Burneside; a decision that added three and a quarter miles to my day.
With my nose deep in the guidebook (cross this stile, aim for that gate, follow the hedge, cross a bridge, aim for … cross …. follow ….) the afternoon was fairly uneventful except for a buzzard exploding off a gate post six feet from me. It was away through the trees before I could think to raise my camera.
From Burneside, I walked along the pretty, swift-running River Kent to Staveley, arriving at 4.30. My room at the ‘Eagle and Child Inn‘ was one of the best of this short trip and I spent the evening in the busy pub writing postcards and working out my route for tomorrow. But I was distracted from both by a young couple having a furious row. Indeed most of the people in the bar were similarly distracted, though we were all very busy appearing not to eavesdrop. There was an almost audible “ahhh” when the couple finally kissed and made up. I went up to bed, knowing all was right in the world (or at least in Staveley).