Dales Way

Day Three – 9th April 2012: Grassington to Low Raisgill – 13 miles

Once again the breakfast was good and a carbon copy of the previous day. We had really enjoyed our time at Yew Tree House and it was a wrench to leave, but leave we must.

The rain had held off but we started with full wet weather gear and back pack rain covers on as it was obvious it could rain at any minute. It was also cold, so we also started with fleeces on as well. We were soon on the path and heading towards the higher ground that would take us to Kettlewell. Just as we cleared the village it started to rain, not heavily but we knew it would only get worse the higher we got. After a short sharp climb it was obvious that fleeces were overkill so I stopped and took mine off as the rain eased a little. It was a real pain having to take rain covers off the pack so early and pack my fleece away in my dry bag but it was far better than overheating. Rachel kept hers on as she doesn’t generate as much heat as me and seems to cope better with being hot, I just find it draining.

View back to Grassington

Snow at Lea Green

Everything re-packed, we reached some snow. It was surprising how much was left bearing in mind all the rain, but generally it was where it had drifted, up against walls and so on. The rain had eased and we could at least take our hoods off, so not quite as claustrophobic. We met some sheep which were very inquisitive and came running over to us but unfortunately we had nothing for them. Soon after we passed a lime kiln and then a very deep gully shortly followed by the rock that is Conistone Pie, and it did, look like a pie.

Conistone Pie

All along this area there were limestone pavements but they were interspersed with green turf which made the walking easy and mostly level once we had gained the height from Grassington. Soon after Conistone Pie the way led gently downhill and several walkers passed us, no doubt on their way to Grassington. We passed through a short wood with a steep descent down to a lane before going off road again for the final approach into Kettlewell. As we had gone through the wood a group of teenage girls passed us who seemed to be struggling and were in the throes of stopping for a rest in the relative shelter of the trees.

View towards Kettlewell

We came out into Kettlewell and straight away nearly got run over by a farmer on a quad bike hurtling down the hill, gun attached to the front. Mental note to self, don’t upset farmer on quad bike – with gun.
The rain had started in earnest now as we walked around the village. With our B&B for the night being at Low Raisgill, it meant that there was the potential for no evening meal. There were two issues. The pub was a mile and a half back so we would need a lift and Mrs Middleton at Low Raisgill wanted £5 a trip, normally people just do it and aren’t so mercenary. However, that was assuming that the pub was open. It had been up for sale and the opening times by all accounts were erratic. It just seemed easier to eat in Kettlewell at midday and then have something from our supplies in the evening.

With this in mind we made a whistle stop tour of the options. We didn’t want anything too heavy and so plumped for a baked potato at Zarinas café. It seemed rather expensive for what you got but beggars can’t be choosers and at least we were out of the rain. It also helped that it was licensed so I had a beer although Rachel refrained. We decided to check out the general store to see whether there was anything we needed but there was nothing that took our fancy and so we retraced our steps back to the route and started the afternoon shift. We had already been told by Mrs Middleton that we weren’t to turn up before 4pm so this was another reason stopping at Kettlewell made sense, as it used up some of the time.


Zarina's Tea Room, Kettlewell

We walked over the bridge and started along the river once again. We had left the river behind in the valley all morning, glimpsing it every now and again and if I’m honest I didn’t miss it, much more preferring the high ground.

The rain was now very heavy and the ground totally waterlogged, each step splashing water in all directions. It was also getting muddy. Our waterproofs, pack covers and dry bags were certainly being put to the test but there was that niggling fear that water would get in somewhere and ruin something important. Our cameras and camcorder were slung around our necks, inside our jackets and remained dry. Our money and cheques as well as all our paperwork regarding our B&Bs were in dry bags and again remained dry for the whole trip. Our boots being Goretex lined, stayed dry inside but the leather on the outside took a real battering. I feared that they would never be the same again but as a testament to their quality, both our boots were to survive days of constantly being soaked.

The route from Kettlewell to Yockenthwaite was a bit of a slog. It was for the most part along the river on relatively easy ground but the weather turned it into something to be endured rather than enjoyed. We passed Starbottom on the opposite bank and then Buckden. There were quite a few people about which was surprising but being Easter Monday I suppose it was the only opportunity they had to get out and about. The wind was behind us until we got to Buckden but then changed to coming right at us which was most unpleasant. One thing that was particularly challenging in those conditions, was having a wee, especially for Rachel. We put it off for as long as we could, hoping that there would be a break in the weather but there never was. By that time we were desperate. We had to take a pack off (which we couldn’t put down as it would have floated away) the other one of us had to hold it, sort out layer after layer of clothing and then repeat the process to get it all back on – all the while, water of biblical proportions was doing its best to drown us. It is also a fact that waiting for someone else to do it heightens your own sense of, shall we say, need. As ever the gentleman, I normally went second and several times it was a close run thing as to whether I would get my timing right! I like to be warm on the inside but damp and warm - no!

We joined the road which took us to Hubberholme which on one level was better than the mud but the standing water often went from one side of the lane to the other. We crossed the bridge by the pub, which was giving conflicting information about opening times, and then risked taking the camera out for a picture of the church.

Hubberholme Church

We rounded the church and then dropped back to the river and continued across waterlogged pasture. We could appreciate that in better weather this would be a lovely spot, but not that day. We missed the stone circle (it was probably underwater) and eventually made our way to Yockenthwaite. Every gate and every stile was a chore but we were still in relatively good spirits despite everything. We crossed the bridge and back tracked on the other bank to Low Raisgill. We were really looking forward to getting in the warm and drying off and if there was ever a day when we wanted a friendly reception then this was it. Oh boy, were we about to be disappointed!

Low Raisgill

I’m sure many have stayed at Low Raisgill on the Dales Way and had a very nice time and would return. Well, our account will, unfortunately, redress the balance somewhat.

We knocked on the front door and Mrs M appeared at another door. She asked us to go in via the garage, which as we were dripping rivers of water, was totally understandable. She was well prepared as there was a washing line set up with hangers. We hung up our waterproofs and took our boots off and we were assured that everything would be dry in the morning. Again all good, possibly.

We were taken to our room which was a good size and had a large double plus a large single bed. The bathroom was tiny but fine.

Mrs M was still in the room with us and started to tell us that the heating would only be on for the next 2 hours. She said that she didn’t know how to change it so that was it. Bearing in mind we were cold and damp, this was the worst news we could be given.

The room itself was cold even with the heating on, the radiator not being large enough to cope with the large room. She did point out that she was thinking about not doing B&B until May so she didn’t have to leave the heating on, as it was so expensive. We were then asked to choose what we wanted for breakfast as she only wanted to open or prepare things we were definitely going to eat. Previously at other places we have been asked the night before what we want for breakfast if it was slightly different – like kippers, but never, ever in the way she did it. We confirmed that we didn’t want a lift to the pub and that we had enough supplies to get us through till breakfast. We asked about the cold water and whether it was suitable to drink from the room and this opened the flood gates – almost literally. No it wasn’t drinkable. This wasn’t a problem as there was a kettle and coffee and we certainly wanted a hot drink to warm ourselves up. We did have some water left in our Platypus’s so that would see us through. We asked whether we could have our Platypus’s filled in the morning from the kitchen supply and were told that we could buy the water! She sold bottled water at £1 per litre as it was too expensive to give guests water. She did relent and say she could give us a little – how generous! We then got the full story about how she gets her water from a borehole and has to pay the National Trust for each cubic metre. Apparently the local water company is due to run pipes up to and through the area but they want to charge a connection fee of £1000 which she thought was scandalous. There was also every possibility that it would then be metered, which see didn’t seem to agree with – welcome to the real world! Perhaps we should start charging when people come to our house. She then left us to it.

We went back into the bathroom and noticed one or two things. Firstly, that the hot water tank was in there so we opened the door to it, to let out any residual heat. Secondly, there was a one bar electric heater above the basin, so that was put on. I then noticed that there was a note attached to it stating that it should only be left on for short periods, as prolonged use could set off the smoke alarm. More likely it would cost too much! Thirdly, there was only a small amount of toilet paper. It appeared that the amount had been measured out for us, enough for one night only! There was no spare roll so we just hoped we didn’t run out in the middle of….um…. a deposit.

We ran our baths and I’m not proud to say that I had plenty. If she was unhappy about giving us water in our Platypus I was certainly going to have it in my bath. We then decided that to top up our Platypus’s we could boil the kettle and then let it cool down before pouring it in. So we did – about 4 times, we got our water!

We heard a knock on the door and it was Mrs M. She was just letting us know that she wasn’t feeling well and that she was going for a lie down. She was feeling dizzy but had had these sorts of episodes before and thought that an hour in bed would sort it out. We had got to the point now that we weren’t surprised at anything that happened. We were sympathetic but we did have a giggle, after she had gone, as to what type of place we had come to. We hadn’t seen a man about, but she was, or had been, married at some point, being a Mrs. We asked her if she had a husband to look after her as we thought it a bit strange that she had come to tell us, that she was unwell. He had apparently died, when and how we didn’t pry. However, there was an axe in the garage and a gun in the kitchen, so………! We asked whether there was anyone else she could contact, and it transpired there was a friend locally that could come, so we were off the hook, if mouth to mouth was required.

After our baths we did warm up, but then shortly afterwards the heating went off, as promised. It was back to hot drinks and fleeces until we waved the white flag and got into bed. We had also been told not to leave the bathroom light on during the night as it shone into her bedroom, which could be true but we were very cynical now. She had provided a night light for us to use. The bed was good, but then she had told us that already. She hadn’t told us how much it had cost but I’m sure she could have done. There were plenty of bedclothes which were obviously necessary due to the no heating rule.
We had a sort out of our things ready for the next day and went to bed being slightly nervous of what the night or the breakfast next day would bring.


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