Dales Way

Day Four – 10th April 2012: Low Raisgill to Cow Dub – 14 miles

We woke to a very cold room, but the heating was on, it just didn’t stand a chance. We did sleep remarkably well though, the heavy weight of layers of bedclothes obviously doing the trick.

We could hear movement downstairs so Mrs M hadn’t expired in the night and we would be getting a breakfast. Rachel realised that she left something in her pocket of her coat so we went to retrieve it from the garage where the coats had been all night. We wanted to pack our waterproof trousers so we needed to get them as well. The trousers were just about dry but the coats weren’t, Rachel’s being particularly bad. Rachel normally wears more under her coat than I do as I create so much heat when walking. The problem with wearing more is that condensation can build up on the inside which is what had happened with her coat. We were going to need to wear them from the start so the prospect of damp clothing didn’t really appeal. Mine was fine on the inside but damp on the outside which didn’t matter. We took the coat inside the house through the connecting door, directly into the kitchen where Mrs M was.

Now, bearing in mind that she, had said that the clothes would be dry if left there overnight, not us, it was a bit of a struggle to keep calm when she declared and strongly implied that it was our fault that they were still wet. We should have said something; we should have brought them in - absolutely incredible! We had only found out 30 seconds previously that they were still wet. Did she expect us to check them at suitable intervals during the night? Then they were the wrong sort of coats and the wrong sort of material. What they were, were Lowe Alpine Triplepoint XC 4 Season High Level Walking Coats. So Mrs M, they were the right coats – just turn the flippin heating up! Rachel did bite back a little and Mrs M then did attempt to redeem the situation by offering to put the coat above the Aga on a drying rack, which we accepted. I took mine back to the room and hung it up next to the radiator in the hope that it would get dry.

Breakfast was served in a bright room overlooking the rear garden. The first thing that struck us was that the sugar bowls were covered with cling film. Not a problem, it makes sense but to serve it up like that to guests, it should have been removed back in the kitchen. We had our muesli which was fine but before I had finished, the cooked breakfast was brought in. Consequently, I had to stop eating it and get on with the hot breakfast or else it would have gone cold. At the same time Mrs M wanted to know whether we wanted any more milk. We didn’t think we did, generally we both drink black coffee so unless we had more cereal or muesli we probably didn’t. So with that, the milk was taken away, so decision made. The excuse given was that she didn’t want it to go off, so she wanted to put it back in the fridge. The orange juice went the same way, with the same reason being given. As the temperature of the room was as cold as the fridge, there was no way it was going to go off anyway!

On the table was also our original letter and deposit cheque. She wanted us to tear that cheque up and write another one for the full amount of the stay. But, we had to leave who to pay it to blank and she would fill it in later. She muttered something about being in the process of changing her bank and then something about her husband’s account that had never got closed. None of it made any sense but we did as she asked anyway, it made no difference to us.

She then said that she was expecting a friend to visit and so she wouldn’t be available to see us off. It was up to us to sort ourselves out and see ourselves off the premises.

We wrote the cheque and left it on the table, remembering to pick up the old one. We went back to our room, finished packing and made our way to the garage to find our boots. As we got to the kitchen Mrs M was hanging around and it transpired that her friend hadn’t turned up, so she would be seeing us off after all. Rachel’s coat was now dry, which was a relief. We stood and chatted for a while but this really only consisted of her moaning about previous guests. However, bizarrely she did speak highly of Dales Way walkers who in the main, she said, just wanted a bed for the night and were no trouble. One thing she did say of interest was that she used to run the B&B and bunkhouse at Cam Houses for many years, which explained a lot. We were to find out in the next few hours how remote, cold and exposed it was. I wonder whether she let those poor souls have the heating on up there!

Our boots were still sodden. I was just so grateful that both our boots were Goretex lined, otherwise it would have been a dreadful start to the day. The phone went and Mrs M told us to see ourselves out and finally we were away. I turned around and half expected to see a gun totting Mrs M shouting after us – ‘Get off my land and don’t come back, yer varmints’, before spitting into a bucket and letting off a round into the air. But, there was no one there.


Looking back to Low Raisgill from Yockenthwaite

We walked back to the path and Yockenthwaite. Crossing the bridge we continued beside the river until we reached Deepdale before crossing back on the opposite bank all the way to Beckermonds. There was so much water coming of the high ground, and the path was wet underfoot. The river was higher than the previous day and was a true peaty brown torrent. Beckermonds was a lovely spot but it was here that we were to join the lane for the next mile or so.


It was starting to spit with rain but we had been quite fortunate that the rain had kept off for that long. It stopped shortly after as we were walking along the road and so we decided to do a piece to the camcorder. As on previous trips we talk to the camcorder each day giving a synopsis of what had happened or our general thoughts. On this walk the weather had been so bad that it was almost impossible during the day and in the evening we didn’t seem to have the time. To be able to walk on flat ground with no rain was too good an opportunity to miss. We managed to do a bit before needing to stop at Oughtershaw to pick up the track to Nethergill and then Cam Houses.


As we started up the track, the rain came with a vengeance along with the wind, which was coming straight at us down the valley. As it always appears to happen when it rains, we needed to have a wee, so we ducked down behind a wall where we joined some very sensible cows, sheltering. They were the lovely fluffy ones but even they had had enough and had resorted to taking cover. Onwards we went up the track to Nethergill and then Swarthgill. While still on the track we had to walk backwards on occasions as the rain became sleet and then hail. The horizontal hail was horrendous, as the stinging stones hit our unprotected faces and hands; it was like shards of glass, hence the need to walk backwards.

At Swarthgill the track ran out and we were then onto open moorland and very exposed. The distance to Cam Houses was about 2 miles but it was all across boggy moorland with a waterlogged and indistinct path. It was really bad going with almost every step a challenge. We constantly had to walk off the path, through tussocky grass, to bypass bad sections, and then find the path again. Small streams littered the landscape and these had to be jumped or at worst a detour upstream was called for. The rain would stop and start every 10 minutes or so but the wind didn’t stop at all and so it was with some relief that we found a little valley, more like a large dip, that had to be negotiated. As we walked down it we were out of the wind for a while which was a welcome respite, but all too soon we had to come up out of it and the wind slammed into us again.

View towards Cam Houses

It was a constant slog but eventually we arrived at a remote barn just as the next lot of rain hit us. We took shelter behind the leeward wall but it was almost as if there was little point. The next shower would soon be on us anyway and so we left the relative calmness and carried on. The route had been gently climbing ever since the road at Oughtershaw but it was now starting to take us properly uphill as Cam Houses got closer. The last climb was a bit of a pant but fortunately it wasn’t raining at that point and so we could let some air in, and some heat out, of our waterproofs.

We walked through the farm dwellings to pick up the path on the other side where we headed for the tree plantation. We found the stile and entered the wood. We hoped that the trees would afford some cover so that we could stop and have something to eat. Even in the dense wood everything was wet, but we took our packs off and got out some food and started to munch. The next band of rain came in and the trees helped a little in keeping the worst off, but we decided it wasn’t the place to linger as the wind was making the trees bend at some alarming angles. We had every reason to be worried as a great deal of the trees had been blown over already and so we thought it best to get out as quickly as possible, which was easier said than done. Our exit was blocked by fallen trees, so we attempted to find our way around them but to no avail as it was so dense. Admitting defeat, we retraced our steps to where we had stopped for our food, only to be met by two young ladies coming towards us, The Girls. They had gone into the wood lower down but realising their mistake eventually found the right path. We told them it was blocked and so we all walked back out of the wood and walked up to an access track. As we did so we found out that they were doing the Dales Way but staying in different places to us. They only had one pack but a large one which seemed odd, the other girl carrying nothing at all. Not wanting to pry, we didn’t ask why, we would find out another day though.

We rejoined the route which took us steeply uphill where we could look down on the huge forestry plantation. The route was perhaps no more than a couple of hundred yards through the top corner of the trees, why they hadn’t re-routed the path is a mystery. The going was still boggy but the rain had finally stopped. We arrived at the highest point of the Dales Way, where it joins the Pennine Way. We let the girls go, they had higher mileages to do than us and we were in no mood to race. Besides, we couldn’t get into our B&B until after 4pm anyway.

Cam High Road

View from Cam High Road

The view back down the valley was great but it had taken us 2 hours to do perhaps 3.5 miles which was shocking. We could see Pen-y-Ghent and Ingleborough mountains as we panned around, but it was bitterly cold, so we set off once more, and at least we were on a decent trackand down hill. As we rounded a bend we could see Ribblehead viaduct in the distance, which I assumed was Dent Head initially, but after checking the map realised my mistake. The skies were jet black and threatening all around us but they passed us by, leaving us dry. We arrived at Gayle Beck where the water was very high so we crossed by the bridge rather than the ford.

Ribblehead Viaduct

We continued to Far Gearstones before climbing up steeply to Blea Moor and then followed parallel to a wall for quite a way, dropping down into gullies every now and then. It was again extremely wet and boggy and it seemed to take ages to get to the track that would take us all the way to the Dent Head road. Part way along the track we decided we should stop for a rest and some more food. We hadn’t sat down all day and only taken the packs off for a couple of minutes on a couple of occasions. We soon found flat and dry rocks that were suitable, slightly out of the wind and took our packs off and sat down, bliss. The food was most welcome as we were aware that we hadn’t eaten as much as we should have done, but with the weather being so bad it couldn’t be helped. All too quickly we started to get cold and the clouds were darkening, rather menacingly, so we took off once more.

Parts of the track were waterlogged but on the whole not too bad and we picked up some speed. The food had already started to give us a lift, whether it was mental or physical we didn’t care, it had done the trick. We reached the road and shortly saw the Dent Head Viaduct slightly below us, along with Dent station high on the moor in the distance. As we were standing there, a train passed over the viaduct and I could just make out a train leaving the station, through the camcorder’s zoom. We walked along the road which would now be our companion for the rest of the day. Although harder on the feet it was a welcome change to the quagmire that we had passed through previously. The road took us under the railway and then steeply down to the base of the viaduct where the scale could really be appreciated. We continued downhill until we met the infant River Dee which ran parallel to the road. The river was a torrent due to the rain but this isn’t always the case, as we would find out the next morning.

Dent Head Viaduct

Dent Head Viaduct

For the last few miles, whenever Rachel had asked how far something was I would say ’a mile and a bit’. The weird thing was that it very nearly always was, but it was starting to grate, which made me say it all the more! We completed the last ‘mile and a bit’ and arrived at The Sportsmans Inn, our room for the night. It had mixed reviews but needs must and so we had booked it.

The Sportsmans Inn

The door was locked as the pub was closed. We wandered around the back and found a chap tinkering in a garage and so asked whether he was anything to do with the pub. He was, and after a long look at his watch decided that, yes, he could let us in but none the less seemed a bit reluctant to do so. They make it very clear that you will not be let in if you arrive before 4pm so we had timed it perfectly as it was 4.30pm, so no excuses. We were led in to the pub and took our boots off and put them near a roaring fire. We didn’t put them too close as they would dry out too quickly, but we were a little concerned as it was very warm in the room. We need not have worried as the fire eventually burnt itself out and the pub was much colder when we returned later for our dinner.

We were shown to our room which was small but functional and adequate. The bathroom was not en-suite but was across the corridor and was for our sole use. The bathroom although small, did have a bath and had been recently refurbished and was very nicely done to a high standard. There was also a visitor’s lounge.

We unpacked and then set about getting bathed. The bedroom was very warm but the bathroom was freezing as it didn’t have any heating, so I let Rachel go first to warm it up! She came back chuckling to herself. Everything had been good apart from the fact that there was no shower attachment so she had a bit of a battle to wash her hair, so almost top marks for the bathroom but not quite. It was my turn next and so I set the water running. It was a lovely white bath but the water came out grey. I thought perhaps it was just the contrast between the bath colour and the water or even the lighting, but it was exactly the same colour in the basin in our room. Fortunately we still had some water left in our Platypus’s for drinking. We rinsed through the bottom part of our zip off trousers and put them on the radiator and they were dry in no time. Ablutions done, we sat in the lounge for a while before going downstairs for some food.

The food was good and reasonably priced. I had expected it to be expensive as there was nowhere else for miles in each direction, so it was a pleasant surprise. There was another couple in the bar who came in drenched, as the heavens had opened up once again. They were unsure what to do, whether to carry on to Dent, 5 miles away or not. She was in better shape than he was, as he had quite a pronounced limp which looked like a pulled muscle by the way he was hobbling. They ordered some food which they ate quite quickly before deciding to carry on. It was well after 8pm when they left, there was no way they would get to Dent in daylight. Keen or fools? I know which way I would have voted. Another couple came in who were friends of the owners and so there was a bit of banter flying about. Also there was a farmer that came in and ordered two meals. I expected at some point someone else would turn up but they didn’t. The owner who was in the kitchen cooking the meals, then came out with them covered in foil. The farmer then drained his pint and then left, taking the two meals with him, home one would assume.

We settled up and then went back to our room and as there was nothing else to do, there was no television, we went to bed.


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