Dales Way

Day Five – 11th April: Cow Dub to Sedbergh – 11 miles

We awoke to the sound of no rain and very little noise from the river. We looked out the window and although it had been raining, the road was beginning to dry and the river was much lower than the previous day.

Breakfast was substantial enough but we were in no real hurry as we only had about 11 miles to do. We asked whether they knew what the weather forecast was and mysteriously he said that ‘on the television last night’…….so they had obviously decided not to let the guest’s have television! We assumed it was because it wasn’t possible to get it in the valley. However, it appeared that we might escape rain altogether, if the forecast was to be believed. We asked whether they could fill our Platypus’s with water, which they did but the water was just as grey/green as in the bathroom. It looked as if it was a catheter full of wee! As I write this I am still alive and we had no ill effects afterwards, so I assume it was safe. Our boots were still wet despite the initial heat treatment from the previous day but there were signs that they were drying out. We went to settle our bill and they had increased the room rate by £3 despite us having confirmation of a lower rate. Unusually for me, I couldn’t be bothered to argue and put it down to what was becoming typical attitude and behaviour in that particular neck of the woods.

We set off along the road and we immediately noticed that the river was hardly visible. According to the guide book, under normal conditions the river can be dry as the water runs underground in places and this proved to be the case. As we walked along, suddenly we realised that the river had reappeared again and we could actually see where the water was bubbling up from underneath rocks. We would have the company of the river for much of the day and so it was interesting to see the different moods as it passed through different landscapes.

The initial part of the route was along the road to Lea Yeat and so we took the opportunity to catch up with some more camcorder recording of passed events. Just as we got to Lea Yeat, the landlady of The Sportsman passed by in the opposite direction but didn’t seem to recognise us. It was here that we came off the road and started to follow footpaths again.

Lea Yeat

View from Hackergill

The whole route on the leg had a mixture of road and off road walking, sometimes away from the river and sometimes almost in it. We passed through various farms and hamlets as we journeyed along Dentdale and before long we could see Dent in the distance. We dropped down to the river once more on the final approach and it started to rain. We had seen it coming and so stopped early enough to get the wet weather gear out. We were dry inside but I was a bit miffed that we couldn’t even get to Dent without getting wet on the outside. We arrived at Church Bridge and then walked up the road, off the main path, to enter Dent. We had a good look round generally as we needed to find somewhere to eat and to stock up on supplies.


Stone Close Tea Room, Dent

I favoured a pint and a big bowl of chips which apparently was ‘big enough to share’, which I doubt, as I like my chips, but we ended up at Stone Close café where we had a cream tea. I put on a brave face, but I was sure I could smell chips and beer! I have to admit the cream tea was nice, as also was the roaring fire we were sitting next to. The next leg and our final destination, was Sedbergh only about 6 miles away, so there was no need to rush off. We took our time and eventually decided that the rain wasn’t going to stop so we might as well go anyway. We still had a couple of things to eat from our supplies so we decided against using the general store, instead making the decision to stock up in Sedbergh.


We made our way back to the bridge and rejoined the route. We now followed the river again all the way to Ellers where we joined the road to Brackensgill. It had been raining on and off but nothing too heavy but underfoot it was still bad and as we joined the road it resembled a river in places. The puddles either side joined up to form lakes so we were still sloshing through water even on tarmac. We arrived at the farm at Brackensgill and then set off towards the river again across a field and down to where a ford should have been. The river was very high and running so fast that there was no possibility of us or even farm vehicles getting across. Fortunately there was a bridge and when safely over we walked up a path that resembled a fast flowing stream up to the road. Our route was to cross directly over and then sharply up a hill until we reached Gap Wood. Although much higher up, the path was a quagmire in places but once we passed the wood and came out into more open land, and on turf, it wasn’t too bad.

View back to Brackensgill

We soon had our first glimpse of Sedbergh in the valley below along with the Howgill Fells behind the town. As we lost height the bad weather was swirling all around. One minute it was fairly bright and then it would rain to such an extent that it covered the Howgills. We also got our first sight of the Lakeland hills in the distance but they were a long way away. As we got to Millthrop the rain got heavier and as we crossed the River Rawthey it was quite a relief to know that in about ‘a mile and a bit’ we would be at the B&B. We continued to Birks House and then cut up through Sedbergh School into the town following a few twists and turns along the way. We came out of a twitten, miraculously, just opposite the Dalesman Inn, our bed for the night.

View of Sedbergh and the Howgills

The Dalesman, Sedbergh

We were shown to our room which although above the bar and looking out onto the road, wasn’t too bad at all, noise wise. It was a nice large room which included a sofa so plenty of room to spread out and dry our things. We decided to go out straight away and have a look around to see what was on offer food wise, as well as finding a store for a resupply of our stocks, which were now all but gone.

The Dalesman itself does do meals and good meals by all account, but it is quite expensive and nothing appealed to my taste so we set off to see what other options there were. Again, as we were finding wherever we stopped, nothing was straightforward. There were a couple of places we would have liked to have gone to but they weren’t open or open at weird hours, so we decided on the Red Lion in the end and so decided to return later.

We then went to the Spar to get some supplies and fairly soon realised that they didn’t have any bananas, which we wanted. I had remembered seeing some displayed outside along with other fruit and veg at a shop further up the road but they were taking them in as we had passed. Rachel left me to get some other things in the Spar while she went out and up to the other shop to get the fruit. I was waiting for her to return when one of the staff said that they were closing in 3 minutes. I rather light-heartedly said to the bloke that Rachel was up the road and she had the money so he would need to let her in to pay for our goods but I had rather a blunt reply. Words to the effect that if at 5pm she was the wrong side of the door she wouldn’t be let in, so I asked what would I then do with the things in my basket and was told I would have to put it back – charming. In the event she got back with about 30 seconds to spare so he had to rather reluctantly let her in. He then proceeded to stand over us while we paid at the till.


There were a couple of things about this episode that annoyed me in a small way. Firstly, the only general grocery store/supermarket in the town was closing at 5pm. I can’t remember a store like this closing so early, even ones in remote villages would stay open later, so it was a good job we went when we did. True we could have gone the following morning, but, we wanted to get off as early as we could as it was 16 miles and breakfast only started at 8.30am. Knowing our luck the shop probably didn’t open until midday anyway! Secondly, it was the attitude that came across. Very few people we met on the walk wanted to be helpful; it was always a take it or leave it, grumpy attitude, it was as it everybody had an axe to grind.

We returned to the Dalesman, had our showers and got changed into our other clothes before setting off for the Red Lion, in the rain, just for a change. We ordered our meals and a couple of pints and went to pay with a card but no, they didn’t take cards. Fortunately we had enough cash but in this day and age, come on. The conversation was good natured but the lady said that a woman came in on one occasion and pointed out that there wasn’t a sign up saying they didn’t take cards. Her reply was that there wasn’t one saying they did! We chuckled at the story but it did sum up the attitude of, I’m afraid to say it again, this part of the world.

We had a good meal, one of the best, and sitting next to the fire certainly helped make it feel nice and cosy. It was a wrench to venture out into the cold and wet again. It was only a couple of hundred yards and so we were soon back in the room assembling as much as we could for the next day. We soon went to bed and slept well despite the potential for noise from the pub and the road, which didn’t materialise.


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