Dales Way

Day Six – 12th April: Sedbergh to Burneside – 16 miles

We were up in good time as we wanted a fairly quick getaway. We were first down to breakfast which was a good sign but then there was no table made up for us. After a bit of a quick sort out, a table was prepared and we could make a start. We had found out that all the rooms were taken so one by one we were joined by the other residents. One group of 6 were at the next table, a family of 4 plus 2 other people. The mother was clearly in charge, loudly proclaiming this and that and shouting down anyone who might appear to contradict her view. It was quite entertaining eavesdropping. They were doing the Dales Way and we then remembered that The Girls had said at Cam Houses that there was a group of 6 that they had overtaken and were further back down the valley. From what we could glean they were catching a bus to where they left off the day before, wherever that was.

We had already given our hot order and so hoped that we would be gone before them. The breakfast arrived and was very good indeed as was the cold selection with a nice few touches that made a difference. We settled up and then went back to the room to get sorted out. Having done so, we went downstairs to leave, and there was one of their team ready to go, so they certainly got a move on. It was one of their boys who we spoke to and he confirmed that they were doing the Dales Way but wasn’t sure where they were starting from or going to.

The forecast was mixed. There was a chance we would have a dry day but heavy rain was suggested, albeit showers later in the day. We had stowed our wet weather gear and it was good to be a bit less bundled up. The sun was out as we retraced our steps back through Sedbergh School, down to the river and the main path. The playing fields were waterlogged and flooded in places; the River Rawthey itself was running very high.

View of the Howgills from Sedbergh school

The path took us past a mill and then the sewage works but the wind must have been in the right direction as we smelt nothing at all. The path here was high above the river and right on the edge. It was also very narrow and a slip would send you hurtling in to the bubbling cauldron that was the river on that particular day. Up and over a disused railway line embankment, we quickly made the A683 and made the decision to pack our fleeces as it was getting warm. For the first time we were walking in T shirts and it felt so much better. We looked up and we could see that the hills around Sedbergh had had snow overnight, what a contrast to the glorious morning we were having. After a short piece of road walking we crossed some fields to High Oaks and were met with a large flock of sheep that came running over, making an incredible din. They must have been very hungry and expected us to feed them, not realising that farmers don’t normally carry back packs! We moved on and eventually arrived at Lincoln’s Inn Bridge where we had picked up the River Lune for company. We could see the Lune Viaduct ahead and we had soon walked under it and then up a steepish bank so that, once at the top, we were looking down on it.

Lincoln's Inn Bridge

Lune Viaduct

The route was quite undulating as we passed a few farms, some with chicken roaming free. After passing one such farm we had a view up the valley of the M6 far in the distance, but ominously, what caught my eye more were the black clouds that were building further on.

View from Hole House

We pressed on and arrived at Hole House where you go right through someone’s property, I’m sure they must get fed up with it. We both needed a wee so we waited until we were out of sight of the house and did our business. We had only just finished and were getting some food out when The Girls came around the corner. We hadn’t a clue they were behind us. The spot we had chosen was a sun trap and a part ruined wall gave us a good seat to sit on.

Hole House

We chatted to The Girls for quite a while. The one that didn’t have a pack had in fact started off with one but then gave up and was having her pack transferred to the B&B’s each day. After we had seen then at Cam Houses, they had carried on to Dent and were shattered at the end of it. Consequently they only did 6.5 miles the next day to recover. It was their first Long Distance Walk and seemed to be enjoying it, despite the weather. We commiserated with them on that point but we had food to eat and they wanted to press on so we said our goodbyes, we wouldn’t see them again but I have no doubt they made it.

It was extremely difficult to prise ourselves a way from that spot. We had finally had a few hours of sunshine, and no rain, it had lifted our spirits and it felt good to be doing the walk once again. We followed the river to Crook of Lune Bridge, squelching our way along before leaving the mud behind to go over the bridge and then through the hamlet.

Crook of Lune Bridge

Crook of Lune

We continued on the road passing under Lowgill Viaduct and then took a track up to higher ground running parallel with the M6. It had been spitting on and off but we had resisted putting our coats on but as we got to Lakethwaite we gave in and donned coats but left our over trousers off. We had been wearing gaiters to keep the mud off and so the only area that would get wet would be our thighs. Off we set again and soon crossed the M6 and then through Holme Park Farm. This area had been a bit of a concern as it has got a reputation for unfriendly and unhelpful farmers, but we passed through without mishap.

It was time for a food and wee stop again so found a spot with a couple of suitable stones to sit on in the lea of a wall. It was a quick stop as the rain was starting up again and so we decided to press on. The clouds were building all around and were black so we knew when it came it was going to be bad. A little more alarming was that we couldn’t see the back end of the clouds so it appeared it was set in for the rest of the day. Off we marched and passed Morsedale Hall before ultimately crossing the railway near Beck Houses and Grayrigg. The path ran parallel with the railway line for a while before dropping down to a stream. The rain was now coming down in stair rods and I suggested that we shelter behind some high gorse for a while. We did but it was futile really and so we set off again as the rain showed no sign of abating.

View of Grayrigg

I was starting to get fed up now as I had hoped that we might have had a day of no rain, as had been hinted at by the weather forecast. Not only was it raining but it was torrential and stupidly we hadn’t put our over trousers on and as a consequence our legs were soaked and cold. I had made that decision, and Rachel had gone along with it, and now we were suffering. I blamed myself, quite rightly, but worse was to come. We had arrived at Grayrigg Foot and the path went right through a small collection of buildings of what was a very nice property. I spied a tall wall and decided we should get out of the worst of the weather. We stopped and then realised that there was an open barn used for parking cars with a nice clean concrete floor. Rachel suggested that we go in and completely get in the dry. We were out of sight of the main house but there were some buildings across the yard so I was concerned that we might be spotted and be asked to move on. Then common sense prevailed and we took the opportunity. Why look a gift horse in the mouth? We decided to get rid of the gaiters and put our waterproof trousers on, but rather than change our walking trousers we would put the waterproofs over our wet trousers. We reasoned that with our body heat they would dry. Of course to do all this we had to take our boots off so it was a bit of a palaver, all the time water dripping everywhere. Having sorted ourselves out we shouldered our packs and then I realised that I had put my pack down on the bite valve of my Platypus, so I had lost a considerable amount of drinking water, so not best pleased. I was feeling hungry and a bit wobbly but the pressure of getting going meant that we didn’t stop to eat anything or put anything in our pockets for later, which was a mistake, for me especially.

We instantly felt better for having the waterproof trousers on but a red mist was descending over me. After a few undulating fields and tracks we ended up at Biglands where we crossed a couple of more fields before dropping down to Black Moss Tarn. It was while crossing a wall stile that I fell. I had climbed up one side and crossed over but I noticed that the middle stone was badly cut or eroded and was dangerous. I almost shouted at Rachel, to be heard over the wind and rain, to warn her and promptly lost my footing as I went to stand on the bottom stone. Gravity, ten and a half stone of gorgeousness and a 25lb pack meant there was only ever going to be one outcome. I fell sideways away from the wall but twisted my ankle and hurt my shoulder. In the fall, the camcorder had gone flying and although it was in a case I had visions of it being broken. I picked myself, and the camcorder up, but I was not happy, I now had even more mud on me. My pride was hurt, definitely but my body had taken a beating. I knew that all the time I kept my boot laced it was supporting my ankle but I was more concerned about my shoulder. It felt numb and I had a really sharp throbbing pain around my collarbone. I felt it and couldn’t get it to move or drastically hurt any more and so assumed it wasn’t broken. I was also desperate for a wee and had been for a while but hadn’t stopped but even now I just wanted to get going. We looked about to find the next part of the route and saw 5 walkers ahead and quickly realised that they were 5 of the 6 that had been at The Dalesman that morning. We saw what route they took and followed at a distance although it was obvious which way to go as Black Moss Tarn was visible in the next field.

We got to the wall by the tarn and I just had to have a wee. As is the norm when all trussed up in waterproofs, I had to release my hip belt to access my nether regions. I went about my business and as I was trying to re-clip my hip belt together my camcorder fell out the bottom of my jacket and hit the deck, just missing a rock. I was so annoyed with myself. I had put the camcorder loose in my jacket to keep it dry. With the hip belt in place there was no way it could fall out the bottom, but of course I had just undone my hip belt. How it hadn’t fallen out when I was peeing for England I’ll never know, but it didn’t, fortunately it fell out when I had walked away a couple of paces. Phew, but I had now had enough. I turned to Rachel and said that I felt I could cry as I felt so fed up. I felt that I had to test the camcorder so I carefully positioned it out of the wind and rain and tested it. It worked, relief all round and something positive.

It was almost impossible to read the guide book due to the weather. As soon as it was got out it was soaked and then to try and get it back into my map pocket of my jacket was a nightmare as the book was the wrong size (publishers take note!). Of course I had planned for bad weather and so I had laminated A4 strip maps of the whole route. But again, stupidly, I hadn’t got them out at the start of the day and they were buried in the depths of my pack. I had been lulled into thinking the route would be well sign posted, as indeed it had been in most areas, but it wasn’t always the case, today being a case in point. The Famous Five were just disappearing over a hillock and we followed them but we were further back from them now. I got the guide book out again and realised that they were going wrong and had taken the wrong path but we were fortunately heading in the right direction along the sunken path which would take us to Goodham Scales.

It was here that we had a minor issue with route finding. There were no signs at all and as it was raining so hard it was impossible to read the guide book properly. In addition the narrative in the guide book wasn’t too helpful. If I had the laminated strip maps there wouldn’t have been a problem but I just couldn’t get the route straight in my head, I just couldn’t think properly, it was weird. It obviously didn’t help that I was in pain and still feeling light headed. Looking at the book and the maps now, the route was very straightforward, keep going along the access track until the A6, but I just couldn’t see it. We kept going and caught up with The Famous Five, which gave us hope that we were going in the right direction.

We made it to the A6. I had noticed on several occasions, the leader of The Famous Five, the domineering mother, kept putting an umbrella up. As we were now quite close I could see why. She was consulting the guide book and so it kept the rain off, meaning she could read it in relative comfort. It just struck me as being quite a good idea. We crossed the A6 and passed through Burton House and then across fields. I was feeling really weak now and a bit sick and mentioned it to Rachel who told me, not suggested, but told me, that we were stopping and that she was going to get a Snickers bar out. I meekly said that the inside of the pack would get soaked but she said it didn’t matter and that she was getting the bar out regardless. Most blokes like a domineering woman (if you know what I mean!) but on this occasion it really was the best thing for me. Within 10 minutes the sugar rush did its trick and I felt renewed.

I'm just telling Rachel how many pints I'm going to have later.....honest!

The route was undulating and in the dips it was badly waterlogged but the rain appeared to be easing as we approached Sprint Mill. The Famous Five had sped off and went up the road too far and missed the turning for the path to the mill. We had been talking and we had walked by it too but realised our mistake quicker than they did. We back tracked about 100 yards and found the path. We made it to Sprint Mill and then after a bit of road walking we were at Burneside.

Our B&B was Sunny Hills but unfortunately it was on the Kendal side of the village and the third to last house, so another half a mile to do. Finally the rain had stopped as we walked along this last bit of tarmac.

Sunny Hills

Ann met us and showed us to our room which was just off the side of the garage but under the main part of the house. It was a strange layout but it could have been built as a granny flat originally. We had taken our boots off in the garage where chairs and a handy table had been provided. Coats and then boots were put in the boiler room adjacent to the garage and so we had high hopes that it would be dry for the next day. We laid everything out and tried to dry as much as we could. The pack covers were soaking but had done a good job. The packs themselves were wet inside but only slightly but everything was in dry bags anyway so all our possessions were dry.

We showered and got into our other set of clothes and relaxed for a while before setting off for the village. The pub generally has a bad reputation but we had found out that there was a chip shop which was open. Ann had said we could eat them in her kitchen if we wanted to but as the weather was clearing we intended to loiter about the village. So another half a mile later we queued up at the chip shop, having passed the pub, which did look horrendous.

We stood outside the church munching, watching the world go by, boy was that meal good and cheap too, the bargain of the holiday. We binned our wrappers and headed back to the B&B.

It had been an eventful day. It had started so well and then slowly disintegrated. We weren’t tired, our legs were still good, but it just goes to show how debilitating the weather can make you feel. There were quite a few lessons learnt which we would take on board for our next adventure, but we still had one more walking day to do on this one. We finished off the day with a hot chocolate and some telly and then went to bed. Many of our wet things were still damp so we left all the packing until the next morning.


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