The Pennine Way 1991

Author: George Tod

This walk is illustrated with photographs. Click on small photo to enlarge in situ, or click caption to enlarge into new window.
Part 4 - Hawes to Dufton


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Day 9 - Saturday 1st June - Hawes to Keld - 12.8 miles - 2200 ft ascent

Accommodation - KELD HOSTEL - Dinner 7 p.m., Breakfast 8.30 a.m. - drying room poor, but airing cupboard available.

After a peaceful night's sleep, my feet were fully recovered and ready for another day's walking. Making a 9 a.m. start the first stop was in Hawes to buy some sun tan lotion for my legs. Hawes has quite a good number of shops and a bank, which did not have a cash machine, and was only open on certain days of the week.

The day started off with beautiful sunshine and the usual cool wind from the north. The views were magnificent. I called to see Hardraw Force which is accessed through the Green Dragon Inn and cost me 50p admission - I can remember when it used to cost 6d in old money (2 1/2p), but that was a long time ago. There was at least a trickle of water coming over the fall; I expected it would have been completely dry considering the almost total lack of rain that there had been for several weeks.

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River Ure at Hawes looking towards Dodd Fell
River Ure at Hawes
Muker in Upper Swaledale from Kisdon Hill
Muker in Upper Swaledale
Swinner Gill and River Swale near Keld
Swinner Gill

At the summit of Great Shunner Fell I had lunch and sat for a while in the pleasant sunshine, sheltered from the wind by the cairn, and chatting to a number of the other Pennine Way walkers. A short while after setting off again I settled into a sheltered hollow at about 2,000-ft to sunbathe for about an hour. The weather was the best so far and the views were marvellous. After descending to Thwaite, I stopped again to sit in the sunshine, as there was plenty of time to spare. The last couple of miles to Keld had marvellous views of Upper Swaledale, which is not accessible by road, and is a steep sided valley with cliffs and waterfalls.

I arrived at Keld Youth Hostel to find that the parcel from home that I was expecting had not arrived four days after being posted. The parcel contained some spare clothing, a clean towel etc. as well as the guidebook for the second half of the route. Apparently even first class letters can take four days to reach there and I was not the only one to not receive a parcel in time. I left my address and the parcel was eventually redirected home, having taken a total of three weeks to get there and back. Fortunately there was nothing I was too desperate for as I was managing to wash things as I went along. The only thing which was a nuisance was the missing 'Pennine Way North' map book, although I still had the other 1inch to the mile map with me, which was good enough to see me through even though it lacked the detail of the book.

The hostel was very busy as it is at the crossing point of the Pennine Way and Coast to Coast walk. Facilities were not so good and the drying room was useless, but there was a good airing cupboard if you could find room in there. I had dinner of soup, shepherd's pie and apple crumble and was beginning to wonder if crumble is the only pudding recipe that the YHA possess. The evening was lovely and, as there was no pub nearby, I went for a walk to the waterfalls and back (about 2 miles). The hillsides were absolutely covered in rabbits which all started running away as I walked along, there being about a hundred white bobbing tails retreating up the hillside in front of me. It was still quite light as I returned to the hostel just after 10 p.m.

Some people had made their way to the pub in Muker, three miles away, by taxi. I didn't join them because I wanted to go everywhere by foot and didn't fancy another six-mile round trip to walk there and back.

I did not get a good night's sleep as all the beds were old with sagging springs, which creaked every time anyone turned over.


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Day 10 - Sunday 2nd June - Keld to Baldersdale via Bowes - 18.8 miles - 1500 ft ascent

Accommodation - BALDERSDALE HOSTEL - No meals service, but well stocked shop open in evening and again at 8 a.m. - drying room quite good.

Started out at 9.30 a.m. in light rain which gradually got worse making the walk to Tan Hill very dreary. Although it was about 11.15 a.m. on a Sunday there was no problem getting drinks, so I settled down with several other of the Pennine Way walkers and had a couple of pints of Old Peculiar at 1.60 a pint in front of a warm fire. Eventually, with a brighter outlook on the world, I set off into the rain again. Soon the rain stopped and gave way to somewhat brighter weather, but the walk was not very interesting. I reached God's Bridge at 3 p.m. and the river was dry. At this point I had to decide whether to take in the Bowes Loop adding 4 miles to the walk. As the weather was reasonable I decided to do so, thinking it may add a bit of interest to the day's walk. However, I soon regretted it as there is not much to see in Bowes apart from the castle and the weather turned bad with freezing cold rain in the northerly wind. In addition, much of the route over the moors was without a proper path and quite hard going over the rough ground.

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God's Bridge over River Greta
God's Bridge over River Greta
Bowes Castle
Bowes Castle

Eventually I reached Baldersdale youth hostel at 6.40 p.m. with rather tired feet. I phoned home shortly after arriving and must have sounded rather low, as Jean wondered whether I was about to pack in the walk, although the thought had never crossed my mind. This was the first hostel without any meals service and I was completely unprepared for self-catering. As this hostel is very remote it was well stocked with food, including frozen meals for one, which could be put in the microwave oven. The real problem was with making drinks and packed lunch as it meant having to buy so many bits and pieces and I kept having to call the warden back to the shop for something else I had forgotten to buy. For dinner, I had beef curry with rice, a cheeseburger (all frozen/microwaved) and a choc-ice.

The facilities were good with a pleasant lounge with a snooker table. There being no pub for miles around, I settled down to read one of the Pennine Way books from the hostel bookshelf. It was 'One Man and his Bog' by Barry Pilton and was absolutely hilarious, although I didn't have enough time to read it all. In the morning the shop opened at 8 a.m. and I bought all the things I needed including a microwave breakfast and tin of luncheon meat for sandwiches.

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Day 11 - Monday 3rd June - Baldersdale to Langdon Beck via Middleton-in-Teesdale - 14.5 miles - 1650 ft ascent

Accommodation - LANGDON BECK HOSTEL - Dinner 7 p.m., Breakfast 8.15 a.m. - Drying room very good

Started off at 9.15 a.m. with glorious sunshine, but a fresh north wind. I didn't mind the north wind as it brought back the sunshine. My spirits were fully revived and my feet recovered. The blisters on the sides of my heels were more or less hardened off, so I hoped they would be alright from then on - even so they had not been much of a problem so far.

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Grassholme Reservoir
Grassholme Reservoir
River Tees near Forest-in-Teesdale
River Tees near Forest-in-Teesdale

I reached Middleton-in-Teesdale at 12.00 but just missed the Post Office which closes for an hour from 12.00. I wanted to send my 'Pennine Way South' map book back home to save a little bit of weight, so I called in for a pint of Theakstons with the other Pennine Way group and then called at the bank and back to the Post Office when it opened. At 1.15 p.m. I started the pleasant walk along the river Tees, although for the first couple of miles the river is out of sight. Some rapids came into sight and I took these to be Low Force, but later found that Low Force was half a mile further on. By High Force the weather was still good but a few dark clouds started to appear (there was actually a short hailstorm earlier on). Started out from High Force at 4.50 p.m. and about one and a half miles from the hostel the weather turned diabolical with head-on driving rain which turned to a mixture of hail and sleet. 10 minutes after reaching the hostel the sun was shining again and it turned into a very pleasant evening. The hostel was very good, having just been refurbished, and there were even open cupboards by each bed for storage.

Mike and Edna recalled previous walks when the hostel was rather run down and with a battle-axe of a warden, who would not let anyone set foot inside the gate before 5 p.m., even in the pouring rain with no other shelter. Fortunately, things have changed since then.

Dinner was soup, fish and chips and fruit with ice cream. Later we went to the Langdon Beck Hotel, about three-quarters of a mile up the road, where the beer was only pressurised Scottish & Newcastle, but the bar was, at one point of the evening, filled entirely by Pennine Way walkers. From there on we would start to split up due to various differing schedules.

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Day 12 - Tuesday 4th June - Langdon Beck to Dufton - 12.5 miles - 920 ft ascent

Accommodation - DUFTON B&B (Dufton Hostel closed on Tuesdays) - B&B plus evening meal 14.50, packed lunch 2.50

Started out at 9.20 a.m. with a steady walk to Cauldron Snout with bright sunshine at first but gradually clouding over. Over Falcon Clints, which consist of a lot of sharp angled stones, it is hard on the feet and can be dangerously slippery in the wet. Cauldron Snout, a series of cateracts in the river Tees, was as impressive as ever despite the limited flow of water and I stopped for a while until 11.00 a.m. At the other side of Cauldron Snout I stopped again waiting for the sun to come back out to take a photograph, only to find that when it did come out the shutter on the camera had jammed. After a bit of fiddling with the camera and a few wasted frames, it was 0.K. again.

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Cauldron Snout on River Tees
Cauldron Snout on River Tees
River Tees below Cauldron Snout
River Tees below Cauldron Snout
High Cup Nick looking down valley
High Cup Nick looking down valley

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High Cup Nick looking up valley
High Cup Nick looking up valley
Middle Tongue from Peeping Hill (bottom of High Cup)
Middle Tongue (High Cup)
Dufton village
Dufton village

The next few miles involved a steady climb, which gradually got squelchier, though never too bad. The weather was overcast and there were even a few light hail showers. Crossing the river towards High Cup, the path was better and drier. Of all the sights so far, High Cup was the best for sheer scale and grandeur. The sun even managed to come out a bit as I arrived and I spent some time admiring the view before moving on. I reached the B&B at 4.30 p.m. (the youth hostel being closed that day) with the weather gradually improving towards evening time.

I had a cup of tea and a bath and it was good to have a nice hot soak, although it was a while before my sunburned legs would tolerate being lowered into the hot water. The B&B was very good, but very prim and proper even though I was made very welcome in my dirty walking gear - the advantage of youth hostels is that one doesn't feel out of place as everyone else is in the same state. The evening meal at 6.45 p.m. was very substantial with soup, braised steak with 2 veg, roast potatoes and boiled new potatoes with apple pie and cream for dessert, although I was on my own for dinner as no one else was staying there. The standard and quantity of food was definitely a step up from that in the youth hostels, but the cost averaged about 5 extra for B&B, evening meal and packed lunch.

Dufton is a pleasant little village with a Post Officer/Store and from just out of the village Great Dun Fell with its "golf ball" radar station was clearly visible. It was so clear that it only looked about a mile away and it was hard to believe that it was actually about 4 miles away and 2,000 ft higher up. The mountains of the Lake District were also very clear in the distance. I met up with the rest of the Pennine Way crowd in the pub, which also had a lot of people in from the Appleby Horse Fair. The beer, however, was only pressurised Whitbread's.


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