Day Five - Chapel-le-Dale to Dent, 10.3 miles.

Total ascent, 536m.
Thursday, 24th July (to remind me!).

The short day. This was always intended as Dent is gorgeous, so I wanted to stay here rather than Sedbergh. It does give me a longer day tomorrow, but for now I am enjoying a ploughman's lunch in Stone Close Tea Rooms, along with a complimentary cake and cafetiere of coffee as I am staying here tonight. Yes, it's 2:30 and I've finished, with the intention of half a day's serious lounging about.

I've struggled to find anyone who's heard of the Dales High Way so far. It's only been established recently and although it's waymarked, there aren't that many markers to be honest. I suppose if all the trails round here were waymarked there wouldn't be any space left on the gate posts. Anyway, at breakfast not only had the owner of the Old Hill Inn heard of the walk, the other two guests were both doing it as well. They've been very good and stuck to the route rather than wandering around all over the place like me, and have had accommodation booked for them via an agent, with mixed results. They also bumped into Suicidal Man two days ago, but it was earlier in the day so he didn't wave his sticks at them.

Distant and possibly blurred view of the Ribblehead Viaduct. Note train on top!

So over Whernside and down into Dent. Ok, so Whernside is the highest of the 3 peaks (736m), but it always seems the easiest to get up to me and doesn't look either as high or as impressive as the others. Which is why it hasn't deserved its own photo.

There had been a decent breeze on the way up, a definite wind on top and just a breeze again on the way down. I'd veered away from the 3 Peaks route, which was a relief for the feet to be off hard ground or paving (put down because of erosion). I was now on good old boggy grass with nobody about and a nearby tarn was a perfect rest spot. To be honest the setting was stunning and I could have sat there all day, but a man arrived out of nowhere, sat a good 30 metres away and rolled a ciggy, which I then got the brunt of as he was directly upwind of me. How can that happen from that distance in such a big space?

It was another wonderful day, a little hazier than yesterday but the heat was still dry. And I hardly saw anyone. The only one of the 3 Peaks summits I was not alone on was Pen-y-Ghent, which is virtually unheard of these days at any time of year. I don't know where everyone's gone on holiday this year, but it's not here.

Heading into Dentdale.

The breeze faded as I dropped down into delightful Dentdale, and at last the Dales High Way crossed paths with the Dales (low) Way. They merge for a mile, and only at this point. To be honest the Dales (low) Way is hopeless compared to this. I did it with Jon several years ago and was disappointed that we didn't get to go up anything (though the clue's in the name!). So it was no surprise that this solitary shared mile alongside the River Dee (why not the River Dent?) was the most irritating of the walk so far. The path was overgrown, too narrow, too hot and not by a river at all because it had dried up / didn't exist. Aside from my stupid investigation in Dry Valley two days ago it was the only time so far the heat has got to me. Thankfully it was the last mile of the day and the last before the tea room. More later.

So, an early shower and a wander around Dent.

No, I'll start again...

So, an early shower and a stagger around Dent. It was boiling! Coupled with Dent's zigzaggy streets it reminded me of any number of villages on Spain's central plateau. Even the church was hot. I went to the heritage centre which was closing early because of the heat, to a shop where the substantial lad behind the counter was dripping sweat onto the local newspapers and to a gallery which seemed to have been abandoned completely. Finally I found a bench in the shade of the church and sat there reading for a couple of hours. It was bliss. Just right!

Wait a minute I got it wrong earlier. Before the afternoon staggering I didn't have a shower, I had a bath! My first opportunity of the trip. That was bliss too, so good I was asleep in seconds.

Beer in the George and Dragon tonight was good but the meal was poor, a very salty and microwaved chicken pie. I decided to head for the Sun Inn later but got waylaid wandering round the streets again and ended up on the same churchyard bench watching the sun set on the hills. Made it in the end though.

The view from the churchyard.

Just need to mention a couple more things. Firstly the birds, they are everywhere on this walk. Here is a selection of what I've seen:

Definite sightings - red kite (1), curlew (1), merlin (1), buzzard (several), swallow (several), skylark (several), yellowhammer (several), red grouse (several).

Unconfirmed sightings during the hottest parts of the day - golden eagle (1), Orville (1), pterodactyl (6).

Which just leaves the bird I've seen more of than any other by some distance, and I haven't got a clue what it is. There are hundreds of them and they are incredibly friendly, they're never far away and they sit on rocks waiting for me to pass before they fly ahead again. It's similar to the way robins and blackbirds follow me round when I'm gardening. I need to know what they are (Wheatear? Meadow pipit?). Please help me.

Secondly I've completed 5 out of the 10 days, 72.1 miles. This includes relevant faffing about but not walking to stations, etc. From now on there are no more detours so I know that I'm not quite half way yet. I have 75.2 miles still to go, meaning the revised total distance will be 147.3 miles. Better get some sleep then.

-- Posted from Kev's iPhone