Friday, 25th July.
Well I can safely say I've lost quite a bit of weight. Not from myself, that's not going to happen with the breakfasts, dinners and beers, no it has gone from my pack. It was becoming obvious that I was carrying things I would not need, so I paid a visit to Sedbergh post office and sent them home. I was on the verge of posting everything except my boots, backpack, map, water bottles and mankini, but fortunately I saw the forecast just in time. Clouds?! Possible rain?! It's outrageous! I demand 10 complete days of sun, I will surely dissolve if it rains.
Despite being reluctant to leave Dent, and tempted to go and sit on my churchyard bench again, I actually got off to my earliest start yet. It was 9 o'clock mind, so not that early really. What might have been a gruelling climb up the valley side was quite easy with the longer tree shadows to hide in. It was a great start to the day and by 11 I was in Sedbergh with over 5 miles done.
I had a list of things to do:
Post things back home - done.
Send postcard to mum - done.
Get cash from bank - done.
Buy a packed lunch - done.
Buy sun tan lotion and if bottle is larger than my travel one decant lotion from larger into smaller and give remainder of large bottle to someone who looks like they need it - done.
Buy NME - not done. Circulation is not what it used to be sadly.
Now all that remained was 11 wonderful miles over the Howgill Fells to make it the best day of the walk so far - done.
One of my very earliest memories of mountains is driving up the M6 when I was a nipper and passing round the western flanks of these huge lumps of rock and grass (actually back then I didn't know what a flank was, never mind a western one). When Jon and I did the Dales Way years ago his shoes fell to pieces, so he splashed out on a proper pair in Sedbergh and we had a 'test day' on the Howgills before continuing, which was great fun and my first time walking on them. If you asked a child to draw a picture of some hills he or she would draw the Howgills, a huddled group of rounded lumps.
This afternoon was a joy. I tanked up to the ridge from Sedbergh with my lighter pack and spent the afternoon hopping from one summit to the next, with a six mile ridge walk to finish. The views throughout were incredible. I could see all 3 Peaks, splendid Pen-y-Ghent, mighty Ingleborough and the other one. I could see the Irish Sea, Scafell Pike and the rest of the Lake District, the route of the Coast to Coast Path, Cross Fell (a target later in the walk), the M6 and the southbound services with the lake next to it. Splendid!
I passed about a dozen people up there and they all looked like they couldn't imagine being anywhere else. They were all smiling and all happy to chat about how great it was. I chatted to a counsellor, a docker and a German lady walking between business meetings concerned with ceramic tiles. She was fascinated by my fact that the Howgills were formed 400 million years ago when the Dales landmass was close to the South Pole. That wouldn't happen on Chester Foregate Street.
A Howgill panorama!
So after the best day of the walk, and one which is high in my all time best walk ever list (oh yes!), I ended up at Brownber Hall in Newbiggin-on-Lune. Is it a B&B or a stately home? It's hard to tell. When I arrived I was offered a complimentary alcoholic drink. I asked for a pint of milk.
After a shower I sat on the terrace behind the balustrade, waiting for my chauffeur to arrive to take me to dinner at the Black Swan in Ravonstonedale. He duly arrived in the Mercedes and off we went; he will return to collect me later.
So I've just finished a lovely fish and chips followed by a lemon and ginger syllabub. There's a large Geordie family group behind me in the pub and they are hilarious, or rather the grandfather is. He's becoming more stressed by the minute. These comments were all made by him to his youngest (of the 3 here) granddaughter Jess:
"Don't touch your drink till the man puts it on the table. You touched it! I saw you! Do that again and you can sit in the car."
"Stop coughing. Stop coughing!!! I know you're faking it. Tell you what, if you choke to death I'll believe you."
"If you speak in an American accent once more you can sit in the car and speak it to yourself."
"Jessie go and sit in your seat or go and sit on the car." "No you can't sit in the car, your meal's coming." "You are NOT going to sit in the car."
"Look, either eat it or leave it." "You're not leaving it, I want it eaten."
-- Posted from Kev's iPhone