LEJOG37: Hawes to Tan Hill

I was woken up by the sound of rain on the outside of the tent. Oh dear. I peaked out of the small vent on the door to see not only drizzle outside but also lots of heavy clouds and mists on the tops of the hills opposite. This wasn’t a good sign as I was meant to be going up one of then myself today.

Once I’d packed up I set off and found the weather getting worse and worse. Partly this was because I was slowly ascending up Great Shunner Fell; the mist closed in to obscure my view and the wind and rain decided to increasingly batter me. I knew when I got to the top because there was a stone weather shelter there, not because I could see anything because I couldn’t. It was like a scene from a 70’s episode of Doctor Who, all mist and fog obscuring everything except the 5 metre radius of ground around me. I tried to find the best side of the weather shelter to sit on while eating my soggy pie but couldn’t find one as the rain was omni-directional. This was the type of weather I had expected on the Penine Way, and this morning I had it in spades.

As I descended the rain eased off, but the valleys around me were still obscured by mist. Around Thwaite I started to get the sense of big green hills on either side covered in a mosaic of small hay meadows divided by dry stone walls and filled with wild flowers. Moving out of Keld I crossed the Coast to Coast path (so I’ll hopefully be back one day) and moved along another valley. The rain had now cleared and the view was amazing. I was passing the confluence of three large valleys, each with lush green fields at the bottom making way to rougher moorland at the top. Top to bottom had a crinkly look due to the craggy rock underneath it which occasionally poked through in the form of a small edge, boulders or scree. The grass looked almost like moss in the way it blanketed these uneven features in a almost glowing green fuzz.

As I walked further and ascended more the hills turned again into massive open moorland as far as the eye could see. I was getting nearer Tan Hill Inn, the higher pub in Great Britain. You got the sense of how high it was from the way the clouds almost seemed to be brushing the ground. The place looked the part – a small stocky building almost poking through the clouds surrounded by miles of yellow and brown moorland. As I got closer I found it surrounded by extremely tame sheep and ducks who were very inquisite and seemed intent on getting inside-even they must have felt the cold

Inside was lovely, a couple of different rooms, cosy low ceilings, lots of pictures and bric-a-brac on the walls, stone floor and wood features with a warm fire burning. It was almost exactly how I had imagined it. Everybody was helpful and there was even a photograph of the advert for double glazing the place had featured in back in the 80’s, framed along with the feather which had been used to prove that no draughts got through. The only drawback was that the space normally reserved for camping was being prepared for the local sheep show the next day, so I had to camp on some very uneven ground right next to a group of massive boulders. It was very picturesque, I almost felt like I was wild camping in heaven. Only difference was the broken glass underneath my tent and friendly ducks; I bet even heaven doesn’t have ducks. Sent from my iPhone

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