Today had a sad start as Jenna had to leave to return to London to get back to the real world an leave me on my own again.
The taxi driver took me back up to the road Keld. The route was still spectacular, even on the third time. The driver had decided to help me out by trying to get to the destination as quickly as possible, which meant quite a few stomach churning turns where it looked like we were almost about to accidentally be tossed into the absyss.
I had choosen to take a simpler lower route to try and preserve my knee so the route from Keld was quite simple. First I had to cross the route with the Penine way where I’d been not much less than a year before. I’d like to say it felt weird to be crossing my own path so soon, but to be honest it was a bit rainy and cold and I just wanted to get on.
Initially the path clambered over the steep sides of the valley around the village of Muker, then descended down to beside the river Swale, and followed it for most of the day. This meant walking though lots of small river-side meadows marked out in drystone walls and covered in buttercups, daisys and some purply flowery plant thing. The path would cut through these wild flowers, so there was always a clear green route through the speckled fields.
I stopped for a lunchtime pint at Gunnerside village because I thought it would be rude not too. The path then climbed to follow the edge of a moor, before descending again through meadows to reach the final destination of Reeth.
All the while the landscape was slowly shifting. The massive space-whales were still there but they were becoming more and more spaced apart as the valley floor increased in width and prominance. Their sides were becoming greener and less moor-like with trees growing in bigger clumps along their sides.
The final destination was a village nestled in the middle of several hills, with a large open green surrounded by pubs and tea rooms. The earlier cold and drizzly had been replaced by sunshine and clouds. Wherever you were you had a fantastic panoramic view of the surroundings, which were still dramatic but a tinge more pastoral than the wildness around Keld. You could feel youself starting to leave the Dales proper, which was a shame because I thought they were great, different from the the lakes but just as dramatic, wild and enjoyable. I had another pint at one of the pubs; several people passed who I’d met along the way and we said hello and exhanged tales of what we’d done, who we’d seen and who had already dropped out. It was a proper village experience, albeit a nomadic, transitory and temporary village formed by the hundreds of people making this pillgrammage from one side of the country to the other.
I’d made good time, I wasn’t too hurt or exhausted. To top it off the owner of the caravan site where I was staying let me stay in a disused caravan for the same price as just pitching my tent, which would enable me to hopefully get a really good night’s sleep. So a pretty good en to a pretty good day, despite the sadness at it’s beginning.