There are times when things never seem to go to plan. Last week – October half-term holiday in Derbyshire – was one of them. What should have happened, was that Dixie and I should have walked the Six Dales Trail: a 40 mile route from Otley to Middleham, near Leyburn. We were going to do it in 4 days (10 miles in one go is more than enough for Dixie these days), backpacking for two of the nights and meeting Geoff with the van on the other two nights. The rest of the holiday would then be spent wandering the Dales together doing day walks.
What actually happened, was the Wednesday before half-term I injured my back. Not sure how, but I spent the rest of the week at school hobbling around full of pain killers. By the Saturday then, I’d reluctantly decided to scale the walk down by not backpacking, but doing it as a series of day walks, meeting up with Geoff each night. Being a somewhat stubborn person at times, I was still convinced this plan would work when I got up on Sunday morning, but on taking Dixie out for her post-breakfast ablutions, had to finally admit defeat. Still hobbling quite badly, there was no way I was doing any walk with any rucksack.
Me being me, I was really cross with myself. I couldn’t do anything about it though, and I certainly hadn’t injured my back on purpose, so we moved on to plan C.
We don’t usually do caravan sites with the van much preferring to wild camp, but in the circumstances, where a lot of chilling on my part was obviously required, we checked in at the Leyburn site. Not a bad site in the end, as sites go, situated in an old quarry with loads of trees all around.
So, we pottered about for the week. Wandered around Reeth, Leyburn and Jervaux Abbey, and watched the whole of the first series of Psychoville on dvd. And slowly, the back improved. But as Geoff kindly informed me, I had to remember that as you get older, things take longer to repair……Thanks Geoff!
By the end of the week though, it was time to put a rucksack back on and get out there again. We chose a short wander (an easy 4 miles in total), up on to the moors between Wensleydale and Swaledale. It had been down to freezing the night before and was a cool day – only 4C as we set off mid-morning – but very pleasant in intermittent sunshine.
Our route was straightforward, following a track up to a hut where we would have lunch, then retrace our steps back to the van.
As we climbed, the views back into Wensleydale gradually opened out. We even had a brief snow shower at one point, and right in the distance could see snow on the higher tops over towards Ingleborough way.
A passing RAF Sea King added a bit of interest,
while Tilly found something disgusting to eat.
And on rounding a bend, a bit higher still, we suddenly caught site of our goal on the horizon.
By now, we were also picking up a bit of a lively breeze, which felt like it was blowing straight from the Arctic.
On approaching the hut, you realise what an exposed, commanding position it’s in, offering absolutely magnificent views down into the valley.
Inside the hut, it was a very welcome shelter for a spot of lunch. Obviously well looked after, with plenty of wood for the fire! I suspect it’s used as a shooting hut primarily, but there is a visitors book with a message saying that anyone is welcome to take shelter there, as long as they shut the door so that sheep can’t get in!
Geoff had a good look through the visitors’ book before writing in it himself, and came across an unusual entry from earlier in the year, by a certain James of Nottingham, concerning a toilet and a frozen cistern……?
The dogs found plenty of good sniffs – Dixie said she was sure she could smell Rueben – and then quickly decided that it was a very nice place to be for lunch and went into begging mode while we ate our sandwiches. In fact I don’t think Dixie was particluarly pleased when they were dragged out into the cold wind again a while later, to wend our way back down to the van!
And so, we retraced our steps back to the village. Not a long walk, but a very pleasant one and just right for a first outing after a hurty back – which, incidentally, was fine.