We parked the car in Kildale and walked through the village. There was obviously something going on in the Village Hall – lots of cars parked there – but we didn’t actually see a soul. It was eerily quiet.
Battling our way against a manic, freezing cold headwind, we set off uphill – a mile or so of inevitable tarmac taking us high onto the moors.
Initially following a section of the Cleveland Way, the views gradually opened out to miles and miles of heather covered moorland.
With the light already starting to slowly fade, the dark clouds scudding across the sky seemed to add an air of encroaching menace.
We walked and walked, hardly talking at all. The wind in our faces putting paid to easy conversation.
Deep in the moors, we came across an old, abandoned coal mine. This was to be our home for the night.
Pitching the tent amongst the ruins, it was easy to imagine the shades of long ago quietly watching us as we set up camp.
And once settled in the tent, with the wind blowing through the reeds and the sounds of the stream, did we not hear long ago voices? Not quite loud enough to understand the words, but tantalisingly close, whispering in the background.
The slight feeling of unreality continued into the next day, as we were woken by the unmistakable sound of a couple of World War II planes having a dog fight in the skies above us. Try as we might, we never caught a glimpse of them through the clouds, but the noise continued for some time.
Once packed up, strong, arctic winds were to again accompany us throughout the day.
Navigating our way across Baysdale Moor, the wind was thankfully now behind us though, and the constant muttering of grouse kept us company.
Travelling along ancient pathways only added to the atmosphere. How many feet had passed this way over the centuries?
We sought the friendlier feel of the valleys and dropped down into Westerdale.
Here, the sun briefly made an appearance and we picked up the Esk Valley Walk for a few miles, before returning to the high ground.
For a while, heavy rain stopped all photos, followed closely by an arctic wind as we topped out on the disused railway line on Farndale Moor. It was now just too cold to take gloves off and get cameras out.
We were now on the track bed of the old Rosedale Ironstone Railway – an incredibly exposed route, open to all the elements the weather wanted to throw at us. Once again fighting a strong headwind, we covered several miles ’till darkness fell. A reasonable – if rather windy – spot was found for the night, just near a small stream and off to the side of the track.
The wind continued to blow most of the night, rushing through the reeds and the heather. And did we occasionally hear a train in the distance? Slipping its way along the track, carrying coal to and from the long abandoned mines.
Warm enough in the tent for most of the night, the temperature suddenly plummeted by morning. All water droplets on the tent fly – both outside and inside – had turned to ice.
The sun made a welcome attempt at thawing everything out, but it was very weak and the wind still so cold and strong, that it was a slow process.
We packed up and set off in the general direction of the car.
The level path stuck to the high moors without any shelter, leaving us feeling battered by the weather.
And I’d swear I could hear the sound of laughter on the wind.