Its been 7 years since I started walking the Pennine Way. I always intended to walk it in sections but long distance walking has taken a side step for climbing ever upwards to reach summits and the sky and so for a few years I haven’t walked any of the route. But I decided it was about time I got around to finishing it, and so dedicated a few days to making a dent in the remaining miles.
I’d so far managed to walk to Hawes in 6 days (not 1 day per year though as I had a 3 year break somewhere in the middle). My first problem is getting to Hawes from where I live on public transport and having made the same mistake twice in not looking at bus timetables before heading out, and then finding myself stranded at the end of the walk (once being able to hitch a lift to Skipton and once having to walk on to the Ribblehead viaduct for a train) I wasn’t going to make that mistake a third time.
Never one to turn an offer down, I made the most of the offer of a lift and so found myself with a sherpa service on the three days of walking from Hawes to Dufton, no carrying a tent for me! Which was just as well as it turned out to be the hottest days of the year so far, not ideal!
Day 7 – Hawes to Tan Hill Inn – 15.6 miles/ 25.3km
On paper this sounded like a good idea; just over 15 miles is not really that far. And in fact the route was not only easy navigationally but also good walking on tracks and paths and with a pit stop en route.
If not for the relentless heat and burning sun I might have been able to really enjoy this.
The path up Great Shunner Fell is a good start to the day, not steep and a nice ascent to a really good cairn which is a great place for a break. Its a popular summit which if I’m honest I couldn’t understand as it is a long moorland hill to ascend and from the summit cairn the view isn’t of the surrounding villages and valleys, but the expanse of the hill itself.
Despite the dry weather I did find myself hopping stones to avoid disappearing in the peat up to my knees, so watch your footing in wetter weather.
After burning in the sun heading over Great Shunner Fell it was great to be able to pop in the pub and get a cold drink in Thwaite, a pretty village. I’d already managed to drink my water supply so was also grateful to be able to refill, and with COLD water as I’d been drinking luke warm water for a few hours!
From Thwaite it did seem punishing to be heading uphill to walk around to Keld. The route is however is fantastic and has some great views down the valley to Muker and beyond. As the path circles the hill looking down on the river below, it reminded me of walking in the Alps. It would make a great circular walk from Thwaite to Keld in its own right.
Its also worth it for the waterfall at Keld; if I was stopping here I would have dipped my toes in the river to cool, but I had to head onwards and upwards.
I wasn’t looking forward to an uphill slog at the end of the day in the scorching heat, but was pleasantly surprised to find that the walk wasn’t that bad after all and gives the first taste of the isolating moorland to come.
So in the end I reached the Tan Hill pub, the highest pub in England, after 7 hours and 10 minutes. Phew! Time for a pint I think!