Distance: 13 miles
A sunny day! What’s more, a noteworthy day as we’d be crossing the Pennines and entering God’s own county – Yorkshire.
We began our day with what was now becoming a very familiar, yet very tedious routine. Unpacking, repacking, apply lotions and potions, filling water bottles, restocking snacks, applying the next stop’s label to the bags for the bag collecting fairies….
After a light breakfast of cereal, we bid Denise a cheery farewell and headed off across Frank’s Bridge and towards the village of Hartley. At a junction in the village, we paused to look at our map, when the window of a cute cottage in front of us was flung open and a woman leaned out saying, ‘It’s that way.’ Obviously she was very used to seeing coast to coasters scratching their heads at that particular spot.
We commenced an immediate 4 mile uphill climb, during which we were overtaken by a sprightly chap in his late 80s and his little dogs. We were breathing out of our eyeballs, but he sauntered past in his tweed jacket without breaking a sweat.
Feeling suitable pathetic we soldiered on, admiring the expansive views over the fields we'd walked the day before. Ahead of us loomed the nine standards rigg, nine huge stone cairns that you can see for miles around. I have no idea why they are there or which fool got all the stones there, but they make a very lovely feature. The views from the top were spectacular and we could see the weather rolling in. It looked wet, so we donned our wet weather kit again and headed off across the peat bogs.
We were warned about the bogs, but nothing can prepare you for quite how boggy the top of the Pennines can be. We’d put our poles down, tentatively feeling for depth and several times would sink down to the handle of the pole. It became a game of finding tufts of grass to hop onto. The problem was that not all grass is created equal and some ‘grass’ was actually some kind of strange bog weed that floats on puddles. Suffice to say we got very wet and very muddy but we laughed a lot. Finding our way also proved challenging as the marker posts were few and far between and when you did find one, there was just the faintest trace of blue paint to let us know that we were indeed on the right path.
Finally we escaped the bogs and walked alongside the river Swale, where we chose a pretty, but bitey spot for lunch. A swarm of midgey things attacked us, so we ate fast and kept on moving. A short walk later we stumbled upon what has got to be the most idyllic spot in the UK. Ravenseat Farm, is home to the Yorkshire Shepherdess. You may have heard of her and her brood of about 10 children. But we hadn’t.
So we arrived at this farm, with a bubbling brook running through the grounds, and scores of children from the age of 10 to 2 playing amongst the hay bales. Barefoot and completely without parental supervision, the older children gently looked after the littlest as they waded through the stream and played catch. It was exactly what childhood is meant to be.
We were entranced, so we rang the old fashioned bell outside the kitchen door. Another child greeted us and asked us if we’d like scones and tea. We said yes please, feeling very much as though we’d stumbled into an Enid Blyton book.
We took a seat at one of the benches, enjoyed the sun and watched the children cavort, while we tucked into delicious, warm home made scones with jam and cream. It is the simplest things that taste the best. You can keep your Michelin starred restaurants. Give me a squashed egg mayo sandwich in a field and a scone with jam and cream on a bench, and all is well with the world.
We bid the farm a sad farewell and continued a very pleasant walk along the river Swale, passing countless stone barns. The river widened and was dotted with waterfalls, before we arrived at Keld, a village that time forgot, with quaint stone buildings dotting the narrow road. Two very handsome farmers went past on quad bike, sheep dogs perched in front of them. We decided we liked Keld a lot.
Our B&B for the night – Butt House – was gorgeous. Our room featured a deep bath, with bath salts, an absolute treat to have a soak. We adjourned to the cosy sitting room, to read books and journal before joining our fellow walkers - including the Aussies - for a joint dinner. It felt vaguely reminiscent of a Christmas dinner with long last family members. A feast of food was served including delicious rhubarb crumble, and plenty of wine consumed.
Our beds with plump duvets and comfy mattresses had never looked so inviting. We slept well and actually felt like we were on holiday!