I met the bro and his pal Ian at Dufton and we had a short tour of some back lanes and then hurtled off through the murk up round the back of Dufton Pike and further up to the mines at the head of Great Rundale Beck. A brief jink to the Right, which may well have been South and a clamber through some bouldery scree saw us at the trig point on Backstone Edge. The actual top is a little way over there-------> through some mist where there’s a cairn with a stick in it and is a few metres higher than the trig point at 699 of your Queen’s metres..
The forecast was for the murk to clear to sunshine, but there wasn’t much sign of this as we blundered through the tussocks to Great Rundale Tarn and lunched in the shooting box nearby.
Great Rundale Tarn is unsuitable for swimming at this time of year, I have to report. Just a tip for you there….
A long slog through squishy bogs and teetering tussocks with a few of those brown contoury things (look, I’m sorry for being so technical about this…) brought us eventually through yet more clinging hillfog to the big cairn on the top of Knock Fell at 794 metres.
Normally, navigation through this thick clag could be quite tricky, but John had his fancy GPS thingy with the maps on it and a thick blue line to follow, so despite a few diversions around peat hags and the very very squishy bogs, the electronics ensured success. I had a map and a compass in my rucksack, obviously. In an emergency, we could have eaten the map.
But anyway, the Pennine Way runs past this big cairn and also the much older, square one on the edge – Knock Old Man – so we followed this back to Dufton. At some point, high above the Eden Valley, the sun came out and the clouds drifted away. Our only difficulty was the deep cow muck around Far Close, occupied by some cattle, more intent on feeding than chasing Bruno, who was happily paddling in the sludge anyway.
And that was that. Eleven miles and 2600 feet worth of brown contoury things and not much of a view.
I must say, though, that towards the end, when the sun came out, things did start to look and feel a bit more wintery and the temperature had dropped from 10 to 4 C, so , y’know…. it might just have decided to turn at last.