We started out quite well with sausage butties in a cafe in Kirkby Stephen and the drive to Ribblehead went well, as did our local request for somewhere to leave the knipemobile for a few days (I won’t reveal this as parking at Ribblehead is at a premium on weekends and we wouldn’t want hoards of would-be backpackers dumping their cars at inappropriate places). And a pint of Timmy Taylor’s at the Station Inn was another good omen.
And so we set off hopeful – into the cold, grey and snowy afternoon.
After a while, it became obvious that we were running out of daylight, so we determined to pitch camp and carry on to our intended destination the next day. I mean, there’s no point in plodding on when you’re not really in a rush – we had three days to go four miles and back. The idea for the camp was to have a few days relaxing, eating, reading, maybe having a little wander about and by this gentle expedition, to re-establish Dawn’s post-op feet with the wild world of tussock snow and bog and, maybe to mull over plans for the spring and so on…. We had stew, we had spuds and cheese and onions, and ginger cake, and custard and all kinds of ultra-lite comforts. You know the kind of thing….
I had a good night. Dawn didn’t. I noticed on the news that four hospital wards in Leeds had been closed due to an attack of the nasty winter vomiting bug norovirus and, symptoms given over the radio seemed to match Dawn’s condition quite closely.
Nevertheless, in the morning, and , probably hoping that the worst was over, we completed a plod of about a mile and a half to Duncan Sike, which, when it’s not under snow, is a beautiful green wold high above Dentdale with pure streams and soft and level places for tents. Its a really good wild camping spot, in other words, and the local rabbits like it too.
An afternoon of snoozing and reading was had. Dawn’s night proved worse than the previous one and what with her wobbly and unhappy condition, request for a warm and comfy hostel bed and a Radio Tees weather forecast mentioning “snow” and “disruption” there was no doubt that we should bail out and make for Kirkby Stephen for Dawn and the far side of the Pennines for me. So that’s what we did although there were certain elements of Napaleon’s retreat from Moscow about the walk out, the only things missing being the drums and artillery undercarriages embedded in the snow. A nice lass on her way up Whernside donated a bit of medication for Dawn’s angry digestive tract, and more pharmaceuticals were obtained in Hawes.
I dumped Dawn at the hostel in Kirkby and bolted for the County Durham border, pausing only briefly to have a full English at Chochs cafe in Brough ( excellent value and delicious and a good test that a constitution is working properly)
It was all really very bad luck,really, and whilst it wasn’t exactly the planned relaxing little camping holiday was pretty much wrecked as far as Dawn was concerned and she’d have probably had more fun sticking hot needles down her toenails, physically, we actually did pretty much what we’d planned to do.
As for me, I learned not to put too much water into a Fruzion kedgeree (breakfast) and that the minced lamb meal is quite nice and I’ll probably get some more of that for later expeditions.
Poor Dawn – this was really just such bad luck, but in the face of almost complete debilitation, she walked off the hill, although not necessarily in a very straight line - which is probably more than I would have done…
The pics are quite impressive, though innit?