I’ve not been well, y’know. Me and the lovely wife just celebrated our 37th (yes, 37th!) wedding anniversary and as a pressie, she gave me this horrendous chesty bug. She’d been using it for about a fortnight herself and, probably, considered that an act of generosity and a midnight visit to the bearded shaman who resides invisibly in Kirkcarrion would ensure that some other poor bugger could now have it for a fortnight.
And so, it was with heavy chestyness and a car full of dog and snotty tissues, that I arrived at Darlington train station for the arrival of Dawn, a relatively healthy individual who didn’t have anything near as dangerous an illness as this. Even the dog coughed a few times. I’d warned Dawn that I’d be useless at walking very far with a pack and would, therefore only be able to act in a support capacity on this planned walk from Teesdale to the Upper Eden.
Holwick rejected us on canine grounds (I did discover that their lambing field was full not of tents, as marked on the map, but of cute little lambs with which Bruno would probably have liked to play. And eat.
So we ended up in a sea of mud quite near a recycling site in the outer suburbs of Middleton in Teesdale. We managed a short walk on the next day, visiting the usual Teesdale sights – Low Force, High Force, Bleabeck Force and Summerhill Force, but I was forced (see what I did here…) to admit that after something a bit less than six miles and not many contours, I was, frankly, knackered. So I went to bed for a couple of days.
I did manage to rustle up a bacon butty for the farewell celebrations of Dawn’s departure for the sloppy horrors of the Pennine Way (South), but me and Bruno snoozed the rest of the morning away to the gentle sound of rain sizzling on Cafe Akto’s akto/basha combination.
At Half One, we packed up (really slowly) and left for Tan Hill where I’d planned to camp and meet up with Dawn a day later. Tan Hill was wet and windy and the campsite had at least two piles of human poo (but no toilet paper) so, after a brief and bumpy investigation of the Sleightholme road (ironically only a few yards from where Dawn camped that night), I plumped for Keld.
Keld campsite was muddy, but not as muddy as Middleton. Nevertheless, after all the exertions of driving up the A66, me and Bruno settled in for another long snooze. I mean a really long snooze. Longer than what you’re thinking a long snooze might be, in fact.
The next day, it was raining again and Dawn should be paddling down the path from Tan Hill sometime in the afternoon, I thought. So, armed with an orange and an umbrella, in the early afternoon we set off up the PW towards Tan Hill. This was hard work. A couple of times, I considered that I’d found an ideal place to sit and wait and investigate the cosiness of sub-umbrella snoozing in the drizzle, only to be nudged by an impatient and very damp dog to press on up the moor. We pressed on up the moor. Then , out of the corner of a steamed up spectacle lens, I spotted the dark and rucksacked figure of what could only have been Dawn, marching purposefully along the road on the other side of the little dale. I waved my brolly in a sort of New Avengers kind of way and started the return to Keld. I would get to the tent and put the kettle on.
This is what I did. But Dawn didn’t arrive. I did find her a bit later half a mile up the road in a cosy bunkhouse With No Mud.
In the morning Dawn arrived and asked for a taxi to Birkdale. We drove towards Kirkby Stephen and I dropped her off near the County Boundary on Birkdale Common and went home for a sleep. A long sleep. Another long sleep.
Then it was Wedensday and Wednesday was the day that I had to lead an eleven mile guided walk over Crosthwaite Common in Teesdale. the weather looked a bit driech. I predicted that nobody would turn up.
As it happened, I had two Compulsory Daves and an Eric as stewards and people just kept on turning up – eventually numbering 37 in total. Some commented that I was still as snotty as I had been two weeks earlier, but they were wrong. I was, in fact, snottier. I warned the punters that they were supposed to keep behind the leader, even if the leader was teetering on the brink of collapse in a pile of used tissues.
But in the end, it didn’t go so badly. I managed to stay approximately at the front, and we didn’t get lost although I will admit to being ever-so-slightly fragged at the end.
I’ll probably try some more contours at the weekend and my cardiac nurse would rejoice in the knowledge that my serious dice with what appears to have been The Black Death (or similar) (At least Man Flu) has reduced my status from Morbidly Obese to Fat Bugger in just two weeks. I did get a craving for a night of beer and beef curry (Lucky Rainflower’s best) which I enjoyed on the basis of quite a lot of what you fancy won’t make you live any longer but who wants to live forever and eat lettuce.
All hail to the Lucky Rainflower anyway.
And thanks to Grahame for a pic or two.
The only way now, is up.
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