Day Eight - Keld to Reeth  

    Tuesday 5th  May 2009

Gunnerside Gill

I woke at about 6:45 and, once dressed, took Elsie out for a quick walk and posted the used maps (for the western section of the walk), back home.

Breakfast was pleasant enough, if ever so slightly disorganised with the manager having to go to the desk at regular intervals.

First off were Stuart and his mate (Tex Gore), first name unknown. Second was a couple who were running the route.  They turned up at 7:30 last night having been lost on Nine Standards.  They were also dressed in running shorts and considering how cold it was they must have been freezing. 
We ourselves hung around until 10:00 before leaving.  We checked out from what David thought was the best place we'd stayed in so far, and started out in the morning's light drizzle.  We both had all our waterproofs on.  For the remainder of the day the drizzle would continue, but not get heavier.

The climb was steady and we followed a track to Crackpot Hall – a disused farmhouse.  Here I led us through the buildings, rather than follow the correct path higher up to the left and although we still went in the right direction, it was along a very narrow path with a steep drop to our right.  Still the views were good and we saw some of the valley's old mine workings that we wouldn't have on the normal path.  We did eventually join the correct, wider path and quickly swung right for the final muddy pull to the top of the moor.

Now 600m up, it was cloudy and visibility was poor.  We quickly made our way across grouse moors on a very well made track before dropping down to Gunnerside Gill and then back up the other side of the valley.  The valley is filled with old lead smelting works and the valley sides are scarred where the miners removed all vegetation and topsoil looking for veins of lead.  Even now, after 100 years, nothing can grow.  The climb out is supposed to be up one of these heaps (hushes), but just before dropping down into the valley we had managed to spot an easier looking, if slightly longer, route that followed a broad green path up the other side.  We followed this path before doubling back on ourselves quickly rejoining the main path.  It was now becoming misty, but the path was obvious across the wasteland and there were cairns to follow.  We quickly joined another well maintained track and walking past many more grouse butts.  Evidently it is worth the estate’s while to keep these roads in good repair. 

After the wasteland came a long walk down a grouse moor bordered valley, at one point under the gaze of a gamekeepers land rover, high up one side the valley.  There was another lead smelt mill half way down and we had a quick look around.  Eventually we reached the marvellously named Surrender Bridge and the scenery changed from moor to farmland – well, mainly farmland with the odd grouse butt.  The strange thing was that there were also loads of dead rabbits.  At this point David jarred his knee and was in a bit of pain for the rest of the day, however, within an hour, we were dropping down to Reeth.

We booked into the Black Bull at 3:10, after sheltering in a bus shelter for 20 minutes talking to a pleasant Brummie with whom we’d kept pace with throughout the day.  Opinion seems to vary about the Black Bull, but for us the en-suite bath, not shower, stole the day.  We also had a family room with room for four.  The meal was pleasant enough.  We couldn't find a decent table in the bar so we sat in the restaurant section.  Here we saw a couple of lads, say in their thirties, arrive and enjoy a cigar before entering the pub.  The both looked exhausted and talking to them ever so briefly they said they’d walked from Kirkby Stephen, it was a bit harder than they thought it would be and perhaps they would try to take a day off to recover.  Of course in the morning they were off and away.

To make the day (not) David, a Manchester City fan, was able to watch Man U beat Arsenal on the TV.  As soon as it was over he turned the TV off and started to get ready for bed.  I went to the bar.