Distance: 37,9 km (23,5 mi) for a total of 1262 km (784,2 mi)
Ascent (ca.): 1625 m (5330 ft)
Weather: Cloudy and sunny in alternation and very windy
Knowing that a long and hard day was ahead of me I left the youth hostel at 6 o’clock. The PW kept following the Tees, but the nice and gentle path soon gave way to boulders, the first scrambling exercise since the South West Coast Path. The views were fine nevertheless.
After rounding Falcon Clints I could hear Cauldron Snout roaring even before seeing it. The sight was impressive from the bottom, what I found less reassuring was the lack of visible path where I was obviously supposed to climb up. Overall, the climbing went better than expected, in some places the bit of indoor climbing I’ve done last year payed off. Getting higher offered changing views on how the water forces its way through the rocks. Absolutely fascinating!
This highlight helped me over the next stretch on a not especially interesting track, later leaving it for a more or less distinct footpath first towards and than along Maize Beck. I knew that I was nearing High Cup Nick, I’ve seen pictures of it and I often heard and read how suddenly it appears before the walker. But nothing of this prepared me for the jaw dropping suddenness with which the valley opened so that I have to watch my feet to not step over the edge – ok, that’s a bit of exaggeration but not much.
The path along the edge allowed for some more views before turning away too far. Further down a lot of people came towards me, perhaps considering a walk up a suitable activity for a fairly bright Sunday. Especially one couple managed to surprise me. She was obviously struggling going up, still being nearer to Dufton than High Cup Nick. We had already passed each other when I heard him asking me if it was worth going up? At first, I thought he was kidding asking a question like this about one of the most impressive landscape features in the country, but he was seriously. I assured them that it was absolutely worth the effort although I’m not sure that she will agree with me …
In Dufton I only had a short coffee break, then I pressed on towards Cross Fell. My plan was to spend the night in Greg’s Hut to have a short day into Alston. This was dictated by the need to arrive in town during the opening hours of the post office as we had forwarded some of the content of the parcel which I originally sent to Geoff for handover in Edale to here.
I had calculated that it would take me four to five hours to the hut, but as there aren’t any reception times in a bothy, I wasn’t concerned about this. So I made my way up hill by hill: Green Fell, Great Dun Fell, Little Dun Fell, Cross Fell. I’m sure that with a bit of goodwill it would be possible to create a path alternative contouring around at least the one or the other instead of using a direct line across all of them.
But I was lucky in two ways. First, the radar station was clearly visible as a landmark, although I felt reminded of Stoodley Pike as it seemed to take ages to get nearer. On the access road at the barrier I met people with two cars who were asking for directions to a dale I don’t know. But I was very sure that they’re best option was to turn around and look for some other way.
Second, I even had sunshine on the summit of Cross Fell, as far as I know not the most common weather condition up there. The bothy was soon reached and I made myself comfortable. In the bothy book I even found Jimmy’s entry, a fellow LEJOGer a couple of days ahead of me. What I found especially interesting on these hills are the curricks which dot the higher parts of the hills.