Day 6 - 13th August 2006
Kirkby Stephen to Thwaite
End of Day 6: August 13th;
3pm Room 9, Kearton Hotel, Thwaite.
Had a good stay at Fletcher House - a large, Georgian house in
Kirkby Stephen town centre - last night. We had a good sized room on
the first floor (probably the best to date) and there was a nice,
easy-going feel to the place. I wish I could be as complimentary
about Kirkby Stephen. Given its location you feel it should be a
good place to spend some time but it seems to have had a charm
by-pass: noisy, smelly, not a place to dwell. Like us, youíll
probably struggle to find somewhere decent to have an evening meal Ė
maybe I should have stuck with the packed lunches after all.
We started walking at 8.45am, straight into a good hour-and-a-half
pull up onto Nine Standards Rigg. We set off on the road Ė through
the lovely hamlet of Hartley Ė and then onto open moorland. At
times, it was pretty steep. William, not impressed, decides to go
slow in places to make a point. The back end of yesterday appears to
have slipped into today. Slowly, however, his spirits lift, his pace
quickens and heís on the top a couple of minutes before me.
Rain had been threatening all the way up, weíd had a few windy
showers and the sky was now looking very menacing. As we rested
against one of the cairns the wind got up again; it started raining,
we were engulfed in fog and the temperature dropped. The views from
Nine Standards in all directions are pretty impressive. Weíd had a
couple of minutes of them but now it was a white-out, time to move
Itís a wild, remote place up there and potentially not an easy one
to find your way down from. Itís very boggy and the route goes over
open moorland. However, the route is so well waymarked now in order
to help manage the impact of walkers; even in heavily reduced
visibility we had no problems.
We were down into Keld for 12.45pm and spent an hour at the tea
house before making our way down to Thwaite.
We didnít see a soul from leaving Kirkby Stephen until we got down
to Keld. The statistics tell you that England is a relatively
crowded country and in many regions that is obviously the case. But
in the North you still donít have to go far to find solitude and a
sense of wilderness. Even in the Lake District, where on the valley
floor things can get a bit crowded, up on the top you can go the
whole day encountering few others.
Wildlife has been with us throughout this walk. There have been the
sea birds at the nature reserve around St Bees, the moorland grouse
and the cattle and horses roaming freely on the moors and fells in
many places. Itís been interesting to observe the changing breed of
sheep as you move through different landscapes. We watched a pair of
young wild deer hop and skip together twenty yards from us next to
Ennerdale Water and we also came across a large herd of deer roaming
freely on the fells above Patterdale.
Weíve also had our more quirky encounters. At one point yesterday we
managed to walk between a bull on one side and a herd of cows,
clearly the subject of his interest, on the other Ė some
seventy-five yards away across the open moor. The bullís ears
pricked up and he snorted, but appeared only to have thoughts for
his lady friends. A couple of gooseberries like us were not going to
distract him that easily and, as our pace quickened, he charged
across the moor, thankfully, in the direction of the cows.
As William will tell you, he doesnít trust farmyard animals (why it
should just be farmyard animals, I donít know). He may have a point.
Today he had to visit the public toilets in Keld; he was in there
some time. As he was doing his business, a cockerel sauntered in and
gave out an ear-piercing cock-a-doodle-doo, which echoed in the
toilets and then out and across the village, a couple of times. Time
Itís a straightforward day tomorrow, down the dale into Reeth. Iíve
told William that weíll start a little later and that he can have a
lie-in until 8am Ė what better news can there be for a 14-year-old?
But what I havenít yet told him is that heís doing the map reading
PS Williamís knee support has been discarded. Isnít fashion so quick
to change these days?