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Journeyman's Coast to Coast Journal 2006
Day 9

Tuesday 20 June - Keld to Reeth

I awoke at 6am as the sun was shining in through my bedroom window. I opened the curtains and looked across the buttercup meadows down to Keld village and the River Swale. I could see part of today’s route and as I sipped my early morning cup of tea I recorded in my notebook ‘What a view! What a privilege!’ Yes I was once again feeling great and ready for today’s walk. The next couple of hours seemed to pass by quickly as I organised my kit, filled my hydration system with water and prepared for breakfast. We had breakfast at 8am and yes, it had to be the full English – Doreen Whitehead style of course - and it was excellent. I settled my bill and collected my substantial packed lunch from Doreen promising to return as soon as I could with my wife. – Linda enjoyed walking in the Dales and I know she would love the area around Keld in Swaledale. I set off a short time in front of the KK who were taking the scenic valley route via Gunnerside. I suggested a couple of places for the visit on the way to Reeth and told them I would see them in Reeth – we were all staying at Hackney House that evening.

I walked down into the village and crossed the footbridge over the Swale. Here the Pennine Way turns left and the C2C routes go right towards Crackpot Hall. It was on this stretch up to Crackpot Hall that I caught up with Bill and Marie who were changing outer clothing. It looked like it may rain today but as it turned out there were only a few spots being blown across in the westerly wind in good visibility. I asked Bill and Marie if I could join them and we walked and talked around Swinner Gill and onward towards Blakethwaite mine ruins and then beyond to the Old Gang Smelting Mill etc. Bill and Marie were great company and passionate walkers with quite a few long distance walks under their belts.

Ruins of Blakethwaite Mines

We all kept looking back for other walkers as we firstly descended and then ascended one of the three ‘ravines today.  We were expecting to see Gordon and Charlotte but no luck. As we negotiated the steep descent to and then ascent from Blakethwaite ruins we saw Tim coming down the other side and expected him to catch us up but we didn’t see him until Reeth – he later explained that he had wandered off exploring the old lead mining area – he wasn’t lost just enjoying his time on the hills. There was a male solo wild camper on a small area of grass in the middle of the ruins and we waved to him as we passed.

As we descended towards Surrender Bridge I bagged the Hard Level geocache whilst Bill and Marie did another upper clothing change. We continued steadily up the hillside beyond Surrender Bridge and as we reached Thirns Farm I said a temporary goodbye to Bill and Marie as they planned a lunch break and I cut down a path leading to the village of Healaugh finding the Swaledale View geocache on the way down and a further cache on the banks of the River Swale on the way into Reeth.

River Swale near Reeth

This put an extra half a mile on my journey but it was easy and pleasant walking across the buttercup meadows leading to the outskirts of Reeth. I had another minor confrontation with a herd of cows and the biggest predominantly white bull I have ever seen – Tommy Steele got it wrong singing about a ‘little white bull’ - this was a monster and I wasn’t going to argue with it or it’s female companions. I walked around the edge of the field and vaulted the stile in Dean Macey fashion.

I walked into the square at Reeth at 1.20pm and after a quick pint of Black Sheep beer I had my packed lunch overlooking the village green. I saw Tim enter the village at about 1.50pm and he went to pitch his tent on a site at the bottom end of the village. I saw Bill and Marie having a look around the various shops and then at 2pm M & M arrived looking a little hot. They had stayed in Muker and were heading for Richmond today. I had a chat with them as they finished their lunch and said farewell as I would probably not see them again. They were already looking forward to their evening beers. There were quite a few tourists in the village and I made enquiries as to where I would take my evening meal and also is there a TV in one of the three pubs where any interested parties could watch the England v Sweden World Cup game at 8pm. I chose the Kings Arms for my meal and established that there was a large screen TV in the back room at the Buck Hotel to watch the England game. It was going to be busy tonight so an early meal would be beneficial. I had walked just short of 12 miles today and once again I thoroughly enjoyed it. The contrast in scenery was evident as I admired the beau ties of Keld, The Swale and Swinner Gill, then the old lead mining ruins and spoil heaps and finally the buttercup meadows along the banks of the River Swale. I decided to have another pint of beer after my lunch and then met Tim, Bill and Marie, and Gordon and Charlotte at the top of the Square. Most of the people I had met including the KK seemed interested in watching the football game so we agreed to meet up for the game in the Buck Hotel. Where were the KK?  I waited until 3.30pm but still no signs of them so I booked in at Hackney House with Bill and Marie who were also staying there. I had stayed with Rebecca at Hackney House previously whilst walking the Inn Way to the Yorkshire Dales and I received the usual friendly welcome including a cup of tea and biscuits. Rebecca said she recognised me from my previous stay and I reminded her that as I arrived on the inn Way I received a telephone call from a lady who had found my map case by the side of the road on the way out of Askrigg. My map case contained a list of my accommodation with telephone numbers and that is how she knew I was staying at Hackney House – enough said about me misplacing my map case other than to say thanks to the kindness of the lady from Askrigg I did get it back.

I had a bath and set about my daily routine of preparing for tomorrow. I was really looking forward to the next stage into Richmond – not just for the walk and features along the route but because I was meeting my wife Linda and her sister Jacqui (affectionately called Doris by me) in Richmond for lunch and the afternoon. I had completed all my tasks and had a bath before the KK arrived at about 4.30pm. They had taken longer than expected and probably regretted not having a pace maker with them i.e. Journeyman. Nevertheless they had enjoyed their day and were in high spirits. I went up to the Kings Arms for my evening meal at 6.15pm and had a generous portion of Steak and Ale pie with potatoes and vegetables. I had a couple of pints of Black Sheep beer before walking up to the Buck Hotel and finding a seat in the already crowded ‘big screen television room’ at the premises. Most of the other C2C walkers I had met were there including a new face to me, a solo male camper/backpacker called Ted who I spoke to for a while. He was another seasoned campaigner in his late 50’s at a guess and always had a smile on his face. The KK were having their meal when I first arrived. The atmosphere in the TV room was electric and I suspect every England football fan from the Swale valley was in there. There was singing and horns being let off every few minutes – not the ideal place for C2C walkers to share their experiences. The first half was not bad but I could see what was going to happen in the second half and I lost interest. I went to talk to Tressa and Kitty from the KK (the others had retired to Hackney House) and they asked if they could join me on the next day’s section into Richmond. They were aware that I wanted an earlier start to enable me reach Richmond before lunchtime to meet Linda so I didn’t have a problem with them joining me. We had arranged breakfast for 7.45am to 8am and I wanted to be off for 8.45am at the latest. I retired to Hackney House at 9.30pm and watched the last few minutes of the England game in my room before falling to sleep.
 

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