Start: DUFTON Finish: ALSTON
Wouldn’t normally have had breakfast at the Youth Hostel, no particular reason, but due to the crazy circumstances last night at the pub in Dufton I decided I better get some food inside me before I attempted to climb over Great Fell and friends. Today’s ascent is expected to be the greatest I’ve experienced so far on this trip. During breakfast I was joined by several others and the chief topic of conversation, as is common amongst walkers was the state of todays weather. It was also mentioned that Nick, the Australian walker had packed up and left the hostel before 4am, wow he’s keen. Guess that’s what happens when you go to bed at 8pm, possibly still suffering from jet lag. After leaving Dufton the ascent starts pretty quickly, first climbing Dufton Pike and then Brownber Hill. It’s not the steepest I’ve ever experienced but it was pretty hard going. The tops of the hills are all still shrouded in cloud and I knew there wouldn’t be any chance of any views today. Once I reached the first real objective at Knock Fell the climbing seemed to ease off a little. It was fairly straightforward, the path was well worn and easy to follow. From Knock Fell you just head North West and pick off the hills one at a time, Great Dunn Fell, Little Dunn Fell and Cross Fell. There were some large monoliths approaching the summits and they seemed a bit eerie in the cloud but definitely helped with the navigation. Just before I reached Little Dunn Fell it began to rain again and the wind also picked up, making it an unpleasant few kilometres. Didn’t even bother taking many photos, no point really, not much to see. I did sit at the magnificent shelter on Great Fell for a few minutes. After Great Fell I descended and once out of the clouds the views opened up and were magnificent. I quickly reached Gregs Hut, a mountain Bothy. I popped inside, had something to eat and drink and then read/signed the visitors book. Saw that there was a JOGLE (John O’Groats to Lands End) walker, Dave who had signed the book a couple of days ahead of me. Good luck Dave. After Gregs Hut I followed a good track all the way to Garrigill. It was typical, as I walked away the sky cleared of all cloud and you the sun appeared, you could see the hills for miles around. This really is a beautiful area. The walk to Garrigill seemed to take forever, particularly the last few kilometres and I was looking forwards to having a cold drink at the local pub. I expected there to be more at Garrigill, as it turned out there’s no facilities, the post office and pub both closed and displaying ‘For sale’ signs. I didn’t have a reason to stop in the town so just continued out of Garrigill and towards Alston. The soles of my feet had been hurting for a while due to the stony path from Gregs Hut. Not far out of Garrigill I stopped by the side of the road, removed my boots and gave my feet a rub and a wiggle. Whilst sitting down I received a text message from the owner of ‘The Lyndhurst’ (my bed for tonight) just to let me know that she wasn’t going to be home for a few hours and she’d left the front door unlocked for me. The next 5 kilometres to Alston simply consisted of walking through farm fields, avoiding the farm animals and climbing over several rickety stiles. I’ve had enough of this sort of walking over the last few weeks and this wasn’t a great end to what was an otherwise enjoyable day. I’ve walked around Alston previously bagging hills in the area so was already aware of the decent facilities in the town. I managed to grab some provisions in Alston before heading to my Bed and Breakfast. I would definitely recommend ‘The Lyndhurst’ to walkers for a night. This room was only £45 and consisted of a double bed, power shower, small lounge area and help yourself to the continental breakfast. Couldn’t fault the place, thank you to Tracy the owner. I’ve got to make an important decision tomorrow about my route, I’ll sleep on it.