PW day 07: Sun 28 Feb 2016; Horton to Hawes
|Walk descriptor||Pennine Way||Day||07|
|Date||Sun 28 Feb 2016||Start to end time||06h 47m|
|Start point||Horton||End point||Hawes|
|Miles today||14.26||Cu miles||118.58|
|Ft today||1,992||Cu ft||20,441|
|Route miles left||165.57||Route ft left||24,077|
|Today’s weather||Bright with long sunny intervals . Occasional cloud in the afternoon. Moderate north easterly wind. About 1C|
(the red cross in a circle shows where I am at the moment)
|GPX based track of today’s walk
(click button to download file) GPX
If you are walking along a path and just to one side of it you notice a huge gaping hole, so deep you can’t see the bottom and with an icy waterfall plunging into it, you will have one of two reactions.
If you are a speleologist, you will say:
“Wow! A huge bottomless hole with an icy waterfall going into it! I’ll drop a rope into it then dangle off the end and see if I can find the bottom. If I can, I will let go of the rope and try and find the hole where the water disappears. Then I’ll submerge myself in the water and will probably be able to follow it through the hole into the tunnel beyond. If I haven’t eaten for a fortnight, it’s possible I won’t get stuck and provided it doesn’t rain at any point in the next 24 hours anywhere within a hundred miles, I probably won’t drown either. Then I will crawl through the water in the pitch black for a couple of miles and hope that it emerges somewhere that isn’t in the middle of an inaccessible cliff. Because if it doesn’t I won’t be able to find my way back as I will become completely disorientated whilst underground. AWESOME!”
If you are not a speleologist, you will say:
“Holy cr**! A huge bottomless hole with an icy waterfall going into it! I know I am a good twenty feet away but I must get as far from it as possible, as fast as I can, because there is a chance that I could accidentally trip and fall in. RUN!”
As it happens, on the walk today I came upon such a hole, Calf Hole, in fact, just above High Birkwith. On chatting to the caver who was about to dangle off his rope into it, I quickly decided that I am in the “get as far away as possible” category. Although the caver was clearly enthused about the subterranean delights of this particular hole, I realised that no amount of millionaire’s shortbread would ever tempt me into the inky chasm.
Shocking abyssal encounters aside, today’s walk continued in the same vein as the previous six, with lots of sun, a cold wind, and no rain. I simply cannot believe that I have now been on the Pennine Way for exactly a week, and not had any rain at all. I know this is tempting fate like mad, but even if it rains every day from now until the finish of the walk, the memory of these first seven days will sustain me all the way to the end.
Reflecting on the day’s walk, I remembered that the office muse Dilbert had once remarked to a colleague that “strategy is like work but without the satisfaction of actually ever achieving anything”. In some ways, the walk from Horton today had similar characteristics. I realised that on reaching Dodd Fell I had been walking uphill pretty much continuously for the last five hours, all the way from Horton. Yet in those five hours, I had only risen a miserly 1,000 ft – barely enough to register on the map. Even worse, there is no “summit” to the walk. You never actually reach the top of anything. Rather you just skirt the flanks of Dodd Fell and slowly drop away again into Hawes at the journey’s end.
I remember Wainwright, my somewhat cheerless literary guide in 1977, complaining about this section (though in reality he moaned about pretty much the whole of the walk) and I could see how, if the walk was completed in thick mist and rain, as it so often is, the grumbling would be justified. But today the sparking sun, blue skies and spectacular crystal clear panoramas more than made up for any dissatisfactions with the terrain. Actually, it was an easy walk, just what was needed after yesterday’s exertions. And Hawes, where I’m staying tonight, is an attractive town – neat and tidy, with a good selection of pubs and restaurants (I’m going for an Indian, by the way, as welcome relief from steak and ale pie).
By way of icing on the cake, I’m also reasonably optimistic that there could be a chemist here, so I could be released at last from the daily tyranny of bacon-free breakfast.