Mobirise

THE DALES HIGH WAY

DAY FIVE
 Chapel-le-Dale to Sedburgh
(15.2 miles)

Dales High Way Day 5 Map

THE DALES HIGH WAY - Day 5
Chapel-le-Dale to Sedburgh - 15.2 miles

With heavy hearts we departed Croft Gate. This really was a lovely B&B - room, breakfast, hosts - everything was spot on.   We will return one day, I have no doubt about that. Perhaps the Three Peaks will draw us back?

The weather forecast was not so good today, so the optional route over Whernside was never looking likely, however our decision to stick to lower ground was made the instant we stepped out from Croft Gate.   We set out clad in waterproof jackets, but within fifteen minutes we had to stop to put on leggings too.

We trudged on through a biting cold wind and driving light rain, passing below Whernside and heading towards the railway line in the distance.   Despite the weather, or rather because of the weather, views down the valley to the Ribblehead Viaduct and across to a cloud-shrouded Ingleborough were stunningly atmospheric.

Passing under the railway track at Blea Moor Sidings we took a five-minute stop, taking the morning's only opportunity to shelter from the wind and rain. 

Beyond Blea Moor we start to gain height and are soon engulfed by low cloud, reducing visibility to a few metres - and reducing the temperature even further.   The cloud shows no sign of moving, and as we climb it gets colder still.   We stop in the (relative) protective shelter of a sheep fold to put on extra fleeces and to wolf down chocolate slices left over from yesterday.

Fortunately, the path is very obvious, so there is no chance of getting lost, but we are disappointed (yet again, on this walk) not to be able to take advantage of the promised spectacular views: "The views back across Greensett Crags below Whernside to Ingleborough and Pen-y-ghent give a panorama of all three dales peaks" and "This is easy, pleasant walking. Excellent distant views over Dentdale open up ahead and to the right".   Hmmmm ... if only !

Eventually we start to descend and drop down below the cloud along a walled track at Wold End.   It is still grey and drizzly, but the wind drops, and temperature rises considerably.

Soon we reach Bridge End, where we join the Dales Way, and we start to recognise features from last year.   The drizzle even stops as the path winds beside the River Dee, and we pass through a number of stiles as we head towards the welcoming sight of Dent and the promise of shelter and food. 

The Stone Close Tea Room in Dent does us proud.   Not surprisingly on such a cold day, it is busy, but not overly so.   A roaring fire is blazing, and a fantastic range of home-made cakes and slices is on offer.   I plump for a huge slice of apple cake, Carolyn has treacle tart - both washed down with a cracking pot of hot tea.

Venturing back out into the cold, we continue along the river, passing through more gates and stiles, to Barth Bridge where we part company with The Dales Way for an alternative route to Sedburgh.   At the bridge we walk along the road for a short distance before turning into a walled lane climbing steeply to Hole House (which tuns out to be a small collection of pretty houses and cottages).   At intervals along the lane, stunning views open out back down the Dee valley to Dent and beyond.

'Stunning', however, is not a word I would use to describe Lunds Farm.    'Sh**hole' - that's a word I might use.   The guidebook, perhaps tongue-in-cheek, says "This is a working farm and this gated area is used for penning sheep, so be prepared to be diverted ...".   It might more openly have said: "Despite a public footpath running through this working farm, do not assume that the owner will have made any effort to keep the right-of-way open, in fact there is a distinct possibility that he will make passing through his precious dump-of-a-farm as difficult and unappealing as possible.   Be prepared to wade through several inches of squelchy sheep, cow and horse s**t, risk life and limb clambering over malfunctioning and locked gates, and do not be surprised if you are required to negotiate an impromptu waste disposal site consisting of any number of discarded plastic and metal drums, plastic fertiliser and/or feed bags and various rotting pieces of agricultural machinery all of which appear to have been dumped quite deliberately only along the right-of-way."    

Beyond the sh*tty farm we were back in open moorland.   Today Longstone Fell was bleak, windy and cold, but under better weather conditions I imagine this could be wonderful walking country.   We pushed on, stopping only to take the odd phoptograph of a distant Sedburgh, until we descended to a walled Side Farm.

From here the walled lane led us all the way to the main road a short distance from Sedburgh.   A short walk along the road (which fortunately was not very busy), and we reached New Bridge over the River Rawthey on the outskirts of the town.

After a short-but-well-deserved stop for water at a convenient bench, we continued up the main road to The Dalesman, noting that both the bakery and greengrocer shops we remembered from last year were still in business and were en-route for tomorrow's walk.

Last year, The Dalesman had been one of our favourite accommodations on The Dales Way.   We had been impressed with the place - the large rooms and the luxurious little touches - and were looking forward to another stay.   This time around, though, we were less impressed.   Maybe we had been spoiled by the exceptionally high standard of B&Bs thus far on the Dales High Way.   Maybe we had been looking back at last year with rose-tinted glasses.   Either way, we were a little disappointed this time around.   That is not to suggest that the hotel in itself is a disappointment, more that we had built it up in our own minds to be something that perhaps it never was.   So the rooms are still spacious and luxuriously appointed, there are still locally made soaps and shower gel, luxury tea- and coffee-making facilities, but now we noticed those little things that had previously passed us by. That the rooms were adjacent to the busy high street ... that the luxury coffee-making facilities only had sufficient material to make one mug of coffee ... that the tables in the restaurant were the size of a handkerchief so that mealtime became an exercise in juggling and balancing rather than being a relaxing and pleasurable experience.

Despite the slight fog on our (rose-tinted) glasses, we still ahd a very pleasant stay.   The food, and beer, were still superb and the staff were very helpful and friendly ... we were just left with that 'down' feeling when reality doesn't quite match up to anticipation.   A real shame.