Thursday, 4 August 2016

Dales Way Day 1


Day 1
14 miles - 22.5 km


After preparing for a few weeks the grand 4 days or so was about to begin. My brother was driving to Ilkley and would leave his car there. We would then drive to Bowness on Windermere to the start. Once together we set off. It was a smooth drive to the Lake District. Even though rain accompanied us, once we were out on the other side it cleared. When we got to Bowness we hit huge crowds of tourists and traffic. I’d totally forgotten it was the summer holidays which were combined with the tourists. We drove round a few times until I found a verge out of the town to park my car. My car who is called Oyo is old and currently had no back seats making her an undesirable object to steal. I hoped! It was a 15 min walk back into the town and up the slight hill to the start.


Up the road and to the stone seat which read Ilkley 81 miles. After the small hill we were already taking off layers. A few walkers passed us and I asked for a starting snapshot. Time to walk! It’s was a gradual start as we followed the rocky path up to our first kissing gate of many. And our first bramble bush and raspberries bush! Never seen so many wild raspberries. We proceeded to devour them as we walked. Following the signposts we marched on and gained height.


We passed a few people and two women who were also hiking the route. It was nice to see other people walking the trail - I think doing the Wolds way/Cleveland way in spring we missed other hikers, plus the Dales way is quite popular. We chatted briefly before they headed down to the finish. Sheep stared as we passed them. We carefully closed all the hand made gates behind us. Since we set off just before lunch we decided to have lunch 2 hours into our hike. It consisted of a tortilla wrap with meat slices, cheese and polish peppery sausage. This was accompanied with chicken and mayo sandwich, a clementine and a cereal bar. The sun then decided to come out so we blathered on some sun cream. We were using the hand drawn map in the guide book map backwards since we were doing the trail backwards. Down a track road and then up again. I stared at the stone house, there were so many and they were all stunning. We got to the town of Burneside and missed the turning and ended up walking on the road. Its had a pavement so weren't road walking the entire town. We passed a pub, school, church, train station and a convenience store so it was a quite a decent sized little town.


We rejoined the Way and had to contend with our first of two diversions due to bridges being washed away in the December floods - Storm Desmond. We followed the diverted road and come across a plot of land that’s gone back in time...

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 A swing hangs from an ancient oak over a grassy area. An artificial caterpillar made from several balls of twinned wood curls it way up a branch. Two child-sized fold out chairs sit beside a pond. A bicycle is in the courtyard on it’s stand. All the doors to the buildings are open. The first is the house and as I pass by I can’t help but gawp at the content. The wooden windows frames hold a single pane glass. Dust and cobwebs cling to them. Old fashioned sinks and taps sit in the window. An orange wall and tall white creepers plant against it. Opposite the house a tall beautiful white mill sits. I peer inside and see a workshop of wood. A worker's bench sits surrounded by wood filings. About 30 different numbers plates are nailed to the door. I didn’t realise how big it was. It was 5 floors high. I would love to roam about it rooms. Breath in the unique artifacts, touch the year of ages encrusted to it. It’s all lovely. The bridge we have to cross is wooden and actually closed. Red banners are draped over it blocking people. It’s doesn’t look too bad so we go for it. A couple hiking the way with their grandson told us they crossed it without any trouble.
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I took a photo and we continued on our way. Up a lengthy cement track which seems never ending. One continuous slog. I’m sweating at the top. Passed a white house and we arrived at the top. We took a breather and can see the hills of the Lake District behind us. Next we passed the black moss tarn and we met a second diversion. It lead us down into a hamlet and we took the first right. Big mistake. We ended up passing some houses and entered a field of sheep. We fence hopped and go up to the main road again. We figured out where we went wrong and head back to the start of the diversion. I took a photo of the diversion and off we go again taking the second right.

We reached a field brimming with long lush grass and plump white fluffy sheep. Down we went and met the road. Crossing it and we happen upon the 100ths beautiful farm house of the day. Barn houses, out houses, grand farm house. We passed through and appreciated their stunning lawn. I need to get water so we stopped at the bridge and I filled my bottle. Then we heard shouting and turned to see two men and 3 excited dogs. He called to us and at first I thought that we’d upset them somehow. Amazingly he was offering his lawn for us to camp on and gave us access to his toilet and provided us with deck chairs.

It reminds me back to the PCT where people often quote: The Trail Provides.