Wednesday, 13 May 2009

Day 39 Wednesday - Dent to Gaisgill

Walking 7.35am to 6.00pm
Distance walked today 15 miles
Total distance walked 563 miles
Distance left 489 miles

The five miles into Sedbergh from Dent was delightful all the way. It was a sunny morning with a clear blue sky - just perfect. Dentdale can only be described as a Shangri-la. Hills rose either side with scattered farms; all was green in various shades up to the intake level with the brown hues of the higher ground. I followed the Dales Way for some of the way alongside the River Dee, leaving it at a farm called Brackensgill and taking a bridleway to Millthrop. It was then a short walk into Sedbergh.

Dent village

Scenes along the way to Sedbergh

Looking towards Sedbergh

It is a small, attractive town, twinned with a town in Slovenia and has many second hand book shops. Central to the town is, of course, the school, founded in 1526. Whilst in Sedbergh, I met by chance fellow Backpackers Club member, Anthony Millett, spending a few days in the Howgills.

I'd planned a new route for today. I'd originally planned to find somewhere to camp around Lowgill, but as I'd reached Horton-in-Ribblesdale on Monday, Tebay would be my destination for today and I established in advance that it looked decidedly unpromising. Therefore, my new route took me along a minor road out of Sedbergh along the western edge of Brant Fell and, just past Howgill, I took a footpath at SD632967 which, after a farm, plunged me right into the Howgill Fells. I headed for Black Force, about three miles distant.

The path was reasonably clear most of the way but I made much use of map and compass and the GPS also came out - I'd entered some waypoints in it for this route last night, thinking I might need them. They certainly gave reassurance and, as this was remote country, probably advisable. I was walking on a winding, single file path much of the way, quite high up - typical Howgill landscape from photos I'd seen. It is a very underused area - I saw no-one else in the six miles to Gaisgill.

The M6 in the distance

After the Black Force waterfall, (definitely not worth the three mile walk for itself), my path took me through a wide, grassy, flat-bottomed valley where there were wild horses and then round into Udale, a wide, steep-sided dale. Udale beck started as not much more than a trickle but quickly widened to a few feet but very shallow. I collected water from it, thinking I would wild-camp nearer Gaisgill. My path rose quickly away from the beck after a mile or so. It became windy and the ground was decidedly unsuited to camping. It was also clouding over and looking quite bleak. I headed down into Gaisgill and found the campsite that my support team (my wife) had located for me, the Rayne Bridge Caravan and Camping Park. This is a misleading name for what is nothing more than a rough field containing two abandoned touring caravans, an unoccupied trailer tent, a heap of filled refuse sacks and, next to them, a water tap. I phoned the number at the entrance and left a message to announce my presence but no-one has come.

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