The Pennine Way, 1983

Day 10: Dufton to Alston, Saturday, 6th August

20 miles in 10hrs 35 mins (09:35-20:10). Very hot all day. Slight breeze on Cross Fell.

Accommodation: Alston. Should have been £1 but nobody collected!

Dufton – Knock Old Man – Great Dun Fell – Little Dun Fell – Cross Fell – Garrigill – Alston

Woke up still tired at 07:45, then had a relatively luxurious breakfast of sausage and beans, with tinned fruit and fresh milk. Richard taped up the blister on my left heel and walking became almost pleasurable for the first time in days. We soon had the ominous sight of the Bucket Brigade strolling into Dufton at 08:15 after pitching at High Cup. The walk up to Swindale Beck was easy, but then the climb up to Knock Fell was hard going. And it was annoying to have gained 2100′ and then have to keep dropping and climbing over Great Dun and Little (ha!) Dunn Fells before reaching the final climb to Cross Fell.

We had a long snap on the summit of Cross Fell, along with the teachers and Venture Scouts amongst others. The view across to the Lake District was superb, and emphasized by a thin string of low clouds stretched across the peaks. It’s unusual to get such a hot day on Cross Fell and so we made the most of it. The only problem was the number of wasps, bees, and flies: I didn’t expect to see them so high up, although there was a rumour of a wasps’ nest nearby.

The long drop into Garrigill was an exercise in overcoming tedium, and took not far off three hours. At times, it seemed like I would fall asleep while walking, such was the level of interest. But the thought of refreshments at the end was the spur, and we were eventually able to enjoy a long rest amongst the congregation on the village green, waiting for opening time at 18:30. Unfortunately, half the village had had a power cut, and that half included the pub, so there was no food to be had. With little alternative, onward we went to Alston, accompanied by Pat and Ivan, and some little hanger-on who’d only started at Dufton. The poor lad found our pace a little hot. He was a bit of a pain to most people, and soon became known as the Klingon…

The campsite at Alston was terrible, so we didn’t linger after pitching. We eventually got a meal at a fish shop, and followed it with two shandies at the Blue Bell (yet another Marstons pub which everyone else avoided). We’d had reports that the last time anyone had seen the Bucket Brigade was on the climb up Swindale Beck – which they were not managing too well. We finally felt that we’d managed to shake them off – although it was hard to feel fully convinced.