The Pennine Way, 1983

Day 7: Hawes to Trough Heads, Wednesday, 3rd August

21.7 miles in 9hrs 15mins (09:35-18:50). Sun. Very cold wind over Shunner. Windy all day.

Accommodation: Trough Heads 50p

Hardraw – Great Shunner Fell – Thwaite – Kisdon Force – Tan Hill – Sleightholme Moor – Trough Heads

I overslept today and had to be woken by Richard at 08:15, which meant a mad dash to be all ready for setting off at 09:35. A tin of beans and sausages made a pleasant change for breakfast. My feet were hurting going up to Hardraw, but were not too bad on the (long) climb up Great Shunner Fell – or even coming down off it. Shunner was very cold, and we were straight up and down without stopping. Sally followed Wainwright’s suggestion in the lane leading down to the Thwaite road – but he had omitted to mention that you ought to look out for other walkers in the vicinity before exposing yourself…! We had lunch at Thwaite of a homemade pastie and a slab of Wensleydale cheese, both of which were delicious. Richard generously donated the remnants of his cheese to an old sheepdog that eagerly wolfed it down and then went into violent spasms of retching.

The next stop was a brief one at Kisdon Force. Here, we saw the Bucket Brigade again, and had our last encounter with Norbert where the Coast to Coast walk crosses the Pennine Way. Then followed a long drag up to Tan Hill which was intended to be our pitch for the night. However, we’d been receiving mixed reports of the place from people who were walking north-south, and we’d become a bit wary of it. We met Dave and another lad flaked out before the pub, and they told us that some north-south walker had said that the pub no longer welcomed walkers, that they had no water (that’s not unusual), and that there was a new site at Trough Heads farm, 6 miles further on. So, since it was only 16:45 when we reached Tan Hill, we decided (Sally and I reluctantly) to continue, even though we’d already done 17 miles. Sleighthome Moor was dry, but exceedingly long and boring. We had a rest in the ravine, by which time Sally and I were both totally worn out and fed up, and this almost triggered a mutiny against Richard, to whom our decidedly unflattering comments were directed. It was hardly his fault, but the moan probably did us both good. Anyway, we staggered off, not knowing quite what, if anything, we’d find at Trough Heads. So it was an indescribable feeling to catch the first glimpse of a notice outside the farm which read “Muddy Boots Welcome”!

On reaching the door, we were greeted by Glynn, a friend of Richard’s who was walking north-south and who we hadn’t expected to meet up with until the following day. The farm was heaven-sent: the food was plentiful, cheap, and available all day, and it was only 50p to pitch for the night. The couple that run it have been doing so only since Easter, and there are no “facilities” yet, but they did let us use what turned out to be their best room as a dining room and rest room, and their toilet and bathroom were at our disposal. After we’d eaten, the couple came and joined us all (we three, Glynn and his three companions, and a couple who’d taken 4 years over the Pennine Way so far!), and gave us a cup of tea on the house. They told us tales about the constant RAF and NATO exercises that happen around there, with many “dog fights” around the valleys; about the time when a Hercules transporter almost crashed into the farm – it came so close that they could see the pilot’s face (which was rather white); and about the number of SAS exercises and the trainees who tried to bribe him into giving them a lift into Middleton.

Trough Heads is excellent. However, it got so late that we ended up having to pitch in a windy darkness, which was a bit of a struggle, and, of course, my guy ropes got hopelessly entangled. Still, I did manage to get the tent up eventually without any help.