The Pennine Way, 1983

Day 9: Low Force to Dufton, Friday, 5th August

16.1 miles in 7hrs 55 mins (08:15-16:10). Cool start. Intermittent very hot sun.

Accommodation: Dufton 75p

High Force – Cauldron Snout – High Cup – Dufton

Awake at 06:50 but had a lie-in until Richard called at 07:15. Breakfast was a quick muesli and then off by 08:15. We needn’t have been too concerned about where we pitched: someone was in a Peapod downstream from us, and, a bit further upstream, the Bucket Brigade were stirring – they may go slow, but they get there! We were thinking that we were never going to be able to shake them off, and had visions of reaching Kirk Yetholm to find them already in the Border Hotel

There was a pleasant walk past High Force and on to a beans-on-toast breakfast at Widdybank farm. The woman who ran the place was a bit surly to start with: we knocked on the door to place our order, and she just peeped around the edge of the door and then slammed it shut! But she did emerge for a chat later.

Cauldron Snout looked impressive. The flow is controlled by the huge Cow Green reservoir now, and was in full spate when we arrived. My feet were still sore: the Scholls seemed to make little difference, and I spent a while having a good moan to myself. It was a bit of a slog to lunch at Maize Beck. Before we set off again from lunch, we were passed by an oriental lad and his friend. The oriental had only a small pack while the other was struggling with a huge one: Richard considered this to be a most unnatural state of affairs! Then their fame was enhanced as they passed us, and the non-oriental greeted us in an extremely ducky voice with “Mmm… it’s all right for some!”.

The sun was getting very hot and our next stop was a brief one at High Cup. This, too, was very impressive, and made more so by the fact that the only way to see it is by a long walk from any direction. Then came a seemingly endless downhill spiral to Dufton for Coke and Lucozade and to replenish stocks. I had another welcome shower at the campsite. My hard-skin blisters had got larger, and Richard suggested having a look at them in the morning: that seemed like an excellent idea to me! Tea was a bit of a hotchpotch: macaroni cheese with dehydrated vegetables and soya – it was truly revolting.

It was all too possible to see the masts on Great Dunn Fell from my tent, and they looked very high up; thankfully, the climb to Knock Fell was hidden by Dufton Pike. The money had shrunk to £36 and it now became a matter of using cheques wherever possible. A pub is not the place for that though: I just had a Coke and two shandies before calling it a day. By Dufton, we’d got together with some groups who were now going at the same pace as us, and we expected to finish on the same day: there was Pat and Ivan, Dave, the two teachers, three lads (Sean, Andy, and Neil), and three Venture Scouts.

Yet again I was tired but didn’t get to sleep for a long time. And there was the ever-present thought of Cross Fell in the morning…