Tuesday 27 August. Yesterday’s transfer from Northumberland to Hawes was uneventful and I was pleased when I had set up my Sky satellite system and discovered that I had also had wi-fi and 3G signals so that I could stay in touch with the world. The sun was shining and the weather forecast was good. What more could I ask for?
Well, it was too good to last and it didn’t take long to go downhill. Today could best be described as “problematic”. I woke at 04:30am feeling the chill as the temperature had dropped through the night to just 9c. Awaking from my slumbers, I discovered that there was no electricity supply to my caravan. I couldn’t quite understand this as when I went to bed last night, I fell asleep listening to the radio on my TV which can be programmed to switch itself off after a set number of minutes. It was still dark and too early to try to get to the bottom of the electricity problem so I hopped back into bed listening to my portable radio to pass some time and to try to get back to sleep. This didn’t work and I was up again before 06:00am. No electricity meant no hot water so I took myself off for a shower using the site facilities. It transpired that my on-board electrical water heater had caused the mains supply to trip-out and this couldn’t be reset until 09:00 when the site wardens came on duty. This was fixed in a couple of minutes but water heating for the remainder of this holiday will have to be by gas. It’s a good job that I have a dual fuel system. No electricity also meant that I couldn’t boil a kettle; that was until I remembered that I also have a traditional hob style whistling kettle which I was able to boil using gas. At least I could have a coffee whilst I waited for the site warden to get out of bed. All this before breakfast!
It was a lovely sunny morning in Hawes so I thought that I’d make the 20 mile drive to Ravenstonedale for a walk on the northern edge of the Howgills. When I arrived they were just starting roadworks opposite the only suitable parking spot in this very small village so a change of plan was required. My second choice walk was from the nearby hamlet of Crosby Garrett. The only problem was getting there. I programmed my sat nav which, despite being in RV mode, took me along some impossibly narrow roads and through a ford. The roads were so narrow that the foliage was banging on the car wing mirrors. I had to endure this for at least a couple of miles and I was thankful that I didn’t meet anyone coming the other way.
My reason for choosing this 7½ mile walk with just 1,000ft of ascent was that it took in a short but beautiful section of the Coast to Coast path in the vicinity of Smardale. The main climb of the day was out of Crosby Garrett and up to Nettle Hill. I didn’t see anyone else until joining the C2C path where I met a couple from Lichtenstein who were doing the C2C in 14 days. I did it in more leisurely fashion taking 17 days. I could see that they had a good guide book but asked them if the carried a GPS, which they did. After a few minutes chatting, I took my leaving saying that I would give them some space to enjoy the walk on their own. I then crossed a style in a wall, telling them that they needed to go this way. They obviously had no confidence in my directions and continued on the other side of the wall, walking away at a tangent. A few minutes later they realised the error of their ways and scrambled across the wall to join my path. I had lunch looking down on Scandale Beck with views out across to the Howgills. Truly wonderful. My return route took me alongside the beck to the disused Smardale viaduct. I had confused this with another in-use viaduct a mile or so further on and couldn’t understand why my GPS showed that I still had to cross the viaduct when I just done this. I was convinced that my GPS was malfunctioning and suddenly felt vulnerable not being sure of where I was. I needn’t have worried as I have two other GPS devices to fall back on but it demonstrated to me just how much that I’ve come to rely upon electronic aids. I sat on a nearby bench, switched my GPS off and on again and it still gave the same position. I think that my early morning adventures had left me with a muddled mind. More sleep is needed tonight. I found my way back to Crosby Garrett, walking over a bridge alongside the ford that I’d driven through a few hours earlier.
All I had to do now was to find a more driveable route out of Crosby Garrett and back to Hawes via Kirkby Stephen. This must be the most inaccessible hamlet on the planet as the road that I used to make my exit was no better than that on the way in. Single track with few, if any, passing places. I won’t be coming back in a hurry unless it’s as a passenger in someone else’s car.
You might think by now that my problems were at and end, but no, I toasted a teacake for an afternoon snack when I got back to the caravan. The teacake got stuck in the toaster, burned and set of the smoke alarm in my caravan. Can anything else go wrong today – I hope not!