Wednesday 28 August. Other than crossing the upper part of the valley on my Coast to Coast walk 2 years ago, it has been quite a while since I’ve been up Gunnerside Gill. It has a special place in my affections as it was probably one of the first routes that I did on my own when taking up walking around 20 years ago. Then, it seemed quite an adventure as I made my way further up the valley to explore the disused mine workings. Not quite so daunting today.
The weather this morning was grey with low cloud on the hill tops but it was forecast to clear later on. So, unusually for me, I delayed the start of the walk until 12:45pm. The one drawback was that the few parking spaces in Gunnerside village were all taken but I managed to find a roadside spot about a quarter of a mile from the village centre. The first 2½ miles up the Gill were very familiar and I met a few walkers on their way back. It was too late in the day to meet up with any “Coasters” who would have passed this way a little earlier on their route from Keld to Reeth. At the main mining area I picked up the C2C route and headed up on to the moor tops. Soon after, I turned south to head back towards Gunnerside. Although there was a footpath marked on the map, there was little sign of it on the ground and I was glad that I had my GPS as I made my way across featureless moorland and heather. The last section of the walk involved a tricky negotiation of the dry-stone wall network that covers the lower valley slopes. As promised, the sun made an appearance on the latter part of the walk and added to the beauty of this part of Upper Swaledale.
This was a “look at the map and see where it takes you” sort of walk. The distance of 6¾ miles was much as expected but I was surprised by the 1,640ft of ascent as there didn’t seem to be any serious hills; just a steady climb for most of the way.