Herriot Way – Leg 1

Tuesday 6 October 2015. There was a reasonable weather forecast for today so I thought that I’d make the most of it by knocking off Day 1 of the Herriot Way – 12½ miles from Aysgarth to Hawes with just of 1,000ft of ascent. Getting to the start of the walk was something of a problem as I wanted to use public transport and this meant catching the 08:05am school bus from Hawes. This was a 40 seater coach which stopped along the way to pick up school children and to take them on to Leyburn. I was a little surprised when the bus turned off the main road to Aysgarth and up a minor road to Thornton Rust. This was no more than a lane and I wouldn’t have wanted to take my car along it never mind a bus. Fortunately we didn’t meet any vehicles coming the other way but had to stop to allow a herd of cows coming from the opposite direction to enter their field.

There was a light drizzle falling when I got off the bus at Aysgarth but this soon stopped and I was able to take my coat off on what was a mild and misty morning. I made a short detour down to the bridge overlooking the falls at High Force. Despite the overnight rain, there wasn’t much of a flow and I guess that this was due to the recent dry spell enjoyed by most of the country. Back on track, I soon passed through Aysgarth village before dropping down again to walk alongside the River Ure on my way to Askrigg. This first leg was 5¾ miles and by now I was ready for a sit down and a coffee break in the entrance porch to the village church. This proved to be a timely stop as it started to rain as I enjoyed my first Wensleydale with ginger cheese sandwich. It was still raining so I extended my break and tackled the second of my two sandwiches.

There was a light drizzle falling as I set off from Askrigg but this didn’t last long and another stop was needed to remove my jacket, yet again. I shouldn’t complain as the sun came out and it was turning into a nice day. I’d only seen one other walker in the first 3 hours but it became a little busier as I approached Skell Gill. This is on the path between Hawes and Bainbridge and is perhaps more popular with those who want a shorter walk. My second brief stop came after another 4 miles at Belbusk where I finished of the dregs of my litre of coffee and the last of my water. This section of the walk had involved crossing many narrow squeeze stills with spring-loaded gates on top of them. I know that they are there to prevent livestock escaping but to me they are more like “man-traps”. I’d had enough of them and rather than crossing numerous field boundaries on the way to Hardraw, I decided to go off-piste and follow a narrow lane to make the walking easier and to speed progress.

By the time that I got to Hardraw it was a little after 2pm and I was feeling dehydrated. A visit to the Green Dragon was required where I bought a pint of lager shandy. This hardly touched the sides and was gone within a couple of minutes.

The last leg of the walk was a 1¼ miles from Hardraw back to the caravan site just outside of Hawes. This is a route that is very familiar to me and I recall spending quite some time with Amanda and Bea chasing a sheep and its lamb that had escaped through a gate that I was holding open for the ladies. No such problems today.

I was pleasantly surprising at not feeling too tired having just walked 12½ miles in around 5½ hours. I now have to do this all over again for the next three days. Tomorrow’s weather forecast is for it to rain for most of the day so it will be a case of head down and get it done. The blog report will have to wait until I get back on Friday and have access to my laptop and a reasonable wi-fi connection.

Herriot Way Day 1 – walk route

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