Herriot Way – Leg 4

Friday 9 October 2015. I stayed at the Buck Hotel in Reeth last night and had Wild Boar sausages for dinner. I was expecting something stronger and gamier but they weren’t much different to any other sausages. I had a longer walk today and wanted to get off to a flying start in the hope of catching the 15:25 bus from Aysgarth back to Hawes. Breakfast wasn’t served until 8am and the service was dreadfully slow. I ordered the full English and this didn’t disappoint as it included 2 rashers of bacon, 2 fried eggs on fried bread, 2 sausages, 2 hash browns, beans, mushrooms and tomato. Bang goes the diet.

Despite the slow service, I was under way just before 9am and headed down the valley towards Grinton. I deviated from the route a little to make good time but the 350ft climb up the road to Grinton Lodge YHA slowed me down. Some members of the group, including myself, stayed here many years ago on an away weekend. Leaving the road I picked up a grouse shooting access road which I was to follow for the next 9 miles. It took me up onto High Harker Hill and along a high level route running parallel to the River Swale. I stopped after a couple of hours for a quick cup of coffee with magnificent views up the valley towards Muker.

A circuit of Gibbon Hill followed before entering Apedale. Where do they get these names from? A climb over Black Hill brought me into Castle Bolton at a little after 1pm where I allowed myself a more relaxed lunch break. I had walked 10.8 miles by now and still had a further 3½ miles to do but was ahead of schedule and still had 2 hours before my bus was due. Despite physically refueling, my energy levels were low and the last couple of miles were a real effort. Aysgarth Falls came as a welcome sight and I didn’t have far to go but the sting in the tail was the last 1in4 hill up to the bus stop on the A684. I completed the walk with 30 minutes to spare so I headed to the nearby pub for a lager shandy to quench my thirst and kill time waiting for the bus.

The walk was 14.4 miles with a total ascent of 2,170ft.

I still need to do Leg 2 of the Herriot Way. This is perhaps the hardest leg as it goes over Great Shunner Fell, the 3rd highest hill in Yorkshire. To rectify this, I’ve booked a taxi to Keld for 08:30 tomorrow, I’ll be doing it the wrong way round but at least I won’t have any time pressures and can do it at a leisurely pace.

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