Saturday 10 October 2015. The rain prevented me doing this walk on Wednesday and rather than doing it, as intended, from Hawes to Keld I decided to do it the opposite way around. This meant that I had my £25 taxi ride to Keld at the start of the walk and could walk back at my leisure without the pressure of meeting a pre-determined pick-up time.
The taxi picked me up at 8.30am and dropped me off at Keld Lodge at a little before 9am. The dining room was full of residents enjoying their breakfast but I could only look on in envy before setting off on my walk back to Hawes. I was familiar with the first part of this route and knew that there was a climb of 700ft to the top of Kisdon Hill. It was steep to start with but gradually eased off the nearer that I got to the top. The reward was a fine view down Swaledale although the early morning mist restricted this a little. A steady descent took me into the hamlet of Thwaite. I’d walked just under 3 miles but it had taken me 90 minutes and by now I was feeling a little hungry. Thankfully there is a Coffee Shop in Thwaite and I called in for a pot of tea and a bacon butty in readiness for the climb of Great Shunner Fell that was to follow.
In a strange way I was looking forward to doing Great Shunner Fell which, at 2,350ft, is the 3rd highest hill in Yorkshire. I have to say that it was something of a disappointment as it is just a rounded piece of moorland and lacks the character of Yorkshire’s more well-known 3 Peaks. It was 3.4 miles from Thwaite to the top of Great Shunner Fell and on the way up I only met one fell runner and a group of 3 walkers who had set off from Tan Hill. It therefore came as something of a surprise when I got to the top to find that the cross-shaped summit shelter was full of other walkers, most of whom must have come up in the opposite direction from Hawes. It was so busy that I had to ask a group of walkers to shove up so that I could have a sit down for my lunch break.
The descent was a little boring, open moorland, until Hearne Top where views of Wensleydale opened up. Rather than following the Pennine Way back through Hardraw, the Herriot Way diverted through Appersett on the way back to Hawes. All the way down, for almost 7 miles, I’d been thinking that I would have some celebratory fish & chips in Hawes but I was to be bitterly disappointed to find that the chippie was closed until 5pm. I wasn’t going to wait for over an hour and celebrated with a Magnum choc ice when I got back to the caravan.
This final leg of my Herriot Way was 13 miles with a total ascent of 2,400ft. Whilst I’ve enjoyed doing the whole 52 miles, my favourite leg was that from Keld to Thwaite. It had the most climbing and was perhaps the most remote. Perhaps that is why I liked it the best.