The Roaches

The Inn Way Dales - August 18th-24th 2012

Karen Riley, Susan Lewis, Alison Bond, Ann Baxter, Sean Bond
Jane Salt, Dave Swarbrook, Sandra Brooks, Jim Eason, Rich Salt, Netty Worthington,
Mike Riley, Gordon Darlington

DAY 1 - Grassington to Cray: 15.75 miles 2300 ft.

A record fourteen people had committed to taking on the 76 miles of the Inn Way Dales but, with only a couple of weeks to go, everpresent Ken called to inform me that he had to pull out for family reasons. Ken had taken on and completed every walk we'd done since 2004 so he was a notable absentee.

Another notable absentee was Nick Barber who, due to a combination of band tours and unexpected expenditure, also missed the walk after being everpresent since 2005.

The challenge was on to find a replacement. A few names were banded around and numerous people were asked but nobody was able to take Ken's place. There was no choice - I had to cancel Dave's single room, move him into Mike's room (where he'd replace Ken) and ring each hotel to ask for ear plugs.

So the fourteen was down to thirteen. Still a record number.

So who were the others? Jim Eason and Rich Salt had already attended a Pighole getaway but had decided to try a long distance walk with their partners, Sandra Brooks and Netty Worthington.

Karen, who'd joined us on our Dolomites trip, made a comeback to tackle her first LDP to partner Sue who'd sampled her first LDP on the previous year's Rob Roy Way.

Apart from that, it was the usual Pighole crew.

The summer of 2012 had been pisspoor. The constant heavy rain had ruled for months and showed no sign of abating. We'd all been keeping a close eye on the forecast for the week and decided that unless something significant happened - we were going to get wet!

We drove up to Grassington on the Saturday and enjoyed the rather posher than normal delights of the Grassington House hotel. As is customary we also enjoyed too many of the splendid ales on offer before preparing for the off the following day. It is the Inn Way after all!

On hearing that the famous Pighole team were descending on Grassington the owner of the hotel decided to place a stone pig outside the hotel. I maintain that this is the real reason for the pig and nothing to do with the fact that the owners bred their own special pigs for special bacon.

This pig can be seen sniffing Karen in the photo above.

Sunday morning arrived along with sun and blue skies. Hooray!

The march out of Grassington was strangely familiar to the members of the team who'd enjoyed the Dale's Way in 2006. The weather also seemed strangely familiar. It couldn't happen again - could it?

The massed ranks of team Pighole leave Grassington on the Dale's Way path. Alison seems to be enjoying it.

It wasn't long before we left the Dale's Way and entered new territory. Jane made the grave mistake of carrying the official Inn Way Dales book so quickly became the team's route finder. Hooray for Jane!

The track left the limestone moorland and descended towards the village of Conistone before heading towards the famous Kilnsey Crag. A tight gap in a wall proved to be a test for some...

Dave proves that the gap is bullproof.

The sunny skies of the morning were turning grey but everything seemed generally fine overhead.

Rich, in red, and Jane, in blue, decided to have a crag race. Rich was hampered somewhat by Leeds fans throwing bricks at his Man Utd top.

A short stretch of road walking saw us enter Littondale. The grey skies were now a darker shade of grey but the pleasant surroundings of the River Skirfare and the odd pretty cottage kept the interest going. The mugginess however warned of something nasty ahead.

The worsening skies and the occasional donning of waterproofs resulted in lunch being taken under the canopy of a large Oak Beech Sycamore big green tree.

There's no rain under this little beauty.

Dave finds a rather uncomfortable looking stone to sit on. This may explain the facial expression.

Lunch was finished. On we went.

The pretty village of Arncliffe was next followed by the village of Litton itself. The rain was now becoming rather more serious and after a quick refreshment stop at the local pub (no alcohol was taken) we prepared for the day's big ascent over Firth Fell (Old Cote Moor Top).

The tiny village of Litton is where the eyes closed vogueing craze started in the mid-80s. Ann, Sue and Karen give it go.

Ladies with an attitude
Fellows that were in the mood
Don't just stand there, let's get to it
Strike a pose, there's nothing to it

Just before any big climb the weather usually does one of two things: It either pisses it down, which requires the donning of waterproofs, and results in you sweating like a Japanese beaver, or it turns incredibly hot and sunny so that you sweat like a Japanese beaver. Today, the weather decided to stay just wet and muggy enough to give us a real dilemma regarding waterproofs.

Gorillas in the mist.

The climb, from around 800ft to 1990ft begun. Dave's face was one of dread whilst the others trudged up in dribs and drabs.

Group shot on the summit of Old Cote Moor Top. Karen and Sue refuse to be captured as the rain had caused havoc with their hair. The rain hadn't affected Jim's hair at all. Alison remains strangely happy considering the miserableness of the situation.

To be honest, it wasn't too bad considering we were nearly 2000ft up. It was warm enough to remain in just t-shirts and the rain wasn't heavy enough to warrant full waterproofs. The only downside was that there wasn't a view to be had apart from mist in every direction. The fourteen counties I'd promised everyone couldn't be made out - apart from North Yorkshire that is.

This remained the case until the descent when it proceeded to rain properly. The descent to Redmire was around two miles in length and for the entire duration it absolutely chucked it down. The peaty ground wasn't helping matters either but the Pighole stalwarts yomped on.

Dave decided that rather than wear waterproofs he'd just get very wet. I reminded him that getting the inside of his boots wet was to be avoided but he battled on regardless. I donned the classic shorts and gaiters look which is always a sexy winner and took the rear with Dave.

Down and down we went. Wetter and wetter we got.

We were now miles apart. The front runners were way ahead but Alison and Karen had waited at Redmire basecamp whilst Jane and Gordon waited higher up the hill. After a good few minutes Dave and I reached Gordon and Jane. We then marched on to meet Al and Karen. The others had taken off and, unbeknown to them, had decided to venture up the Dale's Way and miss out Buckden and the correct Inn Way route. The evening's destination was the White Lion at Cray which had been the scene of an enjoyable evening in 2006. That day was remembered for the glorious sunshine whilst today would be remembered for its rain.

Al, Karen, Gordon, Jane, Dave and myself took the old Roman road from Buckden which climbed high above the White Lion itself. Dave was really happy about this.

I marched on to check for a path that led downwards to Cray and eventually found a gap which led to the grassy descent. All that was left to negotiate was a slippery set of stepping stones.

They weren't as bad as they looked.

Mike, who'd reached the White Lion several days earlier, was buying the beers which reminded us of the mass beer purchase I made at the same pub many years ago. Those of us that had walked the Dale's Way were looking forward to the White Lion but we soon noticed that it'd gone downhill with the rooms being nowhere near the standard of years gone by. We were competely soaked and this, coupled with the small rooms, meant that wet clothing, bags and boots covered every inch of floorspace. This resulted in us requiring a reasonable level of gymnastic ability to reach the toilet or move around the room with any decency.

To make matters worse, the eastern european bar girlies that were a fond memory of 2006 had long gone. This was particularly devastating. One advantage of this was that Macca wasn't around to embarrass us with his non-stop pervert photography and general sillyness.

Despite this the ale and food were good and the night flew by. The skies had now cleared and the stars were clear for all to see. Thank god for that.

This had been one of those days that reminded me why my walking photos go into a folder called 'Walking' and not 'Holidays'.

What would the morning bring and what was in store weatherwise?

DAY 2 - Cray to Askrigg: 12.33 miles 1763 ft.

Today would see us climbing up and over Stake Moss which we had hoped to do in glorious sunshine after the previous evening's blueness. The heavy rain from 6am to breakfast didn't bode well but by the time we'd packed and paid the rain had cleared.

I've seen something similar to this on another walk. Oh, except that the weather's shite! At least Netty, Rich and Ann seem happy.

The route climbed on the road for over a mile before venturing left onto a well made track.

Team Pighole giving it some welly....

Karen was beginning to suffer from back pain and had to get Alison and Dave to carry a few of her belongings. Alison had the straighteners whilst Dave managed to fit a Rampant Rabbit into one of his side pockets. Anyway, quickly on...

Jane was also beginning to suffer from an array of minor walking related aches and pains which prompted Gordon to label her as being 'useless'. There was to be no wedding on this walk.

Jane and Karen decided to suffer together on the climb over Stake Moss.

The going underfoot was good but Dave was beginning to slow down considerably. The reason, as it turned out, was sore feet. Anything to do with wet boots I wonder?

Dark clouds gathering on Stake Moss. Not again surely?

We 'topped' off on the moor and began the long descent to Stalling Busk and Semer Water. The views began to open up and the sun began to peep out from behind the earlier greyness. This was more like it. It was now getting quite warm and areas of redness were appearing on arms, legs and balding heads.

The views to our left were excellent and, after a long gentle descent, reached the little hamlet of Stalling Busk.

Stalling Busk. How nice is this?

Lunch was taken in the sunshine within the ruins of Stalling Busk's old church. We then proceeded to march past Semer Water and then entered the cheesy portals of Wensleydale.

The view westwards towards Hawes in Wensleydale.

The track along Scar Top provided great views with the odd fighter jet smashing the peace and our destination for the day, Askrigg, was now in view and looked rather nice over the dale. The route however took a dog leg via a farm called Nappa Scar which we all expected to be a very interesting place. Why else would we have to walk an extra couple of miles?

Al points the way forward. Or is it her Usain Bolt impression?

Retirement affects people in different ways. Gordon, for some reason, has forgotten how to undress Jane who was 'useless'.

After passing through the village of Worton the path crossed a field containing numerous cows and a bull. This is always a favourite moment for the team. Nappa Hall was getting ever nearer and the anticipation was building within the team. What treasures lay ahead?

The field containined a bull so we sent Karen and Sue through first.

We safely negotiated the field and moved closer to Nappa Hall. This castellated farm is an important historical relic and is something to do with the centuries old Metcalfe family of Wensleydale. Whoever owned it now had decided to block the fucking path with aluminium gates which gave us no option but to climb them. I'd preprared my special tourettes filled response to any farmer that was waiting to have a go but the moment never arose.

I assume the Metcalfes no longer live at Nappa Hall as I've know a few Metcalfes over the years and they were OK. I reckon the Easons have since taken the place over.

Anyway, bulls and fence negotiated - what next?

Sandra and Jimothy at Nappa Scar. Jim was about to propose when all of a sudden a large truck drove past and ruined the moment.

The path left the road and through another field of cows, rabbits and shit. Great!

Jane mentioned the book's warning of Newbiggin Beck's ability to make crossing it rather tricky - especially after rain. As you now know it had rained heavily during the previous day and earlier on this day so what could possibly go wrong?

We eventually reached the beck and it was, to be fair, a rather playful little chap. Nothing too dangerous but enough to make the wimmin believe it was similar to going over the Niagra Falls in a barrel. Being an expert in crossing streams I sped over as did most of the chaps.

Another famous Dale is Dave Dale and his famous saying 'there's been some pissing about in here' came to the fore. The wimmin wandered up and down the bank for an age in the expectation that a magic lady bridge would appear. It didn't. They don't exist.

I, being a hero, decided to move back into the stream and give them a hand over. Ann decided to just plop her boot in the water whilst the others tip toed gently through the raging torrent which in places reached over five inches in depth.

We made it. All of us. We'd all survived the infamous Newbiggin Beck.

International Rescue arrive at Newbiggin Beck. Thunderbird 2 is about to cross the stream....

The Nappa Hall detour was now beginning to feel more like a chore than an enjoyable end to the day. The fields and stiles approaching Askrigg dragged on for a bit but after half a mile we finally hit our day's destination.

We were staying at the White Rose Hotel and I'd got no idea where the White Rose Hotel was so asked a local where the White Lion Hotel was. She informed me that there wasn't a White Lion Hotel in Askrigg which made me a tad worried. Had I managed to cock the booking up? Was the White Lion a few miles outside Askrigg? No it wasn't. We were staying at the White Rose Hotel - doh! Almost Terryesque.

We eventually found the hotel and, in glorious sunshine, enjoyed a fantastic pint of Askrigg ale in the beer garden. This was bob on!

Karen and Mike enjoying the beer in the White Lion Rose beer garden.

More ale was enjoyed along with excellent food. The small wet rooms in Cray had been replaced by larger cleaner rooms and all was good. Dave, after employing himself as the hotel's odd job man, got slaughtered on ale and Baileys and retired at 10pm after a spell of talking gibberish at the bar. Gordon found an old Leeds United strip and decided to wear it for a laugh....

Rich, Netty, Al and I with Gordon. Dave was polishing the bannisters on the second floor.

A few of us visited the other pubs in Askrigg and decided that Askrigg was rather good. Jim bumped into an ex-miner who'd lived in Weston Coyney during the 70s who, rather worringly, seemed to know far too much about the Antelope pub in Hanley for my liking. We gave him the benefit of doubt and went our separate ways.

This was more like it. The next day's destination was Reeth. Bring it on!

DAY 3 - Askrigg to Reeth: 13.54 miles 1961 ft.

It was a greyish morning and another morning climb was on the cards. The 900ft climb over Askrigg Common would see us entering Swaledale and whatever glories it held. Could it top Nappa Hall for sustained interest?

Dave seemed reasonably perky after the previous night's festivities and joined the rest on the slow climb. The route would see us walking on the road for a good four miles which, depending on the state of people's feet, can be good or bad. In an attempt to alleviate back pain Karen had ditched her rucsac for a small stuff sac.

Another morning climb. It certainly helps to get rid of a hangover.

We reached the top of the moor and transitioned into Swaledale. Sandra was now suffering with a knee problem and resorted to borrowing Al's poles in an attempt to ease the pain. Would they work?

The route descended on the road before leaving it for an incredibly steep descent over a grassy field. The lead group waited at the road but noticed that Jim and Sandra were nowhere to be seen. Dave, on his arrival, confirmed that Sandra's knee was too painful to walk on so had decided to drop into the hamlet of Satron and call a cab. Jim, being the loving partner he is, walked her into Satron but insisted on a bus to save money. Aaaawwww.

We didn't know what Jim was going to do so the remaining eleven carried on and enjoyed lunch by the River Swale.

Lunch by the Swale was terribly romantic. If Jim and Sandra had made it this far a wedding would have been a done deal.

A few minutes of mindless stone skimming followed lunch before we set off eastwards towards Gunnerside. This was a pleasant section which crossed numerous fields which, to our liking, contained sheep rather than cattle. The conditions were becoming rather muggy again and the skies to the south suggested rain. Waterproofs were at the ready.

Suddenly, as if by magic, Jim appeared. It then started to rain. Thanks Jim.

After laughing next to the road sign to 'Crackpot' we managed to take the wrong route which was identified further along the path by Mike and Jim. Gordon may also have identified this error on his satnav but as far as we're concerned he's still in training mode.

We were only a 100 yards off route so continued on a parallel path to the road and, after a short sweaty climb, rejoined the official route. A rather convoluted uphill route then ensued for around 500ft which would see us marching over several fields and through yet another bull infested enclosure. This resulted in a stealth-like circling of the field which the cattle looked on with much confusion.

Climbing up to the road on Whiteside Moor. It's turned out nice again.

On reaching the road a short rest stop was taken and the first opportunity to do a 'Scotty' came along...

Laughs and smiles on the bridge. Gordon preferred to look at my arse rather than the camera.

The next section proved to be very enjoyable. The route skirted the hillside with great views down into the dale and, as the sun was out, everyone felt good. On we marched.

More road but who cares. The views open out to the north east.

The descent to Reeth was easy going apart from another field containing a bull and a bouncy swing bridge. Jane's not a fan of bouncy bridges so we all enjoy making it as bouncy as possible. This is how we thank the person who navigates for us day after day.

Jane and Gordon adopt a double pronged navigational attack. Jane used the book to plot our descent into Reeth whilst Gord stared at a map of Kinder Scout on his satnav.

The Buck Hotel provided excellent accommodation, food and ale. This was becoming all rather enjoyable. Al, Karen and Mike enjoyed it so much they had to be physically ejected from the bar at some ungodly hour after performing all sorts of childish antics.

The Buck Hotel, Reeth - let the stupidity begin! Karen tries to get out of shot.

Sandra's knee wasn't much better and she'd already written herself off for the following day. Would she return at some point or was Sandra's walking week finished?

DAY 4 - Reeth to Aysgarth: 10 miles 2100 ft.

This was the shortest day of the week but, following the pattern of the previous two days, kicked off with an uphill section -  the 1000ft climb onto Greets Hill. It was a good job it was a short day as we experienced the slowest breakfast ordering experience of our lives.

"Morning" was the greeting from the waitress. "We've got bacon, eggs, either scrambled, fried or boiled, tomatoes, beans, sausage, black pudding, fried bread, corn flakes, shreddies, porridge, white or brown toast, orange juice or grapefruit juice".

Another of the team would then appear at the table. "Morning. We've got bacon, eggs, either scrambled, fried or boiled, tomatoes, beans, sausage, black pudding, fried bread, corn flakes, shreddies, porridge, white or brown toast, orange juice or grapefruit juice".

Then, only three seconds later, another member of the team would arrive. "Morning. We've got bacon, eggs, either scrambled, fried or boiled, tomatoes, beans, sausage, black pudding, fried bread, corn flakes, shreddies, porridge, white or brown toast, orange juice or grapefruit juice".

This went on until all thirteen of us were seated. For one short moment I thought it'd have been rather unfunny to say "Can you repeat that please?" but after a longer moment decided it wasn't funny and could have resulted in a fork in the eye.

The weather was fine as we headed out of Reeth towards the village of Grinton and the bridge over the Swale. Gordon was getting pretty pissed off with constant gnome comparisons and a grave stone in Grinton didn't help matters....

Aaawww. Poor ickle Gordy.

The official route started off on road, veered off onto an indistinct path through heather and then moved back onto the road. It was almost as if the route designer, a Mr Mark Reid (who was present in the Buck Hotel as we'd left), had decided to incorporate a spot of non-road walking for the sake of it. In retrospect, staying on the road would have been the better option.

On the way to Greets Hill. This is the only photo on the site that makes Gordon appear taller than someone. The twin cairns of Greets Hill can just be seen in the far far distance.

Sue emailed me to ensure I'd put this post-ascent shot of her on the site. The fee for the removal of such images is now in four figure territory.

The route eventually left the road and continued over what appeared to be the spoil from numerous old mine workings. The distinctive cairns at the top of the hill beckoned us forward but they were further away than expected.

Karen gets the wrong end of Jane's breakfast.

We eventually reached the summit where a coolish breeze washed over us. We took in the extensive views and carried on south towards Apedale.

'That's one small step for a man, one giant climb for Davekind.'

Initial concerns about the lack of a breathable atmosphere on the summit of Greets Hill proved to be unfounded. We all managed to remain safely on the ground and didn't require oxygen.

A short sharp shower blew over on reaching Apedale but it soon disappeared as we began the short climb to West Bolton Moor. We were looking into Wensleydale once more and below us lay Castle Bolton and its, er, castle.

We reached Castle Bolton in time for lunch where sarnies and crisps were enjoyed in rather breezy, yet sunny, conditions in the castle grounds. Castle Bolton was much larger than expected and, as it housed a tea room, saw the disappearance of most of the team for beverages and cakes. Ann, Jane, Gordon and myself sat outside in the sun and got sunburnt.

The towering ramparts of Castle Bolton.

After waiting for around what seemed like three hours (it seemed like three hours for Jane and I thanks to Ann and Gordon going on and on and on about the fact that they'd retired) for the tea room brigade, we set off over fields towards the village of Carperby.

Another bull infested field was crossed on the way but we managed to survive. There was a pub and not a lot else in Caperby but the pub was proud of the fact that James Herriot stayed there for his honeymoon in 1941. Apparently, if you ask the landlord, he can take you to the honeymoon suite itself and point out the famous stains as, by all accounts, our James was fond of going in shoulders deep.

Gord, Karen and Jane on the breezy march to Carperby. Dave is suffering from too much cake.

We decided to follow the path to Aysgarth Falls rather than follow the official route as they were meant to be quite impressive and the added mileage wouldn't make much difference to a short day's walk. After a brief saunter over a few more fields and a strange nature reserve we entered the portals of the wood leading to Aysgarth's middle falls. The falls were as impressive as we'd hoped for...

Karen and Al enjoying the sight of Aysgarth's middle falls.

The walk to the lower falls was a further half mile so, being a bunch of idle wasters, decided to give this a miss and find our pub for the night. On the way though, we passed Aysgarth's upper falls...

Aysgarth's upper falls (River Ure).

Even though we were in Aysgarth we were still a good kilometre from our destination - the George and Dragon.

A sharpish saunter past the church, over some fields and through the village saw us to our destination. We dumped our rucsacs on the outside benches and ordered numerous pints. The ale was, yet again, excellent, but this was probably the best of the week.

The pub itself was small but stunning. Dark wood filled the room and created a slightly overbearing atmosphere but this was everything we'd been hoping for. Ann then decided to completely ruin the atmosphere by banging her boots on the floor and firing mud in every direction. This is the sort of thing that retired folk do apparently. They just don't care any more.

God that's good. We'd only been there for eight minutes.

After a brief moment of terror for Mike, when Dave mistakingly obtained the key for a double room, we all retired to the excellent rooms, took a quick whatever and then returned to the bar for more superb beers. The food was so good we followed it with even more beers.

A bigger day was in store tomorrow, one of the biggest of the week, so we snoozled off to bed in preparation.

DAY 5 - Aysgarth to Kettlewell 14.31 miles 2305 ft.

Unlike the Buck Hotel in Reeth the George and Dragon had discovered the marvel of the menu which made ordering breakfast a far more efficient affair.

Dave cancelled his bottled water order at the breakfast table so everyone assumed he'd got a few left from the previous day. This wasn't the case - he was jibbing out. Dave's feet were still sore so the idea of a longish day didn't appeal despite our attempts to make him change his mind. After all, once today was over we were on for the final day where the excitement of another gold beckons and the incredible joy of completion.

Never mind. We were now down to eleven.

Rich reckoned Dave was going to 'try it on' with Sandra but I refused to believe this. Anyway, as it happened, Sandra had also expected Dave to mount a crafty attack and left her B&B early before he could smash her with a battery of charm. Good thinking Sandra!

Right, where were we?

After passing through the quaint village of West Burton a gradual 900ft climb onto Carlton Moor ensued.

Over the green fields to West Burton.

Shortly before reaching the moor top we came to the end of the road and a move onto a track. We'd walked on road for a good few miles so moving onto rougher paths was greeted with relief.

Knackered railway carriage at approx 1300ft. Waiting for Jane and Sue. Netty is having a first class 'lady moment' behind the carriage.

The yomp across the moor was bleak but enjoyable. The skies were grey but there didn't appear to be any sign of rain. We crossed a small rocky gorge and then headed for Fleensopp Moor where the path would head west for Horsehouse and its pub.

We soon came across a couple of signs on a gate post and discovered that we wouldn't be going to Horsehouse. We'd have to knock two miles off the route. Bugger! ;-)

The closed sections effectively rendered Horsehouse unreachable unless we took a sizeable and rather pointless detour. We headed down the black dots to Braidley and turned to the west.

Jane was devastaed by the news that we'd knocked two miles off the route. Gordon however, had a little cry.

A Norwegian couple, who were also on the Inn Way and we'd seen on previous day's walks, somehow missed this notice and ended up at the edge of a field next to a dry stone wall. They strangely failed to abort their 'Dill the dog' antics even though we were visible and on the correct detour path. What were they doing?

The descent to Braidley wasn't too bad and provided the first views over the remote Coverdale. Also in view was the dark towering bulk of Great Whernside...

Coverdale with Great Whernside towering above.

No wonder Dave's taxi to Kettlewell cost £40.

We eventually reached Braidley and marched along the road to look for a suitable lunch spot which was taken just after Woodale. The lunch spot turned out to be a patch of grass on the side of the road. We don't half know how to live.

Leaving the roadside cafe in Coverdale.

After an annoying descent to a small bridge near Coverhead farm a long slow 750ft ascent up to Hunters Stone was there to be enjoyed. I think it's fair to say that this 'went on' a bit.

Up and up on the road to Hunters Stone. It'd better be worth it.

At last, Hunters Stone. Is that it? Apparently, when the clock strikes twelve at Coverhead farm this stone spins around. The only thing spinning around at midnight tonight will be Jim's head.

We regrouped at the stone and prepared for the long descent into Kettlewell. Some of us had walked through Kettlewell on the Dale's Way and were looking forward to the pubs and the village's quaintness. We weren't however looking forward to a drunken Ann doing a Calendar Girls impression behind a pair of bar pumps.

After a long mile and a half we could finally see Wharfedale again. This was a sign that we were close to Grassington and journey's end but one more day lay in store.

A green lane headed directly towards Kettlewell and this provided a quick means of losing height.

Netty, Rich and the team power down to Kettlewell. Rich had swapped his Scarpa SLs for lightweight shoes earlier in the week to avoid further blistering.

Kettlewell didn't come into view until almost the last half mile when it suddenly burst upon the scene...

The toy town of Kettlewell.

The going got a bit rougher underfoot as we reached the bottom of the bank but we soon reached the comfort of tarmac. This gave me a chance to capture a few team shots...

Happy Netty.

Happy, but useless, Jane.

Happy Ann. Or is it a spider with a big head?

Jim was planning to get drunk and propose to Sandra.

We reached Kettlewell and, as you readers now expect, enjoyed a few beers outside the Racehorse Hotel. Dave made our arrival a bit special by ordering numerous pints, in a 2006 Crayesque fashion, which were displayed in style along the bar...

Get a load of this! Cheers Dave.

We eventually moved indoors as the temperature dropped but the ale remained as good as ever. After food we moved onto the King's Head pub to take part in the local quiz.

Dave had bumped into the Norwegian couple earlier in the day (the two that were lost in the field). They'd aborted their walk and cadged a lift into Kettlewell and, to make their day even worse, Dave decided to join them in a three man international quiz team.

As the beers were sunk Dave decided that he wanted to be adopted by the Norwegian couple, as you do, and even had a certificate made...

Dave's adoption certificate. I'm not sure if it's an officially recognised document?

Dave's other moment of madness centred around the 'spot round'. The quiz master explicitly stated that anyone who knew the answer should put their arms in the air and not, I repeat, not, shout the answer out. The quiz master read out the first spot round question - "What is the main ingredient of risotto?". Dave boomed 'RRRRIIIICCCCEEEE" across the pub. Dave was drunk - again.

The Bond Girls team, comprising of Al, Sue, Karen and I, came second in the quiz and were beaten only by a cleverish couple. The rest of the pig thick Pighole team filled the remaining places.

More beers were enjoyed on our return to the Racehorses with Jim remembering the getting drunk part of his earlier promise but forgetting the proposal part.

Final day tomorrow. Would Dave join us for the finale? Would Jim be alive?

DAY 6 - Kettlewell to Grassington 13.52 mile2111 ft.

Dave decided to join us and Jim was alive - but only just.

Jim's plan was to walk off his hangover and fortunately the gradual climb out of Kettlewell was an ideal head clearer. Dave didn't agree.

Dave, Jane and Ann on the early ascent from Kettlewell. Ann was thinking about Ken and how her week hadn't been the same without him.

The 1000ft ascent slowly climbed towards Conistone Moor. The weather was slightly overcast but the views over to Cracoe Fell and beyond beckoned us on.

Team Pighole march on to Conistone Moor.

The walking, on grass, was easy going as it crossed numerous fields and everyone, apart from dirty drunk Jim, was in fine spirits. The summit that saw us get completely soaked on the first day was clearly in view and helped to remind us of just how lucky we'd been since that fateful day.

We were getting sunburnt rather than soaked - Bond tours had done it again!

Karen, Al and Dave in action.

After reaching the summit of the moor the route changed direction and descended towards the village of Conistone where, rather than descend into Conistone itself, would change direction again. We decided to take a breezy lunch on a limestone pavement just above Conistone.

Dark skies over the limestone pavement near Dib.

The undulating route to Yarnbury and its mine workings wasn't overly interesting and, after a brief route finding error in the lead mines, we found ourselves on the correct route which headed towards the rocky confines of Hebden Beck.

Hebden Beck provided us with a fine couple of miles of walking as the babbling brook and manmade industrial artefacts maintained the interest. The scenery had changed from limestone to gritstone and everything became rather Peak Districty. A couple of beck crossings kept the girls entertained...

Mike and co brave the rapids of Hebden Beck. They all made it. Al and Sue keep their sunglasses on in order to be 'mysterious'.

After a short spell of road walking we reached the village of Hebden and a gold painted post box which was the result of Andy Hodge's Olympic rowing gold. Everyone on today's walk, except Dave, was on the verge of receiving a far greater achievement - a Pighole gold!

Hebden was a pretty little place but we ploughed on knowing that a slightly circuitous route to Grassington remained. The skies were becoming more overcast and the humidity was rising. We feared rain. Would we finish before the heavens opened?

We'd all been pretty scathing of the 'detour' to Askrigg a few days earlier but the 'detour' to Grassington was a far more rewarding walk. The day would have been too short otherwise and short days mean getting to the pub too early. This usually ends badly.

Shortly after Hebden the route descended towards the River Wharfe where it crossed the Dales Way. A rather ornate bridge helped us over the river.

The wobbly bridge over the Wharfe. Jane hates wobbliness.

A short climb saw us coming to a stile and a sign warning us of a bull. Great! We marched over the field but the bull, luckily for us, was at the far end of the enclosure. Al kept the bull firmly in her sights, just in case!

Where to next?

Another short climb on a narrow road saw us enter the pretty village of Thorpe. Thorpe was once famous for its local shoemakers and people travelled from miles around to obtain a pair of genuine Thorpe shoes. There wasn't a great deal going on in Thorpe today though.

Netty, Rich and Dave on the road to Thorpe.

Thorpe doesn't have a pub so ended up being another village relegated to the shit category. Al survived being run over by a BMX wielding kid and, after a short stop, we headed out of the village towards Linton. Grassington wasn't far now.

Waiting for the off in Thorpe. Jim was still drunk so couldn't work out how his rucsac worked. Sue remains mysterious.

The route descended over fields to Linton where we came across the excellent Fountaine Inn. We'd resisted the lure of beers during the walks themselves but, as we were only a mile from Grassington, decided to have a pint of the good stuff. And very good it was too! We downed our pints at a rather rapid pace but resisted the temptation to buy more beer. We are, after all, finely tuned athletes who need to maintain incredible levels of fitness and muscle tone.

A few spots of rain appeared but this soon moved on.

Jim's missing something. Serves him right for making a mess of himself on the previous evening.

All that remained was a return to the River Wharfe and a view of Linton Falls. We stopped for photos before the short walk into Grassington.

Let's all take a photo of Linton Falls! Karen, Jim, Sue and me on the viewing platform.

Before we knew it we were back in Grassington after 80 miles and 12500ft of climbing. Another walk was finished.

We found Sandra at the Devonshire and, as expected, ordered a batch of pints.

Ann and Netty wait for their celebration beers.

Gordon, after another little cry, waits for numerous celebration beers.


Sue texts home - 'Hi Mum\Dad. I've finished the walk and am planning on getting so drunk tomorrow night that I'm going to fall over outside the curry house'.

One more photo to take - the full team at journey's end.

I positioned my camera on a table and set it to timer mode. The timing of the first attempt went slightly wrong as I managed to capture the arse of a passing tourist. This wasn't going to work so another tourist took on the weighty task of capturing the now famous team end of walk shot:

That's it for another year. Team Pighole does it again. The most 'completers' of any walk so far with a staggering eleven golds to hand out. Top Stuff!

The Inn Way Dales ranked highly on most people's top walks list. We'd been exceptionally lucky with the weather and the walking and accommodation had been excellent.

Macca arrived later in the evening and we enjoyed an end of walk meal at the Black Horse where we'd be staying for a couple of nights. The following evening's curry was livened up somewhat by various drunken antics which consisted of Macca getting totally pissed before reaching the curry house, ordering a curry that was so hot it made him gag and the unforgettable karaoke experience.

Sue, as she'd promised to do on the previous day, fell over outside the curry house whilst Netty danced and sung the night away.

The planning for next year's walk will soon be upon us. Will Ken and Nick return? Will Jim, Sandra, Rich and Netty join us again? Will Macca ruin the final weekend again? Who knows?

And, finally, here's the now famous injury list:

Walker Blisters Hip Ache Toe Injury Knackered Knee Drunkarditus Achy feet Sleep deprivation Uselessness Back Ache
Alison X X X  
Mike   X  
Sue X    
Karen X X
Dave X X  
Jane   X  
Rich X    
Sandra       X          
Jim         X        
Netty X                


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