Day 8: Keld to Reeth

We left Keld behind at 9am. As AW Wainwright said - at Keld, 'a sundial records the hours but time is measured in centuries.' Mr Wainwright could also have warned us that the first few hundred metres of our walk was a steep downhill track. The following comments were heard:

Coconut Milk: Are we there yet?
Butterscotch Keeper: Swing those poles!
Tea Bag: Ouch
The Water Tank: Stop complaining, my pack is heavier than yours
Sherbet Lemon: Things are looking up. At least I didn't fall down the stairs this morning.
Acid Drop: Hurry up, you are walking too slowly

We passed a guided group at morning tea time (more later on 'guided tours and getting stuck with Roma'). The guide had a dog called Woody. In his pack he carried water, poo bags, a spare lead, water proof trousers (for his owner), and food.

It was an 18km walk to Reeth, a town in the district of Swaledale in the Yorkshire Dales. The sun was shining and there was a light breeze. The scenery was magnificent. The Brontë sisters lived south of the Yorkshire Dales, and they set many of their novels in this district. Who can resist an extract from Charlotte Brontë’s Jane Eyre (1847)?

There are great moors behind and on each hand of me; there are waves of mountains far beyond that deep valley at my feet. The population here must be thin, and I see no passengers on these roads: they stretch out east, west, north, and south--white, broad, lonely; they are all cut in the moor, and the heather grows deep and wild to their very verge… Not a tie holds me to human society at this moment--not a charm or hope calls me where my fellow-creatures are—none that saw me would have a kind thought or a good wish for me.  I have no relative but the universal mother, Nature:  I will seek her breast and ask repose.

I struck straight into the heath; I held on to a hollow I saw deeply furrowing the brown moorside; I waded knee-deep in its dark growth; I turned with its turnings, and finding a moss-blackened granite crag in a hidden angle, I sat down under it.  High banks of moor were about me; the crag protected my head: the sky was over that.

I touched the heath, it was dry, and yet warm with the beat of the summer day.  I looked at the sky; it was pure: a kindly star twinkled just above the chasm ridge.  The dew fell, but with propitious softness; no breeze whispered.  Nature seemed to me benign and good; I thought she loved me, outcast as I was; and I, who from man could anticipate only mistrust, rejection, insult, clung to her with filial fondness. Tonight, at least, I would be her guest, as I was her child: my mother would lodge me without money and without price…

Beside the crag the heath was very deep: when I lay down my feet were buried in it; rising high on each side, it left only a narrow space for the night-air to invade.  I folded my shawl double, and spread it over me for a coverlet; a low, mossy swell was my pillow. Thus lodged, I was not, at least--at the commencement of the night, cold…

But next day, Want came to me pale and bare. Long after the little birds had left their nests; long after bees had come in the sweet prime of day to gather the heath honey before the dew was dried-- when the long morning shadows were curtailed, and the sun filled earth and sky--I got up, and I looked round me.

What a still, hot, perfect day!  What a golden desert this spreading moor!  Everywhere sunshine.  I wished I could live in it and on it. I saw a lizard run over the crag; I saw a bee busy among the sweet bilberries.  I would fain at the moment have become bee or lizard, that I might have found fitting nutriment, permanent shelter here. But I was a human being, and had a human being's wants: I must not linger where there was nothing to supply them.” (Chapter 28)

As you will see from this photo, the Yorkshire Dales are renowned for barns. They house cows, sheep, and hay, and there seems to be one in every paddock.


Some further advice for Coast to Coasters. Cooked breakfasts are all very well but now we are onto Day 8 the smell of bacon, eggs, baked beans, black pudding, sausage, warm tomatoes - and fried bread - are sometimes not as welcome as they were a few days ago. Coconut Milk, in particular, has expressed a recent wish for porridge in the mornings. We're not sure why this is, when she is looking so well.

Finally, a photo of a village we passed on our walk today. The cream rose climbing up the trellis is a Yorkshire Rose. This garden was erected to commemorate the marriage of Prince Charles to Lady Dianna Spencer. The union, as everyone knows, was not a success, but the flowers live on. Tomorrow a stroll of 18km into Richmond.