Jul. 19th, 2017

Monday 17th saw us driving up to Settle to rendezvous with my brother, Peter and his wife, Hilary. They began walking the Dales High Way back on Saturday at Saltaire and were due into Settle that evening. Having booked into the rather charming King William IV hotel just off the market square, we got the call; they had arrived and were re-hydrating in the pub next door. So, we joined them and Hil's old school friend, Jill, who had walked with them that day. Sadly, Jill had to catch a train back home, so it was just the four of us who ate together that night.

Tuesday 18th. Another splendid day of weather. Rather too splendid, really. At least for walking, as I could have done with having words with His Nibbs and getting Him to turn down the heating a couple of degrees. Junko accompanied us to the edge of town, but didn't feel able to attempt the whole walk, which was 16 miles long and also included climbing Ingleborough.

The walk initially followed the River Ribble, along shady banks and through cool woods and was quite lovely. At one point, we met a young French lad pushing a heavily laden bike. He'd started from his home near Dunkirk and was going to Ireland. He was pushing because he'd damaged his pedal and asked us if there were cycle shops in Settle, about which we were able to reasure him and wished him 'bon voyage'.

We had a morning tea/coffee in Elaine's Tea Room in Feizor. Considering the place is in the middle of nowhere and boasts about only 4 other buildings, the place is obviously very well known, as the cafe was packed with walkers and cyclists. Onwards and (eventually) upwards. Although it was lunchtime, we were trapped on a narrow track with high walls along both sides. It was agreed, "As soon as we get to somehere to sit, we'll have our lunch." Which we did. On setting forth again, we'd gone barely 100m before we came across a brook deep enough to bathe in and a grassy area well known as a picnic place. Although we knew of its existence, we had not realised we were quite that close.

Shortly after the brook we hit the fell below Ingleborough. Although we could see it clearly enough, the actual route there was not at all obvious, so a few queries of other walkers were needed to set us on the right track. Our track took us to within about 20m of the summit where two tracks met. It was also hair-raisingly windy. Having had barely a gentle zephyr (is that a tortology?) all day, the ferocity of the wind took us all by surprise and both Peter and I nearly lost our footings.

We had not actually planned on scaling the hill and to attain those final 20m of elevation involved a fair lateral treck. So, as time was now pressing, we started our descent. This turned out to be the most awesome part of the walk, and I choose my words carefully. Everyone we had met near the summit had said it was steep. One Geordie had said he only managed in on all fours and standing at the top of the path it was easy to see why. It was scalable, but you did need your hands to steady yourself as you balanced on one leg to lower a foot onto the next level. Anyone with anything less than the balance of a mountain goat would have been in serious trouble. Once down, the rest of the journey to Pete & Hil's bed for the night was a short, easy stroll with the Ribble Viaduct as our constant companion to our right. However, one very pleasant surprise was the vista to our left; right out to Morecambe Bay, about 30km away. Hil and I were ahead of Peter and when we told him we could see it, he initially didn't believe us.

After a quick drink in the hostelry, I left them to return to Settle and join Junko for the evening. Ribble Head station was 2 miles away, but I gave myself plenty of time for the journey. Even so, on the rare occasion a car did pass me, I stuck out my thumb, but none stopped. However, after about a mile a car coming the opposite way stopped and asked me where I was heading. He told me to hop in, did an 8-point turn in the road and took me to the station. However, he did carry on in the same direction, so I can only assume he was one of the cars that had passed me, done what he had to do and come back to check if I was still in need of a lift. A lovely gesture.

Wednesday, 19th. Settle is a lovely town. I believe it is the resting place of certain Mike Harding, but we didn't spot him. They do a rather nice little leaflet of interesting sights and buildings of the town, which is how we entertained ourselves for the morning, including the oldest, continuously operational Music Hall in the country; the Victoria Hall, built in 1852. Junko had wanted to visit the restored Water Tower, just outside the station and we strolled into its grounds. We were met by a gent painting some trailer wheels outside a work shop who proceeded to tell us a little about the place. What I hadn't realised until then was that this was a home; his. However, it had a little trail around the outside with information plates, so visitors were not only allowed, but encouraged. Quite what it's like to live in, I can't tell you, but it is definitely quirky.



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