I woke up really early this morning, the sun had obviously risen from the light coming through the tent, but I could not tell if it was time to get up or not because my phone was on charge in the farm house. The same was true of Jonny. We both sort of guessed when it was time to get up, and we got it pretty much right. After having a wash in the shack which they called the toilets and getting some breakfast, we knocked on the door, got our phones back and left. It was half past eight on the nose.

Following yesterdays horrible final few miles we decided that we would do as much as we could by road. We left the farm and followed the country road for several miles, no real traffic to speak of, only the occasional tractor or quad bike. A few quaint little villages nestled in the hillside which looked perfectly idyllic in the warming sunshine which beamed down most pleasantly. It was not so hot today, perhaps because it was still morning and the sun wasn’t so high in the sky yet, possibly because we were lower in the valleys and we were not so exposed, but defiantly contributing was the cooling breeze that was constantly blowing and the slight haze in the sky.

Our walk took us off the edge of the map and we had to follow instincts to get back on. We could see the main road and we knew that we just had to follow that to wiggle our way to Kirkby Stephen. The main road was fairly busy, but there was a wide verge for us to walk along. This wasn’t too bad, the grasses were soft, but on some stretches the grass was long and easy to trip over in. Along this road there was only one hill of any really note. It was getting to the top of this hill that we eventually walked back onto the map.

To save some time, and to keep with the ethos of walking by as much road as possible for the day, we took a path off of the road and headed for the village of Nateby. The path was not well marked, very few way markers and several times, in what is only a short distance, we ended up in a farm yard or on a hill with no where to go. We eventually reached the village by sneaking through a gated courtyard of another farm.

We stopped in Nateby at one o’clock. We stopped for a packet of sweets and a quick breather before we started on what was a single road all the way to our camp site for the evening. Back at the main road we could see our path snaking its way up the side of a steep slope and over the top of the horizon. Seeing the contours on the map confirmed that it was going to be a steep climb and finally when we embarked on the road, the road signs 33% gradient made sure that we were fully aware of how steep the hill was going to be.

By now the weather had clouded over slightly, just as well because the hill was hard work to get up. There was no obstacles to climb or rocks to slip on. Nothing to think about, just a constant climb. Jonny disappeared round a bend in front of me fairly soon, which left me by myself to appreciate the wilderness because after leaving Nateby there was absolutely nothing. The occasional car passed, quite a few motor bikes cruised past but they were the only people. There were no farms, no roadside cafés, nothing. When I reached to top of the hill, I looked back. Beneath was the main road, a few villages and Kirkby Stephen, which we had skirted round. And in the distance was the outline of the Lake District on the horizon, now left well behind. Turning back towards the east, there was just a baron wasteland, where sheep seem to have right of way on the roads, and buildings lay rotting and abandoned, the only thing which grows is the heather and the only noises come from the wind and the birds.

That was how it stayed. Eleven long miles with nothing but quiet, no distractions from the views, save the occasional dive to the side of the road to avoid an oncoming biker gang. I kept a tab on how far I had travelled along the map, noting the corners. Every time I went around another corner I knew there would be a long straight and I thought to myself that I’d see a small red dot in the distance (Jonny), I didn’t.  Jonny must have powered up the steep part earlier to have gotten so far in front.
I nearly forgot to mention, as we went over the summit on the road, there was the sign that we had kind of been waiting for… “County of North Yorkshire”. Finally out of Cumbria, this was a kind of mile stone for me along the walk, having successfully traversed an entire county. Just Yorkshire to go.

The last few miles and then there was suddenly something to comment on. I passed a farm which still had people in it, things were working and it wasn’t in ruins. Just past that, a telephone box, which still had a phone it, that was working too. After that the road take a big dip into the valley, the decent was steep and put a lot of strain on my knees, nearing the bottom I was actually hoping for some up hill climbing to relieve my knees from the pain. That was exactly what I got as the path got to the bottom of the valley and started to climb the other side. This was not so bad, the climb was not far, and then it levelled out, the road then followed the contours pretty much all the way to Keld, the village that we would be staying in.

When we left Nateby me and Jonny discussed which camp site in Keld we would rather stay in. I said that we should go for the one further in the village, in case there was a pub or something to do in the middle of all the house (when I say all the houses I mean a cluster of about 20 houses). Knowing this decisioned I was prepared to plough on straight past the first camp site. Literally as I was walking past the gate Jonny came walking around the corner back towards me, he gestured towards the first camp site so I walked in. Jonny put his thumb in the air, so I knew I was doing the right thing. I asked Jonny why we had gone back to the first camp site, on the edge of the village, apparently the other camp site had no one at the door. Jonny had knocked several times, given them 10 minutes, gone to the toilet, come back and still nothing. There loss.

We rang the bell at this camp site and a man came to the door within seconds, he pointed out where to pitch, all the amenities, and told us we could buy a beer from him. I sat down with my beer and enjoyed the weather (the sun had come back out), I told Jonny to do the same, but he decided he wanted to put the tent up first. I felt bad about not helping Jonny put the tent up, but I did say I’d help him after I’d had my beer, and that he should do the same. I was glad of the camp site, sitting in the sun by the river, I’m sure the other camp site was no where near as nice a sight, with such splendid views of the valley walls and the river. I was quite happy until a smug Yorkshire man with a big grin on his face came over to tell us the score of the Luton game. Jonny said he was glad he hadn’t got a television to watch now with a result like that, apparently some of the other games that weekend hadn’t gone his way either.

When Jonny had finished putting up the tent he did sit down and enjoy his beer. We toasted to having reached the half way point, and despite being behind out own schedule, five days in and being half way through a ten day trip, we’re not that far off track.

***Squeemish, or those eating, stop reading here*** That night, after the beer and dinner, I set about clearing up my feet. The compeeds had stopped working and there were some serious blisters forming. I thought I’d best do my best to relieve them. Against all the advice you ever here about blisters, I made merry with a safety pin. Some came quietly, leaving little more than a flap of skin, others needed several holes and was more like surgery to relieve them. There were a couple which somehow or other had become infected, these were not your usual blisters, they had filled with puss. I managed to drain one fine, but the other was a bit of an issue, I got most of it out but the last little bit was staying put, so I squeezed hard, and the last burst over the side of Jonny’s tent. It was quite impressive it you could see the distance travelled. Clearing up with wet wipes on both the tent and my feet took some time. Followed by twenty minutes or so of Savlon application. This was going to become a nightly ritual from now on, blister draining and foot cleaning.