Wednesday, 12 December 2012

My Advent Calendar - Day 12

December 12th

Welcome to Day 12 of my Advent Calendar, where I am reliving my Coast to Coast adventure!

Day 7 – Part 1

~ More rain, Late start, Wet boots, Hill climbing again, Streams have become rivers, We get lost ~

We slept a bit later on the morning of Day 7 and seeing as we were making breakfast ourselves for once we made a slow start. When we did look out of the tent, however, we discovered that the clouds were even heavier than the day before. The camp site was fairly quiet and no one seemed to mind if we moved all our gear into the drying room, which we did.
            When it became clear that the mist and drizzle wasn’t leaving we lifted the tent into a shelter in one corner of the site and packed it away, as best we could, before returning the drying room, which now smelt quite strongly of wet socks.
            We only had about eleven miles to go that day and so we delayed setting off as long as possible, thinking that after all the rain the day before it must blow over soon. We also didn’t like facing the idea of putting on wet boots. By 11.00 though we had to make a move and so we gritted our teeth, wrapped ourselves up, and set off for another day.
            We stopped in Kirkby Stephen (it was going to be the last major town for a few days) to get some food and also a roll of bin bags as extra waterproofing for our gear. Then we wound our way out of the town along a road leading up a hill. The road curves around an opencast mine, climbing all the time, and after passing some trees turns into a track.
            The higher we got the more exposed we became and far from relenting the elements seemed determined to better their efforts of the day before. The top of the hill, ahead of us, was completely lost in the cloud and the wind was picking up. The rain, of course, continued to fall. The track became a stream and we were constantly having to find ways to get around the increasingly large puddles. The ground was completely saturated from all the rain the day before and now the moor land was turning into a quagmire.

The hill is known as Nine Standards Rigg, because of the nine large cairns at the top, however, due to erosion, there are three paths, only one of which goes to the peak. In the morning we had decided not to attempt the ‘summer’ route, but to stick to the lower ones. Having reached the end of the track, though, it was difficult to see where any of the paths went.
            Another huge puddle sent us on a hunt to find a dry way through the boggy grass, a task that was getting harder every minute. Streams were turning into rivers and the path was becoming the main route for the water to get off the mountain. Hannah had found an abandoned, but fully functional, walking pole, which proved invaluable, not only in keeping her upright, but also testing the depth of the water. In one place we were forced to jump where the water would have been up to our shins.

Now we were completely exposed on the open hillside and using the map was difficult. The wind was very strong and the rain battered down harder than ever. The temperature had dropped too, although at the time I don’t think we really noticed. The low cloud made it dim and visibility was very poor. It’s hardly surprising therefore, that we struggled to find the path.
            We trudged around for about half an hour, going forwards and backwards, up rises to see if there was any sign of where to go, but without success. Of course having set off late everyone else was ahead of us, or had abandoned walking for the day, which right then sounded like a great idea.
            We were getting tired, although it was still early in the afternoon and we’d only done about 4 miles from the campsite. I was also getting nervous. We were on top of a mountain, in a rain storm, with no clear direction. We were tired, cold and very wet and I remember saying to Hannah, ‘just get me off this mountain.’

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