Margaret had prepared a lovely fresh fruit salad for breakfast and as I ate I chatted with Kathy, Dan, Carrie and Ed. Carrie and Ed told us they were planning on taking the 1 ½ mile detour to Orton for lunch. This was seriously tempting- mainly as Orton has a chocolate factory- but my sister and brother-in-law were meeting me at Kirkby Stephen and as today was to be 21 miles I wasn’t sure I would have time.

There is another route to the bridge crossing the M6 from Brookfields to save walking back through Shap, and as I crossed the motorway I caught up with an elderly couple, who I remembered Kathy and Dan mentioning. Kathy was amused at the fact they were bickering constantly; as I drew nearer I could hear them arguing and the lady told me that they had been together for 50 years and this was usual for them!

Crossing the M6

I made a stupid mistake here- I had the Stedman guide (along with everyone else!) but to save carrying the book each day I had photocopied the maps, cut them out and carried each day’s maps in a little plastic wallet. This worked well, apart from today… we walked through a quarry which I couldn’t see on the map at all. The route then mentioned a track towards two lone trees… all I could see was a forest so decided to take a slightly different path across a moor towards the horizon, where I hoped to catch sight of the trees. The older couple had stopped, so I strode out but Doris kept telling me I was veering off a foot path and to my dismay there were no trees in sight.

Wild and remote moorland

I used Doris to try to cut across the moorland to the path, where I saw Carrie and Ed but they were heading from the opposite direction to what I expected. I asked them if their path was correct and they said they thought it was, then Carrie looked at my map and we realised I had got two the wrong way round… D’oh! No wonder nothing matched- when I looked at my route on Doris later I had actually just gone in a big circle!

Limestone pavements

Suddenly everything made sense when I looked at the map; we crossed wide moors with several impressive limestone pavements. Reaching the path to Orton, the lure of the chocolate factory proved too tempting- I followed Carrie and Ed towards the village but then lost them and ended up walking right round it to find the chocolate factory. I have had healthier lunches but ooh- that hot chocolate and white chocolate dipped cookie were sooo nice!!

 

The path to Orton

Lunch!

Mindful of the time, I rejoined the route and strode across fields as quickly as I could, but it was at this point when I first heard the jangling. As I walked I kept hearing it, and quick, cursory glances at my kit revealed nothing. I heard it again, and, reaching into my shorts pocket I pulled out… the key to my room at Brookfield last night! Cursing myself I imagined being charged an extra night as she couldn’t let the room although logic said that she must have more than one key to each room.

But I didn’t even have a phone signal so there wasn’t much I could do expect put one foot in front of the other- down quiet roads, and across wide featureless moors.

Looking towards the Howgills

I caught up with Kathy and Dan at the site of Severals Village, and we dropped down to the pretty Packhorse Bridge before climbing for a good view to Smardale Viaduct. It had been fairly dull up to now but the sun came out for us and added a sparkle to the views.

Packhorse Bridge

Smardale Viaduct

I went on ahead when Kathy and Dan stopped as my sister had text to say they were there; my room at the Jolly Farmers was one of the best- up in the eaves with a great shower. After a quick change we walked into the town for a pub meal. It was a real boost to see my sister and brother-in-law and we swapped my dirty clothes for clean ones; she kindly offered to wash them but I instructed her to keep her nose well away! She also took Margaret’s key to post back and offered to ring her the next day as I still had no signal.

My feet were still fine and I was looking forward to a shorter day tomorrow and seeing Nine Standards Rigg.

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