Trails and trials of the writer who walks
Keld proved to be a good choice, just one sheep and myself sharing a grassy paddock which was perfectly aligned to enjoy the morning sun rising into a clear sky above the hills.
Tan Hill Inn (highest pub in England) materialised like a mirage in a heathery desert at around 10:30 am. A group of vintage car-owners (the cars were pretty old too) were loitering outside, mugs of tea in hand, purring over their mechanical darlings. They were on an annual ‘run’ that finishes at Kelso. The pub was recovering from a pretty wild Saturday night wedding do and had nothing more on offer other than tea and chocolate shortbread so my fantasy bacon butty remained just that. But I enjoyed the tea and conversation.
Tan Hill Inn hosts some wild weekends when the music is on, I’m told. It might be in the middle of nowhere, but that doesn’t deter youngsters from taking their tents and digging in for a long night.
Next pit stop would be Bowes (I thought), so I opted for the ‘Bowes Loop’ route, but this turned out to be a disappointing detour as Bowes is shop-less, pub-less, café-less … in fact everything-less. The pub indicated on the map has been closed for some years. Admire the castle ruins and move on. On my previous journey, I’d taken the direct route that misses out Bowes and crosses over God’s Bridge – a fascinating natural stone bridge.
There was a sufficiently lonely moorland above Bowes for a wild camp and I enjoyed a clear sunset. In my three week journey, I was to suffer only two half days of rain and a few misty mornings. Quite a miracle.