Leaving Kendal, I journeyed back towards Burneside (incidentally, this is pronounced ‘Burny-side’ not ‘Burn-side’ like I’d been jabbering). The route onwards went along the River Kent along organised paths on the edges of fields to the next village of Bowston.
The sun was bright and orange this morning, far more encouraging than yesterday, and shimmered great golden swathes across the surface of the river as I took the charming path away from the village. Tree roots rose from the ground, providing natural benches and it made sense to stop for a small cup of hot chocolate here by the river on my last day.
From then on I pushed past Staveley and the path started to climb; the Howgill Fells lay back on the south eastern horizon and, ahead, the Lakeland fells in all their imposing drama. The slate crops this side of the Dent Fault started to poke through the more uneven land; gone was the smoothness and softness of the Dales, I was now stepping into the roughness of its more renegade cousin; the Lake District.
Out of that purgatorial limbo-land between the National Parks, whilst the sheep fields continued, now they were once again set around with drywall, there were trees and boulders and actual landscape features again. Plenty a hideyhole for a tent and plenty a sweet tinkling stream and many a far, far reaching view. I would get excited by the upward marches, as almost certainly I would reach the high point and see something else spectacular.
Unfortunately, it was now late morning and the weather was grand on this Saturday so absolutely everyone else had the same idea. The closer I got to Windermere, the greater the crowds. From a fairly solitary few days, I was back amongst what seemed like throngs. I didn’t even try for pictures along many viewpoints as the weekending Brits had grabbed this day of November sun with both fists and were out in force for what might be the last fine day of the year. And good on them for that.
The Grandsire Hill, reached through Hag End Farm, gave the most spectacular view; out over the great Lake Windermere and up in the distance to the Langdale Pikes and Scafell Pike. There was a stark difference in how the retreating glaciers had shaped these valleys compared to the Dales; both classically U-shaped, but the Dales limestone had allowed a perfect cut whilst the harder Lakeland stones showed their defiance.
The end of the trail was a patchwork of short fields and lanes and marked with a simple bench.
Life had randomly brought me to Ilkley a number of unconnected times with unconnected people. On this visit, I’d walked past the old bridge and kept carrying on to Bowness. It was time to go home now. And when I got there, it was it was definitely time to give my tent a much overdue re-waterproofing. It was likely to be much more than just one day of solid rain on the next adventure.
- Distance: 20 miles
- Total Elevation: 800ft
- Terrain: riverside paths, lanes, field tracks
- Toughness: 2/10
- Maps Used: Harvey Map XT40: The Dales Way, Hiiker Map;The Dales Way (downloaded for offline use).