Friday, 23 September 2016

High up High Cup

You know how they say that the book is always better than the film?  Well, in my experience, real life is usually better than the book, even a very good book. Many years ago I read Walking Home by Simon Armitage which charts his journey along The Pennine Way (an excellent book and well worth a read if you haven't already) - since then High Cup Nick was firmly on my "to do" list and it's only taken 4 years and a Julia Bradbury special to eventually get me there.

We're deep into research for our third book (you haven't missed book two, it's done and dusted and out next Easter) so a day of sunny blue skies was the perfect excuse to head up there and got some photos sorted.  The scary thing is it was also my first proper hike since the crack on the bonce back in May - Post Concussion Syndrome has been a pain in the rear end but thankfully now seems to be abating.

High Cup Nick was the perfect hike to "break me back in" - it's not too long, there are plenty of places to stop along the way, the views are superb and there are no scary bits.  Or at least there weren't meant to be.  Obviously me, being me, managed to up the ante a little - but more of that later...

There's a small car park with toilets in Dufton (10/10 to Eden council, lovely loos!) and the walk is clearly signposted from the village.  It starts along a farm road that passes a beautiful house currently for sale which generated plenty of daydreams to keep me going along the gradual climb upwards.  The views were immense even if some of the signs were a wee bit confusing.

It's a walk that keeps its best views a secret right until you pop out on the top of valley, at which point it's best to have your camera ready, your memory card empty and your battery well charged.

I'd packed extra food and drink and used the "first hike back" excuse to allow for several very generous breaks, sitting in the sunshine and enjoying the views.  I continued on round to the head of the valley where, although it looks glorious, it was actually blowing a hooley!

It was at this point that an idea entered my head and it went something like this - if I walk back the way I planned (following a path along the opposite side of the valley) I'll get pretty much the same views as I've had on my way in, except from the other side.  If, however, I plunge down the scree slope in front of me which leads to a path along the valley floor, I might get some more interesting views.  I should probably really be taking it a bit easier on my first proper hike back.  Screw it, it looks fun.

All of which explains these next few shots...

C'mon - you have to admit that was worth it.  The screes weren't all that bad (if you've tackled the Wastwater screes then these are a doddle!) - though I did nearly lose my flask of tea (would it have been wrong to call out Mountain Rescue to retrieve a flask of tea?  I'm sure they would have understood!).

The walk back along the valley floor was straightforward if a little boggy in places and the company along the way was charming.

From that point it was meant to be a simple walk back along the road into Dufton - but the problem was that the bushes along the verges were laden down with the biggest, juiciest sloes you ever did see.  Despite the fact I have several litres on the go already I just couldn't leave them there to rot and in the space of an hour had accumulated this little lot.

With my sarnie tub full and the light fading fast it was time to head home.  Tomorrow I need to pick up a couple of litres of gin and clarify whether Sloe Gin counts as one of my "five a day" - I think it's only fair, don't you?

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