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DAY 7. Friday 23rd June 2006 - Keld to Reeth

"Little has changed here for generations past, and the proud dates and names of the proud men adorn the doorways and walls and even the chapel belfry: a sundial records the hours, but time is measured in centuries at Keld"

We were woken up by the sound of birds singing and a warm glow lighting up the room through the window - could this be sunshine?  Doreen runs a tight ship and breakfast is served promptly between 8 and 8.30am.  Last night she had made everyone wonderful meals, even taking special care to make Lizzie a gluten free soup, as the one she had already prepared for everyone else contained wheat. Ernest looked after the bar. We sat down for dinner with the other guests, on time! In Keld time may stand still but at Butt House everything happens like clockwork!

The amount of work that the couple put into looking after weary walkers is amazing and it is a shame to learn that they will be retiring in a couple of years.  To make things worse for walkers in the area the youth hostel is also closing down despite being full for most nights from spring to autumn. This will leave very few places where walkers can stop over for the night.

After dinner Doreen told us about the many visits Alfred Wainwright had made, he was particularly fond of her baking and it was easy to see why! It was good to chat with the other walkers and hear about their experiences along the route particularly as we learnt that the Nine Standards had been  in cloud for most of the day and the route afterwards had been *very* boggy - we had made a wise choice in taking the other route. 

It was surprising to discover how long some of the other people were taking to cover the route, we thought that we were doing it relatively leisurely over 13 days, but some people seemed to be doing it over a month.  We heard from a couple walking in the opposite direction, east to west, that the Wagon Train was still going strong but they now appeared to be suffering from a few injuries, one of them was now wearing a training shoe on one foot and a boot on the other to ease the blisters (the ex-map carrier) and another had very heavy strapping on a knee. Sadly as they have now already passed through Keld we are unlikely to bump into them again. 

There are two options for us today, a high level route through the remnants of the mining industry which was once the main economy of the area or a low level route along the river valley.  Kevan had previously camped in the area and fallen into one of the becks that runs along the high level route and wasn't that keen on repeating the experience.  We therefore took the valley route along the River Swale, which also gave Lizzie's ankle an easier more gentle day. 

The route to Reeth was very reminiscent of our journey last year along the Dales Way - lots of nice views across rivers, waterfalls and hills around us - and with the sky relatively clear and no sign of rain we risked shorts and t-shirts for the first time this week!  Lizzie's ankle was really improving and she was soon striding out inspired by all the little waterfalls rushing into the river below. 

A full week of walking is beginning to take its toll though, Kev might need to get some braces to stop his shorts from falling down!  After the rough few days we have just experienced we were bouncing along like Tigger, past the 100 mile (160km) point full of hope and looking forward to next week (and the rest day which is the day after tomorrow - Sunday - so we will be able to watch the England game! - and get the laundry done).


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