The Station Inn, where we spent the night, was built at the edge of a lonely country road. I thought of drovers, hostelries, and post chaises stopping here at the end of a long day’s journey. I could imagine ladies in their dark Victorian traveling dresses. The young people we heard partying under our window were of the modern variety, and they seemed to be standing in the middle of the road. Who knows where they came from; no other house or building to be seen. They disappeared about 11:00 p.m., so we did get some sleep.
Breakfast was at 8:30. We left our bags to the fate of the Sherpa Van Co. and walked up the lane to Ribblehead Station. This was to be our day-off, a change of pace, starting with a ride on the Settle-Carlisle train over the viaduct we had seen yesterday, and through an impressively long tunnel that cut through the hills of Blea Moor. Dent Station, just ten minutes up the line, was known to be the highest main line station in England, which wasn’t saying much, at an altitude of about 1,100 feet.
We got off and followed several walkers onto Coal Road, leading down into the valley. Apparently the Coal Road served several small pits and mines in the area that supplied coal to Dent, which was our day’s destination. Down the steep hill we went, keeping a look out for the Dales Way sign. When we crossed the water shed yesterday, we left Yorkshire and entered Cumbria, and a new river system. At the bottom of the hill was Lea Yeat, a small hamlet with a Quaker Meeting House just next to the River Dee. We had entered Quaker country.
On the other side of the bridge, we spotted the Dales Way sign. We stepped onto the path and found ourselves in lush undergrowth and fertile meadows beside the River Dee, in a narrow valley called Dentdale. Hills were not the problem in this section, but the walking was difficult, with twists and turns, bushes, and nettles, and dense undergrowth. Sheep were in the pastures again, leaving their little gifts for us to avoid when possible. Sheep meant stiles to climb, and we encountered many small streams, slippery rocks, and bogs to maneuver over and through.
Our progress was slow. My little book of maps said that settlements along the River Dee dated back to the time of the Vikings. One reason for the early settlers along the river was easy access to fresh water, and fertile ground.
We reached Dent around 1:00, which looked like it hadn’t changed much in centuries, with its cluster of low, stone buildings and narrow, cobblestone streets. St. Andrews Church was built in the twelfth century of black marble, which was at one time the main export of the area. We ate lunch in a delightful café/restaurant, where we tried more of the flap jacks that Fiona had introduced us too. (They didn’t match Fiona’s.)
The weather had turned windy, and very chilly. We couldn’t get into our B&B, the Stone Close Tea Room until 4:00, so we wandering around the village, visited the village museum, where to my surprise, we learned that in the 1660’s George Fox had preached in Dent and a Quaker Meeting House had once stood on the main street.
By 4:00 we were really cold, and a little bored. We decided our day off hadn’t been necessary after all. We still had plenty of energy. Dianne, the hostess of the Stone Close Tea Room, welcomed us promptly at 4:00 and showed us our room, which was low-ceilinged, like the room at Bridge End Farm, but here we had a non-working stone fireplace, and two outside walls of stone. Silke christened the place, “the Stone Cold” Tea Room, and it was pretty cold. Luckily our bags had mysteriously arrived before us. I was beginning to think Sherpa was some kind of a gremlin. In any case we were glad to take a hot shower, and put on a couple of extra layers for dinner.