Day 7: “A misty moisty morning when foggy was the weather. . .” I heard the rain steadily all night long. James and Janet, two of the most genuinely nice people you could possibly have as hosts, were taking off for the day. At breakfast James had xeroxed a map, drawing a circular route for us from Brameskew Farm along the river to Crook of Lune Bridge. From there we were to look for a farm lane through the fields and pastures to George Fox’s pulpit on Firbank Fell. Below George Fox’s pulpit was a bridle path leading back to the river where we could cross below Hole House and then over a few pastures to Brameskew Farm. It looked straight forward enough.
It had started to rain again, and we put on our ponchos. Then over a big ladder stile and down into pastures of high grass. These were cow as well as sheep pastures. My worst fear was that I would lose my footing and slide into one of the huge, wet, smelly cow pies that lurked everywhere. At Holme House we faced a steep hill down to a farm track, saturated with rain, mud, and manure until it had become a thick morass. We crossed to the other side by sidling along the bottom rung of a gate that closed off the barnyard, and then walking on a cement culvert that served as a drain. A misstep would have landed us in ankle-deep shit.
On the other side of the barnyard we passed a farm house, which was surrounded by a high stone wall. Over the wall we caught sight of the back garden. Brilliant flowers hung from baskets, geraniums, begonias, pink and blue lobelia, and blood red wax begonias. Flower beds of cosmos, daisies, coreopsis, and anemones, a burst of color in the gray morning.
We followed the Dales Way down to the River Lune. Luckily it had stopped raining because the track near the river was low, and boggy; in some places impassable. We crawled up the bank, struggling with wet, tangled underbrush. In some places we were high above the river, and it was quite dangerous, as a loss of balance would tumble us down the steep bank onto some nasty looking rocks. Thoughts of broken bones, and trying to get help crossed my mind. Silke thought we should call Janet to come and rescue us. “She said to call her any time, right?” “But we don’t even know where a road is,” I reminded her.
When we got to Crook of Lune Bridge, it was a relief to be back on a paved road, never mind the burning soles of my feet. We started up the hill past some lovely stone cottages. Toward us came a band of three young men. They were marching along at a brisk pace, and didn’t stop to chat, but I noticed one man had a battered face, black eyes, and a large bandage on the side of his face near the hairline. Either he had been in a fight or he had taken a nosedive somewhere. Silke and I decided that our fears about slipping into the river were well founded.
We scoured the hedgerows for a farm lane as James had shown us, but we didn’t ever find it. Walked a few extra miles on the road until we found another farm track that doubled back toward Firbank Fell. When the road divided we were at a loss until a car came along, which I waved down. The driver pointed us in the right direction, and said it wasn’t far. Hah! He was in a car. We were on foot. Up and down the hills we went. Each time we reached the brow of a hill, we thought we’d see George Fox’s pulpit, but instead there was always another hill. Finally we came upon a small cemetery, surrounded by a high rock wall. Beyond and to the right was an outcropping of rock and set into the rock was a plaque. “At this stone or near it, George Fox spoke to a multitude of about 1000 people. Many men and women were convinced of the truth at this fell.” A high and lonely spot, with a view that swept over the rounded fells and valleys. Very satisfying to think of that time in 1652, and the people walking here from Sedbergh, a village several miles south. We could appreciate the day much more, having walked here ourselves.
After spending some time enjoying the view and soaking up the silence, we pushed on. In less than ten minutes we came to a lane or footpath, which could have been the bridle path. We stopped to consult Jame’s map. A man was working in the back of a truck, unloading a mower. We asked him for directions back to the River Lune, and he offered to take us, an invitation I accepted gratefully. We passed the same three hikers we had seen earlier on the way. The young man’s face looked even worse, eyes almost closed, face swollen and bruised, but still marching along at a good clip.
Our lovely driver let us out just past a little church. He pointed us down the hill. “Just through that gate. It’s dead easy. Follow the path down to the river.” We thanked him and off we went through the gate, down the hill, across a foot bridge, back up past Hole House, thankfully the barnyard had dried up considerably, and through the pastures to Brameskew Farm. Janet and James were still not back, but they had left us the key. We washed off our boots at the outdoor faucet before going inside and plunking ourselves down in the front parlor to rest. A thoroughly satisfying day.