OK so it was 15 miles, not counting the trek up to the station to see the steam train, and the long walk to the hotel. But it was a lovely, gentle, walk through English countryside today. A perfect end to a fabulous journey.
If you remember, officially we should have been staying in Newbiggin. So we had a two mile walk before we really got going. A bit trudgy along roads and would have been hard work last night. Really recommend our version.
From Newbiggin we start a 4 mile stretch over Ravenstonedale Moor. It is a lovely open moorland, lots of limestone pavements, rolling flatish hills and heather. Sunbiggin Tarn is a nice reward for your efforts and a handy view stop before the only climb of the day. Up to 470m.
We had great views of Tornando flight practice as they skirted the hills and valleys.
The next section took us down into Great Asby and a welcome pub stop. Too early for a beer – tea all round.
The final section followed the river virtually all the way into Appleby, through pretty meadows, along a rocky babbling stream and past a totally undramatic, but rather atttractive waterfall.
Now the next bit sounds made up, but it really isn’t. I have always wanted to see a Kingfisher. Neil has seen one already – but not me. A bit of an ambition. As such a lot of this walk followed a river, I thought I had a pretty good chance. The last couple of days, we are in the Eden Valley – they use a Kingfisher as their logo. But no. Zilch. Zippo.
So today, as we reached the last footbridge over the last 100 metre stretch of river, I didn’t really give it a second thought. And there it was. A streak of blue flashing away before you could almost register it. But a Kingfisher nether-the-less. Last chance saloon. But I saw it. You really don’t know how special that moment was.
Up again, away from the river, a last push on the calf muscles. As you reach the top of the hill, dramatic Cumbrian hills begin to rise in front of you, and then Appleby, (sadly with its castle shrouded in scaffolding and plastic) laid before us.
The last mile was almost a jaunt.
We had heard a rumour at Ravenstonedale, that a steam train was passing through Appleby at about 5pm. It is quite a rare occurrence and something we wanted to see. So on arrival at Appleby, at just gone 4, (after 7 hours walking), we bypassed all the pubs and went straight to the tourist office for confirmation. Those of you who know us well, will know how hard that was. Yes – there was to be a steam train passing through. So despite throbbing feet, and dry mouths, we headed up, yes UP, the hill and to the station.
The engine is called Tornado. It is the newest steam train to be built in the UK apparently. It stopped to take on water at Appleby and we got a fabulous view. I don’t know why they are so special, but they really are.
Finally we made it to our hotel. We had been out and walking for 10 hours, so justifiably tired, I think. The hotel is great. We settled in and didn’t move for the night. The boots are off and packed away, the walking gear consigned to the ‘dirty laundry’ bag. We have had an amazing time. And tomorrow? The most scenic railway journey in England awaits, going back along our long 110 mile walk back to Leeds. How perfect is that?