Day 33 – Cleared to Cross Fell, over

Dufton to Garrigill

“The highest, most remote and most exposed part of the route” says my Pennine Way guidebook about today’s jaunt. It’s a stiff climb from 190m at Dufton to 750m at Green Fell after 6Km and then 800m at Knock Fell, 850m at Great Dunn Fell and 893m at Cross Fell, the highest point on the Pennine Way.

I have to take their word for it because I couldn’t see a thing. I could easily have been in Piccadilly Circus during one of those smogs of my childhood. At first the weather was fine but as I climbed out of Dufton I could see the clouds coming down over my Fells ahead. I set off early to allow the mountain rescue people enough time to find me before the pubs closed.

I kept telling myself, “these are the Pennines, this is why I’m here, this is really a nice day for the area because it’s not raining – yet”. It’s nearly always misty although historical records say you can see the Lake District on a clear day. But what I’ll always remember is the wind. It’s a hurricane. You can’t stand up and when you try to walk you can easily be blown off the path.

It was a relief to reach Green Fell but the path is so feint that I lost it in the mist. Some footprints disappeared in a bog so I drank my coffee and ate my marmalade sandwich which the chef at the Kings Arms prepared for me in lieu of breakfast. He should have put a label around my neck, “Please look after this softie”.

My iPhone thought the path was about 2m to the right and that’s where I found the footprints that I was following like a bloodhound. On I went to Knock Fell where I almost bumped into a man coming towards me. He said it was incredibly windy on Cross Fell. As I watched him disappear into the mist behind me, a new figure emerged. It was Katrina who is a fell runner from Leeds and who was following my footprints. She is walking the Pennine Way in 11 days which is par for those types. Her backpack was the size of my day pack and contained her tent, stove and some matches. Not much else.

Katrina shook me out of my ambling pace and we set off towards the Great Dunn Fell, home to a National Air Traffic Services station. They cleared us to climb to Cross Fell and we put our gloves on. The wind blew so hard that it blew the clouds away and suddenly there was a fine view of the valleys below. Magic moment!

We lingered for a minute to take an unsocially distanced selfie and then descended a few metres to Greg’s Hut where you can shelter or even stay the night. Chef made me two packs of cheese sandwiches (after I made a little fuss) so I gave one to Katrina together with a KitKat and my apple because she needed it more than me. In return I got a fine cup of green tea.

And then it was a hop, skip and a jump over the bog down to Garrigill, 337m, where I called for my taxi, 3 hours ahead of schedule. The rain started to fall.

Into the hills today

Knock Fell, possibly

On Cross Fell, windy… but then a moment…

Cross Fell Summit selfie with Katrina

Greg’s Hut

11 comments on “Day 33 – Cleared to Cross Fell, over

  1. Sounds like a happy day, especially the green tea.

  2. Every day’s a happy day with a green tea. Especially in the clouds

  3. Your day today sounded just like the day I crossed the Pyrenees on the first day of the CF! I’ll have to share the video of our crossing on WhatsApp. It was crazy — but those are the days that we remember long afterward. After that, most everything else was just a lovely stroll. 🙂

    • I remember you telling me about it. You had a wild day on the Pyrenees. When I did it a year later it was beautiful

  4. David Jury

    Hi Tim – So you have reached the highest point of your journey , a bit like the Alps and the VF, you think it is all down hill from there but it wasn’t was it. I must say you look the part in your gaiters ! You mentioned yesterday you had to slow down to walk with your cyclist companion – I remember the difficulty I had in keeping pace with you and Paul for the short distance I walked with you – in the end I just gave up and waved you off in the distance !

    • I have an odd shaped body. I’m all legs. People assume I’m going to be slow but once I start, I’m off like someone much taller. I’m getting to like my gaiters. They look a bit early 20th century

  5. Congratulations on reaching the highest point of your walk 👏🏻👏🏻👏🏻🎉🎉🎉🎉🎉. What an achievement to be proud of.

  6. Tassie Kaz

    When I saw today’s title & knowing your sense of humour, I was expecting to read of some mishap like ‘Fell..over’… 🤭 but thankfully all was revealed & that wasn’t the case. Besides that, there was no chance of your preferred injury occurring due to lack of trees!
    Congrats on reaching the high point of your journey Tim.

    This day (it’s already the 12th in Aus) last year, you were in Kyoto & all set to start the wonderful, extraordinary 88T’s tomorrow. I hope you can find a moment to reflect whilst you continue to tackle The Pennine. Such a contrast…what an amazing world we live in.

    • That would have been good. Shame I didn’t fall over! Yes, it was Friday the thirteenth when I started my Shikoku 88 Temple pilgrimage. I never stop reflecting on it. Maybe one day we’ll meet again and we can talk about it.

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