Sunday, August 31, 1980

Sunday August 31st

Dad’s angry voice woke me up this morning. We had forgotten to put the doorstop against the fridge door last night and George, obviously feeling hungry, had raided the fridge eating bacon and meat before Dad caught him. He is a devious yet lovable cat.

Fortunately, the sun was blasting down from a clear blue sky as we set off, arriving in Buckden car park at 9.50 a.m. We were walking by ten.

We walked along the riverbank to Hubberholme and then along the road to Yockenthwaite. I felt in a good mood as we walked; the sun was warm and I was thinking about Santana and going round the world – all those sunny places you always hear or read about.

At Yockenthwaite we took an old monastic path straight up the hillside to Horsehead Gate and Halton Gill, and soon the path became really punishing. Just before we started to climb properly we stopped and I sat under a small tree right at the treeline. It was superb – hundreds of birds singing in the branches, bright sun and cool wind.

For the next mile or so the track went up at about 35°, and Mum and Dad lagged behind – the climb was really taking it out of them. The sun had a lot to do with it, searing down from a clear sky, and by the time we crested the ridge I could feel my pulse throbbing behind my ears, in my neck and at my temples. Dad’s face was a strange red colour – I suppose 50 is quite old to be doing this.

The view was worth it though, right across Langstrothdale and over to Plover Hill and Pen-y-Ghent. At Horse Head Gate we had some food before carrying on down the hill towards Halton Gill. Here I was in a good mood and at this point I think I was enjoying the walk more than at any other time. As we walked down somehow we got onto going round the world, I don’t know how, and funnily enough it was Mum who started urging us on, saying we could go halves on a bike and with the insurance etc.

Andrew and I spent the next 10 minutes or so planning our route – up through Scotland; to Norway; up to Finland and down through Russia; Europe and to Spain and then down Africa one side and up the other; through Iran etc and China and then to the Americas. He even jokingly said that I could write the book and he would take photographs to illustrate it.

Halton Gill was small (and old – most of the buildings seemed to have been built between 1626 and 1692) and we then walked the 2¼ miles along the field path to Litton, where we slumped exhausted by a waterfall.

The next mile or so up the hill from Litton was absolute agony – I was hot and really shagged and I could feel myself getting all annoyed inside. After an hour or so and many pauses we reached the summit where, thankfully, it was cool and windy.

With the sun behind us now we struck down the hill towards Redmire plantation and I nearly vanished forever beneath a bog. I was heading towards a marker post when I came across some bright green sphagnum moss. I put my foot in it – literally! – and sank right up to my right shin. At first I thought I was going to lose my boot because the power of that bog was amazing.

For the rest of the way back I was walking with one boot covered in moss and filled with mud.

We eventually joined up with an old path through a sheep pen which we did during our Kettlewell weekend earlier this year, and the setting sun was so superb and the shadow of school so near that I really didn’t want to go. I could’ve lain there in the grass all night!

The colours of the hills were superb on the way home. We kept having to stop because Dad’s legs kept seizing up with cramp, stopping at KIlnsey and Burnsall, eventually arriving home at around eight-fifteen. Robert rang just after about the Sheffield match.

In the evening I watched “The Curse of King Tutankhamun’s Tomb,” a corny TV play about 1922 and Carter, The Curse, and Caernavon etc. I also had to take the cat out.

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