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Pennine Way
Dufton to Middleton
Wednesday 27th August.
Day:7 - Distance:20 miles

06.30 alarm call and then up and about for another day. Breakfast is a standard meal everyday and consists of a basic mix of 30% bran flakes - 50% Granola - 10% mixed nuts - 10% chocolate raisins. This is eaten with a half pint of re-hydrated freeze dried milk. The meal should deliver around 600 calories which are quickly available for the body to burn. By 07.30 we have packed everything into our back packs including 2 litres of drinking water and are walking south along the road out of Dufton looking for the path to High Cup Nick. In common with just about every morning on this walk the day starts with a climb. The climb is easy at first following a farm track but increases in severity until it finally reaches a peak at High Cup Nick. The climb had taken less than 90 minutes so we talk a short break and enjoyed the view down High Cup Nick and into the Eden Valley. The weather was dull but not threatening so the water proofs were not required and having reached the highest point of the days walk it was nearly all down hill from here.

Heading west we come to the Maize beck which we will follow to its confluence with the Tees. If the Maize beck is in spate you will need to go due north and cross at the footbridge. The weather was good and the level of the beck was low so we followed its southern bank for about a mile until we found some suitable stepping stones allowing us to cross to the other side. All the land on the southern bank is used by the army for training and walkers should keep to the river bank. There are warning signs. Do not ignore them. The beck turns south and the Pennine Way keeps on west with an easy climb across the flanks of Rasp Hill. The weather was clearing and the sun breaking through as we walked on past the farm at Birkdale and along the farm track. We found a rabbit apparently trapped in the pit beneath a cattle grid. Catherine took off her pack and reaching into the pit lifted it out. Unfortunately it wasn't very appreciative off being rescued and jumped straight back in to the pit again. We think its was probably ill. Taking no chances on hygiene we pulled out our disinfectant soaked cloth and thoroughly cleaned our hands before walking on to the magnificent waterfall called Cauldron Snout which is situated below the dam at Cow Green Reservoir. We took a short break to drink and snack whilst watching the water cascading over the rocks.



Pushing onwards to get some miles in before lunch we follow the path along the rocky river bank towards Widdy Bank farm. This is a hard scramble amongst the larger rocks at the side of the river and is slow going. After about a mile the route changes from rock scrambling to the grassy river banks and we cover another mile before stopping for lunch. Its 12.45 and we have reached the confluence of the Maize Beck and the River Tees. At a grassy spot on the river bank we layout our ground cloth, kick off shoes and socks to let our feet get some fresh air, and prepare lunch. This will be a 45 minute stop but in that time we will follow our normal lunchtime routine. Cook and eat lunch, spread out and dry any items in our packs that may be damp, wash any dirty clothes, and filter at least 1 litre of water from the river into our drinking bottle. The water will be ready to drink once the chlorine has settled for which we allow a time span of 20 minutes after filtering.

The weather is now warm and sunny and we should have a nice afternoon walk following the Tees to Middleton. Crossing the river the Pennine Way follows the south bank of the river. On the north bank is a very noisy and dusty quarry but within a mile we come to the spectacular waterfall at High Force. You will need to walk to the bottom for the best view, but we just looked over the top before carrying on. Keeping the river on our left we carried on through the pasture and woods that edge the river. The waterfall at Low Force is about a mile further down stream from High Force, and a suspension foot bridge allows access to the opposite bank for a closer look at the falls. Another 3 miles of easy walking following the river brings us to Middleton and the camp site in the old railway station. We arrive at the camp site just before 17.00 and have our tent pitched and packs emptied within 10 minutes. We are traveling light so we don't have large amounts of clothes and junk to sort each night however we are however living very comfortably with what we are carrying. The camp site is nice and quite as we are now passed the main holiday season. The showers are hot and after a leisurely evening meal we chill out for 30 minutes before going to the bar on the camp site. There are 4 other people on the site with us. A man going north bound on the Pennine Way who was carrying no food at all but buying instant noodles at every place he stops. Even without food his pack looks heavy. There are 2 walkers from London who claim to be north bound having walked from Edale to Middleton in 14 days. they don't look as if they could manage even that slow pace. One of them is obese and both are carrying very large packs. Finally just as it was getting dark a young lad jumped over the wall at the back of the site and set up his tent. We headed into the camp site bar for a drink and to catch the weather forecast on the 24 hour weather channel. The weather for the coming days looked good even if the weather man delivered the weather news in a depressing suicidal monotone. We headed for our tent and good nights sleep.

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