I took a walk in the woods and came out taller than trees.

Henry David Thoreau

Following early breakfast at the B&B in Keld when I was staying (really lovely hosts – would love to come back!), I set out on my way. It was a beautiful day – given this was February, this tells you something about the climate these days!

Before I left the village, my B&B hosts were kind enough to take this photo of me.

You don’t even need to leave the village to start appreciating the views! This was taken just next to Rukins Park Lodge Campsite.

And this one from Keld Lane on my way out of the village:

In less than half a mile, I crossed a bridge over River Swale and soon the trail turned – steeply upwards – in the north-western direction away from the river in the Stonesdale Moor direction. First one passes through East Stonesdale, just a house or two, and then the route goes towards Frith Lodge.

View of Keld from East Stonesdale
East Stonesdale and the hills surrounding Keld in the background
Keld (down below) and surrounding countryside

By about 2.5 mile into the hike, it was all properly remote – this is Stonesdale Moor. Truly stunning and beautiful – away from almost any buildings with just minor paths. Hills, grassland and wild streams (called gills) abound here.

After 4 miles of walking, the highest inn in Britain. The actual walk-up to the inn is on a wide dirt road, and flat, after previously climbing about 200m.

Approaching Tan Hill Inn

I only made a short stop near – not at – the inn before heading further. Now the route descends down towards Sleightholme Moor. This is where I ran into problems! – it was very damp, wet and boggy on the ground here. I learned a huge lesson here as a walker. It was impossible to find a dry way around the bog here and I ended up with damp socks and feet within 10 minutes. 30 minutes later I had blisters – and I was soon forced to stop my hike at Bowes, rather than Middleton-in-Teesdale some miles later, which was the original plan. The blisters were painful enough for this to not be any sort of fun at all!

Life is a good teacher. These kind of blisters have never happened to me again since. Within 7 days of this, I had new hiking boots, merino socks wicking damp away – and in two years now, I have never had this type of problem again!

I don’t think the photos below, from Sleightholme Moor, make it obvious, but it was really boggy underfoot here!

Whilst crossing the moor, one has Sleightholme Beck to their left. Eventually, there is a bridge over it (around 5 miles from Tan Hill Inn). From here, the trail follows the Beck for a little while before joining a wider dirt road.

At Trough Heads, because of my foot blisters, I had to leave Pennine Way and make it over to Bowes, the nearest town. I followed the road towards the north to Mellwaters, where I took a sharp turn to the east and, following, and then crossing, River Greta, I found myself right next to the medieval Bowes Castle, where I finished my trip.

Satisfying – but painful on the feet!

All images from this trip can be seen in the video below:

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