Tuesday 22nd February 2011 - Day 3
The day began with a breakfast fit for kings at the Strickland Arms in Great Strickland, in the Eden Valley, East Cumbria. As we drove away, Liam advised that the next objective was Kirkby Stephen. We arrived there in good time, but found little justification to hang around and explore, so it was onwards towards Keld, with a careful eye on the snow on the high roads.
On the B6270 over Birkdale Common we paused for photos. I looked over at the tantalisingly nearby-looking Nine Standards Rigg G/NP-018 and briefly toyed with the idea of walking up there with Liam. However, I dropped this concept and continued the drive into Keld. We parked outside the Keld Lodge, formerly the youth hostel. Liam and I went for a walk downhill into the tiny village, and then down over the river on the short stretch of path that is both the Pennine Way and the C2C route. We inspected Kisdon Force waterfall before heading back into the village and climbing the hill back to the car. Liam had begged me not to activate Kisdon G/NP-026, so I granted his wish and set off in the direction of Reeth. A couple of photos were taken in this unpicturesque village with a contrastingly picturesque panorama. In the car we listened to the 106.4MHz regional station, now ID’ing as Capital.
Already, I was conscious that we were heading further and further East from our intended Tuesday night accommodation of the Tan Hill Inn. But the day was yet young, and I thought we could two or three more legs in during the afternoon, even if that meant a fair drive back in the wrong direction later!
From Reeth it was a short journey to Richmond and the inevitable photographs of the castle. It was then difficult navigation and several wrong turnings as I attempted to navigate across to Ingleby Cross, and taking a tiring route via Catterick Garrison and Northallerton. The car radio was tuned to 106.9 Garrison FM.
Well, I found the village of Ingleby Arncliffe OK, with the help of road atlas and road signs. But what of Ingleby Cross - the nominated stopping point in the Wainwright book? I drove over to where this was indicated on Mr Wainwright’s hand-drawn maps, but didn’t see any signs that said it was “Ingleby Cross”. “Oh well” I said to Liam, “This is definitely it here, because of that road junction there” as I pointed down the street and then referenced it on the map in the Wainwright book for Liam’s benefit. “So we’ll take some photos here” I said. “Right Liam, go and stand there beside that cross” I instructed while pointing to a war memorial. “That cross”! Aha - the Ingleby Cross!
There was still time left in the day, so no thoughts of retreating to Tan Hill just yet, and we pressed on up the A172 to Carlton in Cleveland. This was the cue to turn into the minor roads over the Cleveland Hills, and look for Clay Bank Top. We musn’t have been looking hard enough, for we were dropping downhill and reaching the junction at Chop Gate. I turned around, backtracked, and looked at little harder. This time, I managed to locate and turn into the car park at Lord’s Stones Cafe. However, after confirming that the cafe was about to close, and that the car park gates would be locked within 30 minutes, I exited the car park again to park on the side of the road just outside.
Liam and I kitted up - which included a Cadbury’s Wispa Easter Egg for sustenance - and set off for a walk along the Cleveland Way and C2C route to the summit of Cringle Moor-Drake Howe G/TW-002. The path is basically level as it emerges from the rear of the Lord’s Stones car park, and then nicely graded and not too far uphill to a bench and topograph.
The ensuing ridge walk was easy, but spoiled by thick fog totally blanking any views. This also blanked any hint of where the summit was, and we missed the faint track through the heather to the right of the path. Realising I had gone too far, I heather-hopped in the basic direction of the summit until I could make out the murky shape of the large cairn.
Soon, we were huddled down in the large hollowed out shelter and scoffing Cadbury’s chocolate. I set up the 40m dipole and worked through 17 contacts in 14 minutes on 7.032MHz CW. Many thanks to all callers.
We now faced a race against time to be off the hill before needing to don headlamps, a race that we just won. Initial enquiries for accommodation were fruitless, so we decided to concentrate simply on food, and getting to a motel on the A1 or A19 late at night if necessary. It was now too late to consider driving all the way back to the Tan Hill Inn, so accommodation would have to be sought more locally. As would food, and we chanced up a curry house in Stokesly, which was just the job.
Time was marching on, and I needed a site - and its locator - for the night’s 6m activity contest. I worked out an approximate OS grid reference from what appeared to be a viable spot on the road atlas, then broadcast a text message to most of the radio amateurs in my 'phone address book asking for a conversion to Maidenhead locator. Many replied within minutes with the IO94MJ I required, with Phil G4OBK adding “Enjoy the Lion Inn!”.
I telephoned him straight away for further elaboration. Yes, there was a pub near my chosen contest site up on Blakey Ridge - a usual C2C stopover nonetheless. “Accommodation?” I said, and asked Phil to get me the number. Phil came up with the goods quickly, and within a few more minutes, we had very conveniently located beds for the night.
We paid the bill and drove up onto the moors again, and parked on the spot I had identified. It took a while to get the 6m delta loop up in the very thick fog, but then it was the relative luxury of in-car VHF contesting for me. But it turned out that my site was rubbish. It was OK to the south, with JO02, JO03 nad IO91 coming in, but poor to the west, with only one station worked in IO83 and none at all from the Bolton Wireless Club - unheard of! On reflection, perhaps further down Blakey Ridge would have been better. Lower elevation, but with take off to the west as well as south.
We made it to the Lion Inn in extraordinarily thick fog just before 11pm. I had a quick half of Black Sheep and a large Jim Beam, while Liam had a J2O. We then went up to our basic twin room, a comparitive bargain at £44 B&B for the both of us.
Again, no trouble sleeping whatsoever for either of us!
To be continued…