Post 11. A further mile on we reached Grassington with its many pubs, tea shops, cafés and craft shops, a good excuse to have another rest and sample the peach ice-cream on sale. You don’t have to go to America these days to try a variety of ice creams. Sitting on some benches around a tree in bright sunshine, we chatted contentedly to a couple who were convinced that eight miles walking was their limit and that to walk twenty-four miles in a day was madness. Putting on a brave face, I said it was just practice that was required, not telling them that it was Gary’s stupid idea to walk this far in one day. They were suitably impressed.
As we climbed out of Grassington towards Conistone Pie, the weather was kind to us and the views magnificent. Conistone Pie incidentally is not a variety of Yorkshire Dales steak and kidney pie, but is in fact a natural limestone hummock topped with a cairn.
We had now walked twenty-one miles and the blisters on my heels were rubbing like sandpaper on nails. The only way I could ease the pain was by cursing Gary under my breath, especially when he kept increasing the pace. At twenty-three miles we passed Scargill House, a Christian retreat and I was sorely tempted to seek refuge there. However, remembering that there was at least one pub in Kettlewell we hastened, or rather, hobbled on. The last mile was agony as the rubbing of flesh accompanied every step. At last we arrived at the youth hostel to see a stuffed model of a climber attached to ropes trying to scale the front wall of the hostel. Was this some kind of sick joke indicating that to gain entrance we would have to do the same? Fortunately not and, as it was 5.00pm, we were let in.
I spent most of the evening with my ‘hot feet’ propped high up in the air on pillows and blankets to ease the ‘foot pounding’, blisters and other aches and pains. This has now become known as ‘The Dales Way Technique’. So beneficial was the treatment that I managed to hobble in trainers without socks to one of the three pubs. Blisters need air and I needed the pub.
The three backpackers Gary had assaulted earlier had already drunk half a bottle of whisky and fortunately, contrary to our earlier thoughts, they were not former paras or SAS. One of them, a bus driver from Nottingham, was off sick from work with back trouble, although he failed to give a satisfactory explanation of how he could walk with a huge backpack. Another was a Canadian mountain biker and basketball player and the third one was a depressed teacher, no doubt glad to get away from his pupils. Returning to the youth hostel, we discovered our dormitory was rather small and the sound insulation to the next dormitory was poor. A group of youngsters were having lively discussions next door until 1.00am and sleeping was difficult; however, as youth hostels are essentially for youngsters I prefer not to complain. I was young once, although it is difficult to remember.