Nightmares. Riverside Refreshments -Maggie’s Entrepreneurial Britain. Get the Dog Dazzer Out.

Post 58; 3 April 1993: Day 5 – Burneside to Sedbergh- 16 miles

It was about 4.00am in the morning when I found myself held down by some tattooed females, as Joe the tattooist went about inscribing Coast to Coast on my buttocks. Not only was it painful but it was very embarrassing to reveal all my buttocks to these relative strangers. Fortunately, I woke up to realise I was having a nightmare.

They say the best cure for a hangover is to start drinking alcohol again. Contemplating this, while trying to summon up the energy to get out of bed, I decided that a hearty breakfast and strong cup of coffee was a better bet. Leaving Burneside in a daze, we gradually got our bodies working again after the previous night of heavy drinking. The countryside consisted of pleasant, green, rolling countryside, or was that the after effects of alcohol?

After about 5 miles, approaching the A685 Kendal – Grayrigg Road, we reached an odd looking, corrugated iron building, labelled ‘refreshments’, which had bottles of pop on a counter next to an honesty box.

Big 50_6797_edited-1This was Maggie Thatcher’s entrepreneurial Britain gone mad. A local had decided that there was a market in providing refreshments to walkers on the Dales Way. What is even more surprising is that, a couple of years later, some walkers told me that a caravan was now in situ. With the extra trade generated by The North of England Way, I can only imagine that a fully staffed café will soon be erected.

Just before crossing the roaring M6 motorway, a labrador dog started to follow us. Stopping on top of the motorway bridge reminded us of how lucky we were not to be reliant on cars. Apart from soaps my other allergy is to traffic jams and, as they get worse each year, I adopt new tactics to avoid them. This usually means getting up earlier and earlier to miss the rush. On our last holiday to Cornwall we left at 5.30am, but were rewarded with a clear run through to the Land’s End peninsula. I am convinced long-distance walking will become increasingly popular as people yearn more and more to leave their cars behind.

Leaving the motorway behind, but still with the dog in tow, the Howgill Fells came into view and beckoned us on towards Sedbergh. Crossing the narrow lane near Lincoln’s Inn Bridge the dog decided to have an argument with a car, resulting in the owners giving us filthy looks. After some 7 miles, on approaching Sedburgh, I decided we must get rid of the dog if it was to avoid being hit by a car. It just so happened that I had my dog dazzer with me. This little tool I acquired soon after having met a German lady in the Yorkshire Dales, who showed me a scar on her leg where, whilst walking on the outskirts of Manchester, an Alsatian had bitten her. I decided I must find someway of protecting myself against marauding dogs. My local pet shop sold me a dog dazzer, which I tested in my home, in the process nearly deafening my own pet dog. Here we were in the open country with an opportunity to test it in a ‘real’ situation. After we climbed a stile, I set it off so that it made its hideous, high-pitched, screeching noise. The labrador’s ears lifted as though it were a bat and it looked momentarily startled. Suddenly I heard stampeding hooves, but, noticing that the dogs paws were stationery, I looked round to see two horses galloping madly in the next field. Oops….my dazzer worked on horses better than on dogs. I scoured the surrounding field half expecting the farmer to emerge with his shotgun. Fortunately he didn’t, so we hastened on, so did the dog.

Eventually we met someone else walking their dog. ‘Would you mind giving my sandwiches to this dog?’ I said.

‘Sure, but don’t you feed him with dog food?’

‘Its not ours, it has followed us for miles and we don’t want it joining us at our bed and breakfast in Sedbergh.’

With that I grudgingly gave up my ham sandwiches and at a stile the stranger fed them to the labrador, while we made our escape towards Sedbergh.

We arrived at Sedbergh at 4.00pm, at which point it was time to bid farewell to Alan who had to return to the real world of work. Despite being in a financial position to have much more ‘exotic’ holidays, he said how much he had enjoyed the freedom and complete change of the walk. I wasn’t sure whether this was a reference to the tattoo night or not? However, a fresh pair of legs to accompany me arrived at the bed and breakfast, Dan.

Dan quickly established his priorities for the walk as we scoured the menus of every pub in Sedbergh. In the end we settled for a delicious chicken kiev in one of the atmospheric pubs. Dan was quite surprised that, after 62 miles of walking, I looked extremely fit – he had half expected me to be on my knees.

Sedbergh has a notable public school, founded in the 16th century, from where the pupils regularly run up the surrounding hills before returning for a cold shower before breakfast. One former pupil and England rugby captain, Will Carling, must have been ‘hardened’ by such activities. With 11½ miles to walk next day, we decided to skip running up hills and the cold shower. Another notable old boy of the school was Adam Sedgewick, one of the earliest and greatest geologists who did much research in his own backyard. He was born in Dent in 1785.


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