Post 59: 4 April 1993: Day 6 – Sedbergh to Dentdale Youth Hostel – 11½ miles
On leaving our comfortable bed and breakfast, we stopped in Sedbergh to buy postcards; it is important to let friends and loved ones know they are not forgotten, even though you might be having a great time. As it was still very early, Sedbergh was quiet and tranquil. The main cobbled street has a number of alleyways leading off it, one of which called Weavers Yard has an old house with a large chimney in which Bonnie Prince Charlie is said to have hidden after the 1745 rebellion.
As we left Sedbergh there was snow on the surrounding hills, but it soon disappeared as bright sunshine came out. We passed through a disused golf course, a unique site in the golf course boom of the 1990’s. Dentdale soon came in to view with the rising sun spraying the valley with its penetrating rays.
Arrival at Dent Village gave us the opportunity to seek out the locally made Dent Brew. After trying the perpetually spouting liquid from the pink block of Shap granite in the centre of the village, a memorial to Adam Sedgewick, we quickly decided that it was water not Dent Brew.g
We therefore sought out the two traditional pubs to taste the amber nectar, with some success. Tempting though it was to remain in the pubs we still had over five miles to walk to Dentdale Youth Hostel and so reluctantly left the cobbled streets of this quant village. We half expected old ladies to come rushing out of the little cottages waving their knitting needles at us. Dent is famous for its ‘terrible knitters’, so called, not because they stick needles in passing walkers or because they were useless at their craft, but because of an older meaning of the word which indicated the great speed with which they worked, at home or even while tending sheep or cattle. They produced clothing for the army during the continental wars in the 18th century.
Not only is the youth hostel, miles away from the village, but so is the railway station. You might have heard of Dent railway station on the Settle-Carlisle railway line, but you will not find it in Dent for it is at the head of the valley. A local farmer was once asked by a visitor, why is Dent station was 4½ miles from the village of Dent? Apparently he replied ‘that it was because they wanted the station near the railway line.’
Arrival in Upper Dentdale left a moving and everlasting impression. Always a secluded and tranquil valley, on this occasion it felt like paradise with the late afternoon sun, coupled with nearby sounds and aromas, touching senses, which were heightened after 70 miles of glorious walking. I asked a local whether this was paradise and she agreed it was. Please note I do not normally go up to ladies and ask if this is Paradise!
Later on in the youth hostel I came across the following poem in a magazine – a sign that there are forces much greater than mankind?
From age to age.
Yet ever changing
Moment to moment.
Fleeting over their vast beauty.
A tangible peace
By the trickling becks.
The best is yet to be
Our Birth into Eternity
When I saw this poem I knew my book, On Foot from Coast to Coast: The North of England Way, would be published even though it took a further three years to come to fruition.
However, for many the Lake District will have been ‘Paradise’ and Wordsworth in a few words enshrined its beauty for those with an ‘eye to perceive and a heart to enjoy.’
‘Tis the sense of majesty and beauty and repose, a blended holiness of earth and sky, something that makes this individual spot, this small abiding place of many men a termination and a last retreat, a centre come from where so ere you will, a hole without dependence or defect, made for itself and happy in itself, perfect contentment, unity in time.’
Before reaching the hostel the route passes the village of Cowgill, on the opposite side of the River Dee. The road past the village is called the Coal Road, and does indeed lead to an area of long-disused collieries on Widdale fell, passing Dent station, which, at 1,145 feet is the highest railway station in England. The Cowgill village chapel was the subject of an Act of Parliament in 1869. A new curate wanted to change the name from Cowgill Chapel to Kirkthwaite Chapel. However, Adam Sedgewick was against this and wrote a pamphlet called: ‘TO The MEMORIAL OF THE TRUSTEES, COWGILL CHAPEL, 1868′, arguing for the name to be retained. Queen Victoria saw the pamphlet since Sedgwick was then working with Prince Albert, reforming the teaching of science at universities throughout Britain. She summoned the Prime Minster and an Act of Parliament was passed to retain the original name of the chapel – the Cowgill Chapel Act 1869.
Shortly after passing Scow Force, the drive-way to Dentdale Youth Hostel was found on the right. The hostel, also known as Deeside House, is an attractive white-washed listed building and is a former shooting lodge. It was built in the 19th century and has been a youth hostel since 1944. (Update –sadly after the foot and mouth outbreak it closed as a YHA hostel). The potential big drawback is that it is a walk back of about a mile to the Sportsman’s Inn and an evening drink. However, if you get a clear night you will be entertained to a wonderful kaleidoscope of bright shining stars from the pitch black of the country lane, untouched by the illumination of town and city lights; a wonderful sight indeed.