Post 126: 13 April 1995: Day 6 – Eskdale Youth Hostel to Foxfield – 16 miles – The Underpant Trail.
All good things must come to an end and this was our last day. The first part of the walk took us past Penny Hill Farm to the foot of Harter Fell from where the head of Eskdale, the best view of the day, looked superb in bright blue skies. Leaving Eskdale over Grassguards Pass, we descended to the Duddon Valley, then ascended the Dunnerdale Fells, having lunch at the top, including cheese pasties that were so bad we donated them to the local bird life. By this time it was extremely warm, we were down to T-shirts and water supplies were running short. A clear track led down to the village of Hoses, but there were no hoses there to cool off with.
The path to Broughton Mills was easy to follow and, with relief, we found a tiny pub called the Blacksmiths Arms. Is this the smallest pub in England? The bar seems to be a room in someone’s house and another room contained an old kitchen range. However, it was our saving grace, as by this time we were suffering from dehydration. Well that was our excuse for an extended stop as we sat outside in hot sunshine gulping pints of orange squash and beer, watching farmers move lambs from one field to another. The sounds of Whiter Shade of Pale came from inside the pub, reminding us of our youth, in this somewhat idylic sun-soaked setting. Birds sang and flowers were in bloom. Had we gone to heaven or were we hallucinating due to exhaustion and dehydration? (Update – the pub now does food and gets rave reviews on trip advisor).
We then followed the River Lickle to cross the park of Broughton Tower to Broughton town. In the attractive square we stopped for an icecream. Continuing to journey’s end, Foxfield station, we arrived at 4.30pm. There was no one on the station and so we changed our sweaty T-shirts and trousers, not quite the Full Monty, but close.
On my return journey I had to leave the others at Carnforth station in order to get my connection. After a tremendous walk this brought me back to reality as it was not manned, had secluded underpasses making it a mugger’s paradise, and was in a state of disrepair. There was only one other person waiting for a train here and we both agreed it was not British Rail’s showcase.
When I arrived back at York it was late and youngsters were queuing to get into the nightclubs in mini skirts and t-shirts; a very different world to the one I had just returned from!
13 September 1995
Success, the icing on the cake! My book, On Foot from Coast to Coast: The North of England Way, has been accepted for publication by a major London publisher, Michael Joseph Ltd, part of the Penquin group. I always believed the route and book were worthy of publication but, from time to time, doubts creep in. It was a ‘dream’ that took over five years to realise; trust your instincts and your dream will come true. Now I could share the enjoyment and pleasure I received from the walk with other enthusiasts. A bonus was that my Editor was previously Wainwright’s and I was Michael Joseph’s first ‘new’ author of a walking guide. Other authors, including Wainwright, had already had books published, before being accepted by Michael Joseph.