Stop raining you bastard weather, I muttered under my breath as I drove over the A66. Rain was lashing the car and causing poor visibility. I drove slow to delay my start and somehow kidded myself it would clear, bringing views and a wild camp to enjoy.
The last time I was in Dufton was on the Pennine Way. The shop is closed down now and Norfolk House had no bed and breakfast sign displayed. Times had changed and the weather had changed. It had stopped raining. Pack shouldered I followed the Pennine way heading to Cross Fell. The path had more horrid granite slabs laid on it than before. They save erosion according to the path builders who lay them. They don't. Awful to walk on and slippery under foot when wet. So like many before, when I could - I walked to the side of the path adding to yet more erosion. The hay had been cut and turned in the fields. Dark clouds hung to the tops. Still, views of the Lake District to my left across the valley and Pennines to my right were to be had.
I was alone. No one was out walking. I headed up the Pennine way to the Heights and enjoyed the views looking to the dark outlines of the Lake District in the distance. Dark and moody views opened up before me.
The views on top were not to be seen. Mist and rain awaited me and I followed the path along to Great Dun Fell. More awful stone slabs for a path had to be endured and when the path lacked them I enjoyed the conditions underfoot. The rain was lashing me by now and the radar station on Dun Fell peered out of the mist. I moved on heading to Cross Fell. On my Pennine Way walk I had been in luck when as I descended off Little Dun Fell the mist that day had cleared and I got the views when I reached Cross Fell. I walked over the summit plateau of Cross Fell to the trig point but no views were to be seen today. I had a break on the summit huddling out of the wind and rain by the shelter. I was in no mood to take many photos in the rain and just contemplated my next move after I phoned home to say I was fine.
I walked back on my ascent route to Crowdundle Head and took the path off, heading to Tees Head. On the 1: 25 000 map there is a sheep fold marked which when I lost the main path in all the bog and damp I had found by picking up another track heading in the direction I wanted. Just past this I intercepted the main path again near some old mining ruins. I was wet and it was getting late in the evening. I pitched up hoping the rain would clear overnight and allow me to enjoy the sights of the hills and moor behind Cross Fell the next day. The water here was very dark and peat stained. I had still a lot of clean water from my hydration pouch and with no filter, stuck to using that until I could find some cleaner water in the morning.
Dawn broke and the rain and mist still lingered. I decided to change my route as I would see nothing on the north eastern side of Cross Fell today. I opted to walk back up and over the path I had descended to my wild camp by. It was a decent path down and as I eventually dropped out off the mist by Wildboar Scar the views opened up. I calculated eighteen hours was the time I had spent in the rain and mist with walking and at my wild camp. It was good to see some views at last.
From there I linked footpaths via Milburn and Knock to take me back to my start point. I walked through a part of Cumbria I would not have seen except on a day spent avoiding the mist and rain. I enjoyed watching rural life going on and the hay being turned by farmers preparing for winter, while every time I looked to the hills cloud clung still to the summits. Walk done, the Stag Inn was visited in Dufton. I would like to go back on a good weather forecast and do my intended route as the area behind Cross Fell looks worth exploring.