Trackless is a lie, but the band of travellers isn’t. For the longest day, we had wonderful company in the form of a mum in her seventies partnered by her forty-ish son. The irony is that we got to know Edward’s name, but we never asked Mrs Cairns hers! Well, after all, Edward always called her mum! When we split up at the end of the day, walking into Kirkby Stephen, Paula and I looked at each other and laughed and what we had forgotten to do.


It was an auspicious time to get together, because the navigation down into Orton was a bit of a test. The route today was long — 32 kms — but not very hilly, so it was just a question of making sure that one foot went in front of the other for nine hours. We left the wonderful Brookfields House, with all of Margaret’s hospitality (Paula especially admired the lovely china and homely touches around the lounge and breakfast room) and departed Shap for Kirkby Stephen.

What made the navigation interesting today was the path, which was no longer a public pathway but what they now call Permissive; so it was a green path across lowland pasture and, ironically, quite easy to miss. The Cairns were using a twenty-year old map – from when Mrs Cairns had done it last time, fourteen years ago, for the second time — so the new map and book cam in handy.

We the sense to grab some lunch in Oddendale and walked across the moorland, starting with limestone country and far too many stone circles and things of archeological interest, and then walking across green fields. Gently rolling countryside allowed us to walk at pace, and the weather was glorious. We walked past history spurious (Robin Hood’s grave) and glorious (Victorian railway architecture at its finest) and are constantly amazed by the drystone walls and buildings.

We had weary legs and the last part of the day was very long, but walking down those last fields, under the railway and into the long valley leading to Kirkby Stephen, at the afternoon’s most golden, was glorious in a kind of painful way. We are lucky to have seen this part of England, so beautiful, so old, and yet full of very nice people. Well, subtitles would help sometimes!

The Manor House gave us a great welcome, another cheerful and helpful hostess in Jean. Nothing was too much trouble and we got advice on a great meal and some good conversation — and our washing done, dried over the Aga. But, Lord, were we sore.