Today I set off up the fell, aiming to go over Cross Fell. It’s one of the toughest Pennine Way days, taking walkers over England’s highest hill outside of the Lake District. Cross Fell is 893m high. Not a huge mountain, so I was surprised that it defeated me. I was on my way up it, not too perturbed by the snow I could see on the tops (during breaks in the cloud), and by the driving rain. Right from the moment I stepped out of the lovely youth hostel in Dufton this morning, I was buffeted by the wind. Walking was difficult. As I got higher, I rounded a corner, and the gale got so strong that I just couldn’t walk. I’ve experienced plenty of windy conditions up hills in my life, but this was super fierce. If I’d have crawled I might have been ok, but I still had 14 miles to go. And 14 miles crawling isn’t a practical way to go. I wished I’d not lost weight since I started walking. Some extra ballast might have helped. But even my rucksack felt like it was going to be tugged off my back by the wind.
I turned round and admitted defeat.
With the wonders of modern technology I downloaded some additional OS 1:50,000 maps to my phone, worked out how to walk the long way round these North Pennine fells, cancelled my B&B, googled another and booked it, and set off in a northerly direction on lower tracks and paths.
I’ve got a friend joining me in a few days time, so I’m hoping to still make our rendezvous point. Luckily I had an extra rest day planned in on Monday, so that gives me a bit of leeway.
A couple more weather facts. Up by Cross Fell there is a weather station. It holds all the records for the most extreme weather conditions in England. The average temperature (year round) is 4 degrees C. (That’s 39F for US readers). And the area is the only place is England with its own named wind, The Helm Wind. Wikipedia will do a far better job of explaining it than me. What I do know is that it doesn’t half blow.