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The Dales Way – Cowgill to Sedbergh

June 15 – Eleven miles planned for today. No rain in the forecast, but no sun either. High temp will be around 55 – fine brisk hiking weather. After yesterday’s adventure, we are looking forward to an uneventful walk. Want to see more sheep and cows? Didn’t think so. Here are my first pretty pics walking out of Cowgill.

So, just to catch up, at some point during the past few days, we left Yorkshire, and are now in Cumbria. The town signs tell us we are leaving the Dales, and entering the Lake District, although we have not yet seen a lake. Stay tuned.

On previous journeys, I’ve described how the trail is marked, to help hikers follow the right path. The marks on this trail are small and far between – a little white or yellow arrow on a fence post, sometimes reading Dales Way, and other times just Public Path, Bridle Path, or Footpath. Jim has a guidebook that he refers to throughout the day to keep us on track.

We haven’t gotten lost, so I guess the markers are sufficient!

Some more prettiness.

By lunchtime we had reached the little town of Dent, birthplace of Adam Sedgwick, the father of modern geology. They are very proud of him here. His father was the vicar of the local church.

More prettiness.

We see Sedbergh, our destination for this evening.

Once again, the gardens do not disappoint!

We are staying at a two bedroom B&B with a shared bath. We walked down the Main Street to a Bangladeshi Indian restaurant where the food was absolutely scrumptious. A good walk will give you a good appetite!

The Dales Way – Kettlewell to Swarthghyll Farm

We’re staying in Kettlewell at a little B & B above the Cottage Tea Room, where all the kids lined up to buy an ice cream cone after school. We have a beautiful view of the hillside from our bedroom window.

Once the tea shop closed at 5pm, we had the building to ourselves. Maybe we should go downstairs and have an ice cream? Maybe some cake? Tempting, but we resisted. The owner left us little glasses of sherry and chocolates to tide us over until supper.

We crossed the street to the pub and ordered a Mediterranean Vegetable Wellington. Turns out, a Wellington is anything baked in a puff pastry. Very tasty, although the chips and peas are becoming standard fare.

June 13 – Today we trek 12 miles. While downing our breakfast (full English for Jim, just eggs and veggies for me), our host tells us that today’s walk is the prettiest part of the Dales. We’ve been told this every day so far, and every day it’s been true!

Now, here is something you may not know. Kettlewell was the town used as the set to make the film Calendar Girls, in which a group of old English matrons decide to pose nude in a calendar to raise money. Here is the Kettlewell Garage, where the matrons got the idea after seeing a girlie calendar on the wall.

Would you like to see more sheep? Here’s one doing morning yoga – downward facing sheep position.

Here are some cows who did not want me crossing into their territory.

Lots of buttercups today.

By mid morning, we arrived at the chapel at Hubberholme, which is famous for its mice.

We ventured in, and looked high and low, but no mice did we see. Then Jim spotted one! Do you see it?

Here’s the close-up – tiny mice carved into the front of the pews!

Well, that was our excitement for the day.

We stopped to eat our lunch in front of an old lime kiln. Evidently, you fill the kiln with limestone, set a fire, come back in three days and shovel out your lime. Voila!

After more sheep, more cows, and many more gates and stiles, we came to the cross carved into stone in honor of Queen Victoria’s Diamond Jubilee.

This was our landmark to turn onto the road to Swarthghyll Farm.

We walked, then walked some more. Saw pretty flowers.

Walked some more. Where was this farm?

Finally, another sign, but still no farm!

Well, eventually a farmhouse did appear, and we found our walker’s cottage, with a kitchen, bedroom, living room and bath just for us. Our invisible hosts left our supper in the fridge with instructions on how to light the oven. A different kind of adventure!

The Dales Way – Burnsall to Kettlewell

So now we’ve reached Burnsall, a very small village with no shops or amenities, dominated by the 500 year old Red Lion Hotel, where we are staying.

There is a bridge here.624CF834-4BA6-4A15-86A3-7F34CABDAB91

And a church.9A5415AE-7645-47EE-B860-A56ED59243B6

After a refreshing and much needed shower, we went down to supper in a traditional English pub. Although this is definitely not a food blog, we are trying to experience and share info about traditional English dishes while we are here. If you are already acquainted with these dishes, my apologies.

Jim ordered shepherds pie (lamb, carrots and gravy under a fluffy mashed potato crust) with cabbage on the side.

I opted for the even more traditional haddock and chips, accompanied by a serving of mushy peas. After liberally applying salt, pepper, catsup and brown sauce, we pronounced all the food delicious. Everything you’ve heard about the blandness of English cuisine is, as far as we can tell so far, true.

June 11 – We walked around the tiny village of Burnsall this morning. The buildings are uniformly rectangular and made from the same brown stone, so the residents pour their energy into their front gardens.D4397C15-D1F0-49E2-AD9A-DFEE12A99CC8.jpeg

This morning was our first opportunity to order what is called “the full English” breakfast, which consists of (clockwise) eggs any style, fried mushrooms, black pudding (a sausage that tastes sort of like liverwurst), bacon (we would call it ham), fried tomato, fried toast, sausage and baked beans.  I’ve heard this meal also called “a fry-up”.26AE085B-E7BB-4CFA-B6EF-221630A31934We now understand why defibrillators are available here on every corner!CC00F776-9B9C-4FC9-9AA2-7AE9EF9D2900June 12 – This morning we proceed nine miles to Kettlewell, which our guidebook promises will be a pretty and pleasant walk.

We started by getting our daily dose of sheep and cows.

We crossed the River Wharfe one more time, over a bouncy suspension bridge.

Here’s another tree stump filled with coins. Maybe for good luck?

We left the river, and climbed up into the hills, where there are lots of stone walls. Yes, for every wall, there was a stile to climb over.

We walked through the village of Grassington, which has a little waterfall and an interesting carving.

So, as we were walking along, all the sheep in the field we were traversing started maa-ing and baa-ing. Dozens of sheep. Maybe a hundred sheep. Jim wondered if we upset them somehow. Next they all started running toward us. Oh no! Trampled to death by sheep? What a way to go! Over the horizon we heard the drone of a tractor, and here was the farmer, coming with the morning meal. The sheep ran right past us, continuing to make an unholy racket until the tractor stopped and the first handfuls of grain were thrown. Then blessed silence. Sheep!

Agueda to Albergaria-a-Velha

9/19 – only 10 miles to walk today, so we slept in and partook of the hearty breakfast offered by the Residencial Celeste. The walk was easy today, and the sun came out in between the rain clouds, so here are some pictures, lots of flowers of course, and fall harvest:

The day was mostly on asphalt, with an hour walking through a eucalyptus forest. You can see how hard it is to keep the trail marking on trees when the outer bark peels off!



Dogs here are chained outside, and they wear themselves out barking at every passerby. Here are some watch dogs and a watch cat, with a pig and some sheep thrown in for good measure:

We got in to Albergaria around noon, and spied a large, modern supermarket, so we stopped in for provisions. Once again, as soon as we were safely inside, the skies opened and the rain poured down. We sat in the cafe inside the market, and watched the other pilgrims come in, drenched and dripping. An old woman came up to me and asked if I was a pilgrim, then hugged me and cried and patted my face, asking me in Portuguese to take her prayers with me. I’ve been collecting a lot of prayers to deliver to St. James. If you would like to add a prayer, I’ll be happy to take yours too…

There is no tourist info in this town, so I used the opportunity of being seated and dry to get out my phone to see where we could stay for the night. Once again, the alburgue was out of business, and so was the residencial and the pension. What now? We asked three young Canadians where they were going to stay, and they told us they were fed up with rain, and were taking a bus to Porto. The French don’t speak any English and we don’t speak any French, so we don’t know what they were doing. The Austrians, ever efficient, had pre-booked a room two miles northwest of town via Bookings.com. That looked like the only game in town, so we headed there too.

The Hotel Ribeirotel, painted pink, is in the middle of the industrial zone, on a busy highway. When we asked the price of a room, we were shown the rate sheet: single, double, or “couples by the hour”! Oh dear, another place of ill repute, but there was nothing for it, so here we are in Room 29. It’s clean, there are no mirrors on the ceiling, and the shower is good. And yes, we did watch a lady of the evening plying her trade on the highway across from the entrance.

There was no restaurant, so we crossed the busy highway to get to a mini mercado to buy the makings of sandwiches and beer for an elegant supper in bed, while watching an old Robert Redford movie on TV with Portuguese subtitles. Now, this is living!

Condeixa-a-Nova to Coimbra

9/14 – Happy birthday to Eliese and Tiare and Eva! Hugs and much love to you!

Today we walked 12 miles into our next big city, Coimbra. The morning walk started out on level ground, so we made great time for the first few hours. Here is our 7am sunrise:


My salute to a Nice Person of Portugal came as we stood at a crossroads with conflicting Caminho arrows; a spray painted one pointing to the left fork, and the more official looking but less reliable municipal sign pointing to the right. A driver pulled up and pointed to the left, assuring us that the hand painted sign was the one to follow. Obrigado to you, sir!

We stopped for an espresso mid-morning, and were delighted and mystified to hear a bagpipe and drums bleating out a lively tune and coming our way. I love a parade! Never did find out what the occasion was, but they stood in front of us and played a merry tune while we clapped encouragement. Then off they went down the street. Do you think all Pilgrims get this reception?


We passed three churches in three towns on this Sunday morning, none of which were open or holding a service. Don’t know what to think about that…


The love put into flower gardens spilling out over walls and fences continues to amaze me. Today I saw lots of purple.

…and a waterfall. image

Before we knew it we were looking down the city of Coimbra:

Here a Roman aqueduct had to be partially destroyed to allow the highway to be built. Thankfully, much of the aqueduct was spared:

At the entrance to the city is the Convento Santa Isabel, erected in honor of the beautiful and kind hearted young queen who gave her riches away to the poor. When her jealous husband tried to catch her in the act, her basket of coins miraculously turned into roses. She is buried here. image




Then the rain came down and we hoofed it over to our residencial (with a balcony!) where we will rest our weary feet and see what the city has to offer for the next few days.

Golega to Atalaia

9/5 – we walked out of Golega this morning, and ran into this fellow sitting on a bench:

Our guidebook always tells about the historic church in town, but the churches are seldom open. Here’s Golega’s 16th century church: image

As we walked in the early morning, we came upon a little old lady peering down into the dirt beside the road, and occasionally picking something up and tossing it in her shopping bag. When we got close enough to inquire, she showed us a bag full of snails. Sure enough, as we walked along the highway, we could see lots of snails, and picked some up to give to her. Jim asked to take her picture, but she started yelling, so we moved on…



Today our walk is only 7 miles, to the tiny town of Atalaia, which boasts one restaurant, and one very nice B and B.

When we got to Casa do Patriarca a little after noon, we read the sign that said checkin wasn’t until 2, and breakfast would not be served before 8:30. We started to fret, as we really wanted a cool shower, and if we can’t leave at 7am we’ll be walking in the hottest part of the day. Our gracious hostess, Senhora Oliviera, put our fears to rest, saying the sign was for the tourists. We are Pilgrims, and can have whatever we want! And, she ran our laundry through her washer for us! Another Nice person of Portugal!

A note that I may have already mentioned, but no one has electric clothes dryers here. We found this true also in Ireland, Spain and Italy. Even hotels hang their sheets and towels outside to dry.

The B and B has a lovely back garden, and we ate our lunch in the shade:

Now here is a question: we’ve been seeing this fruit tree growing all over, and no one can tell us the name of the fruit. It looks like an apple or a pear, and is edible but not sweet, with an astringency that makes your mouth pucker. We’re told that they are used for making marmalade, but not eaten out of hand. What is it? Eliese?? Anybody??image

For supper we walked to the only restaurant, where we saw this sign in the window:


Now, you know we had to order snails for dinner! Maybe these were the very ones we picked this morning! Jim ordered a snail appetizer, and we expected maybe six snails on a plate. Instead, the waiter brought like a gallon of snails, and some toothpicks. You just stick a toothpick in the shell and haul the little slimer out, then suck the garlic and butter out of the shell. Yum!