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Cowgill to Sedbergh

Saturday 18th August 2007

11 miles walking

The weather forecast for today was dreadful, and although it wasn't actually raining when we awoke it soon started again. We walked to the Dalesman for breakfast; the 'Full Dalesman' breakfast is huge, so I had a 'small' breakfast.
We returned to the cottage to collect our stuff, then waited outside the hotel for the bus back to Cowgill. It said 'Kendal' on the front of the bus and when I asked if he went to Cowgill the driver said that he only went to Dent...However it turned out that he meant Dent Station, which is up the road past the phone box at Lea Yeat, so it was OK. The bus cost the grand total of £1.20 each, for a 9.5 mile drive, and it was an amazing journey. We had the bus to ourselves and on several occasions it only just fitted between the hedges on either side of the road, or between the buildings in Dent; cars certainly got out of the way when they saw us coming!

It rained whilst we were on the bus, but it had just about stopped when we got to Cowgill.
However the early part of the walk was extremely wet and muddy under foot and it rained again during the morning. We initially walked beside the river, but then climbed away from it a couple of times before returning to the river for the approach to Dent.

Dent is a memorable place, with its cobbled streets, lovely church, and a fountain commemorating the geologist Adam Sedgwick.
Dent is also famous for its hand-kniting industry, but it was lunch we were most interested in and we found space at Stone Close, a lovely tearoom and guest house. We had tomato and basil soup (and Richard and Helen had cakes too) and we met up with the group of Canadians, who we had heard were walking the Dales Way but we hadn't yet met (they had set off from Ilkley a day before us).

After lunch we resumed our walk along the River Dee, noticing the 'Network of Gates' - a series of small gunmetal plaques fixed to gate pillars as part of a Millennium project involving children from Dent School and their parents. We walked briefly along the road - this was flooded in places, so more like walking along another river.
We crossed the real river at Brackensgill, grateful for the fact that a footbridge was constructed here in 1999, since the sign saying 'deep ford' wasn't joking!

We climbed to Gap Wood, with lovely views of Dentdale, across to the dark crags of Combe Scar opposite and down to Sedbergh,
with the Howgills (a range of hills to the north of Sedbergh) cloaked in cloud behind. We were walking slightly more slowly than the 'advance guard' of the Canadian walkers, but quite a lot faster than the others, so most of the time we were between the two groups (which was fine). When we descended to Millthorp, technically the end of today's leg (the nearest point to the centre of Sedbergh), we found the 'advance guard' sitting waiting for the rest of their group, so we stopped to chat to them.

We decided to follow the path slightly further on its rather tortuous path around Sedbergh, to save time tomorrow. It was a lovely wooded section of river (now the River Rawthey), though the signposting wasn't brilliant.
Just before Birks we left the Dales Way and returned to Dales Cottage via a path through the grounds of Sedbergh School. Fish and chips for tea tonight.

Following day