Half Way There

Sitting in the lounge of the Keld Lounge in Swaledale, drinking tea and ale and eating cake, we’re all glad to be here and to be halfway across Wainwright’s Coast to Coast path.

We’ve had to take the bad weather route every day that’s been an option so far, and today the weather called for that but we didn’t do it. Instead we headed up and over Nine Standards Rig, a peak in the Northern Pennines, named for the nine stone cairns built on the ridge.

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The origin of the cairns is a mystery, but they’re beautifully built and particularly beautiful and mysterious in a blowing cloud mist.

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There’s a reason there are bad weather routes. There are few trail markers here and an abundance of low clouds, making navigation tricky. But David has been practicing his compass and map skills and we needed them, following the trail bearing through the legendary mud of the peat bogs. I went up to my knees in mud twice. So did Anne and Peter. But we stayed on track and got to Keld in good time.

Now we’re on to the second map of the path, relaxing as our wet boots and gaitors dry in the drying room. And the scenery continues to be stunning, whether walking a wind whipped ridge or a village lane.

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About Grace Mattern

Grace Mattern is a poet, writer, mother, grandmother, partner, friend, family member, gardener, triathlete, hiker and for 30 years was the Executive Director of the NH Coalition Against Domestic and Sexual Violence. She resigned her position at the Coalition on June 15, 2011 in order to concentrate on her writing, while continuing to engage in the movement to end violence against women as a consultant and advisor. Her chapbook Fever of Unknown Origin was published in 2001 and her full-length poetry book The Truth About Death was published in 2012.
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