We have got away early so we take the route home over the Corpse road, treading again in the footsteps of countless pack ponies over the hundreds of years before us. If you’ve seen any of the films I’ve made about my travels with horses you’ll know that there’s always a curlew in there somewhere. They instantly give a sense of place, a barren and open wild place. But the last 2 years the skylarks have started to take over that feeling of wildness and freedom, and here on Swindale common, the skylarks sing and fly fast and free.
And then as we get down to near the waters edge, the sun comes out again. Its already 4pm but as we cross a cool beck and find some long grass, we look at each other and all say we’d rather stay out an hour or two longer so we tether the ponies, have a cup of tea with the last of our milk and close our eyes lying in the sun for an hour.
The bridleway follows an old pack horse route that cuts up the side of the fell and then past through a gate at the top where the path joins the forestry track. They’ve been felling trees all around Harry Walkers Ground and it’s the first time I’ve been here since the trees have been felled. Once we’re on the track I hand the halter over to Richards daughter and its within 5 minutes Mathew wants to lead her as well.
As we get about half way along the lake shore the paths peter out and there are more than a few craggs to scramble over. The light is fading fast so I re-evaluate my timescale. As I work out a new route around some craggs with a couple of the guys it’s also brought to my attention that one of us has a broken head torch. This is an issue if we have to negotiate craggs in the dark. Then as we discuss it, it turns out that we have two dodgy head torches.
After 10 minutes we leave the farm track at a walled bridleway. Once we’re past the fell gate we stop to rest the ponies and get some lunch of cheese and baguettes. White Fell Head and The Calf look impressive and we have to decide whether to go up today or camp at the foot and take it fresh in the morning.