This was to be our hardest day, the longest of the holiday and passing over the highest point. We were away by 08:45 and chose to take the shorter but hillier route to meet the Walney to Wear, a tough start to the day so we were glad to reach the railway path that took us almost to Bishop Auckland. Minor roads then led us to Barnard Castle with fine views from our elevation, it was warm and sunny all day but the headwind impeded our progress. We topped up our water at Bowes before commencing the climb over Sleightholm moor to Tan Hill where Britain’s highest pub is sited. They have accommodation but it was fully booked and when we arrived at 17:00 the bar and beer garden were busy with cyclists, motorcyclists and car tourers and I got the impression it may not have been the quietest of places to stay. After a superb pint of Theakstons Old Peculier we were underway again.
I’d optimistically assumed that it would be downhill from there but there were still plenty of ascents among the downhill stretches, arriving hot and tired at Kirkby Stephen. There’s a YHA hostel here which was also fully booked and I’d been unable to find any alternative in the town. It was getting late and we’d booked dinner for 19:30 at Ravenstonedale so we took the main road directly there, starting with a long climb. We’d have liked to have showered and changed first but at least it saved us going out again after checking in at Brownber Hall, a couple of miles distant and the nearest accommodation I’d been able to find. It’s an old country house in a very quiet location which we reached at 21:30, showered and went to bed.