The first Day of our 3-day walk southish along the Cotswolds started with a climb up Dovers Hill from Weston-sub-Edge. There are a couple of paths up Dover's Hill, but our first choice ended at a cow filled field that we were reluctant to cross. Doubling back, we escaped the cows and also saw this amazing humming bird hawk moth feeding on a buddlija bush.
I thought it was worth resurecting my Penine Way blog to record today's short walk with Dave along the coastal path in Euskal Herria (the Basque Country) http://www.oarsoaldeaturismoa.eus/images/ezagutu-oarsoaldea/natura/docs/PasaiaDonosti-litoral-ingl.pdf that forms a short stretch of the Camino de Santiago. I've not considered walking the whole Camino de Santiago, not least because of its religious connotations, but long distance walks have got into my blood a bit since last years Penine Way, so later this year Dave and me have a 3-day, pub to pub, Cotswolds walk planned, and next year I hope to walk Wainwright's Coast to Coast. I might blog on both of these walks too, so here's a taster from today.
The walk starts with a climb out of Donostia - Hondartza beach behind us.
On Google Earth these steps, down to Pasaia, looked much more precipitous than they turn out to be.
It's a quick ferry ride to the old town of Pasaia for lunch
One nice bit of advice that Wainwright gives is to take your time walking and savour the moment as "you may not come this way again."
It's pretty hard to do that though, with 20 miles to cover in 12 hours of daylight. And try as I might to live in the moment, I've never quite managed to take my eye off the finish line (especially when your only experience of the present moment are too very sore and aching feet).
Today feels different though. I've never felt so happy on the last day of a holiday before and I set off this morning with a real spring in my step. Even the long climb, a mile and a half up Clennell Street, to today's starting point felt joyous. Listening to Dave Brubeck digging Disney, with the morning sun in my face, and a sherbet lemon in my mouth.
I don't even hate my boots anymore - looking all newly waxy and dry.
So maybe it's taken 15 days of walking to get me to live in the moment.
The Pennine Way has a spur that leads up the Cheviot (above), the highest hill in the range. I didn't take it though as apparently it's a bit of a boring hump, and I think I've done enough hills.
Top of The Schill
Even though I didn't climb the Cheviot, I did take the high route into Kirk Yethom, over several smaller hills and a half-mile further.
The finishing line
Victor's free half-pint at the Border Hotel
And log book of many Pennine Way walkers. This book only started in June this year and already half-full!
A lot of people have asked "What way the best day?" Now I know, it was today, the last day - when I suddenly realised that I would do it all over again.
Starting on the second-to-last day of walking, I'm feeling a strange mix of emotions. There's sadness, excitement and relief. Hopefully in one day's time, at about 5.00 pm, I'll also be feeling a little victorious.
Yesterday in Bellingham, I saw this man looking victorious, walking home with his trophies and prize winning leeks.
Me on the Cheviots
Across the Cheviots, the Pennine Way follows the Scotland/England border crisscrossing it for much of it's course. This is the border fence and the gate were the route first crosses into Scotland. Perhaps inauspiciously, the gate catch was stuck closed, so I had to climb over.
More border fence
Some essentials inside
The aptly named Windy Gyle
Clennell Street is where I walk off the Cheviots to catch my lift to tonight's B&B.
Bellingham has a handy range of shops. There's a post office (my need for which had now passed), a bakers (cheese and tomato sandwich, rocky road and a 2 oz bag of pineapple chunks), a hardware store (dubbin for my boots) and a chemist, where I joined a queue of fellow travellers in search of sticking plasters and insect repellent.
This is the view from Whitley Pike.
This is Padon Hill. Not much to look at but after last night's rain and the hills reputation as a place where walkers risk drowning, I took advice and skirted round it on the road that the original Pennine Way route took.
Much of OS map OL42 charts areas of impenetrable forest that are said to be home to red squirrels. I spent this afternoon walking along a logging track dissecting a large part of it, to reach a clearing known as Byrness.
Where there was no sign of squirrels, but evidence of very tough sheep.
I arrived in time for pint of Tetley's at the Byrness Hotel, just as Northumbrian rock band Takahaad were striking up.
Later, I'll be driven back to Bellingham to spend the night, before resuming the last two days of the walk from Byrness tomorrow.