Monday, 12 September 2016

Day 16 The Cheviot and the end

13 miles Clennell Street to Kirk Yetholm

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 certificate

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. 

Saturday, 10 September 2016

Day 15 Windy Gyle

14 miles Byrness to Clennell street

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 victoriouswalking 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


Rescue hut

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.

Day 14 Whitley Pike and Padon Hill

15 miles Bellingham to Byrness

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.

Friday, 9 September 2016

Day 13 Hadrians Wall

22 miles Greenhead to Bellingham

Setting off with Helen on what turned out to be quite a long trek. Remains of Thirlwell castle in the background.

Great walk along Hadrians Wall. Unfortunately, shortly after this photo was taken, the sole fell off Helen's right walking boot. 

She went on to bravely complete the remaining 14 muddy miles in one left boot and a spare sandal.

Arrived in Bellingham just before 8.00pm, tired but in time for a couple of pints before bed. 

Wednesday, 7 September 2016

Day 12 Wet fields and wetter moors

17 miles Alston to Greenhead

Nice countryside, but I don't think many people would choose to walk across the moors. The thought of meeting Helen at Greenhead kept me going though. Not too many photos of the walk today.

Lots of cows

Strange horizontal rainbow

Last night it was veggieburger, chips and salad, three pints of Yates Best Bitter, and ELO greatest hits (there are a lot of them) in the Cumberland Inn, at Alston. 

Tonight it's pan roasted salmon, asparagus and crushed new potatoes with Helen in the Greenhead Hotel.

Tuesday, 6 September 2016

Day 11 Cross Fell

19.5 Miles Dufton to Alston

The night's go fast on the Pennine Way. Partly because all you really want to do is rest a few hours more, but also there is so much to do - unpacking, bathing, tending feet, eating and having a few pints, and then an early night. Other routines I have are posting to this blog and the reading the next chapters of my Wainwright guide and Armitage's book, both read back to front.

Last night I was reading Armitage saying that "Cross Fell is a truly terrible place."  Well today it was a pussy cat, sunny warm and not a chance of losing the path. I think I had much more luck than poor old Simon.

Nice pub in Dufton - last night asparagus and leek pie, chips and mushy peas. (That was just for you and JT, Sarah). Also as of tonight I've done 183 miles

Climbing Knock Fell on the way to Cross Fell.

Great Dun Fell

Little Dun Fell and Cross Fell behind me.

Looking back

Shelter on the summit of Cross fell

The Lake District

Greg's Hut offers the only amusement on a long and quite boring descent from Cross Fell.

Inside Greg's Hut - maintained as a refuge for stranded walkers - there's a portrait of Greg over the fireplace.

Day 10 Upper Teesdale and High Cup

20 Miles Middleton-in-Teesdale to Dufton

I was dreading the distance today but expecting some spectacular scenery along the Tees valley.  I wasn't wrong and ended the day awe inspired and aching.

The Tees runs fast and there are huge waterfalls along the route.

Low Force

High Force - the biggest waterfall in Britain 

Aptly named - Cauldron Snout.

Doesn't look much - The approach to High Cup.

High Cup - The photo really doesn't do this justice. 

How do you get down from here?

The further you go on the Pennine Way the more wild it gets, and the fewer people you see. I ate lunch at the side of Cauldron Snout and didn't see a soul. Had I fallen off High Cup, no one would have heard me scream.  Something about the walk today made me yearn for the Grouse Inn and Froggatt Edge.