Today was lengthy, uplifting, tiring, humorous and fast moving. After an amazing night camping in the garden of the forest view inn sharing war stories with fellow campers, we chow down a brief continental breakfast followed by a mighty full English. 2 stones later we depart with high spirits, delighted once again with the hospitality received last night and this morning. The sun is in full effect today and the only way to describe the ramble up Byrnes hill is like a dehydrated camel getting pulled up a vertical ledge.
When reaching the top, its across the green Cheviot Hills, and what a love it is to walk these hills into Scotland, windows of pure joy are felt through this serene environment. Beautiful they are, but beyond , where the infinite is found there really are no words but laughter, laughing at what, we do not know. Neither does it matter…
5 miles on walking ‘the walkers trance’ we say farewell to the pennine way, and follow the old roman road (dere street) towards Jedburgh. We find our way quite easily, across hills until we reach a stream to freshen up. We decide to take the long concrete road into Jedburgh. Even though a quiet walk, any walker knows not to walk concrete. It is the most demanding terrain (in my opinion ofcourse), and for the 7 miles, its not easy feeling like a punctured tyre rolling on the hot floor being gentley pushed by the wind. Only our humour kept us going at this stage. Blistered feet , aching shoulders and worn hips are prevalent, but the pain is ignored as I’m on a mission. Staying focused is crucial, as on hard days like this motivations can be lost easily.
We are relieved tomorrow we rest in Jedburgh with its beautiful abbey and Mary Queen of Scots had her or a house here..
I soon fall in love with Jedburgh, and Im sad to leave.
Todays walk was an odd one, and my relationship with the pennine way holds mixed emotions, especially after today.
A strong start up into the moors and to be fair the moors north of Bellingham are well marked and easy to walk. Our peaceful walking is disturbed by the artillery range at nearby Otterburn.
Sun is beaming down once again, it has been since the start of the journey. Walking in the sun is lovely but the heat makes our movements a bit slower, not to mention what it does to our heads. I’m sure you’ll agree The english sun does funny things to the english man.
After climbing a monstrous hill, we sit by a wall and decide for some lunch. And we must be there for a good hour passed by fellow pennine wayers. Conversation lifts spirits we put our boots back on to walk once again on an asphalt forest road. This doesnt help my blistered feet. The end of this walk seems to take a long time and we are both tired….
However, upon reaching Byrness things change, and smiles hit our faces. This small village has a row of Houses, a phone box and a place called the forest view inn. Now upon seeing the sign we are confused…
So with confused looks we come across this forest view inn and meet the owner who is sitting outside. We mention, we need somewhere to camp and he says you can camp in my garden. We’ll do you a 2 course meal and breakfast also.. all for £21. We walk into the garden and relax at this lovely little homely b & b which also has a 24 tuck shop on site. Many walkers are staying here, so we share dinner together and have a crack.. I also make a new friend… Bracken is his name
Good times, good people, and good sleep, we couldnt have asked for much more after a tough day.
The remaining 500 miles starts today and for pennine way continuity sake I continue from nearby Nenthead. I’m pleasantly surprised to be joined by my good friend Adam, he has a bad knee and it is courageous of him to come along.
Its a firm solid start up the moor, filled with confidence, enthusiasm & a sense of knowing. Until within 5 minutes of walking we go 1/4 mile off route. Once again I’m mapless for the start of the day, yes I know, a bad habit. However we find our way by looking at the lay of the land.
Every good walk is like a book, it has a beginning, a middle & an end. The beginning today took us down a few wrong paths but the sun hitting the dales keeps us heartened. Past Alston on a country lane we spot a sheep in a field hurt caught in barb wire. We take the time to cut the wire off and nurse the poor animal. He isn’t to responsive but we do our best to help than continue.
All of today follows the river Tyne mostly through picturesque hills and valleys. We follow a disused train line which is now the south tyne trail until we reach a village called Slaggyford, the perfect break for lunch on the old station platform. As we reach the hamlet of Slaggyford, it feels as if the middle of the walk starts. Our feet start to ache, but not enough to raise a concern, for now….
Along the trail, we reach Lambley viaduct & we are blown away by its size, towering over the valley. Its like a massive version of the bridge at Monsal Head in Derbyshire.
We are both relieved the end is 5 miles on from here. And as we watch the clock and distance, the end of today is taking forever. This sometimes happens when walking, and staying present is essential. After all, one step at a time is good walking….
Finally, Haltwhistle, than a couple miles on to our campsite for a shower and rest, watching the sunset go down..
Area: Yorkshire Dales
Starting point: Hawes
Ending point: Keld
Date of walk: 11th May 2016
Trails: Pennine Way
Distance: 12.03 miles
Terrain: Mountain & road walking
Weather: Sunny & cloudy
Really getting into the swing of things now. Body seems to be getting stronger by the day & experiencing this ever changing environment which I am walking through is truly a blessing. I opt for the later start this morning, as I need to visit the village pharmacy for some Sudocrem & an outdoor shop to try a different walking sock. I’m out and about in the village by 8am, but the shops don’t open til 9. So i pay a visit to the church. As I enter I’m greeted by a kind lady, I take a brief walk around before sitting down in uninterrupted silence for the hour. Quiet meditation & prayer is how my days are always started, and to be in this little village church is serene. I exit joyous, and thank the kind lady for her hospitality.
An unusual start to the day, I follow the pennine way. The pennine way, the pennine way, I’ll be dreaming about the pennine way months after this week. But I loose track and vier of it slightly. I either walk back, or I cut across farms over dry stone walls to reach back onto it. The 2nd seems the quicker option. Something happened today which I wasn’t expecting. As I was cutting across the fields. 1 of the fields was full of sheep, they all mysteriously looked at me. The look in their eyes is somewhat suspicious, there is 30 odd of them & 1 of me. I walk quietly along the walk trying not to disturb them, especially in this time of lambing. But, all of a sudden, kabang, they all come close, than eventually start charging. I flee like a bullet leaving the gun of its chamber & quickly climb and hop over a wall. Talk about getting the blood pumping first thing. You really start to think to yourself, where did I go wrong in life when you’re getting bullied by sheep.
Today’s walk it pretty much all about going over the Great Shunner Fell, another pretty incredible mountain. I first reach the village of Hardraw where I find a pub called the green dragon with this sign outside..
Today is more of a stroll, than a hike, even up the Great Shunner Fell. To get to the top of Great Shunner fell takes a bit of time however, as soon as you think you’re at the top, you’re not and you see another summit. That’s the running theme, they may aswel have named this one ‘blind summit’. Sun is back out in full force again & I walk alone. As I reach the top, I stop for lunch. What spectacular far reaching views from this one.
I stop and talk to a couple, an interesting conversation. They are from Nottingham, and they decide to want to talk to me about the poverty from in the major cities of London and Nottingham. ‘Really?’ I think to myself, you want to talk about this now, on top of this hill, on your holiday, you want to talk about this. Anyway, I briefly entertain the conversation. There is silence, followed by the question ‘Are you in or out’? And by that they mean the EU Referendum. I literally laugh out loud, I’m in hysterics, than I realize it was a serious question. I compose myself once again, and simply say ‘I walk up mountains, camp in forests, help myself and those around me, but voting, voting is something I do not do’. It’s all a very serious conversation on top of this mountain, I try to get a chuckle out of them, but a half hearted smile is all that is shown. Never the less, I ask to join them on there walk down, and we all continue down. We reach the bottom, They continue on the pennine way & I take the high road into Keld…
Area: Yorkshire Dales
Starting point: Earby
Ending point: Malham
Date of walk: 9th May 2016
Trails: Pennine Way
Distance: 13.01 miles
Terrain: Straight up Dales, River & village walking
Weather: Sun, blue skies, Scorching
I need to do something about my feet, I need to do something about my feet is the reoccurring loop I wake up with this morning. Every fellow walker I bump into today hears about my feet. Every long distance walker knows the inconvenience of blistered swollen feet, and if they don’t…. well either they know something the rest of us don’t or they’re not long distance walkers at all. When it boils down to it, there are many variables – socks, boots, moisture and there’s no ‘right’ solution as everyone’s foot is totally different. Anyway, for today it’s all about staying focused, simply ignoring the pain and keep on going.
I pick up some supplies at the co-op, and head out of town early towards Thornton In Craven. It’s another one of those days, where the sun is beaming down. A lovely day, but makes for slower than usual walking. Coming out of Thornton, I come to realise I’ve left my walking stick at the hostel. Oh well, item number 2 long gone. It would have really been helpful on today’s walk, especially, once again when I am welcomed by the typical dales, up and down, up and down. However I’m pleasantly surprised once I hit the River Aire. The remainder of the day mostly follows this lovely river through more quiet Yorkshire villages. This place reminds me of Maida Vale area, Grand Union Canal in London. A strange comparison to make, but down the Grand Union Canal, on a quiet day can be equally as peaceful.
As I continue for a few miles along the river and out back over the dales (again) heading towards Gargreave, A lady catches up with me and we both stroll together into the village of Gargreave exchanging stories. She than goes on to tell me she’s walked all the way from Zurich since January! That’s quiet a distance I think to myself. We depart ways in Gargreave and I head to the pharmacy to grab some supplies, and to the post office to off load a kilo of weight to post back. Followed by a cup of tea and slice of date, apple & walnut cake in a local cafe. Yummy!
The rest of today I meet back with the river, and follow it through the small villages of Airton, Hanlith & than finally into Malham. But did I mention, its up and over a hill to get to each village? Oh yes, that common theme of the Yorkshire Dales, Up and Down. Ups and Downs, like a heartbeat. And what is the best way to manage it all? Keep your feet on the ground, no matter how high you are or how low you are. Stay rooted and keep on going. The sun today has turned me into a darker shade of brown & as I enter into Malham, there’s alot going on in this tiny village. I explore a bit, grab some dinner, and jump into the tiny corner shop before it closes to grab some snacks for tomorrows journey. As I exit the shop I notice my phone drop out my pocket, & the screen becomes half smashed. Oh well, item number 3, although this is still functional for now.
The Pennine way is quite a famous walk you see, it is special & I can see why people do it. However, most people walking it, seem to want to talk about them walking the pennine way and how they are walking the Pennine way. Oh, and you mustn’t stray from the Pennine way, because if you do, you’re not a true Pennine wayer and you’ll be struck down by lightning. I’m surprised a lot of these folk don’t have the route tattooed on their foreheads. Anyhow saying that, tomorrow I’m stuffing the Pennine way for a day & heading north through more treacherous territory exploring the Dales way & the Pennine Journey (Other trails)….. and I’m glad I did , as the following day was the best day yet…
Area: Yorkshire Dales
Starting point: Hebden Bridge
Ending point: Earby
Date of walk: 8th May 2016
Trail: Pennine Way
Distance: 22.32 miles
Terrain: Woodland, Streams, Moorland, Dales
Weather: Sun, blue skies, Scorching
Hebden Bridge, what a lovely quaint place to start. At first impressions, this place comes across as the land of rich hippies enjoying life in the Yorkshire Dales. Slightly new age, with shops offering ‘super vegan detox shakes’ and other shops selling cheap recycled fabric. ‘Oh right, its one of these places’ I mummer to myself. As I walk through this place on an early Sunday morning I hear most people talking in Southern accents, which is confusing… Isn’t Yorkshire, the land of flatcaps, farmers driving round on quad bikes herding sheep & the setting of Emmerdale? I soon discover further North, Yorkshire is pretty much like that in a nutshell! Hebden Bridge of the Yorkshire Dales is like what Matlock is to the Derbyshire Dales, gateway towns. And as I walk around on this Sunday morning, I need an OS map to know which way to go, but most shops are closed until 10am. I arrive at 9am and I am really needing to set off as I have a 22 mile walk ahead of me. I guess I’ll need to freestyle it today somehow.
As I walk, with 19 kilos of weight, doing 22 miles on day 1 is probably something I won’t do again. I think what most do is break it in. It only made the days to come alot harder than they should have been. I start by heading out of Hebden, walking through the lovely picturesque Hardcastle Crags. This is absolutely stunning in this beaming sunshine, walking along the river, through forested woodland for some miles. An inspiring start, and I illude myself into thinking this is it, this is what its going to be like… If I knew that what comes next is bleak, exposed fells, moors & mountains for days I would have stuck around this area for an hour or so to connect with the lively trees. The further more north and out you go , the more and more bleak it is, and the less and less people are to be seen. On This Sunday morning, the valley is thriving with families, walkers & runners.
I make way along the Hebden Beck and follow it to Acornden Water. I start to gain some height until I cut through the moors and hit the pennine way. Bingo, the infamous Pennine Way. This is said to be the hardest trail in the country. After being on it for a few days in this scorching heat, I can confirm, its bloody tuff. I follow the way down passed a few reservoirs. It’s hot out on these moor today’s, and I’m very tempted to take a dip, but it’s getting on a bit, and I need to get to Earby at a reasonable time.
Past the 2 reservoirs there is a climb up to Withins Heights where I stop and take in the surroundings…
Back down the hill reaching Ponden reservoir & than back up to Maw Stones Hill. I thinking I’m starting to see a pattern here, up and down. Walking 22 miles is 1 thing and sounds easy. But when it’s up and down hills with a load of weight, it’s a completely different ball game. My feet are already feeling it, my shoulders are burning, my hips aren’t doing great either, but I put it all down to my body adjusting to the torture I’m putting it through.
Around the 16 mile mark I reach a village called Cowling where I somehow come off the pennine way and take country roads towards Earby, how I got there is still a mystery to me as I have still have no map at this stage. But as I limp into Earby, the first thing someone said to me was ‘ oh you look weary’. LOL, oh thanks. The body tires, but the spirit remains strong. I make my way towards the YHA as Earby has no campsites & very little places to wild camp due to the exposed bleakness of the Yorkshire Dales. I’m greeted by a gentleman who give’s me a key to the dorm, well its actually 2 beds in 1 room and I have it to myself which is great. As its late all pubs have stopped serving food but I do find a kebab shop. Yes, I go and do it, order the £9 kebab. Go back to the hostel, and stuff down these lumps of protein only to find on returning back to my room my newly purchased fitbit pedometer that was attached to my waistline has now disappeared. So there we go, 1 item lost already.
Earby is a beautiful little village & it’s actually in Lancashire. This is the only time I will be in Lancashire on my walk, and as much as I would like to stick around this little village for a few days, I have a plan to stick too…