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Day 8 – Haltwhistle to Bellingham

Day 8 – Haltwhistle to Bellingham

‘The only difference between a saint and an ordinary man is motivation’ is what a friend once told me. To strive for constant surrender of gods will is a life times work. To accept what is, and release what judgement takes residence in the body. Now in walking terms, without motivation & dedication, you will stroll round never getting to where you are getting do. Like my practise of prayer, early rises are a valuable key to a long days walk. Much like hotels in Mayfair on the monopoly board.

We make way today towards Hadrians wall. This walk is impressive to say the least, we walk through the mist, up and down, up and down, quite a tiresome start actually. However we move fast through the mist along this pile of stones built in 200ad. God only knows why it was actually built, there are the many versions of events depending on who you ask about anything really. His-story.

The wall
The wall

The wall itself isnt that impressive, its the ridge and rocky outcrop its built next too. A truly magnificent walk, and the muscles are definitely being worked.

The wall ridge
The wall ridge

Some miles later, we hit the signature pennine way ‘moor land’. Followed by Wark forest which I believe is part of the bigger Kielder forest. Northumberland is vast, bur nor often visited, it is spectacular and underrated. We take through these plantations for miles, followed by some smooth hills in the beaming sun to end the day.

Rivers and sunshine welcome us into Bellingham
Rivers and sunshine welcome us into Bellingham

 

 

Day 2 – Earby to Malham

Day 2 – Earby to Malham

Area: Yorkshire Dales
Starting point: Earby
Ending point: Malham
Date of walk: 9th May 2016
Trails: Pennine Way
Distance: 13.01 miles
Difficulty: Moderate
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.

River Aire

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!

Sweetshop in Malham
Sweetshop in Malham

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…

Chilling out before heading down into Malham
Chilling out before heading down into Malham
Day 1 – Hebden Bridge to Earby

Day 1 – Hebden Bridge to Earby

Area: Yorkshire Dales
Starting point: Hebden Bridge
Ending point: Earby
Date of walk: 8th May 2016
Trail: Pennine Way
Distance: 22.32 miles
Difficulty: Moderate
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.

Overlooking Hebden Bridge
Overlooking Hebden Bridge

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.

Hardcastle Craggs
Hardcastle Craggs

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.

Walshaw Dean Reservoirs
Walshaw Dean Reservoirs

Past the 2 reservoirs there is a climb up to Withins Heights where I stop and take in the surroundings…

dav

Withins heights
Withins heights

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.

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Just before Cowling

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…