Area: North Pennines, Weardale
Starting point: Middleton In Teesdale
Ending point: Blanchland
Date of walk: 13th May 2016
Trails: unmarked paths & road walking
Distance: 20.09 miles
Difficulty: Moderate – Hard
Terrain: Road walking, hills
Weather: Cloudy, light rain
Today was a test mentally. As I gained height out of Middleton In Teesdale and hit the moorland, visibility was severely reduced due to rain and clouds. The footpath (if you can call it that) was lost pretty quickly and I find myself once again up and over walls. I’ve warned by locals, to be careful walking the fells to Stanhope as Adders reside here on the rocks, especially in the sun we have been getting. However, I can’t imagine they’ll be sunbathing in today’s weather. Either way, this is their home, so I better watch my footing more so, I don’t fancy getting bitten by a snake today.
I’m up on the moors, exposed once again, and today is the first and only day I have my waterproof jacket on. It has also dropped considerably in temperature. Map and compass is used through the first half of day, until I find my way over the hills and joined back on towards the long road into Stanhope. Stanhope is a stopped off point for people stopping off on the coast to coast walking/cycling route. I think its the last stop, so its a busy little village. As I enter into stanhope again, the 1st lady I come across says ‘oh you look weary’ LOL, Thanks love. Well I suppose I do, I take a little stop off a stanhope until once again I take the long road again into a small village called Blanchland. This is where I’ll be stopping, until I come back for Leg 2.
Area: Yorkshire Dales & Weardale
Starting point: Keld
Ending point: Middleton In Teesdale
Date of walk: 12th May 2016
Trails: Pennine Way
Distance: 21.10 miles
Difficulty: Moderate – Hard
Weather: Sunny & cloudy
Today has blown me away. For many reasons, this was one of those days where you think could this get any better? and life pleasantly reminds you of the kindness which flows through this world, and the gentle souls who reside on this planet. 7:15am I start the misty uphill slog out of Keld through Moorland. It’s Moorland all day today & I’m moving at 3 – 4 miles per hour for most of the day. The 1st stop is the Tan Hill Inn 4 miles from Keld. A pub in the middle of nowhere initially built for serve the miners. This is the highest pub in Great Britain. Upon entering I expect a dull worn old place, but I’m greeted with the biggest smile & offerings for tea. I sit on a table with some fellow southerners who happen to be doing a nationwide pub/brewery crawl. Banter is exchanged & spirits are lifted on both ends.
I make pace & by now the sun has lifted the mist. As I pass the Tan Hill I’m sad to leave Yorkshire but enter into the Moorlands of County Durham with open arms. Underfoot is wet & boggy which is a relief as the terrain is easy on my blistered feet. A foot wrong somewhere however and my leg is upto my knee in bog juice.. The sky is clear, and this is a good day. Miles and miles of moorland, not a soul in sight.
No keeno walkers bragging about ‘the pennine way’. This is my first time in Durham & Teesdale & its truly spectacular. I note a place to come back to with the family. Very different from the Yorkshire Dales. As I come out of Moorland and reach the 1st reservoir I’m looking for a place to eat lunch in the shade. I spot a bloke lying on the grass loving up life. I join him for lunch, we humbly discuss walking routes across the UK.
As I continue, more reservoirs, brief moorland & pockets of trees are to be seen frequently. The air is fresh. Feet ache a bit but this cant dent my feeling of joy & peace throughout the day.
I arrive in Middleton In Teesdale, and my mind is thinking about food. There is a chippy in village, so I grab some & sit outside on a bench eating away. I get talking to an older couple, who are keen to know what I’m up to. I explain my journey to date, & also mention that I’ve lost my sleeping mat which will probably make tonight’s sleep very uncomfortable. We continue to talk about anything & everything. Upon leaving the gentleman says, ‘give me your phone number, and I’ll see if I can sort something out with you’re mat. I may have a yoga mat as home you can use tonight’ Ofcourse gratitude is deeply expressed. I head to the Co op to grab some milk, but on the way I pass a small newsagent. I’m drawn to go in & get chatting to the shop keeper in the shop about my sleeping mat. Another lady interrupts and says I have a bag full of cardboard in the car you can use for insulation, so she runs to the car and gives it to me and departs. The shop keeper lady says, leave that, I’ll get you a duvet, just wait until I lock up. So we head to her house behind the shop, we talk over tea, I grab a shower, she takes my laundry & gives me a duvet. woah, amazing. She says come back in the morning, ‘bring back the duvet and your laundry will be dry and ironed’. I’ve overwhelmed by the motherly love and again express my sincere thank yous.
The following morning, I go to the cafe before returning to the shop, I get talking once again to another couple at breakfast. A great start to the day, as I go to pay for my meal, I’m told the bill is settled already. Middleton In Teesdale, your kindness has killed me, thank you. My heart pours, and I’m reminded that opportunities to help ourselves and others are not far away…