THE PENNINE WAY
Edale to Kirk Yetholm
15th May to 3rd June 1993
Training walk. Peter, Chris and Dave. Hazel End, North Essex. 8th May 1993.
This journal is dedicated to the memory of
A great character and walker who would have enjoyed the challenge.
15th May 1993. Westley Hall to Edale.
Left Westley Hall around midday. Only got as far as the M25 before we had to turn back for Dad's coat and wallet! The second attempt got us there in time to watch the sun set over the Valley of Edale - rather dramatic. We had dinner in a pub in Little Hayfield, then a pleasant overnight stay at Blackshaw farm.
16th May 1993. Edale to Crowden.
Not as early a breakfast as we would have liked, leading to a late start from Edale. Dave and I walked North, Dad and Chris were to walk South. Rather stupidly I managed to leave my camera in the car, but the weather was not really up to photography anyway.
The walk out of Edale is initially very easy, but it did not take Dave and I long to find a detour! At Broadlee Bank Tor ( N/E of Upper Booth ) the path divides - no signpost! Naturally we assumed that the high level path was the correct one, sadly not; it was very steep and took us above some woods to Crowden Clough. We walked down the clough to Upper Booth, then out towards Lee Farm and the information centre. From here you climb along the River Noe to Jacob's Ladder. This is a very steep, stepped path rising some 90m straight up. We made a good pace up here, which was probably a mistake.
There is a gentle climb from Jacob's Ladder, first to Edale Rocks - which were fun, then on to Kinder Low and Kinder Downfall. We were full of energy still and there were many other walkers about. Walking at their pace was silly as they were day trippers and hence unencumbered. Kinder Downfall was a little disappointing, but the views were good and the stiff breeze invigorating. It was between Kinder Downfall and Kinder Low that Dad and Chris got lost coming South. The weather had closed in by the time they got here, making navigation difficult. Things were complicated by Chris developing severe cramps in both thighs, walking downhill became virtually impossible. In the end they had to bail out to the West and ended up in Hayfield.
Descending to the crossroads with Snake Path was for me the first hint of real trouble. It was here that I developed pretty bad right knee pain, and to boot both David and I had managed to twist our knees. Just after the crossroads we made coffee and had lunch in the shelter of a peat grough. This just about set us up for the unpleasant task of tackling Mill Hill, Moss Castle, and Featherbed Moss. Any path should by default avoid anything with "moss" in the name, the same is true of "black" as became obvious later. In trying to avoid the worst of the gloop it is very easy to lose track of the path, which even in good visibility could be rather awkward. We met Dad and Chris on Featherbed Moss - little did we know!
Next we crossed Snake Road and moved on to Doctor's Gate on a Roman - cum - medieval road. From here along Devils Dike which is not too bad underfoot, but the going rapidly deteriorated between Hern Clough and Bleaklow Head becoming very boggy. Bleaklow Head itself was exactly that - bleak. The weather was closing in, visibility was down, there was no vegetation and rock underfoot. Hindered by the poor visibility we initially set off too Northerly but David spotted this and we found the path again without any great difficulty. It was about this time that Dad and Chris were getting into trouble, they were of course higher than us with correspondingly worse visibility. As we trudged down off Bleaklow head it started to rain, just to round the day off nicely! The down towards Torside reservoir was long and hard, and very painful. As we trudged along the North side towards Crowden YHA I, for one, had just about had enough.
It was not over yet, however. Dave and I arrived at Edale to pick up Dad and Chris, and of course they were not there. Fortunately we received the message that they were in Hayfield and zapped off to meet them, after a half naturally. We ended up eating dinner in the same pub as the night before, it was a good pub - but not that good. Dinner over we found our way back to Crowden and the YHA. This is a good place with a cunningly stocked shop containing all those things that Pennine Way walkers forget to bring with them.
Edale Moor and Kinder Scout from the South side of the Vale of Edale. 16th May 1993.
Peter. Edale Rocks. 16th May 1993.
17th May 1993. Crowden to Standedge.
Chris could not walk today, not because he was in pain but because we all insisted he had a rest day after yesterday's disaster. Dad, Dave and I all walked North together. We set off from Crowden in reasonable spirits, though I was feeling a little apprehensive after the discomfort of the descent into Crowden. Initially we climbed up to Laddow Rocks along a stony track above Crowden Brook then Oaken Clough. It was a reasonably strenuous climb, but the views were good and the very strong wind added much excitement as we struggled to keep our balance. The path along the top of the crags was pleasant but before long the ground became firstly marshy then very boggy - we were approaching Black Hill. This is very well named. We actually "enjoyed" quite good conditions, i.e. we did not disappear into the bogs. I hate to think what this place must be like after a couple of weeks rain. We took the "alternative" route down - a wise move.
Again it was the descent that proved both my and Dave's undoing. By the time we reached Wessenden Head and the reservoir I was in severe pain from tendonitis and suffering from self doubt - would I be able to complete the walk? The day was prevented from being a complete disaster by reasonable, though not sunny, weather. From Wessenden Reservoir to Standedge the route was unexciting to be polite, and my memory is fogged by the state of self pity I was indulging in. We met Chris out for a stroll a couple of miles from Globe Farm and we all walked together for the only time on the trip.
Globe Farm bunkhouse is good, basic accommodation. The landlady is a real character who is very brusque at first but mellowed as time went by. We had dinner in a pub down the road then came back to play Cribbage in the well attended residents kitchen and lounge. We were in the company of a group of voluntary conservationists - not even the assistant knew what they were actually doing, even though they had been doing it for a week!
The two Peters. Black Tor above Crowden ( to the North ). 17th May 1993.
The two Peters. Black Hill, North of Crowden. 17th May 1993.
David and Peter. Approaching Wessenden Head Reservoir. 17th May 1993.
Peter. Globe Farm bunkhouse.. 17th May 1993.
Globe Farm from Higher Standedge. 18th May 1993.
18th May 1993. Standedge to Jack Bridge.
After an excellent breakfast Dave and I went North. Dad and Chris were to come South. We set off up a farm track which climbed very steeply to rejoin the Pennine Way above Higher Standedge. The walking was excellent with good conditions underfoot and dry weather. Millstone Edge was our first taste of the days dominant feature - ridge walking. On from Millstone Edge to Little Moss, across the A640 ( avoiding the dreaded Haigh Gutter ) to Green Hole Hill, then the M62. This section is a rather uninspiring, and mucky, grind - though initially there is a good track. It was made memorable, however, by our first meeting with a chap who became unfortunately, but accurately, known as the Social Leper ( hereinafter referred to as the S/L ). He was found sitting on a rock above Blea Green where the Oldham Way went West, and the Pennine Way went North. He was lost, and this man is an Alpine Mountain Guide! Fortunately we were heavily loaded and hence slower than he, after we had put him on the right track he was off.
Immediately after the M62 is a short, sharp climb onto Redmires. This is a name that strikes terror into the very soul of Pennine Way walkers, but it has been tamed by a path made of heavy slabs - now a common sight on the Pennine Way. Dave asks "Should we be sorry that we had such an easy time compared to previous walkers of The Way?" NO! Next stop is Blackstone Edge and lunch. The views are fine and the wind makes climbing on the rocks even more exciting. Coming down we walked for a short way on a Roman road before we reached Blackstone Edge Reservoir. Here is a convenient and friendly pub called the White House Inn where we had a second lunch stop and a chat with a Southwards traveling walker.
After lunch there was a very easy tour of the local reservoirs - Blackstone Edge, White Holme, Light Hazzles, and Warland. From the North end of Warland Reservoir there is a good view of a wind farm off to the Northwest. It was along here that we first really made the acquaintance of The Bears - a great couple of Geordies, though Little Bear ( alias Annie ) doesn't like to be called a Geordie. We then walked for some distance with an employee of the local water company. His job was to walk around the reservoirs looking for structural problems. The job sounded idyllic, but one wonders what it would be like in Winter. He was accompanied by a well behaved (!) Jack Russell. This dog had been left in a bag on his route by some pleasant individual. However, despite his obvious love of dogs he was not adverse to carrying a gun and taking pot-shots at loose dogs worrying sheep.
We bade farewell to this chap and proceeded to Stoodley Pike. This is a rather ugly, but interesting monument to the Duke of Wellington that dominates the skyline whether you are miles to the North or South. It is possible to climb up a pitch black spiral staircase to a balcony that presents good views along the ridge, down to Mankinholes, and across the valley. The track down into Hebden Bridge was steep and at times tedious, though it did pass through some restful woodlands. Dave's knee played him up on the descent and was to spoil much of the rest of the days walk for him. Just outside Hebden Bridge at Callis Wood Bottom there is an attractive section of the River Calder and the Rochford Canal, but this is crossed and left behind as we climbed, very rapidly, up over 100m on the other side of the valley. This climb goes up a narrow, steep packhorse road that was rather daunting after a long day! It was a tiring climb that finally eased off but continued up over a B-road to Pry Hill. This was our last "peak" of the day, but again the descent gave Dave quite a bit of trouble with his knee. I was lucky and thought I was out of the woods as I had felt little pain during this days walk - "don't count your chickens..."
We were both glad to see our destination - The New Delight Inn - mugs! Our first hint of trouble was that the "campsite" was essentially a sloping bit of unmown grass attached to the car-park. However, blissfully ignorant we pitched our tents ( it looked like it was going to be a pleasant evening ) then set off to pick up Chris and Dad. We were tired, having carried our packs some 18 miles, then we discovered that we had to do a huge detour through Huddersfield ( where we did a very quick shop in Sainsbury's and got some more Naproxen from the chemists.. )to get back to Standedge. This just about finished us off and I am afraid it did not do our sense of humour much good. We decided that tonight was curry night, but unbelievably we totally failed to find a curry house in Huddersfield! Says something about us I suppose. Finally we got dinner in a pizzeria in Hebden Bridge after discussing whether or not we should have dinner in the New Delight Inn. It was a good choice and we had excellent pizza and garlic bread.
Peter. Millstone Edge ( 448m ). Diggle in background. 18th May 1993.
Dave and the S/L. Blackstone Edge ( 472m ). 18th May 1993.
Mankinholes YHA to the right. Lumbutts in the centre. View from Withens Gate. 18th May 1993.
Peter. Mankinholes to the left. Stoodley Pike in the background. 18th May 1993.
David approaching Stoodley Pike. 18th May 1993.
View Southwest from the balcony of Stoodley Pike. 18th May 1993.
Dave on bridge over River Calder. Near Hebden Bridge. 18th May 1993.
Peter. Pack horse road climbing North towards Charlestown/Heptonstall. 18th May 1993.
19th May 1993. Jack Bridge to Lothersdale.
The New Delight Inn was a major disappointment! The locals stopped their conversations to stare at us, the beer was appalling, and there was no food. Dad was in the "bunkroom". This was in reality a damp, smelly room with some rather unsavoury looking beds in it. The toilet was outside in a rickety shack with no light and no basin -ugh! We, in our tents were probably better off than Dad, but it was chilly and it rained during the night- great.
There was no breakfast available, of course, but Dave and I had foresightedly bought supplies in Huddersfield. We packed up our wet tents in quite a thick mist, visibility was pretty poor, and Chris, Dave and I headed North - Dad traveled South. The first part of the day involved a pretty stiff climb up to Long High Top after which it became easier. Things deteriorated on the first downhill, I think I had done my boots up too tightly, and my right Tib Ant tendonitis came back, though not too badly at first; also I think part of the problem was keeping up with the lightly loaded Patching!
Graining water, by the Pack Horse Inn, is very attractive - enhanced by the cloud breaking and the sun peeking through. The next few miles were flat and easy past two reservoirs ( Walshaw Dean Lower and Middle ). From the Middle reservoir there is a stiff but comfortable climb up Withins Height which we attacked at a good pace, arriving breathless but very pleased with ourselves at the top. Shortly thereafter we arrived at Top Withins, thought to be the site of Wuthering Heights, which is a not particularly unusual ruined farmhouse. We met the Bears again, chatted briefly then moved along. On the way down we first passed signs in Japanese, then workers laying slabs for the path. We expressed our gratitude for their efforts, and they told us how they used Cobs or Shires to lift the heavier flags. Sadly about now the pain really got going and the rest of the walk was spoilt.
Lunch was in the Old Silent Inn, which was some way off the track, consequently we missed Dad coming South. After lunch we passed Ponden Reservoir on the North side, the official Way is to the South. There followed a steep climb ( there are a lot of these ) up beside Dean Clough. Unfortunately we picked up the S/L again and we attacked the hill ( Burnt Hill, Bare Hill, and The Sea ) far too hard trying to burn him off. I was struck down by what Dad reckons was divine retribution - I was in absolute \XMLDh agony! Being a hero I limped the next 4 or 5 miles across Ickornshaw Moor, through Ickornshaw, and over Cowling Hill to Lothersdale. We did not manage to lose the S/L, he left us after we guided him across the moor. By the time we reached Ickornshaw I was traveling rather slowly and Chris steamed on ahead to drive and pick up Dad. Dave and I took what we thought was going to be a shortcut but we got somewhat lost down by Lothersdale Beck, I was no help in the navigation as I was feeling rather sorry for myself. To really put the icing on the cake the bunkhouse was not where we expected and the result was that we walked further than we would have done otherwise!
Bunkhouse! To us it looked and felt like the Pennine Hilton! We were met in the driveway by Mrs Brown who promptly produced tea, coffee and cakes - no extra charge. The rooms were excellent ( Dave and I got first pick - en-suite bathroom.. ) and the facilities first class. She even ensured we got dinner down the local pub even though they didn't officially do evening meals. It was in this pub that we first heard of " those Dutch birds", the talk of the Pennine Way.
Chris and tents. New Delight Inn. 18th May 1993.
View South towards the New Delight Inn ( In the mist! ) from Long High Top. 19th May 1993.
Walking down a pack horse road to Graining Water. Pack Horse Inn behind. 19th May 1993.
Chris and Peter at top of Withins Height. 19th May 1993.
Christopher. Withins. 19th May 1993.
Peter and signpost in Japanese. Below Withins at Upper Heights. 19th May 1993.
Chris. Ickornshaw Moor. 19th May 1993.
Looking South to Gill Beck from High Stubbing. South of Lothersdale. 19th May 1993.
20th May 1993. Rest Day.
What with my leg and Dave's knee we decided it was time for a rest day, so after a short consultation period (management speak ) we set off for York - which was rather further away than we realised. In York we had lunch in a pub with which Chris was acquainted ( as ever ) then separated, Chris to a museum, the rest of us to the Jorvik Centre. This is a fairly entertaining display of the dig which revealed a Viking Street, a good place to bring the kids. I was by now wearing support stockings ( below knee ) and shorts so I attracted a few stares as we wandered from there to the York Minster. Sadly there appeared to be little else to do so we phoned home ( ouch - don't hit me ). It rained, of course. We met Chris back at the car and trundled back to Lothersdale for another fine meal in the pub. "Tonight is quiz night", they said. Chris volunteered to stay and represent the walkers and the rest of us retired to bed. Chris attained the lowest score of the night, thus winning the booby prize - an LP of a Peer Gynt Suite circa 1968.
Interior view. York Minster. 20th May 1993.
21st May 1993. Lothersdale to Malham.
As ever the day starts in mist. Another excellent breakfast saw Dad, Dave and I walking North, Chris coming South. Dave and Dad are carrying very light packs today in an attempt to rest the legs, and I am carrying nowt - at least to begin with. The first section from Lothersdale to Pinhaw Beacon was in very poor visibility, over very wet meadows. As we approached Thornton-in-Craven the mist lifted and the path became surrounded by Allium and many other wild flowers. Thornton to East Marton took us through more meadows, then up onto the Leeds and Liverpool Canal for a short stretch. On to Gargrave through more of the same. Things were going well, but keeping up with Dad exacted a casualty when David's right thigh went "ping" just South of Gargrave, and I had to carry his pack from this point.
We met Chris in Gargrave and had lunch in a very welcoming Café. We had a good, but basic, lunch over which Chris told us how he had managed to get lost between the River Aire and Gargrave. Before leaving I bought a stick to try and take some of the pressure off on the downhills. The route took us through more very wet meadows until we met the River Aire. I had to stop for a rest here as my leg had reached its ten mile limit. After this brief stop we continued along the riverside to Hanlith just East of Kirkby Malham. In Hanlith there is a steep ascent just to remind you that you are on the Pennine Way. This takes you up to a ridge called Windy Pike which is followed for a short distance before dropping down into Malham.
The weather for most of the day was quite good, and we were treated to interesting flora and fauna. We saw Curlews, Oyster catchers, Lapwings, Pied Wagtails and a Buzzard. We set up camp with excellent views of Malham Cove and the surrounding field systems, then trundled down into the town for dinner in the pub.
Dave on Clogger Lane. Between Lothersdale and Thornton. 21st May 1993.
Double bridge over the Leeds and Liverpool canal. Near East Marton. 21st May 1993.
The two Peters followed by the lonely bullocks. Near Airton. 21st May 1993.
Peter and Dave with tents. Malham. 21st May 1993.
Strip Lynchets. Malham. 22nd May 1993.
22nd May 1993. Malham to Horton .
Cold overnight, but woke to a very promising sky. Breakfast was sausage in beans cooked on the Trangier, I am sure it tasted better than if it had been cooked on the stove. We packed up dry tents! This is a luxury, and we thought we had seen the back of the bad weather. Dave and I struck out for the North with both Chris and Dad coming South. A pleasant stroll through Iron Age and medieval field systems brought us to the Cove ( see photo ) and the path to the top. There is a hard ascent here, but it is rewarded with great views and a good piece of limestone pavement. At the top we were so hot that we changed into shorts and T-shirts - just before the children's party came over the top. This aggressive start is followed by a gentle walk to Malham Tarn and the field studies centre. After this it was a little tedious until the base of Fountains Fell is reached.
About half way up the fell the path forks, the correct way was most unclear so we took the high route. It was the wrong one but it came out in the same place, it was quite an interesting detour really. We were in good form and knocked off this first hill very easily, before suffering the descent! We met Dad and Chris on their way to the top of Fountains Fell and after a free and frank exchange of views we moved on. About halfway down my leg blew up again. I was carrying a near full pack and David very little, so he took about half my load which eased the descent considerably.
Next Pen-Y-Ghent, again fitness was not a problem and we went up the very steep path rather easily overtaking everyone else. We had enough energy left to indulge in a bit of juggling at the top. However, its the downs that get you and in fact we were overtaken on the way down by a little girl! We arrived in Horton without further adventure and set up camp. The site was crowded with people, but there was only one shower and the toilets were pretty rough - overall it was a good place. The day was long, and hot, but not particularly sunny. Dinner was in the Crown Inn where we had dinner with The ( sunburnt ) Bears. Big Bear ( Neil ) is a large, ginger, beer drinker ( 6 pints of Old Peculiar! ) who works as a linesman for BT. Little Bear ( Annie ) is a red wine drinker and area manager doing 2000 miles a week. She carried her own 22lb rucksack the contents of which included 6 pairs of earrings, a skirt for the evenings, an iron, and a hairdryer! We had a warm night in the tents, little disturbed by the crowds of excited youngsters.
Malham Cove. 22nd May 1993.
Dave on Limestone Pavement above Malham Cove. 22nd May 1993.
Peter. Near Malham Tarn. 22nd May 1993.
Walkers on Fountains Fell. Pen-Y-Ghent in background. 22nd May 1993.
Looking North to Pen-Y-Ghent from Churn Milk Hole. 22nd May 1993.
Peter juggling. Pen-Y-Ghent . 22nd May 1993.
David juggling. Pen-Y-Ghent. 22nd May 1993.
Fountains Fell from Pen-Y-Ghent. 22nd May 1993.
Tarn Bar. Cave, Waterfall, and Sink. Above Horton in Ribblesdale. 22nd May 1993.
Looking across Brackenbottom Scar to Tarn Bar and Pen-Y-Ghent. 22nd May 1993.
Chris attacking his tent. Horton in Ribblesdale. 22nd May 1993.
Big Bear. Little Bear. Dave. Chris. Crown Inn. Horton in Ribblesdale. 22nd May 1993.
Chris. High Pasture North of Horton. Pen-Y-Ghent behind. 23rd May 1993.
23rd May 1993. Horton to Hawes .
Awoken at 5am by walkers preparing for the "3 Peaks". This is a 25 mile circuit taking in Pen-Y-Ghent, Ingleborough, and Whernside. The record for this is 3 hours! After a fairly leisurely start Chris, David and I went North, and Dad drove off to come South. The day started with a long, but gentle, climb via road and track to Jackdaw Hill, an area full of Pot Holes, Shake Holes and Caves. The route continues to climb along an easy track up to Birkwith Moor, then down to Old Ing. A little further along there is a pothole to the right of the track. We hopped over the wall and rather timidly peered down into its depths, it did not look particularly inviting. However, people had obviously been down as there were ropes descending into the depths, we did not attempt the climb.
After our brief stop we continued along the track below Cave Hill. We met some cavers coming up from Browgill Cave. They informed us that the cave was a safe place for beginners, and that if we "pushed our luck" we could come to a 30m underground waterfall after going through "the Letterbox". All very intriguing, so we detoured down the hill to the cave. We discarded our packs at the entrance, got out our torches and set off into the pitch black interior. The floor was composed of very sharp ridges, which were hard to balance on, the walls and ceiling little better. I was not far in when I heard a squawk and a thud. Yes, someone had managed to fall over. It was Chris, he was very lucky and got away with cut and bruised knuckles. Undeterred we continued into the dark. After some distance we came up to the letterbox. This is a narrow slit in the rock that goes back into the hill, only about two feet high. I was crawling on my belly, and getting myself and my camera very wet, when David called out that there was a branch off to one side. This was the signal to bug out before we got lost! We exited in a state of some elation - a great time was had by all.
Back on the track we were further entertained by finding fossils under our feet. These were the remains of Crinoids, sadly none were intact. The next feature was Ling Gill, which is supposed to be a "remnant of sub-Alpine forest", it might, it might not. Attractive anyway. The track wriggles along until it joins the Dales Way where it straightens out and climbs to Oughtershaw Side. It was along here that we stopped for lunch and brewed coffee. We shared our lunch stop with a frog, and got some additional exercise chasing plastic bags that blew away and up the hill. Continuing Northeast we passed to the West of Dodd Fell. From this ridge we had views South and North of wonderful U-shaped valleys. There came a bit of a long drag up to Ten End, above Snaizeholme, with views of Widdale. As we descended towards Hawes we were treated to views of tomorrow's walk, the long arc up to Great Shunner Fell.
At Gayle we detoured to Bainbridge Ings campsite where Dad had left the car. Chris shot off to pick up Dad and joined him in B+B, whilst Dave and I set up camp. The walk had finished so naturally the sun came out. This was convenient, however, as we could do our washing and dry it on the tents. We also had an excellent view of St Margaret's Church across a pretty meadow. All in all a good campsite and an excellent days walk. Dinner was taken in a pub in Hawes
Chris and Peter. Pothole near Old Ing and Browgill Cave. 23rd May 1993
This pothole is right by The Way. We nipped over the fence for a closer look and found ropes descending into the depths. You can see the ropes behind me. We had a debate about whether or not to attempt the descent, but decided that whilst getting down might be fairly easy, getting up again would be another matter entirely. The hole is deep and steep as can be guessed by the rather trepidatious manner in which Chris and I are looking over the edge. The waterfall is not particularly large, it must have been more active in the past in order to have produced such a large hole. This is probably true of other holes in the area which can be very big, but with only small watercourses.
On the way in. Chris captured by Dave. Browgill Cave. 23rd May 1993.
Peter in the letterbox. Browgill Cave. 23rd May 1993.
Dave feeling his way out. Browgill Cave. 23rd May 1993.
Browgill Cave was an unexpected detour that really paid dividends and made the day. None of us are cavers, but we all enjoy a bit of exploration. On the way into the cave it rapidly became pitch black, only slightly lifted by the small torches we were carrying. Dave won the gadget of the day award for his headband torch. Natty, but small. The rock underfoot was very sharp, shaped as much, I imagine, by dripping from the ceiling as from the flow of the stream. The ceiling got low in places as can be seen in the photo of Chris. In the same photo the start of quite a big cavern can be glimpsed. The ceiling of this section must have been fairly close to ground level of the hill into which the cave tunneled. Further in is the letterbox. This is shown in the photo of myself. The exhilaration of crawling into such a narrow crevice in the dark is hard to describe, but there is a great desire to find a way through, especially as we knew that further in is a waterfall. I was at this point getting very wet and finding it very difficult to keep my camera dry ( look at the photo of Dave - water on the lens ). We abandoned the attempt to reach the waterfall when it became apparent that there was more than on route. We had neither the equipment nor the experience to risk getting lost. The adrenaline high remained with us for some time!
Exiting Browgill Cave. 23rd May 1993.
Looking South down Gill Rigg. 23rd May 1993.
Snaizeholme Valley and Fell. Behind - Ingleborough to the left and Whernside to the right. 23rd May 1993.
The arc leading up to Great Shunner Fell from Gaudy Lane, Southwest of Hawes. 23rd May 1993.
Gayle Beck. Gayle. 23rd May 1993.
Dave and tents. Bainbridge near Hawes. 23rd May 1993.
St Margaret's Church from campsite. Bainbridge. 23rd May 1993.
The two Peters and Chris eating. Pub in Hawes. 23rd May 1993.
24th May 1993. Hawes to Keld.
A warm, but windy and overcast day. Chris' turn to go South, so Dave, Dad and I go North. It cost 50p to visit Hardraw Force - so we didn't. The climb out of Hawes is along a very uncomfortable, stony track that takes you up to Hearn Top. The path improves from this point and settles into a gentle climb broken with steeper slopes of harder rocks. Between Hearn Top and Hearn Head we found coal ( I'm rich! ) but naturally someone else had found it first and mined it out. From Hearn Head it is a fairly short but steepish climb up to Great Shunner Fell, it was to say the least a bit windy on top. We therefore continued down into some rocks before we broke for lunch We brewed up and had a fairly civilised hiatus. Despite the wind the clouds never managed to break up, consequently the views were spoilt.
The Way continues down a distinctly uncivilised stony track into Thwaite, a rather attractive village. From here we climbed up to North Gang Scar and swung Northeast then Northwest around the hill Kisdon. This is an attractive stroll that affords good views across the River Swale. The main event of the day was the detour that we made to Kisdon Force, a series of waterfalls in beautiful surroundings. We found fossil sponges ( I think ) in one band of the limestone. After a pleasant sojourn we continued into Keld. This had once been a busy mining village, but is now all but deserted. We stayed in Keld YHA. A good place with a strange smell of joss sticks....Dad nipped of to get Chris, Dave and I phoned home.
For dinner we went to the Farmers Arms in Muker. Excellent food and beer - Theakston's and Butterknowle Brewery. Dinner arrived via a dumb waiter, and an only slightly less dumb landlord. We have now covered more than One hundred miles, celebrations are in order.
Peter and Peter Snr. Just below Great Shunner Fell. 24th May 1993.
Track off Great Shunner Fell. Heading towards Thwaite. 24th May 1993.
Swinner Gill and Buzzard Scar from Kisdon Side ( between Muker and Keld ). 24th May 1993.
Peter Snr. Kisdon Force near Keld. 24th May 1993.
Kisdon Force. 24th May 1993.
Peter. Kisdon Force. 24th May 1993.
This place was another opportune find. A short scramble along a narrow, and at times steep, path found us enjoying a refreshing riverside rest. The surroundings and relative solitude make it at least as attractive as better known falls in the area. We found what appeared to be fossils sponges, though their somewhat spiral shape is confusing. I have been unable to identify them in my various texts since returning. This would be a good place to return to for a picnic.
"Cairn Farm" explored by Chris whilst on one of his "detours" below Great Shunner Fell. 24th May 1993.
25th May 1993. Keld to Baldersdale.
Yet another full English breakfast saw Chris, Dave and I on our way North; Dad doing the South leg. We nipped over the river and passed some attractive waterfalls, before climbing up past East Stonesdale. The Bears stayed here and informed us that it was a good B+B. The Way crosses the Coast to Coast path at this point, for which it is the halfway point - not so for us. There follows a gentle climb up to Low Brown Hill, which is a good description. There would have been good views here, but as usual the mist intervened. The climb up to Stonesdale Moor is a bit steeper, but it flattened out again as we approached Tan Hill. Here is the famous Tan Hill Inn. It was early , but we popped in anyway - so had all the walkers. There is a notice behind the bar pointing out that the staff could be eccentric. Downright rude, insulting ( to Annie ) and in need of a quiet talking to outside would be a better description. This unpleasant interlude preceded an equally unpleasant stretch of bog called Sleightholme Moor. Very "samey" but not too hard work compared to some of the bogs we had crossed.
Sanity is restored by meeting the Sleightholme Moor Road. The going becomes much easier, but this doesn't last long as we crossed Sleightholme Beck at Intake Bridge where we had lunch and explored the exposed shale which contained fossils. We then headed North to God's Bridge. Here we met The Bears - again. God's Bridge is a natural limestone bridge over the River Greta, just South of the A66. As we crossed the A66 the clouds came down and we had to navigate by compass past Ravock Castle, across Deepdale Beck and up to Race Yate. It never actually rained, but the cloud was - of course - wet, so we were glad of our waterproofs. The clouds lifted as we bounced down into Baldersdale with rather sore feet, well I did anyway.
Baldersdale is the official halfway point. The otherwise excellent YHA was spoilt by a large crowd of kids, though they were pretty well behaved. The food was the best of the trip. There was actually a menu as the warden had bought the food franchise from the YHA.
Chris and Dave dying of thirst. Approaching Tan Hill Inn. 25th May 1993.
Sweaty Chris and Dave in the Tan Hill Inn. Trying to order coffee. 25th May 1993.
Chris, Dave and Peter outside the Tan Hill Inn. 25th May 1993.
Chris and Dave staggering across Sleightholme Moor. 25th May 1993.
Peter doing press-ups, and The Bears, on God's Bridge near the A66. 25th May 1993.
26th May 1993. Baldersdale to Langdon Beck.
Dad's turn to come North with us, so Chris heads off in the car to Langdon Beck and the start of his day. With him, he took a young couple, one of whom had injured her knee. Our first encounter is with the meadows and pastures of Birk Hat and High Birk Hat. The farming techniques have not changed this century and thus they are being preserved as examples of traditional farming. We then walked along meadows and gentle hills to Lunedale. From here the pasture becomes more boggy, but not difficult. This stretch ends at Middleton-in-Teesdale, a place that Wainwright said is full of pretty girls. Sadly we did not see any.
The walk changes character now turning into a simple river walk along the River Tees. The going is very easy and we soon reached Low Force where we had lunch. More of the same until High Force. A very dramatic waterfall, but hard to get a good view from The Way. The weather, which as usual was cloudy, now deteriorated into a gentle rain. More to the point my feet start hurting again, its that ten mile limit again.
We kept to the river for another mile or so, the last stretch passing a quarry that had managed to cover the surrounding territory, and us, in a fine grey dust. Most unpleasant. Next came the compulsory hill climb up to Bracken Rigg, past High Crag, then down again to cross The Tees at Forest-in-Teesdale. Another brief river walk then up a short hill to Langdon Beck YHA. This is a strange place with an even stranger warden who was only seen in glimpses. All in all a strangely arduous day considering the easy terrain. The YHA was so cold that we nipped out to the Talbot Hotel in Middleton for dinner and more from the Butterknowle Brewery.
Middleton in Teesdale from Intake Hill. 26th May 1993.
Ape man of the woods. Low Force. 26th May 1993.
Low Force.26th May 1993.
Peter. Low Force. 26th May 1993.
High Force 26th May 1993.
27th May 1993. Langdon Beck to Dufton.
Awoke to a very cloudy day, visibility very poor - looked positively dangerous, so we decided to walk in pairs, Dad and Chris to come East. We set off and recrossed The Tees at Saur Hill Bridge ( see photo ) complete with sign showing mileage to Kirk Yetholm and Edale. After a short climb up Sayer Hill we met the Maize Beck just below Widdy Bank Farm. The path rapidly deteriorated into a rocky scramble reminiscent of The Findhorn at Tomatin House. This scramble took us below Falcon Clints and so to Cauldron Snout - dramatic, wet, and slippery! Climbing up was fun, but at the top the view is of a dam and precious little else. The route continued to climb up to Birkdale, and up into the clouds. From Birkdale we had to do a fair bit of compass work to stay on The Way, but we managed to re-find Maize Beck at the correct spot. We had caught up The Bears, but as we stopped for lunch they moved on into the mist. Lunch was brief as it was not particularly cosy, so we were on the move again pretty quickly. A little further along Maize Beck we met Dad and Chris, which was something of a relief as they were by now showing a propensity for getting lost! (Rubbish! says CJP)
After the small talk Dave and I crossed to the South side of the beck so as to approach High Cup Nick from across High Cup Plain. This is definitely the best way to do it. High Cup Nick appeared out of the clouds seemingly at our feet, very dramatic. The local wind was rushing down into High Cup which meant we had to be very careful about keeping our balance on the edge - its a long way down! It is a marvelous place and I was most reluctant to leave, but as needs must...
The way down follows the East side along yet another uncomfortable stony path. As we descended and evening approached the sun came out right on cue, becoming very bright just as we arrived in Dufton. More to the point we could see people sitting outside of the pub! This is too good to be true surely? A wonderful days walk, the sun is shining, the village looks beautiful, and the pubs open. Sadly not quite true. The pub shut just before we managed to cross the village green! Still - a good day. However, the weather had caused some people to have to turn back off of Knock Fell - ominous. Apparently the scenario of cloud above High Cup and sun over the village is very common, due to the local micro climate. The cloud formation is known as The Helm, the Easterly wind is the Helm Wind. We had a short rest before going to collect Dad and Chris, though I must admit it was tempting to stay right where we were and wait for the pub to re-open. When we got back we booked into the YHA. Another good one, though again a strange, if friendlier, warden. We had dinner in before nipping over to the pub in the company of a rather smelly Southwards walker - another S/L.
Point of no return.
Dave approaching Cauldron Snout in the mist. 27th May 1993.
Peter at Cauldron Snout. 27th May 1993.
Limestone Pavement in Maize Beck. Between Cauldron Snout and High Cup. 27th May 1993.
Peter approaching High Cup Nick. 27th May 1993.
Peter balancing against the Helm Wind. High Cup Nick. 27th May 1993.
High Cup Scar. 27th May 1993.
High Cup and High Cup Gill. 27th May 1993.
David running to The Stag. Dufton. 27th May 1993.
28th May 1993. Dufton to Garrigill.
Visibility very poor today, so again two pairs, Dad and Chris to walk South. Initially the going is very easy, utilising Hurning Lane which is apparently an ancient sunken lane - interesting. We climbed past Dufton Pike to the East up to the Great Rundale Beck which boasts a clapper bridge. From here things get a bit steeper until Swindale Beck which marks the start of the real climb. This is probably the hardest yet, in fact it stopped The Bears in their tracks and we cruised ( huh ) on past and up into the clouds (again ). We had to navigate by compass up Green Fell to Knock Old Man. It was about this point that Chris and Dad got lost on their way to Dufton. We had elevens's here and The Bears caught us up. It was a little further to the top of the hill and it became obvious that without a compass you would be in serious trouble. At the top we took a bearing and headed for Great Dunn Fell, we hit the tarmac road spot on then took the alternative route to the top as it more nearly followed our original bearing. We knew we were on the right track when the radar domes loomed up out of the clouds - all very dramatic.
Appalling would describe the visibility as we crossed a marsh and climbed up to Little Dunn Fell. We found a shelter and had a somewhat chilly lunch. As we trudged Northwest and down we came upon The Bears. They had passed us whilst we ate lunch and had now found the bogs. Big Bear had managed to go in waist deep ( he's a tall chap ) which gave Little Bear a serious fright as it was self evident that she could never get him out by herself, in fact she managed to sit in the bog as well. Fortunately he managed to "swim" to firmer ground and clamber out. We came upon them just as Neil finished changing into his spare clothes. Not surprisingly this shook their confidence so we all teamed up for the rest of the day. There was no path visible, nor was much else so we again relied on compass and instinct to navigate through some very treacherous territory to the flank of Cross Fell. We picked up the path again but it soon disappeared in the rocks so - back to the compass. We walked on a bearing and were very gratified to find the trig , our target, appear out of the clouds dead ahead. Nearby is a cross shaped shelter where we took a group photo in which we look surprisingly cheerful.
There was only a short section down on which we had to use the compass as the route follows an obvious stony track. This track took us to Greg's Hut, where we met a chap in home made Pertex clothes, and the others met a chap hoping to run the whole thing in four days! Runners gear - 2 OS books, compass, 1 small bottle Lucozade, and 1 jar vaseline. After the hut we passed Backstone Edge and Black Gut. This area is full of the remains of lead mining operations and lots of flourspar lying around. Past Long Man Hill and Pikeman Hill the road is absolutely ankle breaking, and got steeper as it came down from Rotherhope Fell. In the end I found it easier to run down than walk, so I rock hopped to just above Garrigill where I waited for the others.
Well here we are in Garrigill and we have seen neither hide nor hair of Chris or Dad. We found the car sans rucksacks suggesting that they had set out, so where had they got lost? The Bears carried on to Alston and we went to Langdon Beck. Very pleased we were when we found them. We still have no idea when we passed each other, but that cloud was very thick. We all went to Alston where we had a pizza, then back to the Green Dragon in Alston for a pint. We stayed in B+B attached to the post office, pleasant landlady. "Do what you like, but if you have a party you have to invite me" said she. Washed socks in the bath Crocodile Dundee style.
Dave on Clapper Bridge over Great Rundale Beck. 28th May 1993.
A brief period of good visibility before climbing up into the clouds. Looking at the size of the stream it is not entirely clear why anybody needed a bridge across it. Perhaps they were just practicing.
Peter juggling on Knock Old Man. 28th May 1993.
This curious structure might be a "currick" which is a look out point for shepherds. Then again it might not. Either way it was fun to climb and juggle in an unusual place. The photo was taken by one of The Bears who had joined us whilst we ate our elevenses. As can be seen the visibility was pretty poor but not at its worst.
Dave on Little Dunn Fell. Obvious isn't it. 28th May 1993.
Peter, Dave and The Bears on Cross Fell. 28th May 1993.
Garrigill. 28th May 1993.
Alston. 28th May 1993.
29th May 1993. Garrigill to Greenriggs.
Garrigill to Knarsdale looked too easy, but Greenhead was a moor too far - hence Greenriggs, a place in the middle of nowhere. Dad's doing the Southwards stretch today, so we three head North. A very sunny morning with a pleasant river walk to start, following the South bank of the River South Tyne. We were in good spirits and enjoyed the change of scenery. The Way officially crosses to the North side to climb up to the High Plains Lodge Outdoor Pursuits Centre, but this looked decidedly uninteresting - so we carried on until we crossed the river near its confluence with the Black Burn. Chris decided that we should stick to the river bank rather than climb up to Bleagate; this was a mistake ( sorry! CJP ). We soon found ourselves struggling along a slippery track on a steep, wooded bank above the river. We eventually had to climb up to reach The Way as we ran out of path. There followed an uneventful meadow walk into Alston.
The first people we met were The Bears, sitting on a bench - no doubt recovering from the excesses of the night before! For them, today was a rest day. On into the town for a pint of Boddingtons in the Old Turks Head. Big Bear must have smelt the beer because they reappeared to join us in a drink. However, not even my namesake beer could keep us back for long so we repeated our farewells of yesterday and carried on. We had been told that much of the ensuing section was boring, so we elected to take an unofficial route along the old South Tyne Railway. A section of this is in use for the tourist trade, the rest has been dismantled. The walking was easy and fast, taking us quickly to Knarsdale. The car had been left here as this was our original stopping place, but the walk was sufficiently easy that when we met Dad just outside Alston we all agreed to extend the days journey to Greenriggs. We had a good lunch, purchasing additional supplies from a mobile grocers which happened to pull in to the farm at that time. When rested Chris drove off to pick up Dad in Alston, from whence they drove to Greenriggs and came South. Dave and I continued North.
From the farm the character of the terrain changed to low, boggy moorland, but we were used to it! There was a gentle if somewhat smelly ( cows ) climb from Burnstones across the flank of Proudy Hill, then down to clip the edge of the A689 at Glendue Burn. The path over Lambley Common is the Maiden Way Roman road. This takes you past Lambley then over some rather boggy ground where the path becomes quite unclear. After Holly Rigg and Dodd Rigg we crossed the Hartley Burn, the path from here to Batey Shield was as clear as the mud in which we were walking, though finding the route past the farm buildings was the most difficult part. It was sufficiently unclear for Dad an Chris to go astray, and we were rather surprised to be hailed, from a road on the wrong side of a field, by them - obviously some way off the path. Once through the farm its a stroll down to the road at Greenriggs where the car was parked. Dave and I nipped back to Knarsdale for an early bath.
Stone Hall Farm was warm and comfortable. The furniture was excellent, but the bathroom a little tatty. Good food would enable us to forgive any minor grumbles, but we had dinner in Alston again. Dave is enjoying himself I think, but probably a tad upset about not being able to go much further. He gives this away by muttering things like "perhaps if we stick in a few 20 milers...". I'm feeling pretty good, bar the usual aches and pains, but they're more like old friends now than serious problems. We are getting fitter, and the pace is getting faster.
River South Tyne. 29th May 1993.
The Bod ( Peter ) and Dave drinking a pint of Boddington's in Alston. 29th May 1993.
End of the Line. South Tyne Railway. 29th May 1993.
Dave at the junction of The Pennine Way with the A689 at Glendue Burn. 29th May 1993.
30th May 1993. Greeriggs to Housesteads.
After our standard farmhouse breakfast Dad and Chris dropped us off at Greenriggs before driving to Housesteads. From Greenriggs, over Round Hill and up to Wain Rigg, the route is very unclear. It was only possible to be sure where we were when the trig point at Blade Hill hove into view. Here Chris and Dad had the groups last meeting with The Bears. Looking South we had our last view of the Pennines, before moving on towards the Cheviots. There came a very fiddly section round some disused quarries, which struck us as being unnecessarily complicated. After a short section of track we crossed the A69, then up a steep bank to a hill above the golf course. There followed a simple path down the hill, past a wood, and on to the golf course.
The golf course was crossed via a vallum, and the days real walk began. After the Pow Charney Burn there is a nice stiff little climb up to Thirlwall Castle, before climbing gently up to Walltown Quarry and Hadrian's Wall. By the castle we had put our waterproofs on as it started to rain, they were off again within a mile as the work got harder. Initially a few people went past us, as we took in the sights including Great Chesters. We had lunch at a picnic spot by a disused quarry, soon after we met Dad and Chris, had a brief chat and set off again. We were feeling good, and motivated by the thought of getting to Housesteads.
From this point we started to run the downhill sections, and some of the ups. It was great to be full of energy and able to really attack things despite a full pack. At Highshield Crags we passed climbers, and - unbeknownst to us at the time - the S/L. After Hotbank Crags we left The Way to go along Housesteads Crags and down into Housesteads itself. Here we debated whether or not to spend an hour going around Housesteads or go and pick up the others. I managed to convince Dave that the others would have got a move on and be waiting for us. Off we went by car to Greenriggs.
An hour and a half, and a cup of Trangia brewed coffee, later they appeared off the hill. We had obviously gone faster than we realised. Sadly it was now too late to visit Housesteads so we went to the Twice Brewed Inn to unpack and wash. There followed a period of indecision before deciding what to do for dinner. In the end because it was David's last day we decided to hit the town. A somewhat tortuous route found us in Hexham with a further decision to make, Chinese or Indian? We parked outside the Jasmine Garden Restaurant and the decision was made. They did not bat an eyelid at four rather scruffy individuals descending on their rather posh establishment. An excellent meal was had by all, thanks to Dad who picked up the tab. We weaved our way back to Twice Brewed and had difficulty getting a drink at the bar because they did not realise we were residents and it was past closing time.
Peter on Whin Sill near turret 45A. 30th May 1993.
Dave by Hadrian's Wall. Cawfield Crags. 30th May 1993.
Milecastle 39 near Crag Lough. 30th May 1993.
Farewell dinner for Dave in the Jasmine Garden Restaurant. Hexham. 30th May 1993.
31st May 1993. Housesteads to Bellingham.
Had to get up awfully early this morning! 7:30am breakfast to get Dave to Bardon Mill station for the 8:30am train. We hung around this rather deserted station wondering if the trains would in fact run at all - it was Bank Holiday Monday after all. The train duly arrived the obligatory couple of minutes late, and Dave was off - a sad end to the bulk of the walk, so near and yet..... he'll just have to go back and finish it off sometime, probably when he's about 70. I came back and had a second breakfast with Chris and Dad.
Chris and I for a change head North. Dad came South, but at this stage he is being troubled by an unpleasant cough and runs of persistent palpitations. We started at Housesteads and got absolutely nowhere for ages as Chris insisted on waiting for them to open so he could do his "end of holiday" shopping. It was a long, windy and weary wait. Finally we got going and climbed back up to Hadrian's Wall, before going over Ridley Common, across Jenkins Burn, and between Broomlee Lough and Greenlee Lough. The track then passes what is supposed to be Wark forest, but the West half has been cut down and the East half is a rather boring plantation.
The next "forest" section followed a brief piece of wet moorland called Hawk Side, again many of the trees had been cut down, the path was very wet, muddy, slippery, full of tree roots and distinctly boring! A brief interlude on a road put us back in our final piece wood, which was no better than the last. As we emerged we sighted the S/L in the distance, sadly he saw us also and waited until we caught him up. We crossed Broadpool Common, which was pretty boggy, before crossing Warks Burn. This burn like the others later in the day was in spate after last nights rain, pretty dramatic. As we meandered up through some farms we met Dad at approximately the halfway point. We managed to convince him that the section we had just done was a total waste of time, so he turned back and came North with us.
At Lowstead The Way passes through someone's back garden! Very well kept it was too. We stopped here for lunch and the S/L moved on. Forest and bog was now replaced by easier walking on pastures over Wark Common then crossing Houxty Burn. Now the only climb of the day took us past Shitlington Hall ( farmhouse ) and up Shitlington Crags to Ealingham Rigg. From here it was downhill all the way into Bellingham. The day ended as badly as it started with a long and boring drag along a B-road. We crossed the River North Tyne, which was very full, just before entering Bellingham.
This section could usefully have been done by taxi. Another strangely arduous day, "I've had more entertainment at the dentist's" © The Bod Inc. The YHA looked terrible so we booked into The Cheviot, a rather pleasant hostelry. Bellingham is conveniently the home town of Kim Lewis, authoress. I bought one of her books, got it dedicated to Jamie and signed. A fairly neat present I think.
Dave the morning after. 31st May 1993.
Shitlington Crags. 31st May 1993.
1st June 1993. Bellingham to Byrness.
My first chance to walk on my own, and very pleasant it was too. The day started with a gentle climb out of Bellingham. Very rural, lots of sheep ( two different sorts! ), pastures and rolling hills. Cloudy, but warm. Not long before I overheated and had to strip off my top things. The character changed from Hareshaw Linn into good straightforward moor walking. After Hareshaw House a B-road is crossed before the path leads into Troughend Common.
This is a well walked area with a number of paths not shown on the map, so it was important to keep track of where I was and keep an eye on the compass. The climb up to the common goes over Lough Shaw, Deer Play, the Lord's Shaw. These are wonderfully isolated spots, with good views and a great feeling of space. Unfortunately as you come down from Lord's Shaw the spell is broken by the need to cross a minor road. Next comes a stiffish climb up Padon Hill, then down to the edge of a plantation. Along the fence is a very steep climb before the path pops up to Brownrigg Head.
Walking fast has distinct disadvantages, as I approached the plantation again the S/L hove into view. He was waiting for me - can't this guy take a hint! He had eaten his lunch and was preparing to move off, so I sat down to eat mine. He showed no sign of wanting to go away and in five minutes he had told me about his divorce, his son's divorce, the cost of his accommodation, and the Monkfish he had for dinner last night! Aaargh! I leapt up and started walking, so he joined me saying "I'll just walk through the plantation with you". Fortunately he was slowing down and I was getting faster so I steamed off leaving him to eat dust.
The Way now followed an easy track through a much more interesting plantation ( part of Kielder Forest ) where they had taken the time to put up notices explaining what they were doing. Very fast walking found me quickly in Blakehopeburnhaugh, then Cottonshopeburnfoot. Yes these places really exist. It started to rain gently, but it was warm so I did not get dressed. I was by now wondering where Dad and Chris had got lost now ( their forté ), it transpired that they had wandered off up some forest track in totally the wrong direction! Dad says that this isn't true, but I'm not convinced. ( You try walking South, all the books are upside down! CJP )
I followed the now recommended alternative route along the Southwest bank of the River Rede completely by accident, and conveniently missed the footbridge that took The Way over the river and up to the A696 and Byrness. Thus I found myself on a path on the wrong side of the river. But! A very useful footbridge took me over the river right behind our guest house. The Bod does it again! Fifteen miles in five hours, good going and still feeling pretty fresh.
Our B+B is very nice, but you take your boots off on the doorstep and don't touch the wallpaper! I did in fact get dressed before presenting myself to the lady of the house, then after moving the gear in and a quick bath I set off back to Bellingham to pick up Dad and Chris. Assuming they had made it of course. They had, and after a wash we went to the local hotel for dinner. We had to eat in the dining room, I suspect they did not want us to pinch any seats from the locals. Back early for me to get a good nights sleep.
View South to Bellingham. 1st June 1993.
2nd June 1993. Byrness to Kirk Yetholm.
I awoke early full of enthusiasm. Dad looked out at the cloud and said "Do you really think you ought to go?", this is not good for the psychological build up to any event! I was still in two minds whether to take one or two days over this stretch as I wanted to push myself, but also fancied camping out in the middle of nowhere. Chris was in no doubt that he was going to take two days and sadly Dad was not well enough to carry on. another so near and yet so far. To keep my options open I had a 5:30am breakfast and carried a full load ( 45lb+ ) including tent etc. and several days food.
I was on my own for this section. Chris was to leave later in the company of the S/L. Off by 6:30am and immediately into the clouds. Byrness is at about 200m, cloud base was about 250m - and thick! It was apparent straight away that this was going to be technically difficult, arduous, and potentially dangerous. Because of the cloud I was in full battle dress, it was worth bringing all that gear. Without it I would have rapidly been soaked, though the sweat was doing a pretty good job of getting me wet from the inside out. The first climb up through the plantation up to Byrness Hill was severe, and I was giving off so much steam that my glasses became useless and were confined to my chest pocket.
I wear glasses for distance vision so today I was not going to miss them. Visibility was rarely greater than 50m and often less. This soon manifested itself by my going slightly astray at the top of the hill. The slope of the land did not match the map and I appeared to be too near the plantation ( i.e. in it! ) so it was possible to find my way back to the path after a while. From Byrness Hill I took a bearing that got me to Saughy Crag. It was now apparent that it was not going to be a matter of just following the fence because the fence looped away - only a short distance, but out of sight. This was a little disconcerting as the path is sometimes indistinct and at others so boggy that to avoid swimming you have to take long detours away from it. Another compass reading got me to Houx Hill and close to the fence enabling me to relax for a while.
Following the route was easy to Raven's Knowe, Ogre Hill, then the border fence. I enjoyed a brief lifting of the cloud which gave visibility of about 100m before closing in again ( see photo ). Crossing into Scotland I could follow a fence to Coquet Head, but from here another compass reading was required to get me to Chew Green, and back into England. It was a bit of a pain losing about 40m of hard earned altitude, but the result was worthwhile. There are masses of earthworks here waiting to be explored, and in the cloud the atmosphere was quite spooky ( agreed. CJP ). I now had to climb up to the top of Chew Sike and then head Northwest, but there are lots of paths here and I soon lost sight of all landmarks. This resulted in my going too Northerly, but this was easily identified, and rectified, when I found the border fence again. For some curious reason known only to the planners The Way then took a short skip into Scotland for the stunning distance of about 100m!
Now on Dere Street the route is obvious for about 1 kilometre, rejoins the border fence for about 400m, then dives off across country. The next couple of miles was across some very boggy ground in appalling visibility. It was a great relief when the border fence came into view above Rennies Burn. After a short distance a rather wet "dip" called Yearning Saddle is crossed before climbing up Lamb Hill, a slippery ascent on running water. The climb and the bog continued alongside the fence to Beefstand Hill, then Mozie Law. The surface here was extremely slippery, sometimes requiring me to pull on the fence posts to make progress.
The route then dips down away from the fence ( compass work ) before climbing up to Windy Gyle. The top is reached via the Scottish side of the fence. Windy Gyle is windy, boggy, slippery, cloudy....England is reentered after a short distance and The Way follows the fence down to Clennell Street. This is the time for bottling out, but its not yet midday so I carry on, twit. The Way continues as an unbelievably boggy track down from Clennell Street, then up to King's Seat, Green Gair, Score Head, Crookedsike Head, then the curiously unnamed peak ( 743m ) near to Cairn Hill and the Cheviot. The section leading up to this peak is the most horrendous bog I have ever seen, and I hope ever will see. If it was not for the duckboards no one would leave the area alive. Even more depressing, however, was to be passed by some lunatics running down the hill. They appeared out of the cloud a few yards above my head, and disappeared a few yards below. Demoralised I continued pulling on fence posts to drag myself up the hill until I hit the duckboards. This made the going infinitely easier, and I soon reached the top. This is the highest point of the day at 743m. Here I met the stragglers who looked distinctly less fit and less sure of themselves. There I was, full kit, full load including tent and several days of food; there they were in little more than running kit, but with a map!
I did not take the detour to the Cheviot as I could barely see beyond the signpost, and what I could see "quagmire" does not describe. So I nipped ( huh ) over the fence, turned sharp Northwest and ran along the duckboards to make up some time. The duckboards took me almost to the Auchope Cairn. Visibility was now appaling and I did not see the drop until I almost stepped off it. I thought I must have left the track so scouted round to the North. The drop did not go away so I found a scramble down and turned West until I picked up the path again. In the cloud the descent looked rather worse than it actually was. I was pleasantly surprised to come across a Snow Bunting pecking around the rocks of the cairn.
Going Northwest by West I now had to descend a depressingly long way to 498m. The slope was dreadfully slippery. I hyperextended my left knee, turned both ankles, then fell flat on my face. "Pop" went something in my chest pocket, "Oh dear" I said. Expecting the worse, I didn't bother looking, but picked myself out of the bog and continued down to the mountain rescue hut. The cloud lifted briefly again, in fact just long enough and high enough to show me the 100m climb to the top of The Schil ( a hill too far ), thanks for nothing! This was quite possibly the worst thing that could have happened. My pace slackened off and I struggled up the boggy track that zigzagged to the summit in a vaguely Northerly direction. There are some convenient rocks here so I sat down for a drink, a bite to eat, and to explore the contents of my chest pocket. Amazingly all that had happened to my glasses was that one of the lenses had popped out - very easily replaced.
After a short rest I started down to a saddle where The Way crosses the border for the last time. A short distance into Scotland The Way splits into a high level route and a low level route. The low level route is considered passé and to be used only in bad weather. Well I reckoned not being able to see constituted bad weather, and anyway I was knackered, so I took the "easy" way down. I almost immediately went in a bog cum cow lavatory up to my knees. I was seriously hacked off by this, dragged myself out and stormed off. Some fifteen minutes later I looked at the compass, I was heading South. The track I was following had boot prints in it all right, but it was obviously not the Pennine Way! Lost, and visibility only about 20m. Looking around I could see the ground rising to my right, after a bit of deliberation I decided that this must be The Curr. I therefore cut Northwest, then North across its flank until I hit a fence. After climbing the fence I went Northeast in the hope of hitting the source of the Halter Burn. A few somewhat worrying minutes later I found a burn so I climbed East up a steepish scramble, and "lo and behold" a track. This had to be The Way as it was a proper farm track and according to the map the only one in the area. Panic over. I hadn't simply retraced my steps because there had been many branching paths which do not show on the map.
Adventure over, I followed the track down to Birky Knowe. From just below here the path cuts across fields to Old Halterburnhead. Whilst not difficult it was not obvious as the path was little different to the many animal tracks that criss-crossed the area. However, by now visibility was much improved and I could see far enough to pick the correct route. The path to Burnhead was easy, apart from having to dodge a very high spirited stallion separated from its mare. The Way follows a metalled farm track, then continues on road into Kirk Yetholm. Just to prove I still had it in me I started to run down the road. At a bend above the town I stopped as the first bit of sun of the day appeared to pick out the church - quite poignant and fairly photogenic. Without further excitement I came to the Border Hotel - the bar was shut, story of my life! This section took 10¢ to 11 hours ( I am not sure if I left at 6 or 6:30am ), it is not an experience that would have been improved by making it last two days. I left my boots and gaiters downstairs before going for a nice hot bath. The side walls of the boots have collapsed, the gaiters have holes worn in them, and I think my feet are falling to pieces. It took four hours plus for them to even think about stopping hurting! Dad was very helpful and had my gear drying out by the time I emerged from the bath. We then had a pleasant meal in the hotel, a couple of drinks and an early bed.
Looking South from below Coquet Head, near Chew Green, to the border fence. 2nd June 1993.
The Somme. Signpost to the Cheviot. Quagmire impassable but for the duck boards. 2nd June 1993.
Sunshine, of a sort, over Kirk Yetholm. 2nd June 1993.
The sad remains of the boots and gaiters. 2nd June 1993.
3rd June 1993. Edinburgh.
With a day to wait for Chris, Dad and I went to Edinburgh. It was time to buy the presents! There was not actually a very good shopping centre considering that we were in the Capital of Scotland. However, we found a reasonable place to shop. Dad splashed out on jewelry ( he's becoming a real spendthrift ). I bought Robin a dinosaur T-shirt, and Deb a rather sexy dress with equally sexy undies ( three weeks is a long time ). We also found a big HMV store where we bought lots of CDs. I particularly wanted "The Lady in Red" (Chris Rhea ) as I had been singing that ( badly ) on the way into Kirk Yetholm and the dress for Deb was red ( sort of ). On our way back to the car we passed a very boring traditional Scotsman in Kilt playing the bagpipes, but I was brought up short by the sight of a shaven headed biker playing the pipes. A great character so I chucked him some money and took his photo.
After this entertainment we headed back to meet Chris. He had just arrived in the company of the S/L. I think Chris doesn't mind a bit of gossip so he tolerated him rather better than I did ( the trick is to tell him your own life story - thus keeping him quiet! CJP ). The S/L finally got round to calling me the half dressed anti-social one, I didn't mind because it was true, I beamed him my best smile... We had our celebratory champagne on the green in front of the hotel and took lots of photos. I included a photo of David's boots outside of the hotel as he was still there in spirit.
After Chris had refreshed himself in the hotel, we had a few drinks and dinner. We had a brief chat with a local who walked the Byrness to Kirk Yetholm section at least once a month. He reliably informed us that the conditions were the worst he had ever seen. I can believe that! Now that we had all made it I started to feel a bit flat and in a hurry to get home, but we needed a nights sleep first.
Biker Piper Edinburgh. 3rd June 1993.
Chris shortly after his arrival at Kirk Yetholm in the company of the S/L. 3rd June 1993.
David's boots outside The Border Hotel, at least they made it. 3rd June 1993.
Peter juggling on the green. Kirk Yetholm. 3rd June 1993.
Dad, Chris and Peter enjoying celebratory champagne. 3rd June 1993.
Views seen by Chris but not by me!
Uswayford. Overnight stop for Chris and the S/L. 2nd/3rd June 1993
View towards The Schil from the 2nd Hut near Hen Hole and College Burn. ( Is it? Ed ) 3rd June 1993.