Monthly Archives: June 2010

Day 21 – Pennine Way – Clennell Street to Kirk Yetholm – The Final Step

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With camp set up right next to the path on Clennell Street the stunning views and sunny evening turned at around 10pm into strong winds and cloud which would stay with us all night ensuring little sleep was had by all!

The temperature dropped showing that even in June the weather can change rapidly in the hills.

Camp was broken at 8am in howling winds to the point you could not feel your hands with the cold when trying to pack up the tents.

A swift getaway was in order to try and warm up and get the final 14 miles covered.

Paul and David decided to add The Cheviot top to their route so we arranged to rendezvous in the mountain refuge hut below The Schill to stay out of the strong winds.

With much needed sustinence taken on board in the rattling shelter, it was once again out into the wilds for the sharp pull up The Schill.

A swift pace took us to the finger post where the decision was taken to take the high route in to Halterburn giving us great panoramic views as the sun began to shine for the final stretch.

As we turned a corner we could see a surprise welcoming committee in the distance on the top of the hill which brought it home that we had nearly reached the end goal.

A great reception of family and friends greeted the Magnificent Six and the final mile over the hill from Halterburn to Kirk Yetholm was a procession of walkers and cars to finally drop down onto the green outside the Border Hotel – the end of the Pennine Way.

With a photoshoot done it was into The Border for the celebratory drink and signing of the Pennine Way log book and the finishing party began which took us across to Town Yetholm for a meal at The Plough with a gang of 40 family and friends.

A great finish to a gruelling 21 days but worth every step.

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Day 20 – Pennine Way – Byrness to Clennell Street (Cheviot Ridge)

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After a good night at the hospitable Byrness Hostel watching the world cup and drinking a few beers we set off after a light breakfast.

To our surprise David and Una who walked Cross Fell with us last week had arrived in the nick of time to join us on our trek up over the Cheviot Ridge.

The now six off us, myself, Harvey, Steve, Richard, Dave and Una set off and immediately we climbed stiffly upwards through the woods to Byrness Hill.

Correction seven of us, as we were joined by Linden who was staying in our Hostel last night. Who had many stories to share as he was also doing Lands End to John o’ Groats just like our old friend Fred.

Our initial climb had everyone gasping and sweating profusely only to be greeted by a stiff N Easterly on the ridge that cut through us.

We pressed onwards and upwards alongside the forest of Northumberland National Park towards the Scottish border.

Linden departed Jedburgh bound as we progressed ascending and descending, which was slowly but surely draining our energy.

At the junction of Dere Street we caught our last glance of our old friend Fred as he left our path and headed north. An opportune moment to take lunch.

We took in Lamb Hill and Beefstand Hill as our path hugged the English Scottish border. Our last breathless climb for the day took us to Windy Gyle and beyond to our camping ground for the evening, Clennell Street.

At about 550m above sea level we were miles from anywhere with good views all around on a glorious summers evening.

Once our circle of tents was erected a variety of pasta and rice meals were prepared and eaten just in time to listen to the England match on the radio.

A stiff breeze was still blowing as we settled for an early night hoping for an early start in the morning that would see us make our final journey towards Kirk Yetholm.

By Paul Courtney.

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Day 18 / 19 – Pennine Way – Bellingham to Byrness

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Day 18 rest day in Bellingham was a mixture in terms of a result.

The Cheviot Hotel ensured a restful stop however Wednesday’s in Bellingham are not a hive of activity.

Bellingham is a lovely village however it is somewhat of a one horse town.

A couple of shops, the walking kit shop closed down, and three pubs that seem to open on 1980’s licensing hours ensure very little to do unlike Hawes on our first rest day.

The long day was broken by the arrival of long time friends Steve and Rich whom arrived to walk the final three day 43 miles into Kirk Yetholm.

A fantastic show of support I will always be grateful for.

The evening meal in the Rose and Crown was hearty and was punctuated by a surprise entrance from Fred, the Lands End to John O’Groats walker we had previously left at Hebden Bridge.

With tales told of how heavy Steve and Rich’s rucksacks were and what they should do to cut some backpack weight (the kitchen sink and 1000 page book was a tad OTT!) we headed off and arranged a 9:00am start the following day.

The warmest day yet ushered in Day 19 with a 15 mile hike to Bryness.

The walk itself was very much a link walk – getting across to be able to do The Cheviot – a rather uninspiring trek over farms and the Kielder Forest.

This was however a good warm up for Steve and Rich with (over) full packs – a taste of what attrition backpacking takes on feet and limbs.

With a couple of miles left on the day the mileage started to tell on the new arrivals whilst Paul and I were very much in the groove on one of the least testing walks of The Way so far.

Forest View (the old Youth Hostel) at Byrness were our beds for the night, and a delightfully sunny evening ensured a couple of coolers and homecooked evening meal were taken in the garden before retiring to sort out our wild camping rucksacks for the following day.

240 miles done, 2 days and 28 miles and 1 wild camp to go. 🙂

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Day 18 – Pennine Way – Bellingham Rest Day!

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Wednesday a rest day, Steve and Rich joining us for the last 3 days.

Full update with Day 19 walk!

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Day 17 – Pennine Way – Twice Brewed to Bellingham

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It seems we’ve been really fortunate with our b&b accommodation bookings because you don’t really know what you’re going to get until you get there.

The impressive Saughy Rigg was no exception. A farmhouse come barn conversion set up operating as well as any small hotel with its restaurant and bar.

With a full breakfast inside us we were transported to our starting point of the Pennine Way with a bus load of people doing the Hadrians Wall trail.

The Wall trail appeared very popular, akin to the M1 of national trails. A short but energetic stiff up and down opening two miles saw us complete our section on the wall before we headed north into the forest.

The forest of Northumberland National Park provided cool shelter from the warm midday sun.

The ground in the shade proving boggy in parts, which gave Harv the opportunity to show off his brake dancing technique as he struggled to traverse a log straddling a bog.

Unfortunately the “wee beasties” were taking a liking to me and I was starting to regret wearing my shorts as I was getting a few bites on my legs.

Harvey was walking well and he told me his feet at last were feeling good – it’s only taken 200+ miles!!!

Today was the first time for over a week that we’d met any other PW walkers, but these were walking from the other direction and were only just into it.

Our path took us over undulating farmland terrain and over Shitlington Crags to get us within sight of our next destination – Bellingham.

A short stroll into the sleepy village found us at the Cheviot Hotel, which again looks a comfortable stopover venue. Now looking forward to our last well earned rest day before we have to attempt the strenuous assault of the Cheviots.

Only 42 miles to go!

By Paul Courtney.

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Day 16 – Pennine Way – Greenhead to Twice Brewed – 200 miles done!

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Greenhead Youth Hostel was a surprise. It seems it is no longer running under the YHA however still operates under the running of Greenhead Inn across the road.

The sign on the Youth Hostel door of ‘Please check in at the Inn’ gave us hope of an upgrade and we were not disappointed!

A cosy ensuite with TV and pub grub for dinner with the World Cup on rose our spirits after a sodden, tough day 15.

So after a cosy B&B at YHA prices it was off on the shortest day on route, a loosener of 7 miles over Hadrians Wall.

The weather had dried to give perfect walking conditions giving rise to views back to Cross Fell which we had crossed two days prior, and northerly views to the Cheviot which is where we are heading in the next couple of walk days.

The walk itself was somewhat of an ‘A’ road after days of walking and not seeing many people.

A mixture of day trippers and many walkers walking the whole Hadrians Wall (only 70 miles!) meant a host of ‘hello’s’ along the route.

The wall is a fine walk. It is constant up and downs with some quite sharp pulls up to get the muscles moving, all worth it for the views.

The 200 mile watershed was celebrated with a cooler in Twice Brewed Inn half a mile off route before heading to our stop for the night at Saughy Rigg, another mile off track, so some more miles in the ‘extras’ column.

With a 16 miler tomorrow before rest day a restful evening beckons!

205 miles done!

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Day 15 – Pennine Way – Alston to Greenhead

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After yesterdays toils my first tentative steps confirmed what I already thought – I couldn’t walk!!!

Harv soon woke, I asked him if he’d walked yet. He said “no” I chuckled. He then proceeded across the floor, ooh, ouch, ahh. Quite funny, but you have to be there I guess.

This now made todays 18 mile hike over undulating terrain appear much more challenging. Breakfast at the excellent Alston House hotel was consumed with ease in preparation for the day ahead.

Full waterproofs were required as it was raining steadily as we set off. However to our annoyance the showers were intermittent all morning meaning constant costume changes.

We struggled to find any rythym as a result and the stiffness of yesterday lingered. By midday the rain was now constant and very unpleasant.

The going underfoot was sodden, boggy and treacherously slippy in parts. To make matters worse waymarking was inconsistent or non existent and the easily navigable well trodden paths of the southern Pennines were a long way behind.

The map and compass was in constant use over the boggy moorland terrain in the torrential rain. We were soaked through with squelchy boots and getting cold from constantly having to stop to confirm our directions.

We did however leave Cumbria behind as we entered the county of Northumberland. It was around 18.30 before we reached our destination Greenhead yha, but only to find it closed!

A note was on the door referring us to the Greenhead Hotel were we walked further to find a warm welcome and a hot shower!

Glad today was finally over, refreshed we retired to the bar for some much needed refreshments.

By Paul Courtney.

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