Author Archives: Paul Courtney

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 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 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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Day 13 – Pennine Way – Langdon Beck to Dufton.

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After a restful nights sleep at Langdon Beck YHA (went to bed at 9pm!) We stoked up on a filling breakfast at this highly recommnded yha.

The path took us back to the beck where we finished yesterdays walk and we proceeded in a westerly direction for around 3.5 miles to Cauldron Snout. This was to be our first treat of the day.

Cauldron Snout is one of the most magnificent cascading waterfalls I’ve ever seen and Harv was so excited that he called for a snack break (he doesn’t normally let me stop for lunch!).

The scramble/climb up the side of the waterfall was exhilarating and thoroughly enjoyable. Upon reaching the top we crossed the head of the waterfall in front of the dam and climbed gradually upwards towards the danger area.

There’s a huge area of land that’s closed for public access to protect nesting birds that the Pennine Way runs alongside. Don’t know why it’s designated a danger area though.

After another three to four miles Harv called for a lunchbreak alongside the magnificent spectacle known as High Cup Nick. The proportion of this hollowed out bowl of a valley can’t really be captured on camera. But worthy of lingering to cement the memory to savour forever.

Even after escaping High cup on its right flank we were further rewarded with a full panoramic view of the Lake District peaks in the distance.

We then continued to descend into the village of Dufton to the 4 star yha. We showered and enjoyed a reminiss of a wonderful day in the hills at the Stag Inn opposite our accomadation.

Our thoughts then began to focus on to tomorrow and our biggest challenge yet…..

By Paul Courtney.

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Day 9 – Pennine Way – Hawes – Rest Day, Well Earned!!!

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It seemed strange this morning to break with the usual routine of fuelling up walkers style.

Filling of water bottles, filling rucksack with snack bars, fruit or anything else that could be had from the breakfast offering.

A full english breakfast felt a real treat with lashings of toast and cups of tea.

Conditions outside weren’t condusive to walking anyway so a trip to the kit shop Cunninghams was in order.

Harv tried out every lightweight walking shoe in the shoe more than once under the knowledgeable guidance of sherpa Ian who had joined us along with Harv’s parents and daughters.

New shoes were purchased and I bought a map case to replace my other one that had began to expire.

The girls were becoming restless so we had lunch before taking them to see Gromit and Shaun the Sheep at the Wensleydale creamery. There’s a museum and you can see the cheese being made but I opted for sampling in the shop where you can buy a multitude of different flavoured cheeses – yummy!

A sit in the sun and cooler before we were left alone once more. Laundry was sorted and accomadation for the next two days was changed from camping to b&b’s because the forecast for the following week has been given out rather wet.

A rather good fish & chip shop was recommended so it was rather difficult to miss the opportunity and they were delicious.

Hopefully good preparation for our extended 18 mile walking day tomorrow because of our change of stay tomorrow evening although fortuitously at the Tan Hill Inn.

Our restful day continued into the evening with a relaxing pint of Black Sheep before adjourning for the day at the Old Board Inn which we can recommend in terms of comfort, dining and hospitality.

By Paul Courtney.

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