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Day 18 / 19 – Pennine Way – Bellingham to Byrness





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





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 14 – Pennine Way – Dufton to Alston – The Big One



An early start with a hearty Dufton YHA breakfast ushered in walk day 13 with the anticipation of the biggest Pennine Way day so far with a 20 mile hike over 4 peaks including the highest point on the Way – Cross Fell.

Daytrippers David and Una were on catch up as Paul and I left 8:30am on the dot.

Perfect walking weather of light cloud, dry with a light wind encouraged our walk out of Dufton around Dufton Pike and onwards to Knock Fell.

The daytrippers soon caught up with us (even after a southern detour of the Pennine Way on starting!).

The views from Knock Fell were fantastic with a clear vista across our path ahead and 180° views across to the Lake District.

Moving swiftly across the ridge Great Dun Fell was soon conquered and lunch taken beside the radar station (Helens packed lunch carried by David was very welcome!) with stunning views across to the Dales we had left behind days ago.

Another quick step saw us top Little Dun Fell and then dip through Tees Head and climb the scree to top Cross Fell – the highest point of the Pennine Way.

This was another watershed moment for us made even better with 360° views as far as the eye could see including the Cheviot in the distance to which we have to head towards and climb.

The descent to Garrigill is a long trudge over a painful stoned track, sore feet all round!

The final 5 miles down the valley to Alston was very pleasant although tired legs, knees and feet ensured the view was not necessarily the main thing on our minds!

Alston became an oasis in view and coolers were taken as throbbing feet took hold.

So the Pennine Way Challenge team delivered our Big Game result – just a shame England didn’t in their first game at the World Cup!

Now less than 90 miles to go – total walked so far 180 miles.


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Day 12 – Pennine Way – Clove Lodge to Langdon Beck






After a full wet day from Tan Hill Inn the decision to upgrade from camping to B&B at Clove Lodge Farm was a great decision.

We ended up in the cottage with full living room, dining room, kitchen to add to the bathroom and beds. RESULT!

Carol and Chris the hosts were fantastic and made us feel very welcome. A definite recommend!

Day 12 started in cool, overcast conditions again.

The 15 mile step for the day started with a couple of moderate ups and downs over farmland and between reservoirs and around Harter Fell which opened up in to a great view of Teesdale looking down to Middleton in Teesdale.

Once the descent to the valley floor had been made it was a very pleasant walk along the River Tees for the afternoon.

Lunch was taken sat on the riverbank before heading up the valley to pass Low Force and then on to the fantastic High Force which was in full flow after 4 days of rain.

The remaining part of todays journey was then made along the riverside with a final step to Langdon Beck Youth Hostel – another tranquil spot in a remote area.

Teesdale has shown a real change in scenery. Gone are the barns of the Yorkshire Dales replaced by the white washed cottages distinctive of the dale.

My feet are still causing problems but are under control, Pauls knee is much the same and we both feel strong otherwise.

The next few days are going to be testing and more remote so lets hope the feet and knees hold up!

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Day 6 – Pennine Way – Thornton in Craven to Malham



After a tortuous day personally yesterday due to sickness the sleeping bag in the tent for our first camping night may not have been everyone’s idea of comfort, however it was my bliss for the day!

Anyplace where I could lay down and take on liquid would have done!

The campsite was at Sawley House in East Marton. Sherpa Ian had come to my rescue and picked us up at Thornton in Craven the evening before ferrying us on to our target destination.

The campsite is basically a back garden from an old bed and breakfast, with very basic facilities.

Morning broke to a chorus of birds singing at 4am and I could tell I was feeling significantly better which bode well for the day to come.

This was the first day we had some day trippers on board in the form of my Mum and old friend Osian.

Sherpa Ian arrived at 7:30am and did some more foot surgery on my left foot which still had very sore blisters.

Shortly after our daytrippers arrived and with camp broken down sherpa duties transfered to my Dad for the day who took us to our new day start point back in Thornton in Craven.

The day was another sunny one and by standards prior an easy 11 miles across rolling meadows, canal paths and the bank of the River Aire into Malham having taken in Gargrave for a lunch stop on route.

Paul’s right knee started to give him more aggrevation which had been building up over the last few days. Knee support came out and thankfully a gentle pace and flatter landscape enabled us to hobble in to Malham Youth Hostel early so we could bag bottom bunks and have a couple of coolers sat outside the Listers Arms watching the world go by.

Another restful night required before tomorrows big day of Pen-y-Ghent!

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Day 2 – Pennine Way – Legend in our lifetime




Walking day two began after feeling thoroughly refreshed and nourished after our stay at Crowden YHA. It began with a stiff climb up Black Chew Head which eased the stiffness in the muscles from the day before.

It was grey overhead but the wind had eased to a gentle breeze and the trek across the steep sided ridge was pleasant and enjoyable. Progress was gentle across the moors to Dun Hill and beyond to the trig point at Black Hill where Tim and John where enjoying a brandy!

The views were well worth the climb and our onward vista was opening out before us. Harvey was struggling with heavily deteriorated blisters on both heels and urgent remedial action was required.

Upon reaching the road and the support vehicle Harvey’s wounds were tended and sustinance taken on board. Harv opted for trainers which proved a wise decision for the afternoon.

We strode off to be bathed in warm sunshine as we negotiated a series of reservoirs to finally finish at the now dry Redbrook reservoir.

We retired for a well earned pint at an inn where we were joined by John and Tim and our new walking acquantance Fred. Fred is a remarkably fit, weathered, compact yet muscular 69 year old carrying a fully loaded rucksack. We were mesmerised by his tales of how he was trekking the whole length of the country.

This was an awesome encounter and Fred was plied was a few pints of Black Sheep in exchange hearing about his exploits. We enjoyed dinner together with all our new found walking friends before adjourning to the 4 star Wellbeck guest house to refresh ourselves after the days toil.

John however also heavily blistered looks set to walk another day……..

By Paul Courtney

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Day 2 – Pennine Way – Crowden to Standedge




Wow, what a day!

Crowden Youth Hostel provided a great night’s sleep (for me anyway!), ear plugs in, bottom bunk, no-one above – 7 hours kip sorted!

Crowden YHA is fantastic, I would actually consider taking the kids there for a weekend walking.

Great hospitality, cracking food, modern, clean stopover.

Thank you Crowden YHA!

The day started with a steady climb up the ridge of Black Tor with a sharp steep pull up Laddow Rocks and across the peaty path eventually to a paved path up to Black Hill, shared with our fellow Pennine Wayers Tim and John whom we had met at Crowden YHA.

By this time my feet, more specifically my heels and little toes had turned into blistered open wounds and a call to Sherpa Ian was made for a lunchtime meet on the A635 for a patch up and change from boots to trainers.

The last pull up to lunch was purgatory on my heels, it was a grit teeth and get on with it time.

My feet have always been an issue and even fulky fitted boots clearly make little difference.

A patch up of compeed and a switch to trainers made a huge difference, my pace took off again on a fantastic walk by Wessenden Reservoir, over Marsden Moor into Standedge, thankfully for my feet all tracked and paved.

A cracking day made all the better by a comfy bed and breakfast Wellcroft House at Bleak Hey Nook.

12 miles, 28 in total, 2 sore feet, 242 miles to go with blistered feet!

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