Pennine Way 18 and 19. Two days without internet connection!

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September 7th 2019
Published: September 7th 2019
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I know, I know we are not in Hexham. But this place doesn’t have internet connection let alone a place name this blog site is close to Blakehopeburnhaugh and even closer to Cottonshopeburntfoot and I am not joking!

I’m writing this today but it will be tomorrow or more likely tomorrow’s tomorrow before you read it as the internet is not existent here. They have electricity but not the internet. And we are here for 2 nights as they send us of for 25 km or so then they drive and get us and bring us back (sounds a bit like a prison breakout). The next day they return us to that pick up point and we walk the final 26 km to Kirk Yetholm. No internet but a welcome cup of tea on arrival and after 25 km of fairly hard on the feet kilometres that cup is certainly welcome. They do everything here, that is evening meals are provided for guests (about 15), drinks are served, boots dried so there’s nothing else left to do. It’s a shame we arrived on ‘Temperence Thursday’ but I think we convinced Colin to postpone that until next Thursday when hopefully less beer hungry guests may arrive. In fact I just heard a beer o’clock message.

Starting in Bellingham and up the hill to the moors was as expected. Delightful vistas and views back as far as the North Pennines. Despite the fact we had walked uphill all morning the moors become boggy and wet. The sunshine we had commenced our walk with disappeared as the moors became boggier and boggier and our coats again became our constant companions. It rained, unsurprisingly, but not enough to really worry us. Where we could we took alternate routes to minimise the mud and bog which lead to significant track sections which although dry are boring and quite hard on walkers’ feet. There was a 2 kilometre section of clear fell forest on hard blue metal stones which was not fun. Some pleasant sections towards the end give hope that tomorrow’s walk will be the right mixture of sights and surfaces and that we will get some real walking in.

Day 1 more than yesterday.

It will be at least tomorrow when you read this as again (really still as we are in the same place as last night) we have no internet connection. It means no blog, no Facebook, no Google maps to check tomorrow’s trail, no email, no weather forecast and no footy scores (although I fear the worst as someone on the trail today gave a three-quarter time score that was a little depressing).

But we had a good day’s walk. We had to watch the clock a bit as we had a pick up point about 3 km off the track. The BnB allow 7.5 hours and that about right but it means our breaks were shorter than we would normally have taken. Our lunch break was OK as we were sheltering near an emergency shelter but the cairn that was a significant point on the trail and ideal for a quick break provided so little shelter wise that we didn’t linger too long at all.

The first section of the walk was uphill and muddy (no surprise), the next 20 km offered great vistas and panoramic views in virtually all directions. Despite us heading off in bright sunshine the skies greyed and clouded over but for the first time in 10 days we had almost no rain and certainly none that bothered us. We climbed a gate, opening it would have meant standing in a large puddle, and jumped down into Scotland and for the rest of the afternoon we oscillated between England and Scotland. It must have been Border Patrol’s Annual Picnic as we saw no one around. It was strange really the only time we saw anyone was when we stopped for lunch at the shelter or at the big cairn and trig point for afternoon snack. All the other walkers must have had the same intentions and to see 7 people in the same spot was a little bizarre. We’ve see the same walkers quite regularly and expect to see them again in the pub at Kirk Yetholm. There is certainly a common walker conviviality and after seeing the same people on and off over a couple of weeks it is good to catch up and swap tales. There’s a pub at the finish tomorrow that offers free half pint to walkers who complete the Pennine Way so we’ll be even happier to see each other.

Again today’s meandering had lots of moors, boggy but not as bad as we have seen and with quite a distance of flagstone walking which is pretty easy and certainly significantly better than through the mud. The flagstones present their own problems, they can get really slippery and some move a bit but they are good. It never ceases to amaze or amuse me that you walk uphill for an hour or so, get to the top and it gets wetter and boggier. Doesn’t water flow downhill here?

The BnB people drive us back tomorrow so will have a 3 km uphill walk back to the Pennine Way prior to our final leg into Scotland proper and into Kirk Yetholm. It should be scenic and not too difficult but we will start later than usual due to the fact we have to wait for the bus which means we finish late. Usually we complete our walks by 4:30 unless they are really big ones but tomorrow at about 27 will take us close to 6 o’clock. Anyway we’ll see.

Just had evening meal here which is quite an event as we all sit, eat and chat away in what’s really a small and cosy dining room. Us being ‘old hands’ because we were yesterday as well set the agenda and having walked today what all the others will walk tomorrow we become the font of all wisdom. There were 10 tonight, slightly fewer than yesterday but still with a few beers things go pretty smoothly. Saying that though it’s not quite 9 o’clock and everyone has headed for bed. Two get super early and intend to be walking by 6 o’clock so they have a rather legitimate excuse. One guy is walking the full 42 km in one day! He looks fit and healthy but we will see how vertical he is tomorrow about 8 o’clock when we meet him in the pub. On that I need to do a little preparation (offline by necessity) in readiness for our walk.

Ciao for now.

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