29th May 2018 – 14.9 miles
Half-term. It has been a warm, sunny May, with unbelievably, warm and sunny Bank Holidays! So hopes were high as we drove to Northumberland on Bank Holiday Monday, passing the queue waiting to leave the motorway at the South Lakes. We drove to Kielder and had a walk round the forest before going to Forest Lodge B&B in Byrness. Before tea, we had a 3 mile walk to the campsite where we had turned round on our previous walk.
Forest Lodge pretty much runs around Pennine Way walkers, and I felt a bit of a fraud walking in, all fresh and clean! Some of the people had walked from Edale in the past few weeks, others were doing the Way in sections. One woman was just over halfway through her walk from Land’s End to John O’Groats!
We set off in the morning at the same time as three others from the B&B. I wasn’t sure I wanted to walk in a group, but it was okay. Once we got up the hill, we found our own pace, and although we were usually within sight of each other, and caught each other up from time to time, we each walked in our couples or threes.
The first part of the walk was straight and steep, at the edge of the forest where I caught a glimpse of a red squirrel. It stopped nearby as I reached for my camera, but ran off as soon as I lifted it to my eye!
The sun came out once we reached the top of the ridge, but we could see thick cloud to the north and over some of the hills to the south. It wasn’t long before it got a bit mistier for us too.
The Way passes along the edge of the Otterburn shooting ranges with warning notices posted at regular intervals.
We passed the remains of a Roman fort and medieval village at Chew Green – the mounds and banks very visible. We were initially a bit puzzled about the icon that was allowed – at first I thought it was a man with wings – one of the other walkers this evening thought it was a figure with a shotgun – but I realised it was a walker with a map.
We made it to the refuge hut at Yearning Saddle for lunch. One of the other groups had got there first, and sat inside, but we were quite content to sit on the ‘veranda’ along with the Australian couple who joined us a few minutes later.
After lunch, the cloud thickened around us and quite a chill wind blew. Shortly afterwards, we noticed the Australian couple ahead of us had stopped and we looked across to see some animals which we thought were the wild goats that live on the Cheviot. As we caught up with them, the goats were fairly close – although a bit far away in the mist for a decent picture.
The groups all caught each other up shortly after that, and we had a bit of a map-reading conference, although the Way was pretty straightforward, with only one or two places where you had to check which of two paths to take. We let them overtake us, and got to the cairn at Windy Gyle (our stopping place) after the others had gone downhill.
Joyce, from Forest View, had given us all a very clear set of directions, down from Windy Gyle for just over a mile, to Trows Farm, where we could wait in a barn for her to collect us in the minibus. We took our time strolling downhill as we knew we would be in plenty of time for her to arrive. As it was we had to sit in the barn – which had the wind whistling through it – for a good half hour, so I was glad we hadn’t rushed. The directions and pick-up all worked very smoothly.