Haltwhistle to Housesteads

pw-haltwhistle-housesteads-527 October 2016 – 11 miles

We packed up our holiday cottage and drove a short way up the road to park on the roadside. We headed across a field to Hadrian’s Wall. The way today followed the Wall and so wayfinding was no problem at all. There were also more people around than yesterday.

The Wall itself is extant for most of the route, with the foundations of some turrets visible, and some of the milecastles well preserved.pw-haltwhistle-housesteads-2 It would be good one day to take it a bit slower and actually look at what is visible on the ground. The weather was a lot duller and cooler today with a cold wind.

Views stretched for a good distance in all directions, and it was good to look west and see where we had walked two days ago. Looking forward, there were outcrops of crags as good visible landmarks. We had lunch sheltered in a wood on top of one of these crags.pw-haltwhistle-housesteads

Rather nice to see Sycamore Gap, such a famous view. pw-sycamore-gap

The Pennine Way leaves Hadrian’s Wall at Turret 37A and we could see it heading north across what could be rather wet ground!pw-haltwhistle-housesteads-4 As Housesteads was less than a mile away, we kept going to turn around there, expecting coffee and cake. What a disappointment – they only had a drinks machine! – so we had an ice-cream and a toilet stop before heading back.

We did try to go for some of the way along the Military Way, just south of the Wall, and rather more level! We didn’t stay on it all the way, but we missed out the worst of the ups and downs.

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Lambley to Kirkhaugh

pw-lamley-kirkhaugh26 October 2016 – 14.4 miles

We parked in the village of Lambley then walked the short distance to the Pennine Way (where we should have been yesterday!). Despite being along the route of a Roman road – the Maiden Way – it wasn’t terribly dry going. However, there were boards set around the stiles to get you over the worst bits.pw-lamley-kirkhaugh-2

The weather was a bit greyer than yesterday and getting a bit chilly. We could hear shooting going on up higher on the moors and at one point, as we walked past, a man shouted and waved a red flag, signalling for the shooting to stop as we passed. I assume they weren’t firing towards the Pennine Way, but that they stopped to lessen the danger of someone swinging round in our direction!pw-lamley-kirkhaugh-3

We got down to the valley at Burnstones, crossed by a railway viaduct, and had lunch above the river, facing a rather nice manor house (Knarsdale Hall) which we decided was where the shooting parties were based.

The Pennine Way then runs parallel to the disused railway line and we could see a few people walking along it – nobody on the Pennine Way! At one point, behind a small row of cottages, the Way takes you over their back walls and through their gardens (there are fields behind!).

We reached the delightfully named village of Slaggyford, where there was work going on along the railway as the narrow gauge line is being extended to here.

pw-lamley-kirkhaugh-4A short walk along the road took us to a path along the River South Tyne and then to Lintley, the end of the narrow-gauge railway, where we stopped to watch a train leave!

pw-south-tyne-railwayIt was drizzling off and on by now, so it was good to finally reach Kirkhaugh Station for the return journey along the railway. We did have to retrace our route around Slaggyford for a while because of the works, but otherwise it was an easy and straightforward route back. pw-south-tyne-railway-2We did end up walking through the front garden of the disused station house at Lambley, but in our defence, the sign that makes it clear that this is private was on the far side! We got back to the car at dusk, not as dark as yesterday!

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Haltwhistle to Lambley

pennine-way-hadrians-wall25 October 2016 – 18 miles

Today was possibly one of the best and worst days of the Pennine Way!

Staying in a holiday cottage just outside Haltwhistle, we had a short walk up the road to join the Pennine Way where it runs alongside Hadrian’s Wall. It was a beautiful, clear, sunny day. Walking along Hadrian’s Wall was great, interesting and easy wayfinding. There were quite a few walkers about, some obviously just visiting the Wall with others looking as if they were doing some long distance walking. We had lunch at Walltown Crags picnic site, showing how the area had been quarried in the 19th and 20th century – it seems unthinkable to be quarrying until relatively recently in such an historic area!

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Walking further along the route of the wall, we came to the rather impressive ruins of Thirwall Castle.

pennine-way-hadrians-wall-3Shortly after this, the Pennine Way splits from the Hadrian’s Wall Path, and we saw no othe walkers – apart from one man in the distance on the moors.

After crossing the busy A69 we headed towards open moorland, first on a good track which soon petered out. Some of the ground was very wet – there was a board walk along one stretch but as there was a huge muddy area in front of it, we skirted round. The path was very difficult to find and we ended up following a fence line to get back on course. Even looking back, the path was not really visible on the ground. Blenkinsopp Common was very wet, and we just had to find the best route across while staying on course (luckily the Pennine Way runs in a pretty straight line). This was where we saw the other walker – he was walking alongside a wall – I wonder if the ground was any more solid? At least it was just wet, not as muddy and peaty as some sections further south.

pennine-way-hadrians-wall-5The next section was similarly wet, with some boardwalks, but not nearly enough! I think we were not quite on the route for some parts, but we were just keeping going to get off the moor!pennine-way-hadrians-wall-6

The next section was rough ground, but a lot drier. The GPS had been going through batteries all day, and now the last set gave up. But we set off in what we thought was the correct line, then ended up at the road about a mile north of where we should be. We had over-compensated to the left, but this was no bad thing as we walked down the road to where we had intended to be – much easier!

This took us to the village of Lambley from where a disused railway line has been turned into a foot & cycle path to take us back to Haltwhistle. It began at this viaduct over the River Tyne.pennine-way-hadrians-wall-7pennine-way-hadrians-wall-8

We had realised that it would be getting dark and so a railway track would be a feasible walk. It was completely dark when we got back to Haltwhistle, very glad to be there and very glad of the hearty dinner in the Black Bull (which had been recommended!).

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Garrigill to Kirkhaugh

south-tyne1st June 2016 – 15.4 miles

We packed up our campsite and drove the short distance to Alston, where we parked the car and bought a few supplies (lunch!). It was a bit drizzly, and we met another walker sheltering in the square who was waiting for his friends to do a similar walk to our planned route to Garrigill.alston

We left Alston along the river bank, skirting the back of the  Youth Hostel, and trying to recognise it as the one we stopped in about 20 years ago (we think it could be a different building). The path went through fields, following the river, but some way uphill for much of the way. There were plenty of sheep with lambs in the fields and many dry stone walls to cross. We met a couple of families of walkers coming in the opposite direction, which is unusual enough to mention.lambs

As we got closer to Garrigill, the valley got narrower andthe path ran closer to the river South Tyne. Where we crossed the footbridge, we met the man from Alston, who obviously had not met up with his friends, heading back towards Alston. He was doing a circular route and he told us something about a diversion on his route.

The last section seemed further than expected. The guidebook says something about it being dreary amd full of spoil heaps and scrap yards. That did seem a bit of an exaggeration. Yes, there were a few spoil heaps closer to Garrigill, but I probably wouldn’t have noticed them if the guidebook hadn’t mentioned them. And, yes, there was one scrapyard, but it was quite an interesting and rather eccentric place!scrap-yard

I was glad to reach Garrigill and have lunch. We returned by the same route – which, as usual, seemed much quicker. sialge

The afternoon had brightened up, so we continued north from Alston. We passed Harbut House, rather grand, with a peacock, then crossed the A689 and headed uphill  to more open country. Route finding was not always obvious, but we did manage to get it right. Crossing a stream meant we had crossed into Northumberland – pretty much the last leg of the Pennine Way, but it is a pretty big county!boundary

I noticed some unusually shaped mounds in the distance and was quite surprised when we got closer to see we had reached the Roman fort sooner than expected. I also hadn’t expected the fort to be earthworks – I think I’d expected some visible stone walls. earthworks

At this point the Pennine Way lead back downhill and across the main road. The South Tyne trail runs nearby, along the South Tynedale narrow guage railway.

We followed this all the way back to Alston. It was nice to have an easy, level route back after a pretty long day (a long three days in all!). alston-eveningAnd the sun shone in the end!garrigill-to-kirkhaugh

 

 

Dufton to Green Fell

Easter Monday, 1st April 2013 –  8.5 miles

Dufton stream

Another clear, bright day. Set off north from Dufton Youth Hostel, heading for Cross Fell. We followed the Pennine Way along a stream running behind the village, with a few drifts of snow having built up. Farm tracks going steadily uphill, with new-born lambs in the fields wearing plastic macs! Not seen this before.

As we got higher, away from the farmland and the tracks, the walking got rougher, with patches of snow becoming more and more evident. We stopped for a drink by a hill stream with some remains of old mining buildings, and then headed uphill.

Out of the shelter, the wind became stronger, and there was more and more snow on the ground. It had drifted in places, filling in dips and covering dry stone walls. We walked right across the top of one.

Buried wall

It was a bit of a slog going uphill, with the snow getting deeper and the wind getting stronger. The snow had been blown into stranged drifts, and it was hard to imagine what the land would look like underneath it all. There were very few tracks, but we could just make out where people had walked, although these were becoming faint, and our own tracks were fading under the blown snow.

Drifts on Green Fell

Drifts on Green Fell

Eventually, we decided that it was such hard work walking, plus the path was getting almost impossible to discern, that it was wise to head back, and return at a later date! We turned round at a waymarker which was an arrow pointing up a blank, white hill!

Way marker below Knock Old Man

Way marker below Knock Old Man – the turnaround point!

At one point heading down a steep hill, it was easier to sit and slide down the snow on waterproof trousers – and more fun!

Walking back from Green Fell

Back in the village, we saw a dog walker … the first person we had seen all day (Bank Holiday Monday!)

We had already packed the car, so we got in and drove to our next destination, further back down the Pennine Way, Langdon Beck Youth Hostel. The road across the Pennines had only reopened a few days earlier, and there were high drifts at the sides of the road.

Dufton to Green Fell

Standedge to Langfield Common

Sunday, 1st April 2012 – 16.5 miles

A bright, clear Sunday morning (Palm Sunday, in fact). It had been quite pleasant in Merseyside, but as we parked just above the M62, we realised how cold it was in the hills – and no gloves!!! Mind you, as we headed south over White Hill, we met a man wearing only shorts, socks and boots! Either he was very hardy, or had had a clothes related disaster – brrrr! It was a short walk to the road where we had stopped, then back to the M62.

We spent quite a bit of time photographing the bridge and the motorway – we have driven underneath it so many times, it was good to walk across it at last.

Then up onto Blackstone Edge – similar landscape to Standedge – dry, sandy with huge lumps of stone, shaped by the wind. We then met what is meant to be a Roman road, running down to the valley, and the Aiggin Stone, set up for travellers in the past.

Across the road at the White House pub, the path follows a line of reservoirs. These once supplied water to the Rochdale Canal, and we came across some carved stonework, which looks as if it has been reclaimed for future use.There were also rocky outcrops, with a poem carved into the rock face.

RAIN

Be glad of these freshwater tears

Each pearled droplet some salty old sea bullet

air lifted out of the waves, then laudered and sieved, recast as a soft bead and returned.

And no matter how much it strafes or sheets, it is no mean feat to catch one raindrop clean in the mouth,

to take one drop on the tongue, tasting cloud pollen, grain of the heavens, raw sky.

Let it teem, up here where the front of the mind distils the brunt of the world.

We turned round at the end of the last reservoir, Warland,  just able to see Stoodley Pike in the distance.

Langfield Common to Colden

 Sunday, 15 April 2012 – 12.4 miles approx

We parked off the road near Hebden Bridge, walking over the Rochdale Canal and up a good track through woods, past a farm, and onto the moorland. We saw some rather striking birds on the fence which I thought could be wheatears, and, when I looked them up at home, found out I was right.

Arriving at Stoodley Pike memorial, we found you can go up the staircase inside to get a good view of the surrounding hills and villages.

The route was then fairly flat and straightforward across the moor, some parts slabbed, to get to Langfield common and the end of Warland reservoir where we had turned round last time.

It was a lovely bright clear day, warm in the sheltered sunshine, but pretty cold when exposed. It was much colder walking back to the car than it had been on the first leg.We sat and had a drink by the side of the canal, with some very ‘lived in’ narrow boats alongside.

We continued the Pennine Way on the other side of the main road, heading up a very steep, narrow path between walls and houses. I think we were both not looking forward to going back down!

We took the ‘official’ route here, rather than the Wainwright altenative route – couldn’t see on the map what this one did – and passed a small graveyard clinging to the hillside – very Victorian and atmospheric.

It then hailed on us, rather hard, but it passed off within a few minutes! We went through a field where there was clay pigeon shooting going on – rather disconcerting! – but they stopped when they saw us! Even better, we saw this bench – look closely! Shortly after, we came across one of those places that makes the walk worthwhile – Colden Clough. A small river in a deep valley, with an old stone bridge across. A short walk from there took us to the main road at Colden, and a good parking place for the next leg.

Going back, that little path wasn’t quite as steep and hard-on-the-knees as we had feared!