Wales Coast Path: Aberdaron to Penllech

wcp-aberdaron-penllech19 November 2016 – 15.4 miles

We stayed at a very nice B&B in the centre of the Llyn Peninsula. The owner was chatting to us and said they had a lot of walkers staying there, including another Ruth, who was also walking the Coast Path – yes, I follow her blog! (coastalwalker.co.uk). He very kindly also followed us as we dropped off our car from the turn around point, then drove us down to Aberdaron, so we could do a linear walk. wcp-aberdaron-penllech-2

We had a quick look at the beach and bay at Aberdaron, then set of along the cliff paths. At the next bay we saw a man heading for a dip in the sea! Now, it was a pleasant day for November … but …! wcp-aberdaron-penllech-3

We headed west along the coast, with the bulk of Bardsey Island ahead of us. We climbed over the headland to reach the tip of the Llyn Peninsula, and you could see some of the buildings on the far side of the island. wcp-aberdaron-penllech-4

The coastline became more rugged, with cliffs and jagged rocks facing the Irish Sea. From the high point of the headland, you could see for miles around the coast, up towards Anglesey, south across Cardigan Bay, and inland to the snow-capped peaks in Snowdonia. There was a small coastguard lookout here and there had been an RAF station there during the War – some concrete foundations were visible around the area. wcp-aberdaron-penllech-7

We met a couple of groups of people by the headland. Later we met a runner and a couple of dog walkers, but otherwise it was fairly quiet. There were still a few people around when we reached the wide sandy beach at Porth Oer, families, well wrapped up and kids in wellies. Time was getting on and so we decided to play safe and take the waymarked path on top of the cliff, rather than walking along the beach and finding out why it was called Whistling Sands, just in case there wasn’t an obvious route off the beach at the far end (there was!). wcp-aberdaron-penllech-9

We were conscious of the time, and the light fading. I think this section had a lot of wishful thinking – that bay ahead of us is the one we are heading for! – but it wasn’t. The path was still pretty good, and we could see where we were going, but we knew this would not last for much longer, and so decided to head inland. wcp-aberdaron-penllech-10There were not many signposts, but we headed across a field that looked like a used path heading to a group of houses . At the far end there was a waymarker. We got to the house, walked the short distance across their back garden (sorry! – didn’t set off any alarms or anything!) and to a long farm track back to the road.

By this time, it was almost dark so it was quite a relief to just walk the last mile or two on quiet roads back to the car park. The route actually turned out to be a bit further than we’d anticipated (closer to 16 than 13 miles!) and maybe if we’d checked properly we would have walked a little faster in the morning. Another adventure!wcp-aberdaron-penllech

 

 

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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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!).

haltwhistle-to-lamley

Pennine Way – Cross Fell

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Cross Fell in mist

30th May 2016 – 15.4 miles

Hello, Pennine Way. It’s us again! Three years, new knee, interesting medical adventures, but we’re back.

Three years ago, we abandoned the walk from Dufton to Cross Fell before reaching the ridge as it was knee-deep or more in snow. The problem now was we had to gain the ridge again to get to the Pennine Way.

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Milburn

We camped for a few days at Haggs Bank, near Alston. Today, we drove and parked in the tiny village of Milburn (I wish I’d photographed the school – one small building in the centre of the village square) and headed straight uphill, on a reasonably good path. Once we hit open access land, the going got a little harder, with no visible path over rough ground.

We stopped for a drink, thinking we were making good progress, then checked the GPS and realised we hadn’t gone as far as we thought. A short plod further uphill and we came to a track which we followed around the hill. We had seen some sort of pylon on the horizon and, as we got closer, I remember the map had shown ‘ski-hoist’. Apparently there are currently ski runs on the other side of the hill, but this area has seen better days …

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Ski hoist

A short way ahead of us, we could see what looked like a road, coming to meet us uphill. I knew that the map had only shown a bridleway and had decided that it looked a longer and harder walk than the one we had taken. We thought it must be a track … but it looked like tarmac. It must be a private road … but there’s a car parked at the top, and a cyclist getting his bike out to ride down! You mean … we could have driven up here, and walked the Pennine Way part without the 2-3 hour slog uphill??? Rather dispirited by this, we had lunch and made a unanimous decision not to loop back a mile to the point we had previously reached but to keep going (maybe one day we will feel guilty enough to do that!).

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The road up

Having finally reached the ridge, the route was clear, although theĀ  ridge was now covered in low cloud. We initially followed a broad track, but realised we were heading away from the golf-ball radar station on Great Dun Fell, and retraced our steps a short way.

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Great Dun Fell

After this, we were back to the familiar stone flags across slightly boggy ground, to Little Dun Fell with the large stony bulk of Cross Fell looming ahead in the mist.A slighlty rocky route led to the flat top. We were rather glad of the line of cairns to show the way in the mist, although it is so featureless they are probably useful even on a clear day. We reached the shelter, glad to sit down out of the cold wind, having reached the highest point of the Pennines.

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Heading up Cross Fell

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Summit cairn, Cross Fell

Heading north and downhill, we met three separate pairs of walkers, the first (and only) people we saw all day. At a T-junction, the Pennine Way headed right, towards Garrigill. We headed left on a good path and then a track, marked on the map as Pennine Journey. Heading downhill, the cloud cleared and we could see across the Eden Valley toward the Lake District fells, although the views weren’t as clear as last time, in the snow!

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Horse-drawn caravan

We followed quiet country lanes back to Milburn, passing a horse-drawn van, one of several in the area, gathering in readiness for Appleby Horse Fair later in the week.

15.5 miles, of which about 3.5 were actually the Pennine Way!Cross Fell

 

 

Top Withens to Ickornshaw

Top Withens

Top Withens

31 August 2013 – 16.3 miles

We drove over the moors and parked on the roadside just past Stanbury and Ponden Reservoir, next to a car belonging to a man from North Wales who was planning a similar walk to us.

Ponden Reservoir

Ponden Reservoir

We walked around Ponden Reservoir (where we could have parked on the unmade road!) and over the moors towards Top Withens, passing a couple of rather nice modernised farmhouses. Lots of the signs had a Japanese version as well – they must be keen on the Brontes. We couldn’t work out what the green discs were though.

Japanese signpost

Japanese signpost

We returned to the car and headed to the path north of the road, meeting the man from North Wales on his way back. This was another fairly straightforward path over Oakworth Moor and Ickornshaw Moor, flagged in many places, although eroded in others and with a few 90 degree turns to watch out for.

Heading down towards Ickornshaw and Cowling we were puzzled by the number of wooden huts, all boarded up, but all in good repair with chimneys on many of them. I’ve since looked it up on the Internet and found they are shooting huts, belonging to the villagers, who can stay there overnight ready for an early start on the higher parts of the moor.

Shooting hut

Shooting hut

There was a very slight diversion to the path where somebody had fenced off part of the fields for a smallholding with pig sties and vegetable garden.

Pigs

Pigs

Cowling church

Cowling church

Once we reached the main road at Ickornshaw and Cowling, we turned round and returned by the same route, then drove a short way for a very nice pub dinner just before Stanbury (The Old Silent Inn I think).Top Withens to Cowling

Bowes to Baldersdale

Thursday 4th April 2013 – 12.5 miles

above Bowes

above Bowes

The last walk of our Easter break, and the dullest weather so far. Grey and overcast.

We drove to the small town of Bowes and parked on the main road near the church, pretty much where we had parked to do the southern loop. The Way leaves town on a bridge over the dual carriageway of the A67, then heads uphill on a counry road through old, disused military land. There were the foundations of buildinsg visible and rather alarming warning signs to keep out. It all felt rather bleak …

Warning

Warning

This felt like quite a long slog up the road, but must have been less than 2 miles. We then got onto the moorland, at a rather nicely restored isolated farmhouse at Levy Pool. We liked the hen hut!

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Levy Pool

Hen hut

Hen hut

We crossed the stream at Levy Pool and headed uphill. Some snow on the ground, but not too deep, although it did make wayfinding a little harder being unable to see a path on hte ground. We did fairly well, but had to keep checking as there weren’t many distinguishing features for much of the morning. We headed towards a large, rocky outcrop, marked on the map as Goldsborough. It seemed to take a long time to get there, as we were tired, the weather had turned grey and miserable, and there was a fine snow starting to fall.

Snowy

Snowy

Eventually, of course, we made it and made good use of a bit of rock to sit on and have some lunch. Then it was a short walk to the road where we had finished yesterday.

Goldsborough

Goldsborough

The return journey, as usual, felt much shorter, and the weather brightened up. We even met another human being – a shepherd and his dog on a quad bike. The sheep were very glad to see him.P1010293I definitely need new boots – the snow was seeping in for much of today, and when we got back to Bowes and I took them off, my damp feet were literally steaming in the cold air!

Bowes

Bowes

Robby was talking about his knees, and said he has pretty much decided to see the doctor and go for a replacement. On the drive home, his knee locked up and we had to swap over drivers!

The rest of the Pennine Way could be on hold …Old SignBowes to Baldersdale

Baldersdale to Middleton-in-Teesdale

Wednesday, 3 April 2013 – 13.1 miles

Baldersdale Reservoir

Grassholme Reservoir

We parked at the car park near Grassholme Reservoir, a short distance from Middleton-in-Teesdale. Today’s walk was a figure of 8, starting in the middle. Another clear bright day, slightly warmer than the previous ones.

Snowy hills in Baldersdale

Snowy hills in Baldersdale

We set off south and uphill, soon getting into snow. A fairly pleasant walk over the hills to the next road, but a bit of a slog in the snow.

Drifted snow

Drifted snow

The next section took us past “Hannah’s Meadow” and High Birk Hatt Farm, where Hannah Hauxwell had lived, in a farm without electricity or running water. I do remember her being a bit of a celebrity when there was a series made about her in the 1970s although I never saw it. The traditional way the farm was run has led to the meadow being designated a site of Special Scientific Interest, crossed by a boardwalk.

Hannah's Meadow

Hannah’s Meadow

We walked across past two more reservoirs to a convenient turnaround spot by a waymarker, then returned to the car walking along minor roads (easier than the snow!). We hopscotched along the road with a farmer in a van putting out feed for the sheep at various points.

Farmer with sheep

Farmer with sheep

Over the hills we came across several curious brick structures, which we thought probably had something to do with mining, but we couldn’t work out what they were. (Found out later they are mining ventilation shafts)

Brownberry

Brownberry, with ventilation shaft

Stopped at the car to put on suncream, which we had forgotten earlier. I have caught the sun a bit, and after we went home, I was asked if I had been somewhere exotic over the Easter break …

We then followed the Pennine Way over the hills towards Middleton-in-Teesdale, passing a farmhouse with an impressive tracked vehicle outside, and a footpath filled by a snowdrift.

Family runaround?

Family runaround?

Just past here, I climbed over a gate that was blocked on one side by drifted snow, and promptly sank thigh deep when one foot touched the other side. I had to get Robby to push my other foot over the gate!

There's a footpath under here!

There’s a footpath under here!

At Middleton, we took a footpath over the hills, heading for the road. We came across what looked like an army exercise, seeing first a Range Rover with aerials sprouting from it, then several men in camouflage with large packs.

We returned to the car by road. It felt quite a long way, but again, easier than going over the snowy hills.

Middleton to Baldersdale