Wales Coast Path: Aberdaron to Rhiw

wcp-aberdaron-rhiw-420 November 2016 – 11.14 miles

We left our nice B&B, turning down the offer of a lift for a linear walk so that we had the option of lengthening or shortening the walk as we felt like it! We parked again at Aberdaron, heading slightly inland up a small river valley and through fields. wcp-aberdaron-rhiwWe did head down to a caravan site before realising it didn’t look right. Further back up the track there was a waymarker, more easily visible when you were going the ‘wrong’ way! wcp-aberdaron-rhiw-2

This took us back towards the coast, over rolling hills high above the sea. It was another beautiful day, sunny and clear, and fairly warm for November. We looked across Cardigan Bay, taking a bearing and decided that we actually could see Pembrokeshire on the horizon! There were a few sheep grazing and a number of ponies.wcp-aberdaron-rhiw-3

We headed inland up a lovely valley with a stream and waterfalls, and the remains of old mining industry.wcp-aberdaron-rhiw-5

The path then headed back to the coast on open access moorland, again high rolling hills. It appears that the path has been diverted and improved to run closer to the coast than it does on our map, although it has been pretty well waymarked. wcp-aberdaron-rhiw-6

We reached a minor road, close to the National Trust property of Plas-yn-Rhiw and at the western end of Hell’s Mouth Bay, and decided to make that our turnaround point. wcp-aberdaron-rhiw-7

We followed the quiet minor road back to Aberdaron, reaching it just as the sun was beginning to set. wcp-aberdaron-rhiw-8wcp-aberdaron-rhiw

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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Wales Coast Path: Beaumaris to Mariandyrys

wcp-beaumaris-824 August 2016 – 9.8 miles

Another lovely day. We packed up the tent and left the car at the campsite, then walked down to the coast. We had walked back to the campsite along the Coast Path on-road route last night; this morning we did it again, but along the shore. The tide was well out, but some of the shore was rocky, some parts were muddy, but there were lovely views across to Snowdonia, and Puffin Island coming into view at the corner of Anglesey. We saw a few boat trips from Beaumaris heading out that way. wcp-beaumaris-2

We then moved inland at a small car park where a river came down to the sea. I’m sure I saw a flash of a kingfisher here!

We had a rest on a dangerous bench.wcp-beaumaris-3

wcp-beaumaris-4The route was now mostly along the road, although it was fairly quiet. We passed some old works – presumably from the quarry a little further inland – then arrived at Penmon Priory. We took a little time to look round the priory ruins, the church and the dovecote before continuing along the toll-road.

Penmon point was quite busy. It is such a familiar view from photographs, but neither of us had ever been here before. There was a little excitement – I think someone had decided to swim out to the lighthouse, and had got into difficulties. People on the shore began to shout and wave at a passing yacht to get help, but soon dismissed it shouting “It’s okay. He’s alright now!”wcp-beaumaris-7

We met very few people once we headed away from this point. The route heads away from the coast, but still gave views back towards Puffin Island for a while. We then headed through farm paths and lanes, until we reached a small junction near Mariandyrys which seemed a convenient point to stop.

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From here it was a straightforward couple of miles back to the campsite.wcp-beaumaris-to-mariandyrys

 

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

 

 

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 the  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