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.

Haltwhistle to Housesteads.jpg


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.


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 Рpretty 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



Hawes to Great Shunner Fell

Sunday, 15 July 2012 – 13.7 miles

Beautiful sunny morning but with a chilly breeze. Packed up the car and left it at the campsite – after spotting yesterday’s young man with a beard motorcycle camping there too (that’s still not the last sighting of him though …)

We walked into the centre of Hawes, then out towards Hardraw, where we didn’t pay to see the waterfall. Funny, the village was familiar, but I remembered the pub as being on the opposite side of the road from the falls.

A well made track led up between fields, and we had to stop to take off a layer as it was warm walking uphill in the sunshine. It was much quieter than we had expected – we thought a “named hill” near popular areas of Wensleydale would attract walkers. One couple passed us, and there were a couple of women at the top of the lane having a drink. Oh, yes, and the young man with a beard, heading downhill!

As we headed uphill it got cooler with an ominous black cloud out to the west. We put coats on at lunch, remembering how we had cooled down yesterday. It was pretty cold, even considering it’s July! Robby had gloves on, and I’d have worn some had I brought any!

Great Shunner Fell

Towards the top of the fell is High Abbotside a protected area of bog and moorland regeneration. It was the familiar wet peat, but with a natural stony path, that didn’t seem bad at first, but the causey path came as a relief. Parts of that were under mud or water – trekking poles come in handy for checking if there’s something solid lurking under the surface – or not! We followed the two women we had seen earlier as they skirted round a sunken part of the path, but on the return journey we found it was okay to go along the path – poking with a pole first to find the stone.

High Abbotside moor

There’s a simple windbreak shelter at the top – a cross of four walls with benches alongside. We paused briefly to admire the view, before setting off back downhill at a brisk pace to get down out of the wind, and the rain, which started up again – proper rain this time, not the faint drizzle of earlier in the day!

It brightened up as we got back down towards the track, and we passed a large party – more people than we had seen all day (about 6-8 since Hardraw). Just as I was thinking I was getting a bit warm, and might take my coat off, the rain started again. We found a bench under a tree next to the bridge at Hardraw for a drink and a bar before heading back to Hawes along a slightly different footpath, running parallel with the Pennine Way but slightly further downhill.

Bridge at Hardraw

Hawes to Cam End

Cam End – view to Pen y Ghent

Saturday, 14 July 2012 – 17.5 miles

We camped near Hawes, at Bainbridge Ings campsite – a quiet, simple campsite with wonderful views of the village and the valley. I had thought we might be a bit mad as we headed down the East Lancs Road in torrential rain on Friday night, but as headed north, the weather cleared and it was dry and bright in Hawes.

We walked from the campsite to the village of Gayle, which is attached to Hawes. Pleasant little place with old cottages, bridge and mill, joining the Pennine Way on the far side of the village.

Gayle village

We headed uphill, fairly wet underfoot, so had to weave around the path a little. Not surprising given the ‘summer’ we’ve had so far!

Once we got higher on Dodd Fell, the route levelled off, and became a well made track. It was very quiet. We passed one couple early on, and didn’t see them again, then a young man with a beard passed us. We saw him again, where the track reached the Roman road, and he turned round there (but we will be seeing him again!)

Dodd Fell with Ingleborough in the background

The Roman road was tarmaced and we were astonished to see a van and trailer come past – I think they were working in the forest in the valley.

After lunch, we had both cooled down, and it started to rain, albeit lightly. There was a breeze, making it pretty cold. We put on our waterproofs and continued to Cam End, where the Dales Way and the Pennine Way split. We decided on this as a good turn round point as it will make for a good circular walk from Horton-in-Ribblesdale in future.There is a distant view of the Ribblesdale viaduct from here.

Cam End signpost

As soon as we turned round, out of the wind, it became warmer, and the rain stopped. On the return route, we saw the forestry van again. It stopped and the driver had a chat – warning us to look out for spearmen behind the rocks who had been there since the days of Julius Caesar (I didn’t correct his Roman history!). I suspect he hadn’t had anyone to talk to all day!

The rain started as we reached Gayle again, but it wasn’t nearly as bad as the forecast had led us to believe, and it was sunny again by the time we reached Hawes. We followed the Way into town, and then back to the campsite (passing the young man with the beard on the way!).

Hawes – squeeze stile

We surprisingly tired for a relatively short and easy walk, then found when I downloaded the GPS track that it had been 17 miles, further than we had expected!

Crowden to Torside and Wessenden to Black Hill

Saturday, 19 November 2011 – 7.4 miles approx and 3.8 miles

A two-parter! (written some months later)

You wouldn’t believe it was the middle of November. A beatiful Autumn morning, with golden light.

Sheep at Crowden

We set off from the car park at Crowden, along the track, then through the woods and along the reservoirs. A familiar route now, but easier walking than cycling in August. We nearly missed the turn off the track for the Pennine Way, but fortunately had stopped to take off a layer, and noticed the people behind us heading up the hill, so we went back a few yards to check the signpost!

Bleaklow signpost

After that elementary mistake, it was fairly straightforward – up the hill, through a noisy gate (you wouldn’t be able to sneak up on anyone!), and along the rocky edges above Torside Clough. It was a bit further than we expected to get to our turnaround point, but we then headed back and had lunch sitting on a bench in the warm sunshine by the reservoirs.

The next part was the hardest – driving to Wessenden Head. We ended up driving into Holmfirth, as we must have missed the road we wanted (I was driving, not navigating …), but we eventually got there and found a broad road with plenty of parking space.

We headed off to the trig point on Black Hill, from our first walk in August. I’d assumed it would be reasonably level, not having studied the map in great detail, and it was a bit of a surprise to have to go across two deep-ish stream valleys. The way was pretty well flagged, easy walking and wayfinding. We pressed on, aware that it was getting late, and that dusk would be quite early at this time of year. We were the only people on the path, but there were a number of grouse, a bit put out at not having the place to themselves.

We got to the trig point as the sun was just dropping behind the hill and the sky was turning pink. But it was open and clear so there would still be light enough to get back to the car ….

Black Hill trig point

… but do you see that wisp of cloud on the right? Within minutes, that had turned into thick fog over the hill, bringing visibility down to 10-20 metres or so. Thank goodness for such a straightforward path to follow! We could see the road some way off, and the headlights of cars creeping across the hill in the fog. It wasn’t too bad, really. What an adventure!

Snake Pass to Torside Clough (Bleaklow)

Sunday, 23 October, 2011 – 7.25 miles

Written several months later.

The second day of half-term, from Edale Youth Hostel. We parked on the road on the Snake Pass where we had stopped yesterday. It was even windier and we had to grab things to stop them blowing out of the boot!

We started on a very well-defined and level path across the moor, running in a bit of a hollow. We were glad of the stone slabs as some parts were just a peaty morass!

Bleaklow path

After crossing a deep valley cut by a stream we started heading uphill, much of the way along a stream. The top of Bleaklow is quite flat with wind-carved rocks dotted around – it’s as bleak as the name implies. We didn’t actually see the Wain Stones (but perhaps we didn’t look very hard) and we carried on further – it was too cold and windy to stop.

The landscape began to change, as we walked down the sides of a valley cut by a stream. We stopped at a point where it met another stream (we climbed up the other side so we wouldn’t have to climb down and up again on the next walk), sat on a large rock for lunch, and headed back the way we had come. We didn’t continue to the road at Crowden, as we had to head home for a concert that evening.