The Road goes ever on and on; Down from the door where it began;
Now far ahead the Road has gone; And I must follow, if I can;
Pursuing it with eager feet; Until it joins some larger way;
Where many paths and errands met; And whither then? I cannot say.

[JRR Tolkien, Lord of the Rings]

Tuesday, 3 June 2008

Day 50 - Alston to just before Once Brewed

3 June
Distance: about 14.5 miles
Number of JOGLErs met: 1

We've come to meet and chat to a number of walkers over the course of the Pennine Way so far, a few of whom we've seen repeatedly. Sometimes news of a particular person precedes them and yesterday we had the reverse experience of meeting someone who did indeed utter "oh, so you're Gayle and Mick". The fact that he went on to say "you're the ones who imported a tent from America" made us ponder over how that cropped up in conversation.

Last night, amongst the walkers, news circulated that there was an alternative route to get to Haltwhistle, that being via the South Tyne Way, which follows the route of a disused railway line.

Some people immediately saw the sense and said that they would go that way, even if only for a while before hopping back onto the PW. Others (the purists) exclaimed that one could not possibly claim to have walked the PW unless you'd stuck to it rigidly for its entire length.

Fortunately our objective is to walk LEJOG, not to be purists about the PW. That combined with a few other factors: the guidebook saying that today was a very dull day designed purely to link the highlights of the Pennines with Hadrian's Wall; the weather forecast being for hood-up-head-down-trudge weather; and the desire to give Mick's feet an easier ride. So we set out this morning (in the rain) along the South Tyne Way.

My goodness it was tedious. I couldn't believe when we got to just before Haltwhistle that a sign said it was only 11.5 miles back to Alston - it felt more like 20.

There were a couple of highlights. For one thing we met another end-to-ender whilst having elevenses. Maurice set off from John O'Groats 36 days ago and is the first person we've met coming the other way - however he's the fifth end-to-ender that we've encountered (and strangely not one of those has met another).

The other highlight was on the route itself and was Lambley Viaduct. What was a shame was that a land owner just before the viaduct had refused to grant access for the path to run through his land and as a result you have to leave the old track-bed just before the viaduct, descend all the way down to the valley, go under it and then climb right back up the other side in order to cross it.

'Twas a good vantage point from the top, mind, which soon made us forget the hideous too-big-steps arrangement to get us down and back up there.

Haltwhistle, when we finally got there, provided us with a cup of tea stop, where we bumped again into Doug (End-to-ender no. 4), who has been on the same route as us for over a week now and with whom we spent quite a few evenings. Shortly afterwards, as all three of us made our way towards Once Brewed, we said farewell to each other as Doug will get ahead of us tomorrow and will reach JOG 2 weeks before us.

Our campsite tonight couldn't be a bigger contrast to last night's. Whereas last night not a single toilet had a door that would shut, and the only sink with a working hot tap had no drain pipe, tonight there is just about every facility we could want (drying room and free spin drier included). Both sites cost the same. Tonight we don't feel ripped off.

As we are now effectively a day ahead of schedule by virtue of having cut off a corner, tomorrow we are having a rest day. Mick will rest his battered feet and we will both enjoy being 10kg lighter for the day.


  1. Explanation about Lambley Viaduct. A few years ago the OS map showed this as a public right of way in error. It may have been a ROW at one time but when I passed by there were notices up at both ends explaining what had happened. It was an Ordnance Survey error.
    Keep on trucking!

  2. I was curious about the oddly-named "Once Brewed" (a Visitor Centre), which was apparently so-named because of its proximity to the Twice Brewed Inn. This poses an obvious question - how did the Inn get it's name?