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]

Monday, 11 April 2011

Day 23 - Hexham to S of Harwood Forest

Mon 11 April (0950-1845)
Distance: 21 miles (Tot: 411)
Ascent: 4500'
Weather: sunny intervals, a few very brief light showers, windy
Number of minutes-old lambs seen: 5 (ooh, it was just like Lambing Live!)

Why is it that, with the opportunity for a nice lie-in in a sumptuously comfortable bed, I was wide awake at 0520 this morning? (And an unrelated question: why is it that with a double sided map in a double sided map case I find myself, having unfurled the case, looking at the wrong side 98% of the time?).

The lie-in was necessitated by having arrived in Hexham too late on a Sunday afternoon for the shops, and we had a need for gas and for groceries. With shopping done, I then delayed our departure even further by taking the time to re-repair my broken Pacerpole. In Barnard Castle I'd got creative with some plastic packaging and some duct tape, but the following day showed the short-comings of that repair. This morning I remedied those short-comings, so now I have two perfectly useable poles again, even if one of them won't collapse down.

So, it was nearly 10am by the time we left our rather-nice B&B and set out on our day in rolling green countryside. And, my goodness, did it roll?

A sizeable chunk of the first half of the day was on roads, a little chunk was on the Hadrian's Wall Path, and other bits were on field paths and tracks. Then, after lunch (which didn't fall until nearly 1430 today) we picked up St Oswalds Way. No idea where it starts or ends, as we only followed it for half a dozen miles or so, but we both felt sure that we'd been on it before somewhere.

I'd earmarked Kirkwhelpington (what a fantastic name for a village!) to pick up some water and in the absence of a pub we needed to find someone tending their garden to ask. Unfortunately the person we asked was the gardener, and the house-owner wasn't in, but he did point us to the village hall and tell us that there was a toilet around the side where we could fill our bladders.

We sat for quite a long while outside the very pretty church, with its graveyard full of daffs, until eventually the cold got the better of us (such a contrast to the shirt-sleeves of previous days) and we moved on.

I then found that I'd entered a timewarp as the final three and a half miles flew past and seemingly moments later we were looking for a pitch. We're now pitched in the lee of a pine plantation (per the photo above) which is protecting us from the brisk wind so well that it's hard to believe how windy it is just a matter of metres away. The skies have almost completely cleared now too, so it's promising to be a cold one.

I'm rather looking forward to tomorrow night, as we'll be very close to the Scottish Border and from there wild camping will become much simpler!

(Mike: last time we were on The Chase we met a group of lost prospective D of E-ers, out on a navigation training session with a leader. Unfortunately for them, when the leader asked us for help (they were way off route), she confessed that she'd never even seen an OS map before and didn't know how to navigate!
Louise: I fear that we're going to let you down with the weather. We must surely be getting to the point where our luck can't last any longer. I'm sure you'll have a ball anyway, and look forward to reading your report afterwards.)

Sent using BlackBerry® from Orange


  1. See you soon !!!

  2. Hello,

    I had a look at t oswalds way and it starts from Holy Island (Lindisfarne) in the north, St. Oswald’s Way follows the stunning Northumberland coast, before heading inland across beautiful countryside to Heavenfield and Hadrian’s Wall in the south, a distance of 97 miles (156 km).

    Love reading about your expeditions, Hannah (wannabe lejog/jogle walker)

  3. ...toilets to fill your bladders? I thought that was the place to empty them :-)