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, 10 April 2012

Pennine Way (top bit) - Day 4 - N of Bellingham to N of Haltwhistle

Tuesday 10 April (0730-1640)
Distance: 19 miles
Ascent: 2500'
Weather: yes, and lots of it
Number of other people encountered out walking: 0

I was lacking in dexterity as we set off this morning. I find that a level of dexterity is lost with each pair of gloves donned and this morning I was wearing 3 pairs. It was something of a cool start to the day and it seems that my neshness has reached new heights.

Happily I'd warmed up enough to lose the overmitts by the time we reached Bellingham, but the other two pairs stayed on almost the entire day, along with a ridiculous amount of other clothing. You'd think that I was off for a polar expedition the way that I was dressed! And, the only time at which I even got near to too warm was at about 11.50, as we got to the top of a long pull up through the forest. I muttered about maybe taking my fleece off.

Half an hour later I was so glad that I hadn't.

Until noon we had, incredibly, been blessed with dry weather. After a night of rain, the bogginess had taken on a whole new dimension and accounted for about 75% of today's terrain, but at least it wasn't raining. Granted it was relentlessly windy, making every boggy step hard won, but wind-blown rain (in our faces) would have been worse.

It was exactly at noon that the first drops of rain fell. It was a little while later that the deluge started. Oh my! What rain. And hail. Within minutes our Paramo trousers (and Mick's jacket) could keep it out no longer and for the next hour we were not only being lashed by fierce rain/hail, but were sodden too.

Getting cold with it, I overlooked the fact that earlier in the day I'd been too tired to contemplate today's full distance, suddenly found some hidden energy, and put a sprint on. I managed to maintain that sprint for the rest of the day, although I would happily have called it a day half way through the forest. That wasn't to be as Mick was being a hard task-master. My mitigation was to find the fastest way to our destination and whilst the re-route didn't knock off any distance it did keep us (mainly) on faster surfaces.

The rain did finally abate, and what should we then find before us but a bird hide? We were going to get a lunch break after all :-)

The weather remained reasonable for the rest of the afternoon, with the heaviest rain passing to either side of us, but even so I was mighty glad to reach the campsite.
So, that was a hard old day (and the wettest I have ever been when out backpacking). Still, it was quite good fun (apart from the soaked-and-cold bit) and it did feature not just one, but two tea-breaks. There's a farm with a self-service tea-shed which appeared just at elevenses time, then the stop in the bird hide brought our own stove out in an effort to stop my shivering. And just now I think I'll leave this nice warm laundry room and venture back out to the tent, to don my down trousers (happiness in the form of trousers!) and put the kettle on.

(Sorry no photo today - phone remained safely wrapped up and I can't get the bag open with that many gloves on!)
Sent using BlackBerry® from Orange


  1. Take it easy, you two. Pretend you are in the Royal Savoy. Have a lie in. This is your 'easy' trip....
    Be indulgent.
    Have fun...

  2. I wish I was as unfit as you two. Nineteen miles would kill me. But it sounds like great fun!

  3. Martin - somehow that didn't turn out to be an easy trip at all! Good fun (and certainly memorable), but wading through bogs does make things a bit more arduous, doesn't it?

    Louise - With three miles under our belts yesterday morning I was wondering whether 19 miles would kill me! The legs were definitely unwilling (until the rain hit, anyway) and a few coughing fits weren't making the lungs feel great either. In the perverse way of these things, it was fun though. Especially the bog wading yesterday when I gave up any pretense of trying to find the least-deep way through :-)

  4. I wish I was as unfit as you two. Nineteen miles would kill me.

    No worries Louise, you have 29 days left to get fit

    And then .......

  5. Ah, the deep, deep joy of being cold and wet and lashed by wind and rain.

    Hell on earth.

  6. Did those bl**dy dogs at Hareshaw House farm snap at your ankles?