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]

Wednesday, 16 April 2014

Day 15 - W of Barnard Castle to Stanhope Common

15 April (0810-1930)
Distance: 20.5 miles (Tot: 273)
Fitbit steps: unknown! Battery died!
Weather: glorious!
Number of lost-foot incidents: 1

One of the benefits of being to the west of Barnard Castle last night was that this morning we started out along the sunny side of the river. That was a good place to be, as it was a cold one last night; our first frost of the trip (even the dregs of last night's tea had frozen in my mug!).

Having rejoined the Teesdale Way for a while, we left it before Eggleston and took to footpaths which appear to be very little used. One didn't even have a single waymark along its length to indicate that it was a right of way. Notwithstanding those issues, only once did we have a significant dither as to which way to go.

Agility was the requirement of the morning, as we had to cross many stiles, few of which were designed for ease of passage (in fairness, some were so designed, but the effects of age and wear has reduced their friendliness for stumpy-legged, backpack-carrying walkers).

A march was had along a section of B-road, from where we'd intended to take a path via Pawlaw Pike and Hawkwood Head to Bollihope. Beyond a new bit of track, that path didn't exist on the ground (as far as we could see), so instead a track linking shooting butts was taken up a nameless hill, whereupon it promptly petered out. Yomp we did, and we no doubt cut a bit of distance off the day, even if it was slower going than staying on the road would have been. It was during that yomp that I, very neatly, put my left foot down a small hole - so small that it left me with my toes bent backwards. More of a predicament than the toe-position was that the smallness of the hole meant that my foot was stuck.

I giggled. Mick came to investigate what I was finding so funny, and after a bit of wriggling I managed to free my foot. Mick wondered what I continued to find funny, until he realised that my left foot no longer had a shoe attached.

With the foot no longer filling it, the shoe proved easy to retrieve, and, reshod, on to Bollihope we went. Plenty of people were around on the riverside, but there was no ice-cream van. We had a jelly baby break instead, to prepare ourselves for the steep pull up on to the moor which would take us over to Stanhope. It was less than 3 minutes into that pull up when I looked back and saw that the missing ice-cream van was now in place, right next to where we had just been sitting. What bad timing!

The bit from Bollihope to Stanhope took a bit of concentration and a game of 'spot the stile' as the lines of the footpaths weren't obvious. Top marks to Mick for spotting the gate that I would have missed.

Arriving in Stanhope at 1630, time needed to be (and was) frittered away; some on a bench, some in a pub and some outside the chip shop. Eventually we adjudged it late enough to head towards our intended night-stop, which wasn't without its challenges, due to some landslides along the Stanhope Burn.

By and by a good pitch was found, hidden from view from most vantage points.

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  1. Very good, though I think I might have been tempted to disinvest in 3 minutes progress and return to the ice cream van...
    Forecast for Barnard Castle shows Friday/Saturday as lovely sunny days, with rain on Sunday.

  2. This guessing game is intriguing. at Bollihope you joined my LEJOG route as far as Stanhope. I went to Eastgate and north up the Rookhope Burn. It looks as though you may go past a prominent chimney marked on the map at NY 954 464 which I was very glad to see in a thick mist.

  3. This'll be of absolutely no use to you now, but the Pawlaw Pike - Five Pikes path is clear and cairned but is found by following the shooters track to their parking area (note lots of galena in the road surface!) and then by following an ATV track uphill past the butts. A sharp right 150 metres up this track finds the path. It leads to another wide shooters track, a branch of which goes down to Bolihope. Just sayin' like....