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]

Saturday, 19 April 2014

Day 18 - by Harwood Forest to Chew Green

18 April (0800-1700)
Distance: 19 miles (Tot: 331)
Fitbit steps: 43500
Weather: wall-to-wall sunshine, barely any breeze, not too warm - perfect!
Number of vehicle encounters in first 4.5 hours of crossing Otterburn Range: 3
Number of 'comfort breaks' that coincided with a vehicle passing: 1

That was a remarkably good day!

Last night felt like the coldest yet, and the wind that howled yesterday stilled to nothing as the day drew to a close. That was enough for me to decide that a lie-in and a leisurely start was in order. It was worthwhile, as by the time we got walking the tent was almost dry and the quilt was aired free of its nighttime condensation.

I had thought that we would opt to yomp straight over to the road first thing this morning (rather than yomping the much further distance along the hippopotamus to join the road further along), but we agreed that we may as well have a quick look to see if there was any sort of a trod running in the same direction as the line of the footpath. It was the type of mountainously tussocky grass in which you can be 10 yards away from a path and not see it (and which, in the absence of a path is very hard going) but by good fortune I did spot a line and it gave us easy walking almost the whole way to Winter's Gibbet (named after the man hanged there, not after the season) where we met the road.

Some road and some field paths led us to Elsdon where it was with some delight that we found the tea room to be open. Two huge pots of tea and two breakfasts were put away, and two scones with jam ordered to take away, before we carried on our way. If you happen to be in Elsdon, I'd highly recommend that you pay it a visit.

Second breakfast usually falls 2 hours into the walking day and usually lasts 10-15 minutes. Today we had only been going an hour and a half and were stopped for over an hour, but thoroughly worth the time.

I knew what was coming next on our way, and had pondered last night whether I had made the right route decision. The 'track' through Otterburn Military Range is 14 miles of tarmac. However, in its favour is that it runs through a fantastic piece of the country, with the most incredible views on a nice day. Today was the nicest of nice days.

It was quiet too, being Good Friday, with absolutely no military traffic, and barely any other traffic either. We saw as many bikes as we did cars until we reached the junction by Cottonshope Head, less than 2 miles before the end of our day.

Moreover, the day wasn't as hard on the feet as I had expected. I was either blind or stupid last time we passed through the Range to fail to notice the perfectly walkable verge (no bowling green, but not tussocky) which runs alongside the road for all but a couple of miles of its length. So, even the going underfoot was okay.

And where are we pitched tonight? Where else but in our usual place. This is now the fourth time we've used this wild pitch, having arrived from 3 different directions.

(Conrad: we weren't as late leaving as that time-stamp suggested. I'd put my phone on to send the blog before we left but didn't remember until we were well under way that I hadn't pressed 'send')

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1 comment:

  1. That sounds like a good excuse, but I am familiar with that problem so I'll give you the benefit of the doubt. Looking at the map it seems a toss up whether you camped in England or Scotland.