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 13 April 2011

Day 24 - S of Harwood Forest to Chew Green

Tues 12 April (0800-1615)
Distance: 20 miles (Tot: 431)
Weather: mainly sunny, luckily avoiding 2 showers that passed behind us, but strong westerly wind

As 20 mile days go, that was quite a hard one. That might have been because the 14.5 miles of bridleway through Otterburn Range turned out to be a tarmac track, and thus it was hard on the feet. Or it might have been that the sound of artillery and the sight of red flags made us want to clear the area as soon as possible, so we walked rather quickly for much of the day. Or it might be because we spent the entire day going NW or W against a strong westerly wind (often with tears running down my face; it takes a strong wind to make my eyes water). Or it might be because so much of the day involved such looooong climbs. Or maybe a combination of all of those factors. It's certainly good now to be lying in the tent at such an reasonable hour.

What else of our day? Well, the only place through which we passed was Elsdon, where the public toilets were closed due to lack of funds, but where there was an outside tap, so we broke out the stove and had a cup of tea with second breakfast. Leaving the village a while later we then came across a tea room, and were sorely tempted to stop for even more tea and more second breakfast, but somehow we managed to resist.

It was shortly after leaving Elsdon that we entered the Otterburn Range and with concern saw that the red flags were flying. I was pretty sure that our route took us along the outside of the Danger Area for the first few miles, but knew that a while up the road we were going to cut across it. Our entire route was on public rights of way, but what I didn't know was whether they also become out of bounds when the red flags are flying.

On we marched with the sound of heavy artillery to our right (occasionally sounding close enough to make me jump), and as more and more military vehicles passed us without challenging us, our confidence grew that we weren't commiting a criminal trespass.

Our way continued unhindered as we enjoyed the incredible wide open views around us, which were set off finely in the sunshine. There may have been an unreasonable number of long hills today, but they did give some stunning and far-reaching views.

With only a mile to go until we cleared the Range we were happy that we'd avoided all military activity and were just standing reading an information board, when about 40 chaps in full camouflage, toting big packs and big rifles, came over the brow of the hill and ran down the road towards us. I have to say it's a little bit disconcerting having that many gun-wielding soldiers running towards you!

We hadn't even cleared the Danger Area before I started looking around for a pitch, having decided that I'd had enough for the day. A nice flat pitch was found a whole 50 yards outside of the Range, next to running water. Unsurprisingly, being down in a dip there's no mobile signal here, so this post won't be sent until we reach Scotland - which is just half a kilometre distant.

(Andy: When we do see you I must rave about how good your dehydrated stew recipe is. It smells so good - just a pity that, being meat, it's not on my menu. Mick's enjoying it though.
Hannah: thank you for that information, based on which I can't see why I would have been on St Oswald's Way before. Have to look at a map of the route when we get home.
Tor: St is indeed short for Saint, but for the sake of the mackerel fact, we can be thankful that the station naming committee went for the shortened version in the official station name!

Sent using BlackBerry® from Orange


  1. Scotland already! How time flies. Hope your feet are OK.

  2. You seem to be making good progress but I'm surprised you opted for an illegal camp just half a km short of legality! You must be getting braver.
    I was hoping to join you for a day at some point, but time is running out, so I'll just be 'following'.
    Enjoy the rest of the walk - the best is yet to come - and "see you in Montrose".

  3. Being a some-time programmer I couldn't resist poking at your mackerel fact, it just had the ring of urban legend to it so without further ado, the following London tube stations do not have 'mackerel' in it's name:

    St. John's Wood

    It's correct!!

    The following stations do not contain "M & G go for a walk":


    So there you have one station for each of you. :)

    If you're into Aesop's fables you can also pull out the factoid that Aesop also only has one station, namely Kilburn.

    If you have any other words you want to check please say so. ;)

    Oh, by the way I really enjoy reading this blog. Being stuck at work I live vicariously through your words... :)