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]

Thursday 25 April 2019

Thursday 25 April - Blackwood Hill (NY531962; 447m)

The plan had been for Mick to join me on this hill, but then the plan had also been to park in a large lay-by that, it turns out, does not exist. We did find somewhere big enough to leave Bertie without blocking any accesses, but when Mick learnt that I could use my bike for much of the 5-mile outing, he set about emptying Bertie's boot to retrieve my wheels. It's possible that his eagerness in volunteering to stay behind was based upon having seen the hill; I admit it doesn't look very attractive when viewed across the wasteland of a largely-felled forest.

I had three possible routes noted for this top (four if you count combining two into a short-handled lollipop, which is the option I would have gone for had Mick joined me and we'd gone on foot), and my one concern in biking up through the forest was that the felling might have obliterated the breaks leading out of the trees from the upper track. Happily, as I huffed and puffed my way to that upper track (the first ride of the trip that has had me gasping), I could see that to the left of the most recently felled area was a break that was largely free of debris.

A while later, after ditching the bike and walking up to the top of that break, I had to marvel at my lucky timing. I imagine that in a few weeks, now that the trees to the right are gone and the sunlight can reach this ground, all sorts of plant life will spring up there. Today, however, I had a gloriously firm, cropped surface on which to walk.

Breaks in forests don't get easier than this!

Even better, with the recent felling activity, I wasn't hemmed in by trees, but had views.

The joyfully easy going continued once I reached the top of the forest

Before I knew it I was at the top, looking over the other (west) side of the ridge. After days of forests (mostly the mess of felled forests), it was lovely to look out over such an area of lumps and bumps:

I was back at Bertie just a few minutes more than an hour after leaving, much to Mick's surprise as he'd expected me to be gone for two. A good job he hadn't nipped out for a walk whilst I was gone - I might not have been amused to have been locked out two days in a row!

The stats: shorter than expected at 3 miles cycled with 120m ascent and 1.4 miles walked with 140m ascent.

(Today's 'stupid cow' incident. As I looked east from today's hill, I contemplated the hill on the other side of the B-road and felt sure that it must be a Marilyn. Which hill was it, I wondered, and when did I visit it, as I didn't have it on my list for this trip? It's only just now that I've looked at the map and discovered that it's Larriston Fells - yesterday's hill. I'd forgotten that one of the two options I'd noted for that hill was to approach it from the same (non-existent, as it turns out) layby as for today's top and it had been sufficiently long a drive around from Kielder Water that it made me forget how close it was to Blackwood Hill.)

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