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

Wednesday 24 April - Larriston Fells (NY569920; 512m)

That was a pleasantly straightforward outing, with it just being a shame that I set out too early, not realising (because the only thing visible from Bertie is nearby walls of trees) that the tops were shrouded in cloud. I was on my way down by the time the sun started to show through.

The ride up through the forest was easier today, being a gentle gradient and without yesterday's undulations.

I have a cheap bike, little experience and scant skills, but I did it anyway.
I'd read that it is possible to ride all the way to the mast, a fact confirmed by the sign in the snap above, but (even before seeing the sign) had thought that it would be too technical for me and that I would be walking from the end of the forest track. I didn't depart from my norm, though; when I reached the end of the track I thought I'd see how far I could get on the continuation of the route.
It got narrower once I left the forest, but it was a good firm surface.

I made it without difficulty all the way to the mast, which sits up above the high point of this 'Cross Border Route'. As the name suggests, I had, on my way, crossed the border into Scotland, which is where this hill is located.
A large pillar on the Scottish/English border acting as a milestone and as a statement of toll fees once applicable to this 'road'. 
With the bike abandoned, a bearing was taken (I could barely see the mast from the end of its newly constructed service track, never mind my summit two thirds of a mile away) and off I went.
I shall quote here verbatim part of someone's log on, describing their ascent from the mast:
"across horrendous tussocky, boggy, heathery sh1t to summit". That had set my expectations and for the first few hundred metres I couldn't have described the conditions any better myself (although the bogginess is currently minimal). Stepping over a fence that lay in my way, I was then lucky enough to come across a faint trod, which took me a good way towards the summit, when it either petered out or I lost it in a boggy patch. I picked up another such trod later and thus reached the trig point with not too much effort having been expended.
The mast would easily be seen behind the trig in this snap on a clearer day. 
My stay on the top was longer than it would have been if I hadn't put my open lunch box atop the trig (lid under the box). I was just looking at the weather forecast, eating a sandwich, when the wind deposited the remaining sandwich on the ground and removed the lid out of my sight. I hate littering, so had to make efforts to find it, which I did, surprised at how far its flight had been.

A different trod was taken on my return. Indeed, I think it may have been an ATV track, but it turned out not to be a good choice, as it veered off in an unhelpful direction leaving me to tackle more of the 'horrendous tussocky, boggy, heathery sh1t' than I had on my outwards yomp.

After a return to and through the forest that was hampered a little by a noticeable headwind, I arrived back at Bertie to find him all shut and locked up. This was a bit unfortunate as I didn't have any keys with me. However, I knew where Mick was headed on his walk today, and I had the advantage of a bicycle, so I set off in pursuit, expecting to meet him within minutes.

By the time I got to within a couple of hundred metres of his turn-around point, I'd convinced myself that he must have turned his out-and-back into a circuit and thus there was no point me pedalling that extra small distance. He knew what time I was due back, so it seemed too unlikely that he was still at the furthest point of his walk.

Rounding the final turn back to Bertie, I could immediately see that Mick still wasn't back. Figuring that his circuit through the forest had turned out harder or longer than expected, I sat down to wait. He arrived back an hour after I'd first returned, and it turned out that he had walked out and back on the very route that I'd cycled. The only possible conclusion is that he was indeed at the very furthest point of his walk when I gave up, 200m before that point, on finding him. He'd been a bit late leaving, I'd been an hour earlier back than expected.

Anyways, the stats for the outing were 15.2 miles cycled and 1.4 miles walked with a total between them of around 330m ascent. That ignores the 3.3 miles I then cycled in search of Mick.

(Other stuff:
1. On my way into the forest yesterday I came across a notice of closure of Access Land on 26/27 April, making it fortuitous that I missed those dates by two days. It didn't give any details as to why (except for the uninformative statement of "for public safety"), but today it became apparent that it's for the Pirelli Carlisle Rally. It said that rights of way were unaffected, but it was clear on today's outing that there will be much happening on the tracks I covered, even if they're not part of the live race. Coincidentally on one of our Big Walks (Kent to Cape Wrath I would guess), we passed through the Rally area of Kielder Forest on the day before the closures, but on the day that cars were out making their course notes. Our timing was even more marginal that time as if we hadn't foregone an intended rest day a couple of weeks earlier, our forward progress would have been thwarted by the event.
2. This is another hill that most people approach from the other side. It's a much shorter outing from that side and (based on the newly laid track up to the mast coming from that direction) there's a good track. I only chose to do it from the Kielder side because we were comfortably parked there anyway.
3. I followed the Lakeside Trail for the first half mile or so today, having cycled the road and forest track to get to the same point yesterday. That was a mistake - it wiggled around with pointless ups and downs thrown in. I returned via the track/road.)

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