The guidebook describes this as ” A bleak and remote day passing few habitations,” and so it would prove to be.
I left Bellingham at 8.20 in reasonable weather and immediately climbed up onto moorland at Blakelaw. The moorland section was quite pleasant as the path rose and fell over Deer Play, Whitley Pike and Pardon Hill.
Coming down off of Pardon Hill it started to rain as I neared the forest at Brownrigg Head. Here the path climbs uphill beside a fence. To quote the guidebook “The climb is steep and muddy at times and may rank as one of the worst sections of the Pennine Way.” I can only say that I fully concur. It was a nightmare of mud, greasy rock and a steep slope, to which was added a very narrow gap between the wall and the trees, many of which overhung the trail. At one point I was on my hands and knees to get under a branch. Eventually I reached the top and took a well earned rest. The trail led onwards along the edge of the forest through more bog and felled trees and it was a relief to reach the main forest track.
The remainder of the day was a yomp down the forest track to Byrness where I arrived at 3.30. The Forest Inn provided tea and an evening meal. The landlord organises the Spine Race each year. This takes place in January and ultra marathon runners compete in racing the 265 miles of the Pennine Way, which they must complete in less than a week.
Once again I had a room in the bunkhouse on my own.