4th April – Youlgreave to Hathersage

20190404 Chatsworth house
Today’s highlight – Chatsworth

Today has been one of ups and downs.  The weather forecast for the afternoon was very poor, so naturally I could not get breakfast before 8.30 and the shop in the village was closed for repairs.

20190404 River Lathkill
The River Lathkill

I left Youlgreave at 9.10 and immediately dropped down into Lathkill Dale, crossing the river via a packhorse bridge.  I then climbed over the ridge to walk down into the valley of the River Wye at Haddon Hall.  This was the home of William Peverel, the illegitimate son of William the Conquerer.

20190404 Haddon Hall
Haddon Hall, veiled in mist

The route circled around the grounds of Haddon Hall, passing some very impressive cows, before climbing over another ridge and descending into the Derwent Valley near Chatsworth.

20190404 Cows with big horns
Cows with big horns, where I like to see them – in the next field!

The views of Chatsworth were magnificent and I enjoyed the walk through the Deer Park and the extensive grounds.

20190404 Chatsworth house from the deerpark
Chatsworth viewed from the deerpark

Leaving Chatsworth the weather started to deteriorate so I stopped to don wet weather gear.  Suitably clad I continued to Baslow where I had a coffee and bought some lunch.

At Baslow I reviewed my options.  The guidebook route was up over the gritstone edges of Baslow, Curbar and Froggatt. I know these well from climbing trips and a recent visit. Given the poor forecast it seemed wiser to take a low level route and so I choose the Derwent Heritage Way, part of which I knew from a recent MAC trip. This would also be faster.

At 2.00 I stopped near Froggatt village for lunch and it started to rain in earnest. As I watched Froggatt Edge disappear into the gloom I was pleased with my decision.

Walking beside the River Derwent was enjoyable despite the rain, and I think that I saw two mergansers near Curbar.  Leaving the Derwent I climbed up to Hathersage arriving around 3.30.  As there are plenty of gear shops I was able to replace my lost hat on the way to my accommodation.

20190404 Red deer at Chatsworth
Red deer at Chatsworth

I am overjoyed to be back in Derbyshire and especially in the Peak Park.  The paths are well-signed and tend to exist on the ground, which is more than can be said for those in Shropshire and Staffordshire.

Tomorrow my friend Carl is joining me for a couple of days, which will be great.  I am also taking a semi-rest day and only have around 10k to walk.  In the past week I have covered around 190k, about 20% of the total to Dunnet Head. Over the next few days the distances are less but there will be more hills.  Thankfully the weather looks better for tomorrow.

29th March – Craven Arms to Much Wenlock

20190329 Stokesay Inn
The Stokesay Inn shrouded in morning mist

A perfect day to restart my walk. All went well yesterday. Pam, my neighbour, very kindly took me to Didcot station. All the trains ran on time and I reached the Stokesay Arms by mid afternoon.

20190329 path left the trees
One of the few times the path left the trees

I left the pub at 7.00 this morning, and Subway provided a bacon roll and coffee for breakfast.  I departed Craven Arms at 7.45 and used field paths, basically following the Quinney Brook, to reach Strefford.  From there the path climbed steeply up to Wenlock Edge, which I was to follow for the rest of the day.  Once in Strefford Wood I hit the first problem, a large notice saying no entry due to felling operations.  As it was still quite early, I could not hear any activity and there was no real alternative route I ignored the sign.  Sure enough there was nothing happening and I quickly reached the top and with some relief walked out of the affected area.

20190329 Long Mynd
Temperature inversion – the Long Mynd floats above the mist

The walking on Wenlock Edge is mostly in woods with very restricted views across to the Long Mynd. There was however a good example of temperature inversion with cloud filling the valley and Wenlock Edge and the Long Mynd in sunshine. Despite the lack of views the walking was wonderful with large expanses of wood anemones, violets and some primroses all with the background scent of wild garlic.

20190329 Wood anemones
Wood anemones

I must remember that my guidebook author has a tendency to leave the obvious route and wander up hill and down dale for no sensible reason.  Today I followed his route hoping to see Ippikins Rock, which could just be glimpsed through the trees.  It certainly did not justify leaving an old railway track, ascending and descending about 50m on a muddy path to come back down the the track I had just left!

20190329 Guildhall Much Wenlock
Much Wenlock Guildhall

I reached Much Wenlock at 3.30 having covered around 29k.  The Talbot Inn is very comfortable and provided an excellent meal.

26th August – Innerleithen to Peebles

The forecast for today was for heavy rain so I was a little surprised not to hear the patter of raindrops on the tent when I woke at 6.00. I was just about warm enough last night, when the temperature dropped to single figures. I only have a lightweight sleeping bag with me and will need an upgrade when I reach Fort William. Taking advantage of the fact that the forecast rain had not arrived I quickly struck camp and moved to a covered area, near the bar, to have breakfast.

Today was a short day to reduce the mileage I have to do tomorrow to reach West Linton. I left at 8.55 and retraced my steps back to Traquair.  From here, in worsening rain, I took the road to Peebles. The planned route diverts from the road to Castle Knowle or Kailzie Hill but these seemed unnecessary excursions.  I arrived in Peebles at 12.30. A quick visit to the Tourist Information identified the position on my digs for the night.  I am writing this in a Wetherspoons, having had lunch, while I wait for 3.00, when the guest house opens.  It is also giving me the opportunity to dry my kit.

22nd August – Byrness to Jedburgh

20180821 Blakehopeburnhaugh with the Cheviots on the horizon
Blakehopeburnhaugh with the Cheviots in the background

Wednesday

This was a big day in more ways than one.  It was 31k with 830m of ascent as well as the day that I left the Pennine Way and entered Scotland.

After a bowl of porridge, to celebrate my imminent arrival in Scotland, I left Byrness at 7.10.  It was raining with low cloud but likely to improve during the afternoon.  The initial climb up to Byrness Hill (414m) was steep and slippery.  Once there the walking improved as the weather deteriorated.  Short steep ascents up Houx Hill and Windy Crag were accompanied by strong winds blowing 20-30mph.

20180822 Ravens Knowe Summit 527m appearing in the mist
Poor visibility approaching Ravens Knowe summit

A flagstone path led on across a bog and the path then rose to Ravens Knowe, the high point of the day at 527m.  By now the mist was quite thick and the summit cairn eventually emerged from the gloom.

20180822 The Scottish Border
The Scottish Border

I continued over Ogre Hill and Croquet Head where I crossed into Scotland, only to move back to England almost immediately.  Climbing above Roman Camps I reached Black Halls.

20180822 Leaving the Pennine Way for Dere Street
Leaving the Pennine Way for Dere Street

At this point I left the Pennine Way and England behind to follow Dere Street, an old Roman road down to Jedburgh.  In improving weather the first part of the way was fairly easy as it follows the boundary fence.  The weather then took a turn for the worse just at the point where you leave the fence and strike out across a hillside.  Naturally at this point the track disappeared so it was out with the GPS to find a saddle between Woden Law and Langside Law.  Once there the weather finally began to improve and the track was obvious once again.

20180822 Descending from the Cheviots towards Jedburgh

Coming off of the Cheviots, Dere Street crosses farm and moorland before a road section.  All was going well up to this point.  At a T junction Dere Street goes straight ahead and is a green lane.  Unfortunately this is popular with off-road vehicles.  The result is a muddy quagmire where they have rutted and destroyed the trail.  Trying to pick a route through was difficult with the real possibility of a fall.  In the end I abandoned Dere Street, and used a lane to reach Jedburgh at 5.10 after 10 hours on the trail.

The Royal Hotel is very comfortable and they agreed to do my washing.  After a quick shower and dinner I had an early night as it had been a long and tiring day.

18th August – Alston to Greenhead

20180818 It was very windy
It was a very windy day

Saturday

After an interesting conversation with a Dutchman at breakfast and getting his view on Brexit, “We think you are all crazy”, I left at 9.10.

The official Pennine Way wanders up and down the slopes of South Tyne, the only purpose of which seems to be to visit a Roman Fort at Whitely Castle. As this made no impression on me last time I took an easier option and walked the South Tyne Trail through Slaggyford to Burnside, where the two trails meet. This had the additional advantage of a tea stop at a buffet car at Slaggyford station and the chance to see a steam train.

20180818 Sheltering in an old barn
Sheltering in an old barn

Leaving Burnside the trail climbs up onto Hartleyburn Common along an old Roman road, the Maiden Way. By now the wind was getting up and I was glad of a hat and jacket it was also beginning to spit with rain. The trail descends to Glendue Burn before climbing over a watershed and dropping down to the A689 and Hartley Burn. It then climbs to the wilds of Blenkinsopp Common. Thank heaven for a long dry summer as the bogs were bad enough but could have been a nightmare. Eventually passing the trig point at Wain Rigg I dropped down to the busy A69. Taking my life in my hands, I crossed and wandered down to Greenhead via pastures and the golf course arriving 4.00.

20180818 Heather moorland near Greenhead
Heather moorland near Greenhead

The Greenhead Hotel was open and welcoming. The owners now run the bunkhouse, having taken it over when the YHA wanted to close it. Once again I had an 8 bed room to myself. Dinner at the hotel was substantial and they also offered breakfast for tomorrow.

The forecast for Sunday is rain gradually easing and I am glad that I have a short day.

16th August – Dufton to Alston

20180816 Looking back at Cross Fell
Cross Fell

Thursday

Today was a big day, over 20 miles and 1070m of ascent, to get over Cross Fell, at 893m the highest point on the Pennine Way.  Yesterday walkers had turned back because of the high winds.  Luckily, thanks to Alan and Katy providing up to date weather forecasts, I found that there was a window of opportunity between 10-12 before 40 mph winds and rain arrived.

I left Dufton at 7.10 and almost immediately began the first climb of the day.  I crossed Great Rundale Beck, via a clapper footbridge and came upon a large black bull which took rather too much notice of my progress, but eventually decided he would let me pass unmolested.

20180816 Swindale Beck
Swindale Beck

The way continued up to cross Swindale Beck, before arriving at Green Fell (794m).

20180816 Looking west from Green Fell
Looking west from Green Fell

From here the path crossed a bog, before reaching a flagged path leading to the road to the radar station on Great Dun Fell.  By this time the wind was getting up and storm clouds were racing in from the west.

20180816 Approaching radar station on Great Dun Fell
Approaching the radar station on Great Dun Fell

I had left Dufton following an Australian lady, and we had swapped places throughout the morning, as one or other of us stopped for a rest.  She led over Great Dun Fell (848m), and having crossed a col, stopped at the shelter on Little Dun Fell.

20180816 Little Dun Fell with Cross Fell on skyline
Little Dun Fell with Cross Fell on the skyline behind it

By now it was raining so we donned our waterproof trousers and decided that it would be sensible to keep one another in sight until we reached the track, leading to Greg’s Hut bothy, on the other side of Cross Fell.

Heading up into the mist we reached the intermediate cairn and followed a bearing to find the summit cairn.  Another quick bearing led us safely out of the murk and the crossing was complete.  In truth it had been quite easy.  I have to confess that this is the first time I have climbed Cross Fell.  10 years ago I could not find the summit, in much worse conditions, and must have traversed round until I picked up the path down.

 

20180816 Moors beyond Greg's Hut Bothy
The moors beyond Greg’s Hut bothy

I stopped for a while at the bothy and then walked down the track to Carrigill. The track was being remade, to allow vehicles to access the moor for shooting, and the walk out was long and tiring.  At Carrigill my colleague and I were looking forward to some tea, so it was a disappointment that the pub was closed.

A quick look at the map enabled us to follow a parallel track and we arrived at Alston at 4.45.

20180816 Dufton
Alston

Once again I was the only person in a dormitory for eight.  After a shower and sorting out all of the wet kit, I went to the Cumberland Hotel which provided a substantial meal.  Then I had an early night.

15th August – Langdon Beck to Dufton

20180815 Langdon Beck Youth Hostel
Langdon Beck Youth Hostel

Wednesday

My roommates were not early risers. and some were still in bed when I left at 8.15 so packing was done in the dark. Luckily I remembered that I had forgotten my Kindle when I was only 500m from the hostel.

The route goes up the Tees Valley past the cliffs at Falcon Clints.  There are a couple of places where you have to cross large awkward boulders, which proved a pain with a large rucksack.

20180815 Cauldron Snout
Cauldron Snout

Eventually Caldron Snout came into view.  This is the outfall from Cow Green Reservoir and is very scenic.  You have to scramble up the rocks at the side of the falls, and a combination of wet greasy rock, heavy rain and a heavier bag made the trip rather more exciting than I needed.

20180815 Rain and mist near High Cup Nick
Coming out of the rain and mist near High Cup Nick

From Cow Green you head off into the moors on a good track to Rasp Hill.  Turning left I descended to Maize Beck which is followed to High Cup Nick.  This should be the highlight of the day but yet again it was pouring with rain and very misty so there were no views.  Keeping High Cup Nick on my left I eventually found the path and a straightforward descent took me to Dufton for 2.30.  The hostel did not open until 5.00pm but the kind people at the Stag Inn let me get changed.  In exchange I bought beer and passed a mellow afternoon.

Dufton Hostel was very comfortable, and I met an interesting character who claimed to have been everywhere and seen everything.  Amazingly all the people in the dormitory were in bed by 9.30 so it was early to bed.