Once more Sundance had danced the old soft shoe shuffle, and the day had had dawned brightish although somewhat cooler compared to previous days. As we drove up the valley it became cloudier and cooler but still dry so by the time we met at Carlcroft it was definitely a windproof day.
Leaving Carcroft Farm a steep climb brings you to a gate that leads on to what Mike thought was open fell but as we approached Carlcroft Hill a fence loomed ahead. This was not a normal fence it was a 6ft high Keep Out Fence sort of fence. Decision time should we walk back down hill and see if the gate we could see in the distance was the way through or looking ahead a quad track could be seen appearing from a slight dip at 90 degrees to the fence. Of course Mike headed for the track in anticipating that a gate would be there but of course there was not, so we continued walking gently uphill following the line of the fence.
Eventually we came across a gate but it was padlocked shut. While we took a well-earned coffee break Mike went off over the gate to explore the extent of the fence line. It appeared that the western side stretched up from Blindburn towards Lamb Hill. We continued walking up alongside the fence over Beef Stand and some were between Beefstand and Beefstand Hill the fence turned westwards. We continued in a northerly direction until we came to the border fence and the Pennine Way about 200m east of Beefstand Hill so we followed the PW westwards until we reached the summit and stopped for lunch and admired the views.
After lunch we retraced our steps and then continued along the PW to Mozie Law and short descent brought us to where the PW crosses The Street. Here we turned south to follow The Street skirting the summits of Swineside Law (afternoon tea break), Brough Law and Hindside Knowe. Rather than descending down The Street to Slyme Foot we took a path that swung back and after a short steep descent a more gradual descent took us back to Carlcroft Farm and the cars.
To finish the day in a civilised manner we drove to the Barrowburn Tea Room for a coffee and piece of homemade cake.
Cragside Challenge Walk 2013
Thanks to everybody who joined us on the 2013 Cragside Challenge Walk.
We had 150 starters on the day and the weather could have not been better. With great weather and lots of smiling faces it was a great day.
Please enjoy the pictures and the YouTube film and I very much hope you can join us again next year.
Cragside Challenge Walk 2013 - Guided group
Thank you to all the folk who selected the guided option for your company and for making my day easy. It was a great day - the weather was perfect not too much sun, the wind was light and the rain of the day before stayed away.
The route was the opposite way round when compared to previous years and this raised a good deal of comment from those who had done it before. The consensus seemed to be that this 2013 way round was better. It is for sure that the views were spectacular and even from the first few minutes wandering through the grounds at Cragside the whole route could be seen in glimpses through the trees. Personally I liked the finish because as soon as we got back into Cragside we were straight to the finishing post.
The guided group this year was a great mix of friends from last year and those who had been on the training walk and a number of new enthusiasts. The group gelled really well and apart from Lesley wandering off intent on completing the whole of the Simonside ridge by herself there were no incidents. I think that the training walk, which we introduced for the first time this year, proved to be beneficial. Familiarisation with the route and the amount of up and down is always useful to know and it helps the actual day to be more enjoyable because it reduces anxiety. For me as the guide it is always helpful to get to know the reasons why folk want to do a challenge walk and if I meet them on the training walks and learn what they want to do I can adjust my approach and help to achieve the target that folk set themselves.
My favourite moment on the day was when the whole group were on the carriageway above Cragside with a couple of miles to go. Everyone was together walking a a good pace and chatting in groups of 2 or 3. The sense of camaraderie and relaxation in the group was great to see. Well done to you all and I look forward to seeing you at the next training walk (for the St Cuthbert's Way on 13th July) or the next walk I'm involved in. A special mention must be made for Muriel who walked the whole way without her insoles in her boots (she'd forgotten to replace them after drying her boots) - what an excellent effort and she only told me at the end. Finally good luck to Andy who is off to climb Kilimanjaro shortly - don't forget your hand sanitizer - good talking about that too.
We did 13.4 miles at moving average of 2.7 miles an hour. The whole walk with breaks took just over 6 hours.