Pennine Way part 6 - Bellingham to Padon Hill
Sunday 29th August 3.30 Having just completed the section North of Padon hill as a possible extension so as to lengthen the next weeks walk Mike was sat in Anne’s car having a quick cup of tea and a breather prior to checking out the route to Bellingham, when a car drew up and started a three point turn. Mike shouted in excitement I know that couple they have been walking the PW with me! Mike got out of the car and walked over to the other car and sure enough it was Flapper (Blog PW 4) and his good lady. They had just completed the walk as they were not able to take part in the Walk the following Sunday.
Sunday 4th September - The Walk
Has the Sundance Kid shuffled enough for a dry day? We shall see. All the group were ready for the off by 10.00am. Leaving the car park we quickly started to climb out of the village passed the new Heritage centre and a little further on the old YHA Hostel now looking rather sad and uncared for.
After a fairly brisk walk uphill we left the road, Mike used this as an excuse to get his breath back and started taking the usual group photo. We now continued uphill following a farm track to Blakelaw farm, from here the walking was still up hill but the going was fairly easy except for the SUN it was shining down on us and actually was very hot.
Having walked through two fields, a herd of cattle and around a Bull we reached the open fell.
This is where Mike thought the fun would start i.e. lots of marsh and ditches to cross. Oh boy was he disappointed as the route had dried out a lot more than he had anticipated and we all managed to cross several ditches with out mishap. As we approached a pile of rocks we stopped for a break and to admire the view, 127 motor bikes in single file roaring along the road below us, it was very impressive even if you do not like motor bikes.
The path now contoured around the hillside with only one marshy bit that just managed to dampen the boot tops. We walked round the farm Hareshaw Ho. before finding a bit of dry ground to stop for lunch. During lunch we found a very big spider which Mike took round for everyone to look at.
After lunch we crossed the Otterburn-Bellingham road dodging another couple motor bikes before we once more started to walk uphill crossing several more ditches. After a short steep climb the ascent became very gentle with lots of marshy ground. At the spot height 361 near Deer Play we had the most magnificent views of the whole trek so far. To the SW we could see Dufton Fell and Cross Fell and slightly to the north of these we could make out the Northern Fells of the Lake District. We could also see the hills just above Alston our starting point leading on to the Tyne Gap and Greenhead, a little bit closer we could see the radio mast just north of Steel Rig, then the broad sweep from south to north of Kielder forest in the middle distance. Turning round to look eastwards we had the whole of the Cheviots before us and away in the distance Cheviot itself. We could even see the ‘White Golf Ball of Brizlee Woods near Alnwick.
A soggy path lead down to the Toft Burn before the last climb of the day to Lord’s Shaw. Mike quickly dashed our hopes the vehicle in the distance was not the mini bus to take us back to Bellingham but his car!
As we walked this last stretch Mike was really looking forward to leading us along a path that was totally submerged under water but to his disappointment it was not as deep as the previous week or as long being only about 50m in length that was under water. On reaching the car we learnt that the mini bus was about 15mins away so although the walk was officially over a group of us started walking down the road to Greenhead. After a 1km the bus picked us up and took us back to Bellingham.
Hadrians Wall, part 8 - Walton to Carlisle
Using the people carrier proved a definite success and made for a sociable journey both before and after the event. A civilised start at The Sands Leisure Centre in Carlisle meant access to “facilities” and ground coffee before boarding the minibus for the transfer to Walton. We started our walk outside of the now closed Centurion Inn precisely where we finished our walk a month ago. The weather was dry, overcast and with a cool north westerly wind blowing, definitely autumnal.
As the start of this section of the walk was so far west we weren’t actually walking until 11.10 am, or latest start to date. The first half of the route followed the line of the Roman Ditch which was always more prominent than the Vallum that was often a field away south of our track. We encountered some quite wet and muddy sections but we were pleasantly surprised that the whole route wasn’t worse overall considering the recent rainfall totals. The weir just below the footbridge over the Cam Beck between Walton and Newtown was making it presence heard and the water was heavily peat stained for example. Newtown proved to be a lovely little settlement laid out around a large village green. The variety of building styles, conditions and ages was striking and very pleasant. Between Whiteflat and Oldwall the hangars of Carlisle Airport were prominent just to the south reinforced by light aircraft doing circuits. The course of the Roman Stanegate(linking Corbridge to Carlisle) passes right through the middle of the airfield.
Lunch was taken out of the wind in the lee of hedge immediately before the renovated Blea Tarn Farm just after the unexpected and very much appreciated temporary toilet (flushing, running water, soap – luxury) and just before the self-service tuck box; we were still dry so things just couldn’t have been better! Throughout this part of the route we were walking on a straight raised causeway which comprised the foundations of the Wall itself with the Ditch on our right hand side. Soon afterwards we turned south towards Crosby-on-Eden for the second phase of the walk which essentially crossed the floodplain of the river Eden following the large meanders. Walking via Linstock we crossed the M6 by a cattle bridge just after yet another farm offering refreshments for Hadrian’s Wall walkers. Cumbria seemed to us to be more attuned to providing services for walkers as part of farm diversification, or are they just more tourist orientated? The situation is much improved on Hunter Davies’s observations made in his 1974 book “A Walk Along the Wall.”
The walk into and around the back of the former estate hamlet of Rickerby allowed us to see the folly in the field to the north and the eclectic collection of building styles found there, this being the creation of a former landowner with the unusual name of George Head Head. Turning south through Rickerby Park past the War Memorial to cross over the River Eden by the pedestrian bridge opened in 1922 the huge earth bunds and massive floodgates reminded us of the need to maintain flood defences. The most extensive recent flooding occurred in 2005 but 2009 saw inundation on a more restricted scale. Approaching the end of the walk between the river and a golf course we arrived back at the Sands Leisure Centre. Until redeveloped this was the site of the city’s livestock market. Walking up the final slope from the floodplain we passed through an open floodgate to finish adjacent to The Sands car park and opposite oddly shaped Turf public house. The odd shape, a steeply tiered and completely out of proportion sloping east “roof” was actually a grandstand for the Carlisle former racecourse now replaced by a golf course occupying the inside of the meander loop known as The Swifts. It started to rain just after we’d changed out of our boots, excellent timing at the end of a good day’s walk. Only two sections left to do now!
28th August 2011