Pennine Way - part 11, Clennel Street to the source of 3 rivers
Mon 11th June 2012
Pennine Way Clennel Street to Cairn Hill - Sunday 10th June 2012
Well Sundance had danced, had the old soft shoe shuffle worked? Not really, but have we got a new Rain Goddess lurking in our mists? The next walk will tell.
As we drove up the valley to the car park at Windyhaugh the surrounding hill tops were covered in cloud but it was dry.
By 10.30 we were all in the mini bus for the drive up to the start point, Salterís Road where a bridle path which crosses a forestry commission track in the middle of the forest above Uswayford, this was as close as we could get to the Pennine Way. By now we had climbed into the cloud/mist and exiting the bus it was damp (not yet proper rain, Sundance) grey and not very pleasant.
We followed a well made path through the forest until it joined Clennel Street. The ground under foot was very wet and Clennel Street could have been renamed Clennel Burn as it had so much water running down. A little way along the Street Mike came across two burst balloons they looked very much like the two he had found snagged on Beefstand Hill a month before and released to fly on.
Although the cloud had made the visibility poor navigation was not a major issue as the track was easy to follow and we quickly reached the point where we left the Pennine Way on our last walk.
Where Clennel Street crossed in to Scotland we now turned right and followed the Border Fence eastwards. The going was good as the National Park had laid slabs to replace the black morass that use to be the path. The misty conditions meant that you had no real sense of progress and it was only on reaching Kingís Seat (still has Trig point) that you felt you had made any progress. Eventually we made Score Head and stopped for lunch.
During lunch the mist drifted apart to give us a brief glimpse of the potential view that we should have been enjoying. All too quickly the mist rolled back in to shrink our views to 100m or so. A gentle climb eased us back into our stride before the steep climb to the summit plateau. On reaching the plateau the Pennine Way turns sharp North heading for the Schill but an optional Pennine Way extra is to take in The Cheviot summit. Before you reach the Summit you climb over Cairn Hill which was our turning point for today. By now the visibility had closed in and at times was less than 30m.
On reaching Cairn Hill we stopped for a photo and then like the Grand Old Duke of York who marched his men to the top of the hill and marched them down, we reversed and began the march down the hill the way we had come.
What a surprise the views back the way we had come looked exactly like the views up, Grey Mist.
The walk back to the Pennine Way Clennel Street junction seemed to take for ever as we all trudged along in the grey murk. Eventually we reached the Clennel Street and followed this back to where it crosses the Usway Farm Track. Much to our delight and amazement we walked out of the mist with about 500m to go and had the first real views of the day looking down towards the Coquet Valley. As the track became visible Mike started to get a little bit worried as there was no sign of the mini bus.
The panic only lasted a few minutes, the mini bus approached from the opposite direction. As we had not arrived back at the pick up point on time the driver had gone to where he had dropped us off just in case we were waiting for him there.
The final insult of the day is we arrived back too late and found the Tea Room had closed. All in all a good days walk!