Pennine Way Part 5 - Stonehaugh to Bellingham
Mon 8th August 2011
From now on Sundance should be known as dampfoot, his boots still leak and no matter how much he soft shoe shuffles he ends up with yet another wet day’s walk.
Saturday lots and lots of rain, local fords flooded should we chicken out? By 7.00pm stopped raining lets see what it does overnight. Sunday morning 7.00 am things look to be drying up and quite bright. OK no problem the walk is on.
Driving across to Bellingham via Winters Gibbet the view to the west was lost in low cloud and rain. By the time we arrived at the car park in Bellingham it was just starting to rain. During the drive to Stonehaugh on the bus it continued to rain but when we got off the bus the rain had eased to a light drizzle.
We picked up the Pennine Way where it crossed the road just south of Stonehaugh and followed the path through a small section of forest before coming out on to open (wet) ground, the walking was pleasant but wet when we came to a small waterfall.
All of a sudden Mike remembered he had not taken a group photo so out comes the camera and as usual the batteries are flat so he has to get the spares out and change them, then we all have to move into a huddle so he can get the group in the shot!
From here we walked downhill passing a number of signs saying there were teas for sale, each one also said how far we had to go to reach the teas. We crossed the Warks burn by a footbridge (otherwise we would have been swimming to get across). The Pennine Way now follows the National Park Boundary although there wasn’t any pink lines on the ground to show the boundary, they had probably been washed away in the rain. A quick walk up hill brought us to Hornystead and the “Help Yourself” tea shop. Several people made use of the facilities (in particular the Coffee Shop Girls) while the rest of us sat in a barn to have our lunch, with a horse for company and a stuffed piglet! (see photo)
By now the rain had eased to occasional periods of dampness. The path continued in a northerly direction with only one stream to jump across near Lowstead. Here we were over-taken by two ladies walking the Pennine Way (very fast ). They had started at Once Brewed that morning and intended to reach Byrness by the end of the day. That is four “Shepherds Walk”, walk days! But suddenly we were catching them up, were we walking faster? No, they had met a herd of cattle straddling the farm track, with a little help from Jim they encouraged the cattle to move aside and they were off again leaving us in their dust, well they might have if it had been dry.
After a short road section we were back walking across fields but only after a coffee break. We then crossed the Houxty Burn by another big footbridge before climbing up to Mike’s favourite farm Shitlington Hall. A short decent brought us to yet another stream that we had to plodge through before the longest climb of the day up to and through Shitlington Crags and onwards to a Relay Station whose mast Mike had pointed out at the start of the walk.
After a short stretch on a track we were once more walking across rough pasture by now with the obligatory boggy area and stream/ditch to cross. After a short distance we were able to look down on Bellingham and our first clear view of the North Tyne Valley. A gentle descent brought us down to the main road through the valley.
The Pennine Way follows the road crossing the River North Tyne by the road bridge before entering Bellingham.
The temptations of coffee shops and loos proved too much for some of the party and only a small group arrived back at the cars together to complete the days walk.