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Mon 21st May 2012

Hadrian's Wall - Two days along the best sections

Hadrian's Wall - Two days along the best sections

This was certainly a weekend of all seasons.

What better area to showcase than Hadrian’s Wall and even better the stunning section that runs through Northumberland. Our walkers for the coming few days was a coach trip from Scotland, as far north at Peterhead.We met the group on the Saturday at Steel Rigg car park and headed east along the most famous section of Hadrian’s Wall, taking in milecastle 39, Sycamore Gap and Crag Lough. All iconic views that have been broadcast the world over.

The day was fresh to say the least which made for a short lunch stop but it was great walking over a challenging section of the Hadrian’s Wall National trail. Fingers crossed for better weather on Sunday.

Sunday, thankfully, was perfect weather. It was still a little cold but the sun joined us today.
We met the group again at Cawfield and this time we headed west taking in one of the most picturesque section of the wall, passing along the Whin Sill.

With the warmth in the sun it made for a more leisurely day with stops along the way to explore the turrets and some stunning sections of Hadrian’s Wall.

We then dropped down into Walltown quarry and the group could then go to the Roman Army museum or just enjoy the sunshine (and ice creams) at Walltown.

Overall it had been a great couple of day. Very good company with a group that really enjoyed the stunning scenery we have to walk through in Northumberland.

Fri 18th May 2012

Pennine Way, part 10 - The Street to Clennel Street

Pennine Way, part 10 - The Street to Clennel Street

Pennine Way 2012  The Street to Clennel Street

What a difference 16 hrs can make grey overcast threatening skies and a cold SW wind, yet it was not raining so the Sundance’s soft shoe shuffle was working for the moment.
We retraced our steps of yesterday but unlike yesterday the wind speed steadily increased as we gained height, fortunately the wind was to one side and very slightly on to our backs.  As we started the final climb to reach Black Braes we passed a group of Cheviot goats and then just before reaching where the PW crosses The Street we saw another group in the head of Carlcroft Burn.  After some 2.5 hrs of walking we reached the start of today’s Pennine Way section.  But first we stopped for lunch in the lee of Mozie Law.

The wind had by now reached gale force and as it was on our backs was not too much of a problem.  The Foul Step was not as foul as it could be and was easily crossed as we climbed up on to Windy Rigg the wind was being funnelled up Rowhope Burn to blow across the PW at a right angle, it was so strong that we all walked with list to starboard and regularly were blow downwind two or three steps before we regained control of our progress.

The final ascent up to the summit of Windy Gyle was less windy as we were now on the lee side.  A quick stop for photos and once more we were off.  The going became easier as the wind seemed to have eased, the path was made up from limestone slabs and it was down hill.  After a total of just over 2.5 miles of walking the PW we reached the junction where Clennel Street crosses the border into Scotland whilst the Pennine Way continues along the Border Ridge towards The Cheviot.

To get back to our start point (more importantly The tea room at Barrowburn) we had  initially  to follow Clennel Street down hill until the Usway Farm track here we took another footpath that lead us first to Fairhaugh and then back into the wind before finally descending to Lounges Knowe where the tea room beckoned.

What a day, it stayed dry but the wind was some thing else, fortunately we walked the route with the wind behind us for most of the day and although a very strenuous day SM was over the moon or more correctly over Windy Gyle as she had been wanting to climb Windy Gyle for several years. 

PS Tea room food is great.

Sun 13th May 2012

Pennine Way, part 9 - Chew Green to The Street

Pennine Way, part 9 - Chew Green to The Street

Pennine Way 2012  Chew Green to Mozie Law (The Street)

Once more Sundance had been doing the old soft shoe shuffle (all week becoming more desperate as the rain poured down).  Saturday morning dawned bright and sunny although some-what cool.  After a pleasant drive up the Valley we arrived at the car park at Windyhaugh.  By 10.30am all the group and the mini bus were together and we set off for the start point just west of Makendon.  

As usual Mike set off along the footpath but very quickly left the non existent footpath and followed a quad track that approximately took us in the right direction to the point we left the Pennine Way at the end of the last walk.

For a short distance from Brown Hart Law to Black Halls the PW follows the line of the Roman road Dere Street.  At Black Halls Dere Street enters Scotland.  Although Sundance had been dancing all week for a dry day and had so far succeeded he had not done any thing about keeping the path dry, so we began to plodge as the going became very wet.  The National Park had put slabs down to act as ‘dry path’ unfortunately some of the slabs had sunk and so you had the choice of trying to find your own route through the morass or walking in a black water logged trench that hopefully had slabs underneath.

Of course Mike just plodged through the black water and got through without sinking down into a morass although the water was three or four inches deep.  Those more faint hearted tried to find a less wet way round with varying degree of success.

Gradually we left the bog land of Broad Flow climbing ever so slightly to once more join the ‘Border Fence’ after a short DRY stroll we reached the Refuge Hut at Yearning Saddle, for a well earned if somewhat late lunch.

After lunch the first big climb of the day up to Lamb Hill (slow but steady progress was made).  Then a short descent before we once more had to climb to reach the high point of the day Beefstand Hill (562m).  From here we could just see through the haze the hills around Alston (our original starting point in the spring of last year).  Yet another short descent and progress was stopped by group of Cheviot goats this time all female with kids.

A little uphill climb was followed by another descent but this time into a disaster.  Once more plodging along an underwater footpath some one (name with held for the sake of embarrassment) hit the edge of a slab and slipped off the path thigh deep into the bog.  Unusually for Mike he rushed to help to pull some one out rather than take an embarrassing photo. After a couple of minutes of Mike pretending to be concerned we set off to climb up Mozie Law.

Leaving Mozie Law to where the Pennine Way crosses The Street we came across another small group of goats. On reaching The Street we left the Pennine Way to follow the path down The Street into the Coquet Valley. 

A 3mile trek that would have to be walked back up tomorrow (plus 311m of ascent) to pick up the Pennine Way once more.  On reaching the valley a mile walk along the road brought us to Barrow Burn Farm and Tea room, a mug of coffee and a big slice of Apple and Spice tea loaf helped to restore the flagging body.