"A Walk on the Moors" - John's Pennine Way Ramble, Day 13 - July 13th 2000, Alston to Greenhead
|Day||Date||Start||Finish||Approx. Miles||Hours Taken||Accommodation|
|13||Thu. 13th July||Alston||Greenhead||17||5.5||B&B - Greenhead Hotel, Greenhead, CA6 7HB, Tel. 016977 47411|
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It's only as I write this that I realise why the walk from Alston to Greenhead was, for me, so s**t. It was the thirteenth day on the thirteenth of July, that's why! The day before had been such an achievement and when, added to the Langdon Beck to Dufton leg the day before, it had represented the peak (in more senses than one) of the Way so far. The thirteenth day was a slog over uninspiring countryside with a seemingly never ending last few miles. However, I'm in danger of giving my day's impressions before I've started!
So, Harry, Elaine and I left Brownside House at about 09:00 after the, by now compulsory, starting photograph (why does Harry never look up and smile?!) and Noelene drove us back to the bridge where we'd left the Way the previous afternoon. The weather was annoying. It wouldn't rain properly but it wouldn't stop raining either and it was one of those days when the waterproofs are continually on and off. We started along the path which runs close to the South Tyne to begin with and a view over Alston which was quite pleasant. But we were soon away from the river with the trail constantly crossing and recrossing the A689 Penrith road.
Early on, over a footbridge, we entered Northumberland for the first time but I couldn't discern any difference in the sheep's accents. The Way followed a track around the grassy ramparts of a Roman Fort called Whitley Castle and it was interesting to see the disdain with which farmers since the Roman occupation have treated the remnants of the great civilisers! At Lintley we crossed, first via a footbridge, over Thornhope Burn and then beneath the now disused South Tyne Railway, under an impressive five span brick bridge. The railway had been built about 150 years ago to carry lead ore from the nearby mines to Haltwhistle and on to Tyneside. But it was finally closed in 1976, long after the lead business had stopped and long after many passengers had stopped using it too.
We reached Slaggyford along the road and I was thinking that it might be another pretty village, like Garrigill, not far away. But I was disappointed to see that it appears to be fairly run down with the model railway, which, I had read goes from Alston to the village, shut. At Slaggyford were passed the Dutch Boys and Dave who, surprise, surprise I'd seen in the pub the previous evening. They seemed in good spirits and were having a go on the village's swings! The Way turns right after entering Slaggyford and goes down a seemingly easy to navigate track. However, like a lot of the Way, it's appallingly signposted and it took even Harry The Navigator some skill to steer us in the right direction. But he did, bless him!
For me the rest of the day's walk was awful and it was the one and only time that I thought "What the hell am I doing here?!" I can't say exactly why I became disenchanted but I did. And that's that! Anyhow, the Dutch Boys and Dave caught us up but we soon left them behind as it was, by now, opening time and there was a pub just off the route! We caught up with Peter and crossed the A689 yet again just by the very pretty Glendue Burn. There we stopped for a butty, a drink and a contemplation. Not such a good thing to do when you're feeling p****d off! We now climbed onto Lambley Common with very wet going underfoot, past Lambley village (which we didn't see) and on to Hartleyburn Common. Now, the photo I took of Hartleyburn Common makes it look not such a bad place. But it was wetter and more squelchy than Lambley Common and it seemed to go on and on and on and on and......................
The best part of it, and the highpoint of the day, was the aerial display put on by two RAF fighter pilots practising their dog fights only a couple of hundred feet above our heads. I could swear that they deliberately turned and did another fly past just for our benefit. Thanks lads. Hartleyburn lead to Blenkinsop Common and now, at least, we could begin to see our goal for the day as the A66 main trunk road between Carlisle and Newcastle came into view. But it seemed to take an age to reach as the Way then went away from the the road, heading east before finally taking us to the crossing place where we did just that and followed the old, now disused, A66 to the Greenhead Hotel, our accommodation for the night.
I had a very long, slow, contemplative bath as I rested my even more sore feet. Noelene said that she'd go back to Alston tomorrow and get me some Sorbothane inserts for my boots to try and make them more comfortable. She's a grand lass! Later, we drove out to Haltwhistle for petrol, butties and other essentials for tomorrow's long walk to Bellingham. We finished the day with a good meal at the Greenhead Hotel, a couple of very welcome pints of Robinsons Best Bitter, an early night and a good sleep. Perhaps it hadn't been such a bad day after all!
It's hard to be objective about day thirteen because, as a walk, there was nothing at all wrong with it. I'd walked many more "unpleasant under foot" miles during the first couple days of the Way. So, I guess that it was just me that didn't feel like walking. There were bright spots, of course, Glendue Burn and the views across Hartleyburn Common being two of them. There was also the camaraderie of my compatriots to make the day seem better and to give me just enough enthusiasm to keep plodding one foot in front of the other all the way to Greenhead. THANKS GUYS! The landlord at the Greenhead Hotel was a good guy too. He looked after us well and even agreed to get up earlier than normal the next day to give us the huge breakfast we'd need for the 25 miles to come.
Tomorrow would be a better day!
Chocolate pudding and chocolate sauce (excellent)
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