Day 19 – Byrness to Kirk Yetholm

The forecast was not great, and it looked like it might be worse tomorrow – while I had the option of doing the last stage of the Pennine Way in 2 days I thought I would try and do it in one – all 26 miles!

After an early breakfast I was out on the road by 8am, so that I would have as much time as possible to complete the stage. I hoped it would take around 10 hours, though it could easily take more.

The top of Bryness Hill on the final day (19) Heading towards Windy Crag

There was a sharp climb out of the valley, along a narrow path through tall plantation conifers – then at the top of Byrness Hill I was hit full in the face by the gale force wind that was still blowing from the northeast. That wind was going to make the day a whole lot harder.

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Day 16 – Greenhead to Once Brewed

Today was a very short walking day – the shortest of the whole trip – no matter how slow I was. I was feeling better, but still lacked some energy, particularly on the up hill bits.

Hadrian's Wall earthworks out of Greenhead at the start of day 16 Hadrian's Wall A mile castle in Hadrian's Wall

Leaving late I was quickly back onto the Pennine Way, and walking alongside a huge ditch – which was part of the Hadrian’s Wall defences. It was like all the climbs of the day, short and sharp – and with a seemingly gale force wind that would hit you in the face every time you reached the top.

Hadrian's Wall The trig point near Steel Rigg and the end of day 16

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Day 15 – Slaggyford to Greenhead

While the Pennine Way seemingly wandered around the farmland to the north of Slaggyford with seemingly little purpose, I decided to stick to the easy walking of the dismantled railway for a mile or so to near Knarsdale, before rejoining the route which is also shared with the Maiden Way and the course of an old Roman road.

An old railway bridge near Slaggyford at the start of day 15 The Pennine Way heading for Featherstone Common

After a brief excursion back up onto moorland the path descends again into farmland, before rising once more onto a more significant piece of moorland across Featherstone and Blenkinsopp Commons.

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Day 14 – Garrigill to Slaggyford

Having not felt too well for the last few days it was good to have a short easy stage up to Slaggyford – rather than stretching out to get to Greenhead in one go.

The Pennine Way wanders around the River South Tyne valley, at times keeping very close to the river’s edge, at others meandering a few hundred yards away, so there will be little moorland to be seen today.

The River South Tyne at the start of day 14 near Garrigill Meadows alongside the River South Tyne near Alston

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Day 13 – Dufton to Garrigill

I could see the day’s main objective from the breakfast table, and while the sun was out the clouds were ripping across the tops of the fells at quite some speed.

Farmland near Dufton at the start of day 13 The long drag up to Green Fell and the ridge walk that includes Cross Fell

Thankfully there was no scrambling involved (as I was not feeling too well), the path climbed steadily up towards the summit of Green Fell, and then after short descents and ascents went over the peaks of Great Dun, Little Dun and Cross Fells.

The view from Knock Fell looking across Great Dun Fell to Cross Fell (the highest point in England outside the Lake District) The view back from Cross Fell to the radar dome of Great Dun Fell

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Day 12 – Langdon Beck to Dufton

Today I would spend most of my time walking west, ending up further from Kirk Yetholm at the end of the day than I was at the beginning – it was however an excellent day. It was cold outside, though by the time I was walking thankfully most of the frost had gone. The sun was out and the sky was a deep blue, made darker by a few brilliant white clouds.

The River Tees at the start of day 12 Cauldron Snout waterfall

It was a short walk back to the River Tees, though I cut the corner to Widdy Bank Farm, from where the path stuck closely to the river again – at times almost getting squeezed out between steep bolder-strewn slopes and the fast flowing river. I was really pleased the water level was low as it would have been much harder clambering over the boulders higher up the slope.

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