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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
After a brief tour of the building works, pausing momentarily to gaze at the new (reconditioned) Aga, I left the B&B and headed out on a beautiful spring morning on the second half of the Pennine Way.
The sun was out and the blue sky was studded with rows of fluffy white clouds. To my right was the enormous dam of the Baldersdale Reservoir which looms over the bridge and Hannah Hauxwell’s old farm, Low Birk Hat Farm (which now looks very smart and tidy). Durham Wildlife Trust now tends to some of her meadows, though it was too early in the year to see it in all its glory in flower.
It was a late start at Tan Hill, 10am when I was dropped off. No sign of any Pennine Way walkers but the first of a few (of the 700) cyclists were already enjoying the sandwiches that were being prepared the afternoon before.
It was great to be walking over springy peat turf, though it was a bit boggy in places. This stretch had no flagstones and only a couple of very short stretches of duckboards – there was a bit of guidance with a smattering of white posts at various intervals, which gave reassurance that the right route was being followed.
The evening before the cloud had been down and covered the fell tops to the north, drawing back the curtains it was a relief to see the cloud had lifted slightly overnight. The weather forecast was not good though and I headed out prepared in the full wet weather gear (the first time they had seen the outside of the rucksack on this walk).
The path passes the Green Dragon Inn, which within its grounds contains Hardraw Force – though it was still early and the weather was worsening so I continued through the village without deviating.
The long steady walk uphill to the top of Great Shunner Fell starts at Hardraw, and the higher I walked the lower the cloud got – and we met about halfway up at Black Hill Moss.
It was overcast but the air was clear. If it was not for the chill northerly wind it would be almost perfect walking weather. Despite the lack of sun I still wore my sunhat to help keep my head warm.
I started the long gradual ascent out of Horton in Ribblesdale, and once I was up on the moorland the path forked to the left – it could have been an interesting excursion as I could see the viaduct away in the distance.
Having walked up and over the Cove, and made it to the base of the cliffs, yesterday I decided to ignore the Pennine Way sign and headed up the road to get a different view. I then cut across to the limestone pavement and picked up the proper route again to head up the dry valley to the tarn.
Walking around the tarn to the east the walking becomes almost joyous on the velvety and springy turf, though it did not last long and the path soon rejoins a track and heads up towards Fountains Fell.