LEJOG Northern England

The Aiggin Stone

Day 34 To Blackstone Edge.

The morning starts much as yesterday with wind, rain and low visibility. Along Standedge the stones are slippery and I meet nobody. It’s the same across White Hill. Crossing the A672 things improve slightly and it stops raining by Blackstone Edge, the wind eases slightly but is still strong.

8.3 miles today, 510 miles total. Wet and windy morning, a good test of equipment, a blustery afternoon.

Langfield Common

Day 35 to Colden

Along the edge of the reservoirs it’s exposed and windy and keeping on my feet takes concentration, the wintery showers are heavy but after Warland Reservoir things brighten up. Stoodly Pike Monument dominates from a distance. Descending after the monument I sense a change away from the edge of moors with industrial views. The climb out of the valley is steep and by the time I am at Colden it feels like we have left the industrial valleys behind.

10.6 miles today, 520 miles total. Heavy showers in the morning, a bright and blustery afternoon.

Top Withens

Day 36 to Stanbury

Over Clough Head Hill we are properly in open county now. At the Walshaw Dean Reservoirs the number of Curlews calling is the greatest I have heard since my childhood. Over Dean Stones Edge, Top Withens comes in to view and as I continue along The Height, the bird life continues to be noticeable. Lower down I see a short eared owl hunting.

9.3 miles today, 530 total. Wet and windy in the morning, eased late afternoon.

View South from Ickornshaw Moor

Day 37 To Elslack Moor

Great to be joined by Steve today who travelled up from Northampton. The climb away from Ponden Reservoir is surprisingly steep but once on Ickornshaw Moor the going is easy. A slight diversion to visit the trig pillar. On the last part of the descent there are numerous “huts” on the moor. After Cowling it’s gently rolling farmland to Lothersdale then as we climb it’s out on to Elslack Moor.

11.2 miles today, 541 miles total. Bright and sunny, most importantly the wind has dropped.

Approaching Malham

Day 38 to Malham

The descent from Elslack Moor is easy going, after Thornton in Craven it’s gently rolling farmland. At Gargrave I visit the Dalesman Tea Shop, the sort of time warped teashop we only see in this part of the country. It’s easy going again to Malham.

13.3 miles today, 554 total. Cool and sunny.

Limestone Pavement

Day 39 To Horton in Ribblesdale

Up past Malham Cove the limestone pavement is fascinating, around Malham Tarn it’s busy but on Fountains Fell it’s quiet. Great views from here especially to Pen Y Ghent. The ascent to Pen Y Ghent is much steeper, lovely stone built trig pillar.

15.6 miles today, 570 miles total. Cool and sunny.

Day 40 To Hawes

Was looking forward to this section, had walked it once before in the dark. The initial gentle ascent is lovely and there are lots of interesting features. As I ascend Cam Fell the views gradually increase and eventually there are many many tops in view, some further afield than Yorkshire, it’s great working out what they are though some I can’t fathom. Very satisfying knowing that I have visited all the summits over 2000 ft in this area. After Kidhow Gate the stunning views continue and eventually views open up Northwards. A very satisfying day.

14.6 miles today, 584 miles total. Slightly overcast very windy. So windy it’s difficult to take photographs.

Summit wind shelter Great Shunner Fell

Day 41 to Keld

After a rest day, crossing the meadows to Hardraw visibility is low. The ascent to Great Shunner Fell is a long one so not steep, soon climb into the mist. Have been here before so know the fine views I am missing. At the summit I almost miss the trig pillar as the wind shelter has been built up to it. Descending to Thwaite there are tantalising glimpses of Swaledale through the mist. Tea shop closed today. The walk around Kisdon to Keld is a delight.

13.4 miles today, 598 miles total. Windy with mist and drizzle.

Geese on Cornerstone Moor

Day 42 To Baldersdale.

Leaving Keld it’s double back on the end of yesterday, then past the waterfalls and the ascent begins. It’s not too steep and the views improve with height looking back over Swaledale towards Lovely Seat and the lower slopes of Great Shunner Fell and eventually Westwards towards Nine Standards Rig. As I near Tan Hill it feels as if I am leaving the Dales behind. At Tan Hill I take the road for a little while mindful of the reputation of Sleightholme Moor. The birdsong has changed too, there are still Curlew in abundance but there are more lapwing calling and something else I don’t recognise. Later there is a sign saying that there are Golden Plover. North of the A66 the moors are more open still. As I get near Baldersdale geese start to appear.

14 miles today, 612 miles total. Lovely day, warm most of the time. Little wind.

View South from Wythes Hill Farm

Day 43 to Holwick

Leaving the reservoir I immediately pass Birk Hats Farm where Hannah Hauxwell lived. Just after Wythes Hill farm lapwings are in an abundance. It’s a gentle descent to the outskirts of Middleton in Teesdale then it’s fairly flat all the way to Holwick.

9.6 miles today, 621 miles total. Overcast, warm, little wind.

Day 44 to Langdon Beck

After a visit home for Easter I returned today to Middleton in Teesdale by train and bus. Initially covered some of the same miles as previously but then breaking new ground. It’s much quieter today, most of the visitors have gone.

7 miles today, 628 miles total. Sunny initially then overcast later, little wind.

High Cup Nick

Day 45 to Dufton

Woke to a lovely morning with a crisp frost. The cliffs of Green Hill Scar were glinting in the sun. Following the river Tees the area feels very remote. At Cautley Spout it’s a straightforward scramble over a one-time rock fall to reach a track that wends it way West into the hills all the time gently gaining height. A footbridge crosses the Maize Beck and I follow the South bank most of the way to High Cup Nick, probably the most impressive point on the Pennine Way. After that it’s all downhill to Dufton.

14.5 miles today, 642.5 total. Warm sunny day gentle breeze, cooling quickly as evening comes.

Cross Fell summit wind shelter

Day 46 to Alston

Known as one of the toughest days on the Pennine Way and for good reason. Was pleased the forecast was right and the skies were clear. The way out of Dufton is along ancient lanes, full of character. It seemed to take forever to climb Great Dunn Fell 848m, easily recognised by the massive “golf ball” near it’s summit. The views in all directions are stunning. Yorkshire fells to the South, Lake District fells to the West, vast open moorland to the East. After that Little Dunn Fell 842m is easy. And Cross Fell 893m (highest point in England outside of the Lake District) takes only a little more effort, 360 degree views from here, so glad it’s a clear day, if a little hazy, I don’t think that I have been here before when the wind is only breezy. Taking care to take the right route off the summit am soon at Greg’s Hut, once a miners “cottage” now a bothy. After that it’s a long slog over the well surfaced track to Garrigill, a well earned cold drink from the Post Office then gentle paths, mostly near the river to Alston.

19 miles today, 661.5 miles total. Bright sunshine, stiff breeze on the fells, calm in the valleys.

Buffet Car at Slaggyford

Day 47 to Haltwhistle

Such a contrast to yesterday. Left Alston on the South Tyne Trail. It’s relatively quiet after the Pennine Way and being on a disused railway is gentle gradients. At Slaggyford Aiden runs a great little coffee shop in a railway carriage on a siding. The views are nice rather than impressive as they were yesterday. After Lambley Viaduct I walk with Bill who knows his plants, constantly pointing out Wood Anemone, Dog Violets etc. I arrive at Haltwhistle (centre of Britain) and it’s actually quite strange to be in a town. Couple of shorter days planned as a bit of a rest.

14 miles today, 675.5 total. Overcast at first then bright and breezy.

Daffodils at Stonehaugh

Day 48 to Stonehaugh

Taking a later start today. As I leave there is an LDWA group gathering in the square. The route up to Hadrian’s Wall is through a lovely small wooded valley. The wall is busy, the busiest of anywhere I have been the whole walk. In contrast, after I leave the wall the Pennine Way is the quietest I have seen it. After a few miles I begin to understand why, it’s neglected and feels undervalued. Along Hoglair Hill trees have been felled/cleared and although the brash has been cleared the path is littered with remnants. Shortly after Haughton Common the bath is blocked by windblown trees, though there are clear signs on the ground that people are walking on. I decide to go around and after checking the map take a gamble that the shortest option will bring me out in front of the fallen trees. Given the acres and acres of trees that have been cleared it is disappointing that Forestry England do not see this, a National Trail, as a priority. At Stonehaugh the Daffodils have just been in flower for a few days.

14.5 miles today, 690 total. Bright and very windy.

Hornystead Farm pitstop

Day 49 To Bellingham

Leaving Stonehaugh it’s about a mile back to the Pennine Way. Soon I am crossing Ground Rigg, the first of many Riggs running perpendicular to the path. It feels very remote, it often does when you have walked into the area and are not aware of what infrastructure there is. At Hornystead Farm there is a “Pitstop”. Mrs Dickson has provided a refuge in one of the outbuildings together with snacks, drinks and an honesty box. Extremely kind. At Ealingham Rigg I look back South amazed at how far I can see. The Peakbagger App on the phone names the hills and I am surprised when Cross Fell appears next to a tiny blip on the horizon.

9.5 miles today, 699.5 total. Slightly overcast, windy.

Day 50 to Byrness

Billed in the guide book as a day of forest and bog, I didn’t have very high expectations. Leaving Bellingham, there was a Fordson Power Major being used to collect the signs from yesterday’s Vintage Vehicle Show, in good condition it sounded well. It transpired to be the highlight of the day. Walking along the flank of the hill rather than on the ridge it didn’t feel as windy as yesterday but that changed by Pardon Hill. The large areas of trees cleared reduced the time spent without a view, if you can call large areas of cleared trees a view. The moors are quiet now, no other walkers and no bird sound, eerily quiet. Where is all the wildlife that was on the more Southerly moors? Locals tell me the Pennine Way is neglected, the poor cousin to the Kielder Forest Park.

15 miles today, 714.5 miles total. Overcast and breezy.

The Cheviot in the showers

Day 51 to Jedburgh

The day starts with a stiff climb, once out of the forest it’s easy to see that the names like Ravens Pike bear little relation to the features. At Black Halls I leave the Pennine Way on to Dere Street and at the same time leave England and enter Scotland. Dere Street is good under foot, sensational for a road that is nearly 2000 years old. From Cunzierton Hill there are great views across Kale Water to The Cheviot. Stopping briefly at Cow Hill it’s noticeable that the sound of wildlife has returned. Straight forward all the way to Jedburgh.

19 miles today, 726 miles total. Overcast with a few light showers and a light wind.