Monday, 15 September 2008

Monday 15th September - Lindisfarne to home

Up with the lark and a walk of three or so miles to the A1 at West Mains to catch the bus into Berwick.

We parted company with Howard as he was booked on a later train. Most days on this trip have some sort of highlight, howver mundane. Today's was at Darlington station where we pulled in and the doors didn't open for some fifteen minutes. Two British Transport Police were then seen running on to the platform. Clearly, someone was being prevented from leaving the train. Did we have a violent criminal or, perhaps, even an escaped prisoner in our midst? The mystery was solved at the end of our carriage when a man was escorted from the train, followed by a broadcast apology for the delay apparently caused by a disruptive passenger. One possible result of this delay is that Frank may have missed his connecting train at Derby.

From Berwick down to York and beyond, the countryside all around seemed so bland in comparison to that we have passed through in the last two weeks; flat fields of harvested crops, quite unremittingly boring. Still, at least these farmers have managed to get their crops in.

As seen from the train, York has its own "London Eye".

At Sheffield, we were warned not to be alarmed. Due to work on a tunnel we were to be re-routed which would involve the train going backwards for a distance. This was actually for quite a distance, quite a number of miles. I'm not sure how far we went back along the line we'd just travelled but, I have to admit being a teensy bit concerned that we might find the next express train south bearing down on us.

[Memo to self: when the next stop past Sheffield is Chesterfield and the train reverses out of Sheffield station, how does it find itself in Chesterfield station, continuing to go backwards to the next stop, Derby?]

The journey home allowed time for one or two reflections which weren't recorded at the time. At first, when walking, I thought that Howard had a strange penchant for sniffing his left armpit from time to time until I discovered that he was lighting a cigarette out of the wind. His retort was that he wouldn't need to get his nose that close to catch the aroma.

Frank wins the prize for embarrassing behaviour. At the village shop at Eskdale Green in the Lake District, Howard and I professed not to know him when he did his bit to support a local business by the purchase of one carrot and one tomato for the princely sum of 17p.

The unpleasant feeling of pulling on wet socks and putting them into wet boots.

Allow us to help those in need, sell back your spare PocketMail and make some extra pocket money.

Sunday 14th September - St. Cuthbert's Cave to Lindisfarne

We spent a peaceful night immediately in front of the cave. None of us know anything about St. Cuthbert or the reason why the Way bears his name. This morning the woodland surrounding us was full of noisy wildlife and a mist hung around for much of the morning. The rain of last weekend is now just a memory. It's been dull and cloudy here all day but dry.

We passed through pleasant countryside towards the coast. It was mainly flat all the way with just one or two hills.

The A1 was very busy and it took a while to cross it. Immediately on the far side, parked, was a 1968 Bedford bus, possible a 16 seater, of the sort one sees in places such as India covered with decorations. This one was advertising some luxury holday apartments and was being used as the support vehicle for a party of a dozen or so walking from Holy Island to Hexham in aid of British Heart Foundation. Howard whipped his camera out and as I joked that the driver would want a donation, a collection box was waved from the window.

We crossed the main line railway (very carefully, in view of the notice warning of 100mph trains) and arrived at the coast at Beal Sands, just south of the causeway to Holy Island. There was a stream of cars coming off the island before the tide came in to cover the causeway.

It was then a level walk north hugging the coastline until we reached Beachcomber Campsite and our journey's end. This is a nice little site with a shop selling a few basics and decent shower facilities.

Allow us to help those in need, sell back your spare PocketMail and make some extra pocket money.

Sunday, 14 September 2008

Saturday 13th September - Wooler to St Cuthbert's Cave

Yesterday evening was very civilised. Just behind the Black Bull, along a passageway, is the Milan, an excellent Italian restaurant. A very unprepossessing location but quite a gem. Neither the food nor the service could be faulted (although Howard wasn't over impressed with his canneloni) and the prices were reasonable. It is possibly the best place to eat in Wooler. We didn't actually see anywhere else.

Not a lot to say about today. We visited various shops in the high street as lunches for two days were needed. I regret to say that standards appear to be slipping. Normally, we would stop for elevenses a few miles along the way. Today, elevenses was a bacon roll and coffee in a cafe in Wooler! It was good to be seen supporting a local business.

Once again, we saw no other walkers. Also again, our route towards the coast was along tracks and narrow roads. The entire route today was along part of St. Cuthbert's Way which links Melrose and Holy Island (Lindisfarne). Frank walked this on his own last year.

The countryside is really opening out as we approach the coast; many arable fields and becoming somewhat less hilly, although still far from flat. What we are also seeing, due to the recent wet weather, are fields of barley which have not been harvested and are turning brown.

For others walking this stretch from Wooler, there is no water to be had, at least as far as St. Cuthbert's Cave (and probably further). Consequently, today is the first day that we've had to carry water all day to last us this evening, tomorrow morning and, possibly, the rest of the way to Beachcomber House camp site and our journey's end (about seven miles). Still, at least there is a "blogspot" on the way at the hamlet of Fenwick (assuming it's working).

Wild camps are possible at and in the vicinity of St. Cuthbert's Cave for those who wish to take two days to reach the coast from Wooler.

Allow us to help those in need, sell back your spare PocketMail and make some extra pocket money.

Friday, 12 September 2008

Friday 12th September - Ingram to Wooler

Another short day today, about eight miles. No rain so just about right. It was all tracks and tarmaced single track roads all the way so very easy.

Today's highlight was coming to a vehicle which had passed us a little earlier. There were so few vehicles that we tended to remember them. It had stopped at the approach to a forded fast flowing stream. A marker post showed the depth of water to be one foot. They were out of their vehicle debating what to do. It was a Honda CR-V, a four wheel drive. After a while, they were obliged to move as a car was coming the other way. A woman driving a BMW came ploughing through unscathed - too fast, but she was lucky not to flood her engine. The Honda then went through, although one of its passengers preferred to use the footbridge, as we did. Another car subsequently approached the ford but turned back.

We arrived at Wooler at about 2pm. Unusually for him, Howard was in greater need of food than drink so went in search of a cafe. Frank and I repaired to The Angel, one of the several pubs in the town. He said he'd been there last year when walking the St. Cuthbert's Way and that the beer had been good. That much was true but the pub itself was a dive, empty but for us and the staff who were well suited to the place. Definitely not a pub we would care to go to in the evening if we wanted to get out of in one piece.

We're on the Highburn House camping park which seems very good with the opportunity for the first hot shower since Bellingham (Tuesday).

The last backpackers we saw were last Sunday, just before Stonehaugh. Northumberland is so sparsely populated and neglected by tourists and visitors. It has so much to offer but somehow loses out to areas like the Lake District and Yorkshire Dales.

I am referred to as the "resident scribe" on this trip. Payphones, from where I send postings to this blog, are "blogspots". Unfortunately, my mobile won't work with the Pocketmail, which has a pod that is clamped over the earpiece of a phone and another part which is held over the mouthpiece. My mobile doesn't appear to have a mouthpiece so the Pocketmail is not detected. Two payphones haven't detected it either for some reason. Yesterday, two payphones were out of order. Generally though, this is a brilliant device.

This evening, we're eating out and fancy an Italian restaurant we saw as we passed through Wooler earlier. We have two nights left; tomorrow will be a wild camp somewhere and Sunday will be on a site on the coast at Beal but with no facilities nearby.

We've been walking for two weeks. I remarked today that this way of life has become our world and it seems perfectly natural now to get up each morning, walk all day, set up camp, cook (usually) and then do the same day after day.

Tell your friend about PocketMail and let the savings start rolling in!

Thursday 11th September - Clennell to Ingram

I've found in the past that, in the south of England, a place that calls itself something "Hall Hotel" will generally be quite posh. In the north it tends to be different. Last night was no exception. We ate in the bar, a good enough meal (I started with nachos covered with melted cheese and salsa, followed by chicken tikka masala) but it was more of a pub menu, although none the worse for that. There was a large flat screen TV and a pool table in the bar as well. Still, we were very grateful for the pitch so Clennell Hall Hotel gets full marks.

On returning to camp afterwards, I found that some species of wildlife had made off with a fruit scone in a plastic bag I'd been particularly looking forward to - only the remains were there to be seen. Still, my fault for being careless.

Today has been a short one, only about nine miles. Perfect walking weather - occasional sunshine and a breeze - some road walking but single track roads where half an hour goes by before a car appears. When we were not on roads, it was on good paths and tracks.

For the first few miles it was rather like being on the edge of a warzone. We were not far from the Otterburn Firing Range and there was artillery fire going on perhaps three miles or so away.

The highlight of the day was an encounter with some cyclists. We were told that there were four of them but we only saw three. First, we came across a single cyclist, bike laden with panniers. He was from Essex and was on a tour from Newcastle to Eyemouth. He seemed relatively normal. His bike was interesting - a Maclean (a make we'd never heard of) dating from the 1950s, which he'd had from new.

Some time later two of his companions came up behind us. One spoke with a very strong Welsh accent and flew a red dragon flag from his handlebar bag; he told us he was from Wales. He was quite odd, the more so as he was dressed in fluorescent green from head to waist (with matching wraparound sunglasses) and black tights. The other was totally different, wearing collar and tie, grey flannel trousers and black lace up shoes, as if he was off for a day at thie office. His bike seemed to be falling apart and his front panniers fell off when his bike was stationary.
The fourth cyclist didn't show at all. We can only assume he took a wrong turning somewhere, perhaps disappearing up his inner tube.

"Doing what mobile bloggers do - uploading the previous day's posting to this blog at a "blogspot""

Today has been yet another day when we've seen no other walkers.

There is a National Park Centre at Ingram. A notice in the door says it is closed until further notice. When open, toilets are available. There is an outside water tap.

"At the end of the day, caught blogging"

Howard is possibly a little further along the road to acquiring a food dehydrator. Being short of a meal, I donated a home made beef curry which seemed to go down quite well.

Allow us to help those in need, sell back your spare PocketMail and make some extra pocket money.

Thursday, 11 September 2008

Tuesday 9th September - Bellingham to wild pitch north of Elsdon

It rained heavily last evening. We optimistically thought that it might be today's forecast heavy rain come early. It was not to be. However, although it rained most of the day, it wasn't particularly heavy.

We stopped for mid-morning coffee at the Bay Tree Inn at West Woodburn. The rest of the way was generally pleasant but unremarkable. The views would have been better if it hadn't been misty. Lots of sheep and cattle; sparsely populated farming country.

The high spot of the day was as we left Bellingham. There, we stopped to talk to the drivers/passengers of a couple of 1920s Frazer Nashes on a tour of Northumberland.

We liked Elsdon, a village with an amazingly large village green, bisected here and there by roads going in all directions and some very attractive cottages.

Very few vehicles on the narrow lanes that formed part of our route and no other walkers.

We found public loos attached to the village hall which provided us with water before we found our wild camp on Landshott Hill.

My camera has got damp inside and any photos I take give the impression that it's foggy here which it isn't. I may need to rely on the others for photos of this part of the walk , although they are not taking many.

For my LEJOG next year, I had planned to get another pair of Scarpa fabric boots. However, although they have been very comfortable, they are letting in water, despite being Gore-tex lined. I can accept wet feet when water goes over the gusset but this hasn't happened today and I still have had wet feet. Frank and Howard both wear leather boots made by Alt-Berg, a British firm, despite the name. The gusset is higher and their feet have remained dry, not just today but throughout this walk.

My new waterproof, the Mountain Equipment Ogre, is very good so far. It's a good length, not too short. Temperature permitting, I prefer to wear just a T-shirt beneath it. Its breathability seems excellent and the hood is good, always moving with the head; the wired peak is also good, generally keeping rain off my glasses, which has always been a problem with other waterproofs.

The Rab Bergen overtrousers are good as well (I think). The first day I wore them in heavy rain, my trousers underneath seemed quite wet but they've been fine today. I've snagged them, probably on barbed wire. Nothing serious though and I can do a repair when I get home.

This is proving to be a long posting but it's only 7.40pm, I've eaten and it's raining hard and is very blustery. I'm listening to Classic FM. Frank and Howard are in their tents (I assume), although the noise of the wind would make holding a conversation impossible. I think the weather will improve tomorrow. The weather forecast even mentioned sunshine.

The tarp should hold tonight with the new pegs holding the corners down.

Allow us to help those in need, sell back your spare PocketMail and make some extra pocket money.

Wednesday, 10 September 2008

Wednesday 10th September - NE of Elsdon to Clennell

Our very early night last night was interrupted somewhat by our being discovered by a herd of inquisitive cows. They nosed around for about fifteen minutes or so before accepting our presence on their patch and moving away. It was possibly an advantage that we were pitched quite close together which meant that they weren't tempted to wander between us.

It was quite a rough night but the tarp stood up well, although I went out at about 11pm to tighten everything up. With a tarp, I've found that it's essential to have the ridge line as taut as possible.

We mad an earlier than usual start at about 8.30 and made our way through Harwood Forest, quite a large area of conifer woodland. Although there was a footpath marked on the map, it rarely followed the line of the firebreaks. Instead, it weaved its way through the densely planted trees which would not have been easy to navigate. Therefore, with Howard and Frank's 1:25000 maps and superior skills of navigation, we covered the two miles or so until we emerged on to a cinder track which led us a further couple of miles through and out of the forest.

From there, we headed across moorland, eventually reaching and passing through the villages of Hepple, Sharperton, Harbottle (where the pub was shut) and Alwinton, beyond which is Clennell, which consists only of a caravan park and an hotel. The park's web site is out of date; it no longer takes campers and no amount of sweet-talking would sway them. The park wardens were none too bright and were slavishly following orders from the owner. We filled up our water containers without asking and went next door to the Clennell Hall Hotel. I went into the bar and asked if they could help three tired walkers and my innate charm and hang-dog expression resulted in permission to camp in a paddock in front of the hotel. No charge but, of course, they'd appreciate our custom in the bar this evening.

A few times it threatened to rain today but only a few spots fell now and then. The expected sun didn't appear but you can't have everything. Along the way today, we've seen the flattened grass and detritus, evidence of the level that the rivers rose over the weekend.


Monday, 8 September 2008

Monday 8th September - Stonehaugh to Bellingham

We spent part of last evening at the Stonehaugh Social Club, a wooden building dating from 1954, serving mainly the village but also open to campsite visitors. The "landlady", Moira told us about village life and I bought a booklet, "Stonehaugh - a forest village", written and produced to raise funds for a new village hall. This is in course of being built, a Finnish wooden eco building and ultra modern in how it will be heated and powered.

The village (and two others) were established in 1952 to house forestry workers but advanced production methods and mechanisation meant that fewer workers were required. Other residents moved in. The village is not for everyone - the only facility is the Social Club.

Saturday night at the Club was the annual leek competition and charity auction, one of the key events of the year. A fascinating and strange community.

The campsite at Stonehaugh is highly recommended. It's only a short way off the Pennine Way and ideal for those who can't face the final push to Bellingham.

Today was the first day for a week or so when we knew it wasn't going to rain. There was still a lot of water underfoot though.

We followed the Pennine Way up to Bellingham, a very uneventful seven miles or so. It was a short day as planned and we checked in at the Camping & Caravan Club site, Brown Rigg and also collected our resupply parcels which had been sent the week before last. Today we've had relatively light packs; tomorrow they'll be some 3kg heavier - most food for six days and, for me, 500ml of meths as well.

Worth mentioning here is my use of meths. I use a Mini Trangia and, hitherto, a 500ml bottle seemed to last no more than about three days. This trip I've left the Trangia burner at home and have been using a Varga Triad stove with the Trangia. It only weighs 1oz, a saving of 3oz. More to the point though, a 500ml bottle of meths has lasted ten days. That's ten cups of water boiled each morning and heating ten main courses and heating water for mash, spaghetti, etc., to go with it.

We've been into Bellingham and had pots of tea and bacon & egg rolls. I gave into temptation and had a knickerbocker glory.

Now it's hot showers and a bit of home cooked rehydrated food a bit later. The dehydrator has been a great success. Despite his denials, Howard looks as if he might get one soon as the food that Frank and I are eating is possibly more appetising than what he has been eating. He's not so likely to become a mobile blogger though!

Allow us to help those in need, sell back your spare PocketMail and make some extra pocket money.

Sunday, 7 September 2008

Sunday 7th September - Once Brewed to Stonehaugh Campsite

Morning - there are 100 flood warnings across the country today; seven are severe and they are all in the north east! It's still raining here intermittently and more is forecast for today but the worst seems to be over. There will be a lot of waterlogged ground. However, we start with everything dry which lifts the spirits.

I started off wearing a T-shirt but within 200 yards it started to rain but, fortunately, today's rain was bearable. Showers, heavy at times, came and went and we even had some sunny spells.

We followed the Pennine Way towards Bellingham, following a short stretch of Hadrian's Wall. It was very wet underfoot;lots of leaping over waterlogged and boggy patches. In places where stone slabs had been laid over well used stretches, the slabs were up to six inches under water.

Instead of having a day off in Bellingham tomorrow, we have decided to have two short days. We're at the Stonehaugh site in Wark Forest. We arrived at about 3pm. The site is officially closed temporarily as it is too wet for vehicles but the warden said those magic words that all hikers like to hear, "I never turn backpackers away."

We've been given a key to the loo block and the only sounds are from a rushing stream and a wind turbine next to the loo block. We have the site to ourselves. The approach to the site is most unprepossessing. It's through a timber yard and then through a small housing development, presumable built originally to house forestry workers maybe in the 1950s. It's an odd sight in such an isolated spot.

We saw a few other walkers today, two doing the Pennine Way from north to south. It makes a change from the last few days when we've seen virtually no-one.

Tea is being drunk; we'll "eat in" later as there isn't much else to do although I understand there's a social club open at weekends, presumably serving both the site and the nearby residents. Howard has been told they sell cheap beer.

Everything is looking a lot more positive than yesterday morning. I have wet boots and wet feet again but everything else is dry and IT'S NOT RAINING.

Allow us to help those in need, sell back your spare PocketMail and make some extra pocket money.

Saturday, 6 September 2008

Saturday 6th September - Sinderhope to Once Brewed YH

The rain and wind continued throughout the night and on into today. Moving up from the riverbank yesterday evening was definitely a good move - I'm sure that the spot where we had pitched would have been under water within a couple of hours.

We were lucky to find the place we did - there was nowhere else. I slept well but woke a couple of times to find a corner of the tarp had come adrift and was flapping in the wind. I then wished I'd brought a bivy bag as the end of my sleeping bag is a bit wet (along with everything else).

We road-walked up to Allendale Town where we found an excellent cafe with bacon baps and tea. We discussed the onward route to Hexham - about ten miles. There were two or so moorland routes but we decided to catch a bus as the weather is so awful. We are now whiling away the hour before the bus in a pub with a blazing fire.

We have a free day tomorrow. I'm hoping that the youth hostel at Acomb, just north of Hexham is still open. If it is, I'll aim to stay two nights to dry out. I also need to find an outdoor shop to get some more robust tent pegs.

Later - we arrived in Hexham. The TIC told me there's no longer a YH at Acomb and they ascertained that the campsite at Fallowfield, north of Hexham, is closed due to the weather. A swift decision was made. We caught a bus to the YH at Once Brewed. We were allowed in at 2.30 to leave our packs and then repaired to the Twice Brewed Inn just down the road to return at 4pm to book in. As Howard said, any fool can be uncomfortable. Very true. We then hung all our stuff in the excellent drying room. We'll eat out tonight.

This morning I'd planned on returning home as things seemed so dismal. With dry kit and better pegs for the tarp, the world looks rosier although the forecast is for more rain tomorrow. We'll probably have our day off in Bellingham on Monday.

Allow us to help those in need, sell back your spare PocketMail and make some extra pocket money.

Friday 5th September - Garrigill to Sinderhope

Quite a chilly night but we woke to a still morning but all too soon the midges came out to feed on us. I managed to eat breakfast before they located me but drank coffee and packed up with a mozzy net over my head.

We called at the post office/shop in Garrigill, clearly in danger of closure. Once the present owners give up it will finish.

It came on to rain as we left so it was on with the waterproofs. It was a steep climb out of Garrigill and on a rural road over the top for a few miles down into Nenthead. We called in at the Nenthead Mines Heritage Centre (lead mining) where there was a cafe. Stoked up with a cheese toasty and a pot of tea. We stayed quite a while but the rain didn't let up.

The rest of the day was spent partly walking on minor roads and partly over waterlogged moorland, heading in the direction of Hexham which we should reach tomorrow. The rain just continued to come down. It was not nice.

We had hoped to camp on some access land before the moorland ended but nowhere was suitable and it was too exposed to the elements. We came to the River Allen and crossed a bridge next to a ford near Sinderhope. We found a reaonable pitch next to the river. Behind us was a belt of trees behind which was a largish house with half a dozen or so Discoveries and similar vehicles outside. An upmarket fishing party perhaps. We kept a low profile and were not disturbed.

However, we were concerned at the rate the river level was rising as it rushed by only feet away. It rose about two feet in the space of two hours which was quite alarming. It was gone six o'clock but we made what in retrospect was a wise decision to move on. By the time we left, the river was lapping the edge of the bank and, further along, where we had accessed the riverside, the path was under water.

We are now pitched in a secluded spot out of sight. It's still raining and the forecast is for much more tomorrow - lovely.


Thursday, 4 September 2008

Thursday 4th September - Low Moor Caravan Park to Garrigill

Our meal out yesterday evening with Michael and Caroline was a treat. It was good to catch up with old friends. We could hear the rain hammering down outside but when we were returned at about 11 o'clock it had stopped and, as far as I know, it didn't rain during the night. The forecast today is supposed to be better but there's a red sky which doesn't bode well. So far (it's 6.30am) it's a calm day.

Later ... within an hour of setting off the rain had begun. Not too hard but enough to need waterproofs. We reached a stream/river at the far side of a waterlogged and pathless field. The bridge, if there had ever been one, had disappeared. We hunted up and down for a crossing point. It seems Howard got across but I didn't see it. Frank got across (just). I happened to have sandals so put them on, strung my boots around my neck and, with the aid of a walking pole, got across without mishap. We then mislaid Howard and didn't see him again until the evening.

Frank and I stopped for lunch in the rain and then girded our loins for the approach to Cross Fell. It was a long and laborious wet hike up although the views across the Eden Valley towards the Lake District were superb. Mist came down as we approached the top but then miraculously cleared and from there to Garrigill we had the most amazing wide ranging views all around. I had thought that Cross Fell was always wet and misted over but I was proved wrong today.

Down from the top we passed the junction with the Pennine Way and then followed the Way past Greg's Hut down to Garrigill but it was a long, seemingly never-ending slog - around 12km.

We're pitched behind the village hall next to a river and the midges are out in force and very hungry.

Allow us to help those in need, sell back your spare PocketMail and make some extra pocket money.

Wednesday, 3 September 2008

Wednesday 3rd September - Bampton Grange to Low Moor

Even the church clock nearby chiming every quarter of an hour didn't seem to keep us awake. We struck camp in the rain - we're beginning to accept it as normal.

Route-finding away from the village was challenging to say the least and the whole day, when not on tarmac, was very wet and muddy underfoot. The Lake District is now truly behind us.

We crossed over the M6, a glimpse of the so-called civilisation we have chosen to leave behind for a short time.

It was minor road walking all the way then through Newby to Morland. At one point before Newby we were accosted by a charming lady in a Landrover Discovery who kindly relieved me of my underpants (in fact, wet ones plus socks (all washed three days ago) which were hanging off my pack optimistically trying to dry, together with my wet Thermarest) to take them home to dry and also who invited us for a meal this evening. This wasn't altogether an accident. By prior arrangement, I'd posted a resupply parcel to friends, Michael and Caroline, who have quite recently moved from Oxfordshire to live in Morland but Caroline did just happen to be passing by.

We reached Morland at lunchtime and spent some welcome time out of the rain in the comfort of the Mill Yard Cafe, a gem of a place and all the more so for being quite unexpected. Prices were also very reasonable - home made Three-bean soup, good bread, pieces of three local cheeses and some Morland chutney, together with a pot of tea all for about six pounds. It was lovely. This is a place to be highly recommended.

We then braved the rain for a muddy field, woodland and road walk to Low Moor Caravan Park on the A66 in good time to pitch and smarten ourselves up to be collected at 6.30.

Allow us to help those in need, sell back your spare PocketMail and make some extra pocket money.

Tuesday, 2 September 2008

Tuesday 2nd September- North east of Troutbeck to Bampton Grange

We had some torrential rain and gusting wind during last evening and much rain in the night. My tarp, a Golite Cave, stood up to it extremely well and I stayed drizabone.

My Thermarest deflated in the night. My mind raced to contacting home to order one to be sent on ahead for collection until I realised that the valve had come undone. Sorted. In fact, I have some adhesive with me that would repair a pinhole. The trouble can be finding the hole. When I've had one before, I immersed the Thermarest in the bath at home. Here, I think that there would be no shortage of puddles this morning to do the job.

Today was a "changeable" day weatherwise. Lots of rain and, over High Raise, we were hit by a hailstorm. In fact, on the weather forecast this morning, it was said that we'd had the wettest August since 1942 - I can well believe it.

So, mainly wet but not too much ascent. Now and again, when the cloud cleared we had some far reaching views but they tended not to last long.

We've ended the day at Bampton Grange. Having located nowhere to camp, we headed straight to the pub, the Crown and Mitre. having ordered a drink and made enquiries of the landlord, he made a couple of 'phone calls and we are now camped in the back garden of the cottage next to the pub. Not too far to stagger home tonight!

Howard has done all the route planning. I don't think that it follows exactly the Lakeland to Lindisfarne route according to the book but he seems to have done an excellent job so far.

Sunday 31st August - Wasdale Head to Chapel Stile

It rained on and off during the night and was still raining when I got up at 6.30am to bag the use of the single wash basin in the men's loo behind the Wasdale Head Inn.

The three of us, me, Frank and Howard, belong to the Backpackers Club (, a motley collection of oddballs - some more mad than others. They now know that they may feature in this blog so have been warned to be on their best behaviour.

It was a long haul up to Sty Head and the cloud came down as we reached the ridge. Occasionally, there was a view to be had of Styhead Tarn.

Then on by Sprinkling Tarn and on to Angle Tarn where we stopped for lunch.

The rain came on then and stayed with us for the rest of the afternoon. It was a long day and strenuous - the long descent into Mickleden leading into Great Langdale was particularly hard work - rocky all the way down.

We're now camped at Chapel Stile and it's a lovely peaceful evening. The rain of the day is now just a memory and the sun is shining (a bit).

Only one bootful of water today.

Have a spare PocketMail laying around, sell it back to us and help those in need.

Saturday 30th August ~ Below Hooker Crag (Muncaster Fell) to Wasdale Head

I've had trouble with this Pocketmail technology but it is probably my own fault. I haven't been able to "send" either with a mobile phone or by using a payphone. I dial the specified number only to have a female American tell me that my device has not been detected. I've reread the manual and think the reason is that I'm keeping the "send" button pressed when, in fact, I'm supposed to press and then release it. There's a payphone here somewhere and when I've finished this posting I'll go off in search for it.

Today has been good but quite hard work. After calling at the superb village store in Eskdale Green, there was a long ascent up through Miterdale Forest and on to Whin Rigg. We caught glimpses of Wastwater far below. It was quite boggy in places but we found a nice stop for lunch overlooking a small tarn. The views were never good as there was a mist obscuring the detail of the fells all around but there was no rain and it made good walking weather.

After Illgill Head, it was a long descent to Wasdale Head. We called in for a pint of Piper's Gold at the Wasdale Head Inn before going to pitch at the small site nearby below Kirk Fell and Great Gable.

Tell your friend about PocketMail and let the savings start rolling in!