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.

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