Monday, 12 June 2017

Pennine Way Day 19 - Cottonshopeburnfoot to Clennell Street

Started walking 7.30am
Distance walked 15 miles
Arrived 4pm

It was just half a mile into Byrness. The tiny church was open so I went in. Very peaceful inside. In no time, I was starting the steep ascent through the woodland up to Byrness Hill. The mud on the lower paths was very bad. The final part of the climb was a scramble.

On the plateau from time to time were signs warning of military activities. The PW passes the edge of Otterburn Ranges. Paddy Dillon's PW book, which I am carrying, says, "Rest assured that at no point does the PW enter the military firing range". At Ravens Knowe, a footpath joins the PW from the right. A slow moving file of maybe twelve helmeted soldiers in camouflage uniform and painted faces about twenty paces apart and carrying firearms moved on the the path ahead of me. I didn't slow my pace and took my place between two of them. I called out a cheery good morning to the one in front of me. They all then filed off to the left. I had a brief chat with the painted face who appeared to be in charge. They are obviously used to PW walkers. A short distance further on, I saw more soldiers together with the sound of automatic gunfire for several minutes. I tried to keep a low profile.

The forest shown on the map as Ogre Hill had all been felled and replanted.

Route finding was never a problem. Apart from the odd boggy area where the path tended to disappear, it was a clear path all day, with some stretches of stone slabs which made for easy walking.

I stopped for lunch at the Yearning Saddle refuge hut where I was joined by a Canadian couple doing the PW using B&Bs.

It was a long haul up to Windy Gyle. I camped there on a warm summer's evening in 1977, but today it was much too windy. I went on for a mile to Clennell Street, a junction of paths with a flat grassy area. It was very windy. I thought of walking on four miles to the Hen Hole mountain hut but decided to stay put, hoping the wind would eventually calm down. Now, at 10pm, it is calmer but I may use earplugs tonight.

The last day tomorrow, just 13.75 miles. Frank, with whom I was walking from Horton-in-Ribblesdale to Hawes, is meeting me at Town Yetholm. We'll camp there and he'll drive me to Newcastle station on Wednesday morning.

Sent from my iPhone

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