Wednesday, 18 April 2018

Great English Walk Day 31 - 18 April 2018

Forest south of Birney Hill to Rothbury
Walking 7.00am to 4.45pm
Distance walked today 18 miles
Distance walked so far 478 miles
Distance left 69 miles

I slept surprisingly well. The uneven ground didn't bother me. I was pitched on the path through the forest but I didn't expect any passers by, it was so remote.

My route was easier to follow than I thought it would be. My feet were wet within a couple of minutes but, really, that made the going easier as I didn't need to waste time trying to avoid wet ground. There was only one public footpath and it was adequately waymarked.

Past Sweethope, I abandoned the GEW for much of the day and opted for a slightly more direct route to Rothbury. I took the minor road east to the A696 Jedburgh-Newcastle road to Knowesgate where I joined the St. Oswald's Way, which I followed for the rest of the day. Along the lane near Knowesgate, I saw a tree. It was a very unusual tree. A shoe tree. I don't know what sort of tree it actually was but its branches were festooned with countless pairs of shoes, trainers, wellies, etc. I've never seen anything like it.

The Way is a 97 mile route which links some of the places associated with St. Oswald, the King of Northumbria in the early 7th Century, who played a major part in bringing Christianity to his people. It was very well waymarked so I think I made a good choice.

About six miles were through Harwood Forest, the first four on forest roads and the last two on a narrow path but easy to follow. Emerging from the forest, the path continued over moorland, muddy in places, before dropping down to a car park and then going up and over a hill when I could see Rothbury a mile away.

After two nights wild camping, a shower was needed so I'm overnighting at Tomlinson's Bunkhouse. In fact, I'm the only occupant. The cafe downstairs closed at 5.30 so all has been quiet since then. I've washed a few items of clothing which will finish drying on my pack tomorrow. I'm not quite sure what to do about my shoes which smell really offensive, even to me, as I've walked through liquid cow and horse poo today. In one place, in particular, I could hardly see my shoes it was so deep.

Having had two long days, I now have five days to do the final 69 miles so I can take it easy just a little.


  1. Nearly there Geoff - well done but can I suggest that if the shoes are that bad you leave them up in Northumbria! We can't be having that down the "Leys"

    1. In fact, I've washed them, having found some newspaper to dry them out overnight. They smell almost sweet but I may dump them anyway.

  2. Morning Geoff,

    Smelly shoes - BIN - New shoes!

    All looks good and hopefully a good weather pattern on the lead in to the final straight.

    Stride on!