The Pennine Way, Phew.
Well I've finally done it, I've been saying I would walk The Pennine Way one day since I was 13 and visited Malham with my parents. 43 years of dreaming and planning has come to an end.
I left Somerset on 5th September, travelling by train to Edale and started walking on the 6th.
The sun was shining and I felt optimistic as I set off across the fields to Barber Booth.
It was while I was catching my breath on Jacobs Ladder that I was overtaken by Joanne, who I met frequently in the first few days and we ended up doing the second half of the walk together.
Naturally, by the time I got to the top of Kinder Scout it was in the clouds, as was Bleaklow later on.
Day two was the shortest day, just 11 miles and Polly the Patterjack spent the day with me, the weather was oppressive and my spirits were low, until what I thought was a cloud formation morphed into an awsome view. Sadly it only lasted a few seconds and I did not have time to dig my camera out of its waterproof packing in time. Polly had a wonderful time bouncing around in the heather.
Day three had the heaviest rain until lunchtime. I made a large puddle on the carpet in 'The White House' pub, I had a fantastic ham sandwich for lunch and dripped quietly throughout.
Day four found me passing over Haworth Moor, possibly the inspiration for 'Wuthering Heights' I was treated to a poetry reading by a rambling book club in honour of Emily Bronte's 200th year. Later on the sun came out as I crossed Ickornshaw Moor, the pink heather and the blue sky were so pretty.
Day five, my longest day so far, 17.5 miles with a full rucksack to Malham. A tiring day but the last few miles along the river were really pretty. I'd met up with Joanne again and we celebrated with a pint or two in the pub in Malham before parting for her B&B and my campsite.
Day 6, the beautiful Malham Cove, limestone pavements and Malham tarn. In the back of my mind was the ascent of Pen y Ghent between us and Horton in Ribblesdale. First though Fountains Fell was unexpectedly high and from the top the spectre of PYG loomed. It looked steep and difficult. We walked towards it for what seemed like hours, then climbed it in no time at all! We descended to civilisation feeling good and went to the pub to celebrate.
Day seven, a pretty day and not too strenuous, a view of the famous Ribble Head Viaduct as we left the valley. We were in Hawes early, so had a quick pint before heading to Hardraw where there was some confusion as to where we were sleeping. Another pint whilst we waited for that to be sorted out.
Day 8, I was looking forward to a real bed at the end of this day, First we had to cross Great Shunner Fell, a long slow climb and a quick way off, we crossed hillsides honeycombed with rabbit holes, but very few rabbits. Apparently they are sadly succumbing to a new disease. After pausing for a cup of tea in Thwaite we slogged over the moor to the Tan Hill Inn for hot food, a bath, more beer and live music.
Day 9, We crossed the half way point, apparently the underpass under the A66. Not for the first time the weather forecast was wrong and the promised rain didn't appear. Expecting to be very wet I'd splashed out on a hotel room in Middleton in Teesdale and arrived dry. It was nice to have a bath again though.
Day 10 we knew was a big day, lots of miles but plenty to look at. the lovely River Tees, lots of water falls, deserted valleys, more peat hags and the truly awesome High Cup and its Nick. As good as promised but some difficult walking over boulder fields.
Day 11, another big day, this time with lots of height gain. on the way up to the hills we climbed into the rain clouds, gradually the cloud lifted to give fantastic views over to the lake district. On the summits of Great Dun Fell, Little Dun Fell, Cross Fell it so windy it was hard to stand up and conversations were minimal. Down into Garrigill and a lovely riverside walk to Alston. Cold Lager tonight.
Day 12 We headed on a lowish route to Greenhead to join the Hadrians Wall path. Just before Slaggyford we were treated to a sighting of a red squirrel and just after we met four lovely lurchers, Maude, Audrey, Wilfred and Margot. We crossed a bog by walking from one post to another which reminded me of an Enid Blyton Famous Five story but I can't remember its title. A lovely mix of PW and HW walkers in the Greenhead Hotel for beer.
Day 13, Hadrians Wall for the second time this year, in strong winds, the start of Storm Ali.
Lots of tourists, mostly Americans which is good to see. For the fourth time I got to the gap in the wall where the signpost said Pennine Way, and for the first time I got to follow it. Across some bogs and into forestry, emerging at Bellingham where the campsite was reached well before the pub. No beer tonight.
Day 14. Storm Ali, Great Dun Fell recorded 105 miles an hour winds just a few miles away. We were a little lower but the wind was awesome, blowing trees over as we walked past. We were expecting some shelter from a large area of forestry but we were dismayed to find it had been felled when we got there. This should have been a boggy but easy day. It was exhausting but we had to laugh. Joanne managed to stay upright in the wind, then tripped over some heather. Just the one pint in the pub at Byrness, returning to the campsite at Bellingham to find one of the tents had been flattened.
Day 15, I didn't want to get up, It was 5.30 and we had agreed to meet and start walking at 6.30 am, we had 25 miles to go, 4000ft of ascent and only wooden mountain huts for refuge if we didn't make it. We did. I have never walked this far before and to add in the climbing was an awesome feat of mind over matter. The feeling of relief as we found the signpost saying Kirk Yetholm was only 4.5 miles away was overwhelming (4.5 is still quite a long way to walk!) but with the promise of a free half pint in the Border Hotel to spur us on we plodded down the hill into the village. It was over.