Author Archives: JonCollins

Day Nine on the Pennine Way – Slaggyford to Somewhere in the Middle of Nowhere

We started early at Slaggyford down the road before realising we where going the wrong way. Turning back we headed up the hills and onto the moors. Andy’s brother Chris had joined us. Both he and Andy knew the area well having lived here.

Scattered about the hills where signs of the areas industrial past. Mine workings, workshops and rail way cuttings. Derelict in what where now fields occupied by cattle and sheep. Decades ago one of these sheds unopened for decades had surprisingly been home to one of Stephesons steam engine, Rocket. Used in a shunting yard, it had been left locked up in th shed and forgotten about.

The first part of the walk came to an end as we crossed the A69 and walked on towards Hadrian’s Wall. The wall hugged the ridge of the Whinsill the point at which Scotland collide with England in prehistoric times.

The views form this part of the Pennine Way were stunning, but the ups and downs more than tiring. We passed a lad doing the Pennine Way in the opposite way, loaded up with a full pack and camping gear we where again thankful for our light loads and vehicle support.

At Steel Ring and 18 miles in we said goodbye to Chris and climbed along the final stretch of Hadrian’s Wall. Cutting left we returned to moor land or better described bog land and then into Forest and more bog.One can only imagine how bad it would have been in winter.

We knew today was going to be a long day. Planned as 26.5 lies, however as we trudged on and it became clear the measurement was out somewhat we should have been all but finished by the time we met the camper, but the map showed another couple of miles to go. More fields, more trees, a climb down and then up from a valley and we where done, almost 12 hrs after starting. 28.5 miles in a day had been our longest day by far.

WE were really looking forward to a pint and something to eat.

Day Eight on the Pennine Way – Dufton to Slaggyford

We started from Dufton, leaving the hostel a bit before 7am. It was blue skies, a gentle breeze and the longest and highest days walk so far. We walked starting gently but the route soon stepped with a sharp pull on Green Fell before climbing Great Dun Fell noted more than anything for the golf ball shaped antennas situated at the top.

Next was Little Dun Fell, for a final pull up to the highest point on the Pennine Way, Cross Fell. We sat on the summit, uninhabited moorland to the east as far as you could see and the peaks of the Lake District to the west. This was our harvest pale height spot. Not just for today but for all 11 days.

The descent was a gentle one, past Greg’s Hut (one of the few bothies on the route) and then onto what seemed like a never ending crushed rock estate road. One of the more uncomfortable surfaces to walk on. 3/4 quarters of the way down, it became obvious why the roads where there. We came across a procession 4x4s, farming quads and trucks transporting and accompanied by beaters, game keepers, gun dogs and shooters. the fashion seemed right out of Downtown Abbey.

After 16 miles we made it into Garigill, were we met up with the camper. Food, new socks and coffee only 10 miles to go.

Then we set of following the river down to Alston and from Alston we meandered up and down dale, alongside the steam railway line the river and eventually the road until exhausted we walked into Slaggyford at 6pm.

Eleven hours of walking was our longest day so far.

Day Seven on the Pennine Way – Middelton on Teesdale to Dufton

We started a few miles outside Middleton on Teesdale with a gentle walk over the hills down towards the Teesdale River. For the next seven or eight mile on good paths, past a series on increasingly impressive waterfalls until we got to High Force.

Swollen by the recent rain, High Force was amazing. Although the scenery was great, Andy’s ankles were suffering and we showed whilst we negotiated rocky paths, undulating around both sides of the river.

Following the Tees for mile after mile, through rolling countryside with barely a person in sight, whilst the sun beat down, must be about as good as it gets.

We passed falcon Cliffs, we then scrambled up Cauldron Snout to the damn on the south of Cow Green Reservoir. Where we’d arranged to meet the camper. No camper though even though there was a road, turns out you can’t use it.

We’d done 14 miles and we still had 10 more to do. Andy needed water and I needed new socks, having got a boot full of water earlier on. And I even had high hopes of a stolen sandwich. No chance. So we ploughed on. The paths were good, we passed a farm where sheep dogs and their masters busied themselves herding sheep into pens. We continued on into the wilderness. We where heading for a ridge walk down into Dufton and suddenly the ground fell away before revealing an amazing glacial valley. who knew High Cup Nick existed. Sheer Cliffs off basaltic columns, framing an extensive view across the lower land of Cumbria, out towards the Lake District.

We skirted around the northern edge of the valley onto the ridge and then the long gentle route down to Dufton. To the north we could see tomorrows rout. Over 850m of climbing across Cross Fell to Alston. Only 4 more days to go but they are not going to be easy.

Day Five on the Pennine Way – Horton on Ribblesdale to Thwaite

Click here to watch my video account of day five. 

Today was a late start (8am) after something that was described as a Continental Breakfast. The first part of the walk, to Hawes, was mainly over a good path. Height gained, height lost but nothing to dramatic. We met the camper on a dirt track near Outershaw. And Andy consumed what is now becoming a stable of fried egg sarnie.

We feared we where in for a telling off when a couple of gillies (game keepers in this part of the world) arrived in a quad vehicle. However other than saying it would be ill advised to drive the camper any further, they proved great company for the next quarter of an hour. We learnt all about the quad they where driving, how much it cost and how to keep the cost down and how important it was to have one in this part of the world.

That was followed by rather too much detail of carrion crows and other scavengers, gruesome stories, as well as accounts of walkers helped and rescued over the years. They also gave us our first contribution when we told them what we where doing. So the £2 will be added to our total.

From here we completed the long descent in to Hawes, a pretty but very tourist filled village in the Yorkshire Dales. At this point we still had 9 miles left and they weren’t going to be easy miles.

A long gradual climb up onto a ridge which then kept going up to the #harvestpalehighpoint of Shunner Moor. By this stage we had had about enough, but we still had to descend another 4 miles over high moorland and what proved to be more painfully, down boulder strewn tracks.

At the end, in the village of Thwaite, we collapsed into the Camper and were grateful to be driven back to Hawes Youth Hostel, a beer and some food.

Day Four on the Pennine Way – Gargrave to Horton in Ribblesdale

I’m going to start today’s entry with a reminder of why Andy and I are inflicting this on ourselves and your pockets.

The Dolly Parton Foundation and the Imagination Library provides a free, new book every month to kids and their parents every month from their birth until they are Five. Every pound we are raising is matched by the Foundation.

So I want to say a big thank you to everyone who has supported us so far, and if you feel like making a donation, you can do so here

So today was a walk in three Bs – Boring, Ball Ache and Brilliant.

Gargrave to Malham was a meander over fields, with the only excitement being avoiding cows and their calves. Coffee and sandwiches at Malham, we then headed off to Malham Cove in the drizzling rain.

We turned left at the cove up a perfectly formed National Trust staircase and then onto clint & grikes of the summit the limestone pavement. The limestone gets slippery when wet and we slid our way across. We walked up and round to Malham Tarn, joining the tourists and walked round the north coast before hacking off through fields and fell, to meet the camper.

We’d done 13 miles by this point and were shattered. Food and coffee and then a change of clothes,and I needed to get the walking poles out for the first time. With two hills to go, in low cloud, this was not something we were looking forward too.

As we headed off though, we discovered the route was on a well constructed miner’s path up to the summit of Fountain Fell and back down the other side. The coffee and sandwiches had given us a boost of energy and we made good time to our next meeting point at the foot of Pen-Y-Ghent.

Next fuel stop was fried egg sandwich, which exploded yolk all over me and Andy when we took a bite (Send us your best yoke) After that it was Pen-Y-Ghent, steep, precipitous and challenging from where we started, but surprisingly easy when we got on it.

The view would have be magnificent if we had not hit the summit in low cloud. This was the steepest climb so far and was today’s Castle Rock Brewery #harvestpalehighpoint. All we had left was a walk down to Horton in Ribblesdale.

On the way Andy met some Geordies. Turned out they lived 500 yards from where he was brought up!

Day Three on the Pennine Way – Grople Reservoir to Gargrave

So we knew it was going to rain today. But only from 10am and so we set the alarms for 4.30 out by 5.45 and headed up to the Reservoirs that we left the night before and got there about 6.30. This was the last of the route we’d done while working out whether we capable of working out if we were able to do 26 miles a day.

We headed out from the reservoir across the top of Withens past the ruins of a house that had apparently inspired Emily Bronté (the Earnshaw House in Wuthering Heights), a book that Andy has read three times but was all news to me, before gradually. Descending to Ponden Reservoir. We made good time ahead of the rain, stopping only momentarily for a Notts County Cricket photo shoot with their donated shirt. To tweet in support of their 20/20 1/4 final clash against Somerset (subsequently called off due to rain) So look out for our tweet again tomorrow.

Up hill, down hill, across the valley and up hill again, today was destined to be a series of undulations and plenty of field and the odd high point. By 9am we had managed 8 miles and I said to Andy that we should manage another 3 or 4 miles before the rain sets in, two minutes later, it started and we stopped to kit ourselves out with gaiters, waterproof trousers, jackets and gloves.

I say waterproof gloves but they proved to be anything but, having been purchased 25 years earlier. The Goretex and tape seams just disintegrated in the face of the increasingly heavier and heavier down pour.

As we came down of the hill we encountered another person on the Pennine Way, a village with a pub (closed) and we them started the long slog up another hill over fields through woods and ultimately, with some relief, onto the moorland.

The rain was really heavy now, and we were both getting cold as well as wet. As we walked down yet another undulation, we relieved to see the camper parked up under the bridge.

Sandwiches, coffee and, for me, a change of boots, shirt as well a new dressing on my blister meant that the pit stop was longer than planned.

However, revived we set off on the remaking five miles and yet another burst was a mile long trek along a canal (with the obvious advantage of it being flat).

The remainder of the walk hacked across fields,with no great challenge until with reached Gargrave just after 3pm just in time to hear the football scores. Which cheered me up after a wet miserable day.