Pennine Way Diary
In 1973 the only official long distance footpath in the UK was the Pennine Way (opened in April 1965) at just under 300 miles, running from Edale in the Derbyshire Peak District to Kirk Yetholm in the Scottish Borders. Consequently it was very popular with well over 30,000 people walking it every year.
The only backpack I had done before this trip was a 2 day trek in the Lake District in 1972, from Boot to Wasdale Head and back via Black Sail Pass, Windy Gap, Styhead Tarn, Esk Hause and Brotherilkeld, but the Pennine Way at 15+ days was a trip on a different level of commitment! It was after talking about my Lake District trip to good friend and work colleague Chris (we both worked as lab technicians for Unilever Research at the Frythe Lab in Welwyn) that we gradually started thinking about doing something more challenging.
The Pennine Way was really the only option for a long trek in 1973 so that was what we decided to do and it would take about 2 weeks. We subsequently recruited another member to the team, Stuart (he also worked at the Frythe), and settled on the following Summer (1973) as the time to do it. We had a couple of training weekend trips, in February 1973 to Snowdonia and April to the Lake District. Stuart could only make the first of these but Chris and I did both. Then with a bit more planning and agreeing on sharing the kit we were ready.
I had to buy a new rucsack as my old one was far too small, as well as a new tent. Apart from Millets there weren’t the outdoor shops that there are now so I drove down from Welwyn to Pindisports in Holborn in London to buy what I needed (about a 60 mile round trip). My new rucsack was a 50 litre Karrimor Annapurna with a Karrimor K2 external aluminium frame (rucsack and frame were sold separately), very lightweight for the time. My new tent was a Vango Force 10 Mk 2 coffin tent with A-poles at the front and a ridge pole (£24.90) which was very stable and proved to be pretty much bomb-proof when used over many years in some serious weather. The tent was for other trips as it slept 2 not 3.
Meanwhile, Stuart changed jobs, moved to Birmingham and couldn’t get enough time off work to do the whole route so was joining us in Malham at the end of Day 5. My rucsack was really heavy when I packed everything, it was over 65lbs (30kg) but it would reduce as we ate the food and once we met up with Stuart.
Clothes: mostly cast-off casual clothes with not a lot of specialist clothing. I had a pair of worn-out needlecord jeans cut off below the knee as breeches, long socks that came over my knees and 3 spare pairs, an old long-sleeve football shirt as my base layer and a spare one, thick brushed cotton ‘lumberjack’ shirt as my mid-layer and a spare one, and an Oiled Norwegian jumper as my main warm layer. I used knee length alpine gaiters over my socks and tops of my boots on most days as the ground was so wet and boggy, these were waterproof nylon. I also carried a woolly hat knitted by my mother and some old gloves. All spare clothes were wrapped in small plastic bags to keep them dry – rucsack liners hadn’t been invented!
For waterproofs we all had pull-on Cagoules and waterproof overtrousers and all of my waterproofs and gaiters were bought from Millets. These were made of nylon, were completely waterproof and not breathable. It was like wearing a plastic bag so if it was light rain we didn’t use them as you were more wet from perspiration than you would be from the rain!
I also wore a pair of good quality Hawkins Helvellyn boots that I had worn hill walking quite a bit over the previous year and knew them to be comfortable, although I had never used them for such long arduous days as those that we ended up doing.
Tent: Chris had a 3-man Blacks Good Companion Bell Tent with a centre pole, made of canvas, so we used this. Unfortunately, the flysheet ended about a foot above the ground and didn’t cover the door which was 3 foot high and closed with 4 or 5 canvas ties so if the wind was blowing the inner tent was wet at the front and sides, it tended to be dry at the back – the lowest part of the flysheet. We took turns in where we slept as a result! Chris carried most of the tent, I carried the flysheet.
Equipment: I borrowed a Camping Gaz stove from my parents and carried a couple of spare canisters of gas. We had a small Billy set for cooking, a mug and a knife/fork/spoon set for each of us. My water bottle was a reproduction of a US army aluminium water bottle that held a bit under a litre. My sleeping bag was synthetic and quite old and thin so it was a bit chilly at night. We all had Silva compasses, and I had all the OS 50k maps for the entire route, and a waterproof case for the one in use. Chris and I shared the navigation. We also all had copies of the Wainwright ‘Pennine Way Companion’ guidebook which we tried to carefully follow, easier said than done in bad weather!
Food: Catering packs of Batchelors dehydrated ready meals – just add water and simmer for 15 to 20 minutes: Beef Curry, Beef Goulash, Beef Stroganoff, Chicken Oriental, Chicken Supreme, Farmhouse Stew, Savoury Mince. My parents ran a pub near Buckingham so they bought a variety of catering packs from their cash and carry for us, 7 packs was enough for the whole trip so it was quite weighty at the start. This was breakfast and dinner! Having Farmhouse Stew for breakfast was an unforgettable experience! I carried all of the food. We also had Chlorine tablets to purify water from streams for drinking, so it always tasted foul and metallic.
The notes that follow are from my trek diary which I wrote every day of the trek. The distances quoted are from the Wainwright guidebook so are underestimates since we had detours on many days which added to the miles, including excursions to pubs in the evenings and trips to shops in the mornings, quite apart from our navigation errors which always added miles – they never reduced the miles! I have quoted the ‘Extra miles’ where appropriate.
Friday 3rd August 1973 Travel to Edale
I met up with Chris and started our trip by catching the train at 3.50pm from St Albans to Sheffield (£3.50 single) and then, at the ticket office, we were told to buy our ticket to Edale on the train. We ran down to the platform and just caught the train to Manchester and asked the guard for tickets to Edale. Unfortunately, we were on the non-stop train to Manchester! We had no idea there were direct trains as well as stopping trains! The guard told us to wait and a few minutes later he was back with 2 more walkers who also wanted to get off at Edale. He then went off to talk to the driver and had the train stop at Hathersage Station to let us off, telling us that the next train along would take us to Edale (20p). What service! I doubt they would do that these days.
We walked from the station a half-mile or so to the pub but continued past it along the Pennine Way as we wanted to camp before we went to the pub. We ended up camping in Grinds Brook about a mile from Edale and walked back to the Nags Head Inn in Edale for food and drinks, returning later to our tent.
Day 0 Walking time 1.5h, Distance: 3.5 miles there and back, Distance from Edale: 1 miles.
Saturday 4th August 1973 Edale to Laddow Rocks
Chris woke me at the ungodly hour of 5.45am. So much for a lie in! There was drizzle so we packed up in the rain and were off within an hour or so without stopping for breakfast. There was low cloud with about 50 yards visibility on the Kinderscout plateau. This was our first time on peat bogs and navigation in thick mist through them was very confusing as the peat hags all seemed to look the same. At various stages we were both stuck in peat over our knees and had to be pulled out by the other one. At one point Chris was really stuck and had to take his rucsack off so that I pulled him and his rucsack out separately. Eventually we were over the worst of it and headed down to the River Kinder above the reservoir then we turned up to the Downfall, back to the plateau and headed around the edge towards Ashop Head. From there we went down to pick up the main route and cross more peat bog, this time Featherbed Moss, to Snake Pass. We crossed straight over onto Bleaklow and followed Devils Dyke drain to Hern Clough and on to the Wain Stones at Bleaklow Head. We had a bit of a break of a few minutes before heading off northwest across some of the worst peat bog with enormous peat hags to cross. There was no path and no markers or cairns to guide us, just map and compass but you couldn’t keep to a bearing because of impassable sections of peat bog. We ended off route and well east of where we needed to be so we made a beeline back to the west and picked up the Pennine Way track above Torrside Clough which we followed down to Torrside Reservoir. From here we crossed the valley towards Crowden and then on to Laddow Rocks where we found a pitch for the night and made camp at 7pm. We had freeze dried Beef Stroganoff for our evening meal and fell asleep very quickly, we were both exhausted after a full day of bog trotting!
Day 1 Walking time 12.25h, Distance from Edale: 16.5 miles.
Sunday 5th August 1973 Laddow Rocks to Light Hazzles Edge
We packed up and started walking at 7.20am up to a well defined track on the cliff edge above Laddow Rocks. The path crossed open rough grassland which was all under inches of water. Black Hill was a mass of black mud and there was no way to safely reach the trig point despite several attempts. It was very windy on top but thankfully no rain. We decided to take the easier Wessenden Alternative route. It was a good track to Wessenden Head, Wessenden Lodge and on the Black Moss reservoir where we had a 10 minute break. A man in his 40’s sat down beside us and we started chatting. He was doing the Pennine Way for the 2nd time and said the first part was the worst because of all of the peat bogs. He was surprised that we had done the first 25 miles in a day and a half. We followed the track to Standedge Cutting along with others also walking the Pennine Way. There was a mobile food van there so I had a couple of hamburgers before continuing over Millstone Edge and along a track through peaty grass to the A640. Somehow we took the wrong track here and ended up heading to Readycon Dean reservoir but once we spotted the reservoir we walked north over Rapes Hill to pick up the main trail again. It was about 6pm and the clouds were building up so we put on cagoules and overtrousers and sure enough rain started at 6.20pm. We passed the TV mast on Windy Hill and crossed the M62 on the footbridge to the Slippery Moss and Redmires sections of quagmire. Then along Blackstone Edge and across the last section of bog to the A58. It was 8.10pm and we were soaked through above the waist as the rain came in around our face so we pressed on past the White Horse pub and alongside the reservoirs to find a pitch for the night. Cagoules were very basic and didn’t have peaked hoods or high zips at the front to keep some of the rain out. We pitched the tent with the back into the wind just before the rocks of Light Hazzles Edge. We had hot coffee laced with brandy to warm us up. All of Chris’ gear was wet then we were just settling down when Chris started moving around at the front of the tent, the wind had turned through 180° and was blowing in the front of the tent where Chris was. We kept bailing out and mopping up the water in the tent periodically until 6am. Chris’ sleeping bag was soaked along with everything else that he had.
Day 2 Walking time 13h, Distance: 19 miles, Distance from Edale: 35.5 miles
Monday 6th August 1973 Light Hazzles Edge to Todmorden and Home
We moved off at 9.15am, it was windy but thankfully dry. Chris had pulled a Hamstring in his right leg and was limping badly, he was obviously in a lot of pain. It started on the Bleaklow peat bogs and steadily worsened and with no real rest during the night it was bad from the start. The wind was very strong whipping up water from puddles into the air and then the rain started at 9.30am, so much for it being dry! We walked very slowly, every step becoming more of an effort for Chris. It was pretty flat crossing the waterlogged and boggy moors to Stoodley Pike. The rain had stopped so we had a break of a few minutes out of the wind at the base of the monument. Then it was down through farmland and woods to Todmorden in the valley below. Chris was getting worse and was really struggling so we had a quick chat about continuing or stopping here and decided that we couldn’t carry on, Chris had to stop because of his injury and I couldn’t carry all of the gear on my own to meet Stuart in Malham so we both had to call it a day. We caught the bus to Hebden Bridge and then the train to Leeds, Sheffield, Leicester and finally St Albans. From the station we caught a bus to Welwyn Garden City followed by another to Welwyn from where it was a short walk to my car which was parked at the Frythe where we worked. I then drove up to my parents pub in Steeple Claydon to continue my holiday with them, dropping Chris off at his home in Stevenage on the way.
Day 3 Walking time 3h, Distance to Todmorden: 6.5 miles, Distance from Edale: 42 miles
Pennine Way Second Attempt
By the time we returned for our second attempt Stuart declined our offer to join us for the second attempt as he was getting married so Chris and I recruited Andy, who also worked at the Frythe to make the group of 3. This allowed us to spread the weight of the group kit better than if it was just the 2 of us.
Clothes, Tent, Equipment, Food: Similar to previous attempt except Andy had a similar tent to Chris but with A-poles and his flysheet came lower to the ground so we took Andy’s A-poles and flysheet but with Chris’s inner tent because it had a sewn-in groundsheet. I bought a new warmer but light and small sleeping bag, a Point 5 Cirrus down bag (£20.80), that was also from Pindisports in Holborn. This time I carried a camera, a Nikon Nikkormat FTn with a 28mm lens and took 3 rolls of Ansco 200 slide film, I took 78 shots in total, just over 2 rolls.
Saturday 29th June 1974 Edale to Bleaklow
It was even easier for me to get to the start this year as I had recently moved to within a half-mile of St Albans Station so I just walked up the road to meet the others. We all travelled together leaving St Albans on the 8.50am to Sheffield (£3.94 single) and caught the stopping train to Edale (35p) so that we arrived at the Nags Head Inn at 12.50pm. After a few beers and a couple of rounds of sandwiches (14p each) we started walking at 1.45pm. It had been dry for quite a few days and Grinds Brook was running low. Kinderscout was more dust than the mud of the previous year so we could walk anywhere, no need to weave around the most boggy bits. The plan was to cross Kinderscout and camp by the streams near Ashop Head, maybe at the top of William Clough. Unfortunately, all streams here were dry so we carried on to reach the Snake Pass at 7pm. Other walkers on the Pennine Way were flagging cars down to try and get a drink from someone. We had very little water left between us, not expecting all of the streams to be dry, pushed on across Bleaklow and soon noticed a couple of tents by Hern Clough which still had running water. We stopped at 7.30pm and pitched by Hern Clough but a little further downstream from the 2 tents. There were lots of midges but we enjoyed the Chicken Oriental!
Day 1 Walking time 5.75h, Distance from Edale: 10 miles. Extra miles 1
Sunday 30th June 1974 Bleaklow to Standedge
I didn’t get any sleep in my new surroundings so I got up early at 5am and made breakfast – more Chicken Oriental! An unorthodox English breakfast but very welcome nonetheless. We packed up and moved off at 6.25am passing the other 2 tents after 10 minutes but no signs of life. The path was very easy to follow across Bleaklow, there was a line of stakes and arrows across the peat bogs and no bogs to stop us walking where they took us. Further on Torrside Reservoir was very low, there had been a lack of rain around here for a long time. We stopped at 10.30am for an hour for another cooked meal of Chicken Oriental mixed with Chicken Supreme. We walked up and along the top of Laddow Rocks to Black Hill. What a contrast to last year, it was a dust bowl with no damp patches anywhere around the trig point. From here we followed the main route, not the Wessenden alternative, to the A635 at 3pm. From here there was a clear path across Featherbed Moss but it was slow going as the path was almost impassable peat bog. In contrast this was followed by the very dry White Moss and Black Moss. We refilled our water bottles from Black Moss Reservoir and continued to Standedge where I bought 3 hamburgers, 1 tea and 4 Mars bars from a mobile food van. We walked along a few hundred yards to the Great Western Inn and had a few beers and then they kindly let us pitch our tent in their beer garden for a donation to the charity box. Here we met Ron who was attempting the Pennine Way on his own. We walked several sections with him following this. We turned in for the night at 11.30pm. Heavy rain started during the night as well as strong winds.
Day 2 Walking time 10h, Distance: 16 miles, Distance from Edale: 26 miles. Extra miles 1
Monday 1st July 1974 Standedge to Colden Water
The rain eased slightly at 9am and we moved off at 10am with Ron. The wind was still very strong, I could lean into it wearing my pack without falling over (I now know from using my pocket wind speed meter that it means the wind speed was approaching 50mph!). We made our way over Millstone Edge on a good path until it branched off over the peat bog at the Northern Rotcher (a rock formation). We crossed the A640 and headed up White Hill and the rain had almost stopped. It was easy from here along the ridge to the A672, past the Windy Hill TV mast, and over the M62 footbridge. We weren’t looking forward to the next section after last year’s experience but it was almost dry, no quagmire in sight! We continued to Blackstone Edge and the Roman Road before dropping down to the White House Inn on the A58 for a lunch stop at 1.40pm, 1/2 chicken and chips (75p). Suitably fed and watered we left at 2.50pm. It was easy walking alongside the reservoirs but the wind was whipping up waves over 2 foot high with ‘white horses’ on the surface of the reservoirs. Ron left us at Withens Gate to head for Mankinholes Youth Hostel but we carried on to Stoodley Pike and this time went up the steps to the balcony for a better view. It was a good track from here to finally join and cross the A646, then a quick right and left took us under the railway to a steep paved walled footpath up the hillside past lots of farms, across Badger Lane and Pry Hill. We had some sunshine for the last little while which made a change. Andy enquired about camping at a farm and was told we could camp beside Colden Water. So a few hundred yards further on we came to the Colden Water river in a wood and found a place to pitch our tent at 8pm. Unfortunately, there were lots of midges but we soon settled down and had Chicken Supreme and coffee. My feet were blistered at the base of my heels so needed some attention.
Day 3 Walking time 10h, Distance: 17.5 miles, Distance from Edale: 43.5 miles. Extra miles 0.5
Tuesday 2nd July 1974 Colden Water to Ickornshaw
I woke up at 7.30am and we had eaten and were packed ready to leave for just after 9am. My blistered heels were still well plastered from the night before and other than that all was well. It was a sunny start but clouded over late in the morning. We passed through a few fields before reaching the open moors of Clough Head Hill and then headed down to Lower Gorple Reservoir and Graining Water river where we filled our water bottles for the day ahead. Then we crossed the dam before 2 more reservoirs (Walshaw Dean) and followed the path along the side of them (lots of Rhododendrons) then up to the famous ruins at Withins, used by Emily Bronte in her book ‘Wuthering Heights’. It started raining just after this, at about 1pm, and we missed our turning on The Height and ended up in Stanbury village. As luck would have it ‘The Friendly Inn’ in Stanbury was open so we stopped at 1.50pm for a Ploughmans (25p) and a couple of beers each. This was quite fortunate as the place we expected to stop for lunch (mentioned in our guidebook), Ponden Hall cafe and b&b was closed so everyone else on the Pennine Way who were better with their navigation didn’t find anywhere to stop for lunch! About 40 minutes later we were back on our way in the rain and walked along the road, past Ponden Reservoir for a mile or so, until we reached the place where the Pennine Way crossed the road and we were back on track after our little excursion. Soon we were on the high moorland of Ickornshaw Moor and coming down to the hamlet of Ickornshaw where we saw a sign for a bed and breakfast so we decided to see if we could spend the night there and get our kit dry again, it was 5.50pm. We were successful and stayed the night at Shay Bank Farm (£1.35 each b&b). I had another blister on my heel so I pierced it and replaced the bandage after having a shower and changing then we went to the nearby Black Bull Inn for hamburger, double chips and peas (40p) and beers.
Day 4 Walking time 9h, Distance: 14.5 miles, Distance from Edale: 58 miles. Extra miles 2
Wednesday 3rd July 1974 Ickornshaw to Malham
After the luxury of a full English breakfast cooked for us we left at 9am with all gear now dry, but it was raining! It was mostly walking over fields to start with and after a couple of miles we met up with Ron again at Wood Head. Then it was down to Lonsdale village and more fields and moors to Thornton in Craven. Soon after this we reached the Leeds and Liverpool Canal and then East Marton village where we stopped at the Cross Keys Inn for 2 rounds of sandwiches (46p) and some beers. From here it was on to Gargrave where we stopped for a few minutes so that Chris could answer a census by school pupils of travellers passing their school. It was now sunny with a breeze. We left the bustling village and followed the river for quite some way through Airton and on to Malham at 6pm. We managed to camp at the farm behind the Malham Youth Hostel (40p total). We had been in the Buck Inn several times with the Frythe when we came up for long weekends but it looked to be in a bit of a sorry state as we drank our beers there so we went to the Lister Arms for gammon and chips (85p) and more beers.
Day 5 Walking time 9h, Distance: 19 miles, Distance from Edale: 77 miles. Extra miles 0.5
Thursday 4th July 1974 Malham to Horton-in-Ribblesdale
As we knew Malham we packed up and went to Beck Hall at 9am for the enormous breakfasts that they are famed for. We were on our way again at 9.45am to Malham Cove and on to Malham Tarn. We met Ron again by the roadside tending to his feet. We walked past Malham Tarn House and then continued north to climb Fountains Fell. Chris wanted to go to the top so we diverted slightly to do that and found an igloo below the summit to shelter against for a lunch break (chocolate bars). It was raining now and windy, and the rain became heavy as we descended to Dale Head Farm. The last few days we had met a few walkers coming the other way who all told us about being chased by a bull in the farmyard here so we were a little apprehensive as we arrived but relieved that there was no sign of it! Then it was up a good path to Pen-y-ghent trig point. It was a bit slippery on the wet rocks below the top and we were now in the clouds but the wind had dropped. We went down the steep path on the west side past Hunt Pot to the cafe at Horton-in-Ribblesdale at 5.55pm for pie and 3 vegetables (48p) and huge mugs of tea. Afterwards we walked down the main street to the campsite on the east side of the river at Harber Farm which was immediately behind the Crown Hotel, just beside the main bridge over the River Ribble. We pitched our tent (11p each), changed into dry clothes and went into the bar at the hotel where we met Ron again. He was with Dave who was walking the Pennine Way for the second time, which we found a little unbelievable at the time considering what we had experienced so far!
Day 6 Walking time 8.25h, Distance: 15 miles, Distance from Edale: 92 miles. Extra miles 1
Friday 5th July 1974 Horton-in-Ribblesdale to Hawes
We decided to spoil ourselves and have full English breakfasts at the cafe at the other end of the village at 9am. After this we left at 9.45am with Ron and Dave. It was overcast and raining, what a surprise! The route passed several pot holes including Sell Gill and Ling Gill, the stream here was a raging torrent. Then it was up Cam Fell in heavy rain and wind, stopping for lunch at 1pm, and then followed the track down to Gayle and Hawes by 5pm. It was still heavy rain with no campsite close-by so we decided to stay at the Hawes Youth Hostel (80p each), the hostel was pretty new including all of the bunks and bedding. It was just 5 minutes from the centre of Hawes. After showers and a change of clothes we headed down to the Hawes Chippie for hamburger and double chips (36p) followed by a few beers at the Fountain. We played darts on their dartboard and took on all-comers, we were on for quite some time before getting knocked off as the beer began to affect our accuracy!
Day 7 Walking time 7.25h, Distance: 14.5 miles, Distance from Edale: 106.5 miles. Extra miles 2
Saturday 6th July 1974 Hawes to Keld
Breakfast was Farmhouse Stew, it created quite a lot of interest with the other hostellers. Unfortunately for some, once they looked into the pan and saw the bright green peas floating in the brown mass of stew they went off saying they had changed their minds about having breakfast! I bought 4 salad rolls (36p) from a shop in the High Street for lunch and we all left Hawes at 10am with Ron and Dave. We detoured into the Green Dragon Inn to pay our 4p and then visited Hardraw Force waterfall, at 96 feet (29m) the highest above ground in England. Interesting to compare to Kinder Downfall (near where I now live in the Peak District) which is 98 feet high but falls over a few shelves. Hardraw was very impressive after all the rain. Next came a very boring trudge up Great Shunner Fell, it seemed to go on for ever and the track was really wide and boggy for miles, no chance of avoiding the boggy bits as too many had already tried and just widened the track. We stopped at the summit cairn for lunch in very strong wind before continuing down yet more boggy ground to Thwaite. From here it was just 3 miles or so to Keld across fields and limestone country, much easier walking. We were getting soft and stayed at the Youth Hostel for £1 each including breakfast, at the top of the village, arriving at 5.30pm. There was no pub within several miles of Keld so we stayed in the hostel all evening. N.B. The youth hostel has since been converted into the Keld Lodge Hotel.
Day 8 Walking time 7.5h, Distance: 13.5 miles, Distance from Edale: 120 miles. Extra miles 1.5
Sunday 7th July 1974 Keld to Middleton-in-Teesdale
Breakfast was provided at 8am. We left with Ron and Dave at 9.30am, after we had cleaned the showers and toilets, which can only be done after everyone else has left – our ‘job’ before we were allowed to leave. The first stretch was very wet underfoot and the Tan Hill Inn was already open when we arrived at 11.30am so we had a couple of pints and some sandwiches (15p each) and left around 12.30pm. We knew from other Pennine Wayfarers at the hostel that the next stretch of peat bog was almost impassable but it runs almost parallel to the road so we decided we’d done enough bog trotting for now and kept to the road and then the track called Sleightholme Moor Road. We rejoined the official route after about 3 miles and continued past Sleightholme to God’s Bridge over the River Greta. Ron left us here for the final time, he was staying down the road in Bowes. The four of us continued across the A66, Cotherstone Moor, between 2 reservoirs at Blackton, then another pair of reservoirs at Grassholme before reaching the B6276. Dave left us here for the final time to go to his accommodation, we carried on to Middleton-in-Teesdale arriving at 8.30pm. We camped near the River Tees at Step Ends Farm on the outskirts of the village and had Savoury Mince for dinner.
Day 9 Walking time 11h, Distance: 21 miles, Distance from Edale: 141 miles. Extra miles 0.5
Monday 8th July 1974 Middleton-in-Teesdale to Dufton
It was to be another long day so we decided to walk into Middleton for breakfast (50p) and to pick up some sandwiches (34p) for lunch. We finally left the campsite at the crack of 10.40am! The first part of the day follows the River Tees northwest, lots of rapids and waterfalls including Low Force and High Force. I stopped to take some photos of each of them, this side of the river gives the best view of High Force in particular from almost directly in front of it. A couple of miles further on we stopped for lunch at High Crag above Cronkley. After this we had to cross to the other side of the river for a mile or so, crossing back at Saur Hill Bridge. We stopped at Widdybank Farm to refill our water bottles and then carried on to Cauldron Snout, another very impressive cascading waterfall at 4.30pm. Low clouds were swirling around from Birkdale but we could always see the next Danger Post marking the edge of the military firing range as we crossed some very soggy moorland. Then we followed the north bank of the river and some cairns around Watch Hill to High Cup Nick. A very impressive ‘box canyon’ type of landscape. My feet were now very painful from bruising and blisters, after 2 consecutive punishing days. It was very dull so we carried on reaching Dufton village at 8.30pm. We went to the Stag Inn and asked where we could camp and the landlord told us the field opposite. There was no food at the pub so we pitched the tent, cooked some food and went to the pub for a few beers. Unfortunately, while we were in the pub our tent had been demolished by cows in the field so we re-pitched it in the dark and settled down for the night.
Day 10 Walking time 9.75h, Distance: 21 miles, Distance from Edale: 162 miles. Extra miles 0.5
Tuesday 9th July 1974 Dufton to Garrigill
After cooking breakfast and packing we were off at 10.30am. We followed the route up Knock Hush and stopped for a bite to eat (and Chris to brush his teeth!) at 12.20pm. The ground was soggy further on and the wind was increasing in strength. From Knock Old Man we followed the ridge to Knock Fell, Great Dun Fell, past the masts on the summit and down a couple of hundred feet to a col where we put our cagoules on to keep us warm in the strong wind which was also blowing us off balance as we walked, so well over 40mph. Then it was up to Little Dun Fell and a couple of easy miles further on to Cross Fell, at 2930ft (893m) the highest point on the Pennine Way. We rested for a few minutes in the wind shelter at the top, the summit was very rocky and flat. From here we had a bit over 7 miles to go, the first bit down through some very dilapidated mine workings to a rough road. My feet were bruising badly again between the heel and ankle bone, especially my right one. The lane went into Garrigill where we stopped at the George and Dragon pub at 7.15pm for some food (Haddock and chips 44p) and asked where we could camp. After eating we left to pitch the tent on the village recreation ground, the unofficial campsite for the village, a few hundred yards further on and then returned to the pub for another beer turning in around 10.50pm.
Day 11 Walking time 8.75h, Distance: 16.5 miles, Distance from Edale: 178.5 miles. Extra miles 0.8
Wednesday 10th July 1974 Garrigill to Gilsland
I woke up at 5am to find our tent full of midges so I pulled my sleeping bag over my head but after an hour or so I had to get up as I couldn’t stand the itching bites any more! The others closely followed with Andy taking the prize for most bites. We just packed up and moved off at 7am through fields on very wet tracks with lots of flies, reaching Alston at 8.30am. We stopped for breakfast at a cafe that opened at 9am. I had a hamburger, sausage, beans and chips with bread and butter and tea (62p). We moved off again about 10am in the rain and the whole route from here seemed to pass through flooded fields to reach Slaggyford at 12.30pm. Continuing on just beyond Burnstones where we stopped for a lunch snack at 2pm. The rain started at 3pm and there were lots of flies, even in the heavy rain. On reaching Greenhead looking like drowned rats we decided to look for a room for the night. First stop was at the Greenhead Hotel. The receptionist was very friendly and started looking at what was available for the 3 of us but while she was doing that her manager came out and asked if he could help, the receptionist told him what we had asked for and he just turned round and said they didn’t have anything available we should try elsewhere. We walked along the B6318 and at 7.30pm we eventually found a b&b about 2 miles away in Gilsland, Mrs Bell at 4 Wyndes (fish and chips dinner, bed and breakfast (£2.20). No photos taken.
Day 12 Walking time 11h, Distance: 21.5 miles, Distance from Edale: 200 miles. Extra miles 1.5
Thursday 11th July 1974 Gilsland to Wark Forest
Most of our clothes were dry by the next morning. Breakfast was at 8am but Andy told us he was sick during the night, probably with food poisoning, but he felt too weak to continue so had decided to return home. We swapped some gear and made sure Andy was going to be alright before leaving at 11am. We retraced our steps back along the road until we picked up the Pennine Way again near Thirlwall Castle and climbed up a hill to join Hadrian’s Wall. The rain started at about midday with a very strong wind. We walked beside the wall until we reached Housesteads Fort which is a half-mile off route, visited the small museum and watched some excavations for a few minutes. Then we retraced our steps to rejoin the route and head north away from Hadrian’s Wall into Wark Forest. As we approached the forest we started looking to replenish our water ready for camping in the forest and having dehydrated food as our evening meal. We diverted to East Stonefolds but that was derelict and on to West Stonefolds where we found a spring to use before returning back to the path, this was about a mile extra. We walked through the forest until we came to a small isolated walled plantation just before the point marked as Currick on the OS 25k map and camped here at 7pm. It was about 4 miles north of the wall, very windy and rained quite a bit during the night.
Day 13 Walking time 8h, Distance: 15.5 miles, Distance from Edale: 215.5 miles. Extra miles 3.5
Friday 12th July 1974 Wark Forest to Bellingham
It was quite a short day at under 10 miles so we didn’t rush to get going. We packed up and left just after 10am, it was windy but dry and we started with more forest then it opened out to rough pastures. There was a bull with a ring through its nose near Horneystead Farm but fortunately it ignored us and we continued to Ash Farm where we stopped for homemade biscuits and crisps. It started raining while we were there so we sheltered in their stables for a few minutes, it was just after midday and showers continued through the afternoon. Next followed many fields and the odd bit of minor road until we reached the B6320 just south of Bellingham at 2pm and then 20 minutes later we were in Bellingham. We stopped at a cafe down a side street for sausage, beans, chips, bread and butter and a cup of tea (40p), bought a few provisions for the last 2 days and then waited for the youth hostel to open, signed in (63p) and returned to the village centre and The Cheviot for steak pie, veg and chips (45p). Dave and Andy from Coventry joined us in the pub for some banter through the evening. No photos taken.
Day 14 Walking time 4h, Distance: 9.5 miles, Distance from Edale: 225 miles. Extra miles 0.5
Saturday 13th July 1974 Bellingham to Byrness
Breakfast was Beef Goulash and we set off at 9.30am. The ground varied between solid to very soft and waterlogged over Deer Play, Lord’s Shaw then Padon Hill at about 12.20pm. We stopped for a snack at 12.40pm just past Brownrigg Head then it was along semi-surfaced roads through yet more forest to Blakehopeburnhaugh where we filled up with water for the last bit. We sheltered in the public conveniences there and put on full waterproofs, including gaiters and overtrousers, as it was raining again, just as well as the grass along the riverside path was shoulder high and made very wet by the rain. We arrived at the A38 in Byrness at 3.15pm and went into the cafe for beans on toast (20p). Then we walked a half-mile west to the Youth Hostel trying to avoid camping so that we weren’t carrying a wet tent and other gear for the very long last day. Unfortunately, they weren’t allowing anyone in (we later found out that they had someone inside with an unidentified illness and had been told to quarantine the place by the local doctor until they could identify what was going on). We looked for a place to wild camp but couldn’t find anywhere so we went to the campsite (27p each) about a mile east of the PW. Once pitched we walked the mile back to the Byrness Hotel where we met up with Andy and Dave again, finally returning the mile back to our tent in darkness. No photos taken.
Day 15 Walking time 5.75h, Distance: 16 miles, Distance from Edale: 241 miles. Extra miles 4
Sunday 14th July 1974 Byrness to Kirk Yetholm
We packed up and left the campsite at 7.20am and reached the Pennine Way at 7.45am and climbed steeply up through some woods to reach the open hillside above. It was very wet and boggy underfoot. We stopped for a snack at Chew Green Roman Camp about 6 miles into the day. At 11.45am, near Lamb Hill, the clouds came down and it rained for about an hour. After it stopped we had lunch at 1pm on Windy Rig, just after Windy Gyle, and changed to dry socks, hopefully dry for the rest of the day! Just after restarting we came to Border Gate and met a farmer who told us that the Border Hotel opened between 7pm and 10pm on a Sunday – very important information for our final day! The stretch of ridge after King’s Seat until just before Auchope Cairn was very wet and then became a very deep peat bog, eventually we resorted to standing on the bottom wire of the border fence while holding on to the top wire and edging sideways along. As a result we decided to miss the Cheviot diversion as it looked to be a similar deep peat bog and we had run out of water. We managed to replenish our water somewhat at the refuge hut past Auchope Cairn then it was relatively easy going to The Schil. From here it was downhill all the way to Burnhead Farm and along the road into Kirk Yetholm to finish at 6.45pm. We thought that we deserved to stay in a b&b so we booked in to the first one that we saw (the Vale Guest House, £2 each), got cleaned up and changed and went to the pub (Border Hotel) to celebrate. The first thing that we did was to order our pints on Wainwright, unfortunately the money he had left behind the bar (profit from the sale of his guidebook) for everyone completing the Pennine Way was running low so we had to settle for a half-pint on Alfred Wainwright and the barman said that we could have anything we liked as long as it was draught Light Ale. We toasted Wainwright for his fine and entertaining guidebook that helped us walk 268 miles from Edale and then signed the Pennine Wayfarers book. Finally we had something to eat and a few more beers before heading back to the guest house for a well earned rest. We asked for an early morning call so that we could catch the only bus to Kelso. Our landlady said she would knock on the door.
Day 16 Walking time 11h, Distance: 27 miles, Distance from Edale: 268 miles. Extra miles 1.5 -2 miles = -0.5, for not going up Cheviot which was included in Wainwright’s guidebook distance.
Monday 15th July 1974 Kirk Yetholm to Home
We apparently slept through the landlady knocking on our door and eventually woke up at 7.45am. That meant we had to rush to have breakfast and get packed up before the bus to Kelso left at 8.25am. We missed the bus by about 4 minutes, started walking to Kelso and had walked about 3 miles in drizzly rain when we managed to hitch a lift in the back of a Land Rover. The farmer dropped us off on the outskirts of Kelso and we walked the last mile or so to the bus station at 9.50am, in total the lift saved us about 4 miles of walking which was greatly appreciated. The bus for London had already left so we caught the bus to Berwick-Upon-Tweed and bought a train ticket to Stevenage (£7.57 single), arriving there at 7pm. We walked the 2 miles or so to Chris’ house and he gave me a lift to my car at the Frythe, Welwyn (about 10 miles south). My car eventually started and I drove to my parents pub, The Crown in Steeple Claydon, arriving there a bit before 10.30pm.
Extra miles 6
Total miles = 268 + 20 extra miles = 288, average daily total was 17 miles, ignoring the extra miles bit
Total time walked on the Pennine Way = 136h, over 16 days that is an average of 8.5h per day. Our average walking speed was about 2mph.
Finally, over the 16 days we drank 56 pints of beer making it 41 miles to the gallon. We stopped at pubs or hotels 5 times for a lunch break and 11 times at the end of the day. Only on days 4 and 5 did we find one for both a lunchtime break and for the evening.