These runs seem to come round quickly, after the Southdowns Way I was a tad battered, I had cankles and my back was in bits, luckily after a weeks rest all was pretty normal again.
I had opted to drive to my brothers abode in Darlington and from there an early train into Haltwhistle. With kit degrading over the months, I purchased a new summer running top with UV protection built in, the adventure pack needed some adjustment and new straps were added to the existing one to stop them pinching at my collar bone.
We had a slight hot spell and the weather promised to keep settled for my next park. The night before a BBQ and beer provided the pre event fuel and an early night.
As usual sleep was difficult before hand with periodic waking, I tucked into some porridge and a brew before leaving to catch the first train into Haltwhistle.
The journey was a simple affair passing by Durham and Newcastle, arriving at my destination a little after 9am. I threaded my way through the quiet little town, got lost a little and then found my footpath.
The route threaded its way through secluded woodlands and fields with grass higher than my waist, before joining a sleepy country back road I was soon crossing the boundary of park 9. I wandered slowly through a field as cows eyed me intently, they stood stead fast as I moved carefully by, their eyes following me all the way through.
Milecastle 42 stood as a reminder to a more violent time, a gateway to another world, it was a great place to commence my next adventure. I stood for a short time and watched Hadrian’s wall walkers wander past, it seemed odd to start where other walkers were as often im alone at the start. Milecastles were small stone structures set at a Roman mile and there were some 84 along the way. Its not hard to see the correlation with today goings on, a wall, a people scared of another race, restricted migration, it seems the world really hasn’t changed a great deal.
From here I entered into a new world, Cawfield Crags stood imposingly behind me as I headed North merging from fields of grassland to moorland and bogs, I hit my first theoretical path of the journey, the name I’ve now coined for the imaginary green dotted lines on OS maps, which when stood on the ground were mearly figments of some mad office cartographers mind at the OS head quarters.
A couple of mountains bikers rode by on fat bikes (these are mountain bikes with tyres on steroids), their frames laden with the comforts of their own adventure, I passed the comment that they had come the easy way via the road whilst I had opted to trod across open boggy farm land, It was already hot and entering Henshaw Common I was glad of the periodical shade the forest offered.
I usually enjoy the forests, but after miles and miles of the same type of hard forestry track you enter a kind of ground hog day, it becomes a little disorientating and in a way boring, coupled with tracks that were no longer tracks and instead took on nothing more than rough ground I was glad when I emerged from the forest and into the more open landscape of Whygate farm, I took a brief water break by a small stream, wildflowers adorned the banks and swallows swooped low over the water catching their lunch.
Again the paths began to disappear forcing me to cut around the main road a short distance before I was again entering the dense and extensive pine forests of Kielder.
I began following the lines laid out on the OS map but it was quickly apparent they did not exist on the ground, underfoot became a rough boggy scramble through long forgotten routes, the area sang with bird song and the buzzing of the various bugs all heightened by the distinct lack of man made noises. I carried on, dodging broken branches and downed trees as I emerged onto open farmland again before making my way down towards a small river my map indicating a bridge, but as I came to the entrance it was clear that this bridge would not be crossed.
I laughed and tentatively probed its rickety frame with my foot, boards were missing from its base and the whole thing listed uneasily to the right. It reminded me of a scene from an Indiana Jones movie where our hero only just makes it across before the whole thing collapsed into a gorge full of crocodiles.
I crossed using some rocks and stood atop Dally Castle, with photos took, I set off again crossing simple fields and then a rather fancy foot suspension bridge that effortlessly spanned the River Tyne. The bridge at first bounced and then swayed as I crossed, a little unnerved I took a little stop and waited for the bridge movement to subside somewhat, but I was happy to see water below. The temperature now was easily in the mid 20s and despite my Gump cap I was slowly boiling from the inside.
A short section of road, followed by a sharp up hill and then wading through shoulder height bracken I emerged onto camp 1.
Slaty Ford burbled in the stillness of its brook as I consumed water to rehydrate and doused my head with the cooling liquid. The midge began to arrive and so I set about erecting my tent in a small flat area.
As I was inflating my matt a voice rang out from behind, I was a little surprised to see a lady wandering with a full backpack in my direction, we had a brief chat and she reported being slightly off course due to theoretical paths. I offered some navigation advice and off she trotted.
I was surprise to learn that her direction of Howick was some distance to the NorthEast having set off from Newcastle.
I ate and drank, before just laying in the quiet, the midge surrounding me on all side baying for my tasty blood, it was that dramatic 😂.