The night was warm and uncomfortable, no sooner was I packing away than the midge appeared in hordes, sporting my new dapper looking midgy net I tried my best to remain bite free, It was a loosing battle as they infiltrated any free space and crawled over my head. I threw my kit into my bag and set off running away from my new mortal enemy.
Once atop Thorneyburn Fell a slight breeze held the midge at bay and I was able to run without fear of being a fast meal. The bracken and heather scoured my lower legs adding to the already frenzied itching I had.
Signs pointed in a general direction of a path, but as was common now the path was more rough ground than path. I came down onto Transet Burn and took the opportunity for a brew and a trek bar for breakfast free of the midge.
This whole area is dotted with remains of fortified farm houses, their purpose to protect against marauding scotts and rievers, small farms and fortified stone buildings stood guard over the surrounding area before I joined a brief road section that inevitably went up hill.
Secluded homes hidden away including the fine Highgreen Manor, a fancy artists retreat. I passed the remains of what appear to be lime kilns and a small run down shack with a large metal bucket poking out of the roof, just over the road was the remains of what looked like an old lime kiln. Not far after this point I joined the Pennine wat for the first time in my journey
Paddon Hill flanked my right, its large conical stone monument noticeable for some distance, I quickly passed by entering Brownrigg Head where the path took a turn for the worse, in an effort to reduce erosion a rocky substance has been placed on the ground, its sharp dark and angular shapes made for an uncomfortable running surface, to add to the misery here, the forestry commission had clear felled a large swath of land, it was truly a scene of desolation, so far I was a little underwhelmed with the majority of my route and this just added to the feeling of disappointment I was having.
The place was interspersed with a smattering of wildlife, deer jumped and froliced ahead of me as hares suddenly startled by my presence ran from the undergrowth and onto safety. Paths came and went with many simply fading into undergrowth forcing me to take short detours around the areas, to avoid bloodied legs and ticks.
I dropped down into Blakehopburnhaugh (yes it took me awhile to write that) the map marking loos, but on arrival they were firmly locked. I decided a brew and a snack would suffice instead, I took up position under a bridge as farmers went by, before starting out on the Pennine way again. The path threaded along a quiet burbling stream and towards Cottonshopeburnfoot, a campsite passed appeared advertising camping for Penninway walkers only, being only 11:30am it was to early to stop and so on I trundled.
The river gave way to an open pine forest, the trees given space were magnificently tall and proud, small clearings of mossy green shone brightly in the mid day sun. I caught the sound of a large bird of prey, its distinctive call echoing through the forest, suddenly it appeared swooping across the foreground and perching itself in a branch, keenly watching me, as I passed the noise continued and I became aware that it was in fact sqaurking at me, it swooped low over my head, making its warning noise as it ushered me from its realm.
I was glad to exit away from the moody bird and a short gravel path emerged onto a busy road and the fantastic little St Francis church built in 1793, the cars zipped by at alarming speeds but I safetly cross the road and continued to follow the Pennine way, a sign announced Chew Green 4 miles, with the time so early and distance left so little it was to early to be setting a wild camp, my shin was now in full blown ‘don’t make me walk any further’ mode, a quick call and I was taking up a tent pitch at the lovely camp site I had earlier passed.
With £8 paid, I laid my wet tent out in the sun to dry before putting it up and climbing onto my matt at 12pm, I chuckled at my early stop, but with just 25 miles left I was ok with this, I dozed and rested my shin before grabbing a shower, the only thing to hand was a tub of carex hand wash. It worked and I felt better for it.
I dozed through the day and early evening, taking moments to eat food and rehydrate, swallows visited the field and again provided a free aerial show as the carried out their acrobatics. Today was a good day, earlier boring tracks seemed to be giving way to more beautiful terrain and tomorrow’s route could be seen from my resting spot.