Thursday 19 July 2007

Durham, Cumbria + Northumberland: Keld - Jedburgh [11th-19th July]

[Update 8]

After the highest pub in England, some more rolling bog and sprigs of heather, we were in Durham. We passed through Cumbria briefly where the rivers and waterfalls were amazing in full force. Friday 13th we all had sore feet from the bog, including Daisy's paws, so she had to go in Will's rucksack for 2 days. Cross Fell was our highest point of the trip at 893m and also the coldest so far, with no view and plenty of rain. Although we did see a flock of birds doing their 'Carlsberg' thing, like a swarm of bees.
We had a cold shelter in Greg's Hut where dried fruit couldn't quite hit the spot, but Rachel's hip flask of brandy warmed our cockles :). A fast march and some silly jokes later we were down.

Alston was a 'memorable' place with a post apocalyptic scrapyard and campsite. Jonathon's dad joined us here briefly, and treated us to the Worsley family specialty of sausages and shared some interesting facts about storing eggs while backpacking :). We bought yet more warmer clothing here, weighty but we couldn't face the damp cold anymore.

The sun came out for Will's birthday on the 15th and we reached Hadrian's Wall where we treated ourselves to a midgy pub meal (Daisy keeps us outside), but it was heaven. There at the 'Roam n Camp' site we met Terry, shortly to turn 71, who lives in a horse drawn cart and doing the Pennine Way for the sixth time. The nice lady there gave Daisy some food enabling her to recover enough for more walkies. After more bulls, bog and a barbed wire fence we arrived late at Bellingham, after 21 miles.

A nice day off followed and we stuffed ourselves with BBQ food after trying in vein to clean our socks and soothe our sore feet. We also finally met another end to ender, Tom, so we shared experiences as we were going in different directions. The next day to Byrness was even boggier and ended with midges from hell (apparantly worse than Scotland, but we'll have to see). At the first and last cafe in England we bid farewell to Terry and headed up more boggy forests, but some stunning dewy views of the Cheviots.

When we reached the Scottish border we had to sadly leave our Pennine Way walking companions who had kept our spirits up, made us laugh and shared backpacking syles (the laid back one is really contagious). Watching them go off in the distance to even boggier hills and a free half pint at Kirk Yetholm as they had completed the whole Pennine Way, we felt strangely vulnerable and alone as we had to head NE to Jedburgh.
Although I've probably painted a bleak, boggy Pennine Way, it has by far been the best part of the trip so far, no doubt because of the interesting people we've met along the way.

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