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Monday, 30 March 2009

South Tyne Trail

Maggie did take me to Tynehead and dumped me in the middle of nowhere. There’s gratitude for all that washing up. I was forced to walk….

So I wandered up the road from my dumping-spot on Tynehead Fell just as far as the source of the River South Tyne. Here there is a kind of statue thingy. It has a hole in it and you’re supposed to look through the hole and see the part where the first spring of water squirts out. You can cheat and look round the side. It’s a good idea to have a little drink as the water is pure and clean and not at all what you might expect from the River Tyne.

And so, I began at 20+ mile downhill walk. The section to Garrigill is, in my opinion, the very best part of this walk, with waterfalls and minerals and fine retrospective views. But we’ve done it all before in this blog…. And so, repetitively, and with the first spring lambs dozing in the warm sunshine (despute the snow on the hill and the icicles and so on…) I arrived at Garrigill.

I called in at the village hall here because the local ladies were having a tea room day and were selling tea and teasted toe cakes and some rather exciting spicy soup.

Meanwhile, outside, the local sproglings were amusing themselves by almost bursting in to the “café” with shouts and squeals, and then running away. I’m not sure if they were aware of just how little notice anybody was taking.

Also taking place outside was a dramatic showdown between two of Garrigill’s tom cats. They were swearing at each other and looking unconcerned at the same time – and moving ever-so-slowly…..

I was going to drink beer in Alston, but the hour was late and I pressed on and found a nice, discreetish campsite with a good water supply quite nearby and settled in for whisky, cream of chicken soup, whisky, lancashire hotpot, whisky, chocolate sponge pud and whisky. I had a settled night following an extra small libation or nightcap.....

In the morning a shepherd was doing his rounds close by and a woodpecker was pecking some wood. Nice.

I lazed for a while, had me bacon and beanz and toddled off northwardsly.

I have to say that the Northern half of the South Tyne trail itself is a bit dull, it being an ex-railway line and all that. There is the viaduct at Lambley which is impressive and possibly the reason why the line went bust, and there’s the Wallace Arms which sells all kinds of delicious real beer. Apart from that, the interest lays off-route. There’s the new lambs of course, but also there’s always the river – growing at each turn and quickly becoming a proper big river, and there’s fortified farmhouses, peles and castles (this is proper Border country which was lawless for quite a while) and lapwings , curlews, oyster catchers, snipe and all kinds of small and occasionally colourful small birds.

Then, with a final viaduct over the Tyne at Haltwhistle, its all over. Tea and more soup at the Pillar Box café (has a pillar box outside) then the train back to Durham and bus to sunny Crook.

I’d wanted to do this route since having my cardiac thing a couple of years ago. It was to be a test. I climbed Penyghent and Cosh Knott instead. This time, I did it just cos I had a couple of spare days…


Martin Rye said...

Garrigill is a nice place. The George, (or was it Green?) and Dragon if I recall was a good pint on the Pennine Way. It had one of those three dimensional maps of the North of England on the wall.

I stayed in a B&B there. Nice American Lady who did Lama trekking up on Cross Fell! Looked a nice walk Mike. Any clues to the wildcamp spot?. Might come in handy for future trips.

mike knipe said...

..certainly something about Dragons. There's a bit of a kerfuffle in Garrigill at the moment about the pub. The landlord seems to have upset the villagers and refuses to open most of the time. There's some limited opening, but don't rely on a pint there if coming off the PW full of thirsty!
There's a few wild camping spots along the STT. There's a bunch of places, also quite handy for the Pennine Way. If you need to know where they are, I'll tell you, but not on here! I get the impression, though that South of Alston, the locals mostly wouldn't be too fussed... (Note to Scots reading this - this isn't Scotland y'know... we have to be discreet soemtimes!)