Monday, 19 November 2018

Long Walks – Balderhead to Great Knipe and the Long Fence

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Last month’s long walk was 20 miles or so in the Cheviot Hills and happily, I was able, with a bit of  cartographic jiggery-pokery to come up with a 20-miler in the North Pennines – a route from Balderhead towards Stainmore on a bridleway, an ascent of Great Knipe, a 515 metre Dewey overlooking the very lovely A66 and a return beside a really long and straight fence which heads towards Cotherstone. The probability of darkness befalling us was catered for by having headlights and torches  and a route which follows the Balderdale road and Pennine Way back to the cars for a few miles. (Probably about four, I think)
LTD was left at home since at least half of the walk is on land prohibited to doggies and, whilst I might have taken the pooch on a less adventurous walk, I didn’t want to be turned back or diverted on this one which might have posed a real problem.
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So, I collected Li Yang from her mountain mansion and we met Diane and David at Balderhead and set off. A phone call half an hour later told us that Ruth was behind us and was catching up – so we waited till she arrived. Happily, this wasn’t a very long wait.
The bridleway to the Cumbria border and beyond is mainly fairly easy walking but gets a bit boggy so we made good time to the intake wall which we crossed by a very slippery and derelict stile into “Troops Training” land and a fine bit of fellwalking overlooking the A66 took us to the summit of Great Knipe. Worra great name for a hill, by the way….
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Here, in the shelter of the summit crag, we took lunch number one. In my case this was a Cooplands chicken pasty and a Cooplands Curd Tart. Cooplands curd tarts are a bit of a treat by the way.
In brightening weather (it had been nithering and foggy up to now) – we sought out the head of The Fence. That is to say, The Long Fence. This is dead straight and goes for miles and miles and miles across heather, tussocks and bog. This is not physically easy walking but is good for the soul. The long hours pass. The mind wanders. Shopping lists are constructed. There’s a nagging worry that somebody might crack and ankle….   We’ve seen nobody else; I could have brouht the dog and feel a bit guilty about that.  In November there are no birds and the only sounds are the passing aircraft and the blasphemy and bad language expleted by those followers who have just gone up to their ankles in a seeping black bog, or suddenly found a deep hole. Somebody behind who’s socks have suddenly become soaked, squeaks a squak of protest. We splosh on. And on.
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After a while, a stony tor appears and this provides relief, a nice view of Shacklesborough and something to think about other than the possible depth of deep sphagnum or the growing pains in the calf muscles. This island of stone and grass and cairns is Crawlaw Currick – the currick being an ancient and well-built drystone obelisk. It strikes me that Crawlaw CDurrick could be an ideal spot for a very peaceful camp-out – there being running water nearby and an extremely small chance of any other walkers passing by – I suspect that nobody comes here for weeks and weeks as it’s well defended by bogs and sheer distance.
A brief interlude of sanity is enjoyed before rejoining The Fence until we reach the Pennine Way at Race Yate. After this we follow a bridleway to the PW Alternative coming up from Bowes and we follow this past some very large and interested moo-cows to Loup’s Hill where, sheltering behind a ruined building, we have Lunch Number Two.
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Lunch Number Two is a Frittata (thats a flan by the way) and a Lidl Apple turnover, washed down with tepid hot filter coffee (strength 4).
It is now officially nithering. A fiercely over-friendly shiver-inducing breeze is blowing in from the approximate direction of Hartlepool, so we move quickly down the hill to Briscoe where we take to the meadows and, as it grows dark, to the road to Clove Lodge where lights are lit.
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The final frenzy is through Hannah’s Meadow and back along the road to Balderhead. This is much, much longer than it was this morning. Clearly there has been some continental drift during the day. It all takes a while.
Diane’s GPS declares that we’ve walked 21 miles. David says this was a harder walk than last week.  Li Yang is talking about the Allendale Challenge.
LTD is not sulking when I get back to Pietowers. LTD doesn’t do sulking and seems to have forgotten his abandonment. He can go on the next one and we have a weekend of guided walks coming up.
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1 comment:

AlanR said...

That’s a fair old walk to be taking on during these times of short day light. Fair play to you guys.