This time I did - nearly - follow the a Nuttall guidance, starting as they recommend where the road running south from Garrigill turns to a track at a cattle grid, or rather two tracks, as it forks here. I took the right fork past the sad ruin of Cocklake Farm and followed the long bridleway south. This has had some money spent on it of late and is in the process of being freshly tarred. A long walk south past the Gilbert Ward sculpture marking the source of the South Tyne leads eventually to the bridge over the River Tees a tributary of which is followed towards a great Dun Fell: Trout Beck - I wonder how many Trout Becks there are in England. The nice freshly tarred route soon veers off south away from the bridleway which now soon degenerated into a pretty rough, sometimes hard to make out, path. Slowly Great Dun Fell gets nearer and eventually the poor path links up with another tarred road which climbs to the radar station from Knock. Some masochistic cyclists passed as I joined this, not far from the end of their day’s challenge. I trudged up the road the the summit and spend a while admiring all the technological paraphernalia as well as the splendid view.
The next few miles follow the Pennine Way over its highest section to the trig point and stone wind shelter on top of Cross Fell then down and past Greg’s Hut and onto Backstone Edge. Here the Nuttall route makes a detour to collect Bullman Hills but I was getting a bit tired and thought I’d skip that and stuck to the Pennine Way to the point where a handy Land Rover track leads up onto the broad ridge of Long Man Hill. Shortly before I took this turn I was passed by a friendly young man with an enormous rucksack who was doing the whole thing. The afternoon was getting on by now but he meant to make it all the way to Alston where he was quite excited at the prospect of one of the Pennnine Way’s rare opportunities to visit a shop. Up the track onto Long Man Hill I went before striking north on pathless ground to find the tiny summit cairn. I then did as the Nuttalls’ book directs and headed off east over more pathless ground looking out for the row of grouse butts they direct their readers to follow. After descending a bit. It turns out the Land Rover track off the Pennine Way onto Long Man Hill which on my map peters out after a few hundred meters actually carries on down into the valley of Cross Gill where I picked it up and to my pleasant surprise followed it all the way to the fence on the north ridge of Round Hill. A quick visit to another microscopic cairn then back down the same ridge until the ruin of Cocklake came into view not too far below me. I headed straight for it and so home to my car and my b&b via another nice bar supper in the Nent Hall Hotel.
The Nuttalls book suggests doing The Dodd, Killhope Law and Middlehope Moor as a single long walk from Killhopehead Bridge. I have been a wus and done them as three little walks, Middlehope Moor as a short walk from the B6295, The Dodd as a stroll from the road to the south. Today I completed the three. I git to my b&b, Hill Top - which claims to be Britain’s highest - around 5 and reckoned it would be a nice early evening stroll before dinner. The obvious way up from this side is by the Carrier’s Way path which states opposite the Mining Museum. But having gained all this height driving up to Hill Top I thought I would just go straight up from there. It was quite rough going. Especially as first crossing some terrain that was till recently the woodland marked on my OS map just above Hill Top but has now all been felled. After that I headed for the ridge playing join the dots with endless white grit box marker poles and was soon on the summit. This was marked till recently by a great big 30ft wooden pole but I found this lying on the ground having clearly been defeated by the weather. The descent seemed much quicker an easier than the ascent and I was soon in the Nent Hall Hotel eating my dinner.
I was in Helsinki - lucky me - and thought a little walk would be nice. Happily I had a lovely Finnish friend to advise me. I won’t try to improve on her directions so here is what she emailed me: « The place I suggested to you for a nature walk is called Uutela. To get there take the metro to Vuosaari, walk pass a high tower building towards the sea, turn left and walk along the beach (great for swimming!) to cafe Kampela, which is the starting point of the nature trails. Here’s a link to a map of the area with some suggested walking routes. The light blue one is a favourite of mine. https://citynature.eu/en/location/uutela/?section=services. » I followed these directions easily enough (but without the swimming) as far as the cafe whose owner made up in friendliness what he lacked in fluency in English.
Then I sort of wandered, basically doing a circuit of the beautiful woodland peninsula anticlockwise. I had no map more detailed than the very sketchy one linked to above so I can’t really describe my route the more so as I learned to late that the way marking for the colour coded routes only really works if you go clockwise. There is a maze of paths and I tried to stay close to the shore to enjoy the glorious views over the water. The whole area is not public and there is some private residential ground on which I fear I intruded from time to time. ‘Private ! No tessspassing! Keep out!’ Said various signs in Finnish which I only knew the meanings of later when I shared my pictures with Finnish. But I don’t think I bothered anyone and nobody shot me or set their dogs on me.
I parked by Cow Green Reservoir, a lovely , remote spot. South on a track to the dam where the track goes down to cross the nascent River Tees and the track joins the Pennine Way. On throgh Birkdale Farm where invisible dogs howled at me. THe map shows a path branching off towards Maize Beck. THere is an MOD flagpole where this starts - flag down today! - but any path is extremely ontologically precarious. Fording Maize Beck was tricky but not too bad. From here there is a vestigial path to follow on the tedious fence follow that leds to the summit plateau of the Big Hill. Between here and the Wee Hill is some pretty rough-looking terrain but a nice person has made a land rover track that deviates a bit to the right but is very easy to follow. (At one point it hits a gradient I imagine would be rather terrifying for whoever is driving the land rover.) Then back to the mid point of Big and Wee and tediously back down over rough ground to Maize Beck and so home. THe dogs at Birkdale were quiet this time.
The Nuttalls suggest collecting Three Pikes, Great Stony Hill, Harwood Common, Burnhope Seat and Dead Stones in one big circuit. But I am a less efficient hill-bagger than John and Anne N. are. I was here last year in very wintery conditions and was happy then just to collect Three Pikes and Great Stony. So back again today for the other three. No snow today but very cold and towards the end of the walk a little hail. I was wearing gloves at one point, not a common occurence in May. The car park I used before at the north end of the Burnhope Reservoir Dam seems no longer to be working as a car park with a sign forbidding entry to vehicles but there was space enough by the roadside close at hand. There is a good path, not shown on the OS map, going along the north side of the reservoir and a bridge – two in fact – going across the river at the other end. From here looking at the map there seems to be a way to follow tracks up to just east of the top of Scauld Hill. On the ground it didn’t quite seem to work. Good tracks did take me up to where the map shows a track following a stream called Crooked Sike but this more or less petered out on me. From here I could make out the grouse butts marked on the map a little to the west so I headed up that way. It was rough going, mostly pathless, occasionally something vestigial . Approaching the top I did find the track again as it crossed the fence that follows the broad ridge between Great Stony Hill and its western neighbours.
From this point on the game was one of following a fence along more or less pathless - again occasionally something vestigial- boggy ground. But not too boggy, nowhere near as horrific as I recall Three Pikes to have been. The top of Scauld Hill is bang on the line of the fence. The top of Harwood Common is a short walk to the south of it. The trig point of Burnhope Seat is slightly to the right of it. The Nuttalls are happy enough that this is the top but – oh no! – I discovered only afterwards that the hillbagging website disagrees and claims there is a higher spot a bit over to the west. Now my conscience must struggle. Can I claim the bag or must I visit it again? Ayway on I went, following the fence north to Dead Stones whose name could be a Joy Division track. Is quite a bleak spot maybe but not that bleak, decorated with a massive cairn on its summit. I was now following the Nuttall route so my next destination was the trig point on Highwatch Currick, another long bogtrot along a pathless fenceline. From the trig point the Nuttalls direct us to pick up a track (not on map) and follow it to where it turns left through a fence, at which point leave it and head downhill towards a corrugated iron building where another track leads quickly to the road near the dam. Slightly confusingly there are to such buildings in view. You want the one on the right. These are little visited hills. I met just two people the whole way on a May Bank Holiday weekend. But once a busy working landscape and still peppered with a few open, sometimes unfenced, mineshafts, something to be careful of, especially if walking alone.
Another Donkin walk on the Pennine Way linking the Lambley and Thirlwall Castle walk which I did last February and the South Tyne and Alston walk which I did yesterday. This is a similar deal, South Tyne Trail one way, Pennine Way the other. I parked at Slaggyford Station where I also had a cup of tea in the Buffet Car, a small very basic tea ship which is also a – not very mobile – buffet car. Then down the railway line footpath to Kirkhaugh, picking up the Pennine Way where I left it yesterday. From here to Lintley the Way is a field path which lots of sheep to meet. Then it goes under the viaduct back to the east of the railway and becomes a riverside path along the bank of the Tyne back to Slaggyford. There were places hereabout that might be tempting spots for a swim.
North of Slaggyford the Way follows the South Tyne Trail – no longer a railway now – for a bit then branches off, through the policies of Merry Knowe Farm. then follows fields to the crossroad at Burnstones. Now it climbs up onto the moors to the west and follows them north, picking up the line of the Maiden Way, a Roman Road. Rather lovely up here. Near Lambley I left it and crossed some fields into the village. (By one of these odd footpaths which goes right through somebody’s garden.) From the village a path leads down to the viaduct where some incoveniently situated private property means the South Tyne Trail walker must descend to the foot of the viaduct and then climb laboriously back to the top almost at once. Again a very straightforward walk down the Trail and I was back at my car.
This is another of the Donkin Pennine Way circular walks. I parked in the middle of Alston and headed off down the Natrass Gill path which comes off the main street just where the Weardale and Teesdale roads branch apart. This path rather shadows the Pennine Way which runs parallel just a short way to the west. Indeed towards the end approaching Bleagate Farm past Woodstock I strayed a bit to the west of the path and found myself joining the Pennine Way early bypassing the Bleagate farmyard. Then back north to Alston a bit nearer the river – I saw a red squirrel hereabouts – until a woodland path brought me back into the town by the bridge over the Tyne. Crossing the bridge leads to the edge of the village where there is a war memorial and another branching of roads as the A689 to Brampton joins the A686 to Carlisle.
The Pennine Way here heads past a house and over fields to join the drive of Harbut Lodge and meet the A689 again, then climb up the other side and make its way north for a bit up on the moors passing the old Roman fort of Epiacum (Whitely Castle). You know you are passing Epiacum because there is an information board. There is not a lot else to see. Here the Pennine Way coincides with one of many lesser known walking trails, Isaac’s Tea Trail names after an itinerant tea seller Isaac Holden – the more famous Isaac Holden, the Scottish inventor, industrialist and parliamentarian was his cousin. The ways part at Kirkhaugh, problematically for the Tea Trail which crosses the Tyne here using a bridge which, some signage advised me, is not currently in working order. Donkin has alternative routes back to Alston from here. One relies on the defunct bridge. The other simply follows the railway along a path which he describes as “uncomfortably narrow”. I guess it has been improved since his book came out as the description fails to match reality and I walked the last two or three miles back in perfect comfort.
I parked at the Geltsdale Nature Reserve car park just south of Clesketts. A track continues south past a cottage at Tortie and a bunch of cottages at Howgill. Here I went left and then right to pick up the Bruthwaite trail which leads to a viewpoint some way below the ridge between Currick and Cold Fell. The track carries on towards Currick but I left it to cross the Howgill Beck just above a waterfall. From here it is a rough bogtrot on pathless ground to the summit where there is a trig point a cairn and a rough shelter. A path heads NE towards Currick. Perhaps if one went this way one could have a path underfoot the whole time but I cut the corner returning more directly to the Bruthwaite viewpoint and so home.
There is a very narrow little road that climbs out of Eskdale Green past a school to end at a car park in Miterdale. This is where I began. Plan: to cross a bridge and turn left on forestry tracks that would lead me through the Miterdale Forest and onto Irton Fell. But once over the bridge and about to enter the forest I met signs. Forestry workings. No access to affected areas. See area covered red on this map. Bollocks. This was not going to work. The route I planned would quickly take me into the area coloured red on this map. If I went straight up through a field I saw I could pick up a higher track but using this would still take me through the area coloured red on this map. But I saw that if I climbed straight up even further through another field I would access a yet higher track that would open up a possible route that would avoid the area coloured red. So , Plan B, I went for this, eventually reached the higher track in question and turned right to follow it. Almost at once I met a sign. Forestry workings. No entry. Go away. I guess it is a mistake too firmly to believe the forestry people and their maps. So I had a think and I thought, OK, Plan C, if instead of turning right I turn left I will soon come to the edge of the forest and I can climb what looks to be pathless ground alongside it to read the col between Irton Fell and Whin Rigg. So that is what I did. Actually Plan C turned out pretty good. Turned out the way up alongside the forest’s edge to the NE is not pathless, a friendly wee path took me nicely up towards the col. Indeed I would recommend Plan C even for days when there is no tree felling to make problems for plans A and B.
So up I went to the top of Whin Rigg where various little nodules might be the top so I visited the couple most likely seeming to be sure. Then on, on to Illgill Head which looks on the map like it must be a delightful ridge walk and , as it turned out, is a delightful ridge walk, not least in in this glorious April sunshine. From here a path goes steeply but straightforwardly down to the spacious area of ground that is the col between Illgill Head and Scafell. It is Scafell that dominates the scene as I followed a clear path south to pass the beautiful and lovely Burnmoor Tarn on the east. Burnmoor Lodge, I thought as I approached, looked derelict but as I got closer I saw a man at work there. Someone is doing the place up. I lost the path around here and it was a bit of trudge over rough moorland to get myself ensconsed in the upper reached of Miterdale. This is turns out is a place of great solitude and beauty and it was a joy walking down it back to the car.
The presence of a trig point and thes testimony of Wainwright mean that everyone uposes the tgoip of Mujncaster Fell to be Hooker Crag at SD112984. Rather it is the slightly higher bummp on the ridge a bit along to the northeast at 116987. On an earlier visit in June 2017 I made just this mistake so today I strolled back up from the big car park by Muncaster Castle and corrected it.