Monday, 21 July 2008

Day 13

Day 13 on the Pennine Way was a big day, I pushed harder and further than any other day on the walk to cover the 25 miles from Bellingham to Byrness, it was this or walk to Byrness and stay the night there and have even further to walk the next day. With me now being tentless I had to reach the shelter of a mountain refuge hut on Lamb Hill. At breakfast that morning I met a couple of men also walking the way although I'd never seen them before until they came to stay at the same B&B as myself. We left around the same time but they had some shopping to do so I was out of town before them and never met up again that day. The day passed off pretty uneventful except for the usual struggle over sodden ground under ever threatening skies. All morning was spent walking over mile after mile of wild boggy moorland, this was follow by a long stretch of forest on a good track which was very welcome as I still had 15 miles to go. At the end of the forest walk was Byrness and the start of the Cheviot Hills. The climb out of the village was a desperate affair up a steep slippery slope clad with pine trees at the top of which I collapsed and rested a while, eat some chocolate for energy and took a drink before setting off on the last 8 mile leg of the day, the time was 4:30 pm, I'd been walking since 8:30 am and there was still another 4 hours of walking to be done through a vast boggy wilderness. The track was easy to follow so that was a relief and once on the hill it would be hard to lose your way as in the main you had to follow the border fence between England and Scotland although there was a little detour to the Roman camps at Chew Green. Last time I was this way I pitched my tent at Chew Green, this time thought I had no tent so had to press on. It was absolutely bouncing it down with rain by this time, it looked like it had set in for the night, all around took on a gloomy feeling as I plodded on getting ever closer to my destination. I reached the hut at just after 8:30 pm, the rain had just about stopped, not that it really mattered now as I was well and truely wet. I phoned home to let them know I'd arrived okay and then had something to eat, after which I turned in for the night. There were no bunks in the hut, just wooden benches so I rolled out my mat on one of these and tried as best I could to get some sleep. It was uncomfortable and the whole night was spent fighting off the cold which was made worse by my wet clothing. I'd abandoned my sleeping back along with my tent. I thought that three layers of clothing on a night in mid summer would be plenty to keep me warm, especially in a hut as well but apparently not. It was a long night, one of those nights when you feel that you haven't slept a wink but I obviously did.

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