26th May 2018
Weather: Sunny and windy. Comfortably warm.
Instead of the Pennine Way, I followed the South Tyne Trail, an old railway track, to Haltwhistle. This cuts off 6.5 miles and 500m ascent compared to PW via Greenhead. Very easy walking on good tracks and gentle gradients. Much of it was tree-lined. The only difficulties were firstly at Slaggyford, where the big-boys’ toy railway had been extended, and the renovated station swallowed the walking route with no signage indicating where to go. My first barbed wire fence traverse for a while. Secondly at Lambley Viaduct: a notice on a pole with an apology from the Ordnance Survey for marking the footpath directly across the viaduct. Instead there was a descent, under the viaduct, then an ascent with steps back onto the viaduct, all to avoid a house and garden.
Delighted to find that the Alston Arches viaduct across the river to Haltwhistle was accessible. Arrived Haltwhistle at 14:30, a dawdle for supplies. A little-used local footpath made me pay in nettle stings & thistle-pricks. Perhaps the JOG trail will be like this.
Then some uphill and across moorland, with the Hadrian’s wall ridge visible. Probably a boggy route normally, the map telling me the area was full of old Roman camps. Finally reaching The Sill: a thoroughly modern new YHA building replacing the one called Once Brewed. A massive complex alongside a visitor centre. Apparently “the same footprint” as the old hostel and same number of beds, according to hostel manager.
A large picture on the hostel wall with a landscape of the wall-ridge, the words of a D.H. Lawrence poem split into fragments across it
“I know no greater delight than the sheer delight of being alone.
It makes me realise the delicious pleasure of the moon
that she has in travelling by herself: throughout time,
or the splendid growing of an ash-tree
alone, on a hillside in the north, humming in the wind.”
Lots of families. Shared 4-bed dorm with one person who was a “window closed” person. That usually has me waking up with a headache, and so it did.
South Tyne River just North Alston
Important border crossing
Gilderdale looking NE to Kirkside Wood
Underneath the (Lambley) arches
Dubious claims department in Haltwhistle
Looking back SW over Haltwhistle
The Hadrian’s wall ridge