Pennine Way 21st-29th July

Posted by: Alan F

Pennine Way 21st-29th July - 08/09/17 12:00 PM

Finally got round to wrting up this summers PW walk. A fast PW southbound walk has been on my bucket list for several years, after failing halfway through illness in 2012,and halfway through disintegrating feet in 2013.After a cold and wet 3 day West Highland Way in 2015,and first autumn storm wrecked SW Coast Path 2015,finally got the enthusiasm together to give it a third try this summer.Train and bus up to Kirk Yetholm for an afternoon start.BBC weather forecast was for an abyssmal Saturday and Sunday,but a good week thereafter,which I foolishly believed, so carried on!.

Friday 21st July Kirk Yetholm-Byrness 27 miles
13.15-21.55 Walkng time 8 hours 20 min.One of the finest ridge walks in England,despite some mist and rain over the Cheviot summit,the rest was clear,although very windy. After seeing several PW finishers before the Schil, I met nobody else all the way to Byrness.Wild camped up by the river for the night.

Saturday 22nd July Byrness - Once Brewed 34 miles
06.40 - 18.40 Walk time 11 hours 10mins.The rain started just as I packed up the tent,so it was a no stops walk throught to Bellingham,where the rain eased off.Very wet going over the hills here,paddling through water in places.The afternoon south of Bellingham was quite pleasant, although some appalling boggy sections through the Wark Forest.At Once Brewed,I could see a massive rainstorm approaching,so dashed to take refuge in the pub there.Had been aiming for Greenhead,but decided to camp up on the Once Brewed campsite for the night (9), and use their drying room.

Sunday 23rd July Once Brewed - Gregs Hut 36 miles
07.20 - 21.00 13 hours 35 min.A pleasant walk along the Roman Wall and south from Greenhead, meeting the days Alston starters.The rain started lunchtime,and after food restock at Alston,it was getting heavier. Decided to aim for Gregs Hut as Dufton was too far,but climbing up the long drag after Garrigill the rain and wind just got much stronger. The last three miles up to the Hut were hell,going into gale force wind and rain,getting blown over several times.Finally made the hut,surprising another occupant,Paul from Stafford, who had abandonned two hours earlier,which was good for company. Sleep proved difficult with the noise of wind and rain on the window, and being apprehensive about tackling the Cross Fell range the next morning.

Monday 24th Gregs Hut - Middleton 27 miles
08.15 - 20.35 11 hours 15mins.A lateish start waiting for the rain to ease,but still thick mist and wind, and with the cold overnight temperature overnight, nothing had dried out, so it was wet gear back on,but warmed up going up to Cross Fell summit fast,and successfully navigating across the plateau.WEather improved by afternoon and the evening was pleasantly sunny,for a beatiful walk down Teesdale,with all the waterfalls in full spate.Restocked at Middleton Co-op,then walked a mile up the hill,for a lovely wild camp overlooking Teesdale.

Tuesday 25th July Middleton - Hawes 33 miles
06.45 - 20.15 Net 12 hours 30 mins.Finally a summers day,and by late morning it was the only T shirt and shorts day,although the going either side of Baldersdale and Sleightholme Moss were still very boggy underfoot and slow.Stopped for food and drink in the sun at Tan Hill and Keld cafe,before a nice evening over Great Shunner Fell with fine clear views.Passed two Australians before the summit,who had taken all day on their first walking day to get there from Hawes, and said they would stop in the first hotel they reached in Muker/Thwaite! Camped up in the Gayle campsite (7),but the (in)convenience shop in Hawes for food have already shut up shop at 6pm.Still, fish and chip shop was good.

Wednesday 26th July Hawes - Malham 28 miles
08.20 - 20.25 Net 10 hours 50mins.Had to wait for the shops to open up.More foul weather today,driving wind and rain,and forward progress slow and difficult all the way to Horton,where I took refuge in the Peny Gent cafe for food and drying out.Dried out after 3pm,but still very windy over Peny Gent and Fountains Fell,and the path into Malham Cove is a real obstacle course and very slow going.Camped up at the Cove site,just getting the tent up before the next set of evening rainstorms hit.

Thursday 27th July Malham - Pack Horse Inn 31 miles
07.15 - 20.40 Net 12 hours 10 mins. Just the hourly heavy shower to contend with today, and there were many northbounders passed around the Lotherdale area.No shops in Malham, so it had to be Gargrave Co-op for a food restock.After so much rain Ickornshaw Moor was pretty tough,witha couple of miles of paddling needed.Came down from Top Withins to wild camp in the little valley south of the Pack Horse Inn,just by the stream,very nice.

Friday 28th July Pack Horse Inn - Crowden 31 miles
06.45 - 20.50 Net 12 hours 40 mins.First stop was Aladdins Cave in Colden for a last food restock possible southbound. The farm and shop here is up for sale,so after 40 years,this may not be available in the future.Long slow drag in and out of the Calder Valley,then the first reservoir south of Stoodley Pike has a extra 3/4mile diversion east side through a linear bog, all to avoid a 50 yard buiding site at the reservoir south end.If I did this again, I would ignore the diversion,and just drop 50 yards down the grass slope to avoid it.Stopped off at the White Hors Inn for lunch,by which time the rain had started.Blackstone Edge and Standedge were hell,driving wind and rain, and getting blown over again.Wessendne valley was quite sheltered,but on reaching the Wessenden Head road at 18.00, the rain was torrential. I though I could fly down to Crowden in about an hour and half,but hit the flash flooding problem on approaching Black Hill.First stream had stepping stones under three foot of water,and unjumpable at twelve foot wide,and flowing fast.So,it was a difficult scramble upstream to get a safe crossing point.The final climb up Black Hill was like walking up a river,and once over the summit,it was just one swollen river and stream after another,everyone needing a climb and scramble upsream to safely cross.There were several times here, after 40 years mountain walkng,where I thought I may not get out of this situation safely.This all cost way over an hour, and by the time I got to the Crowden campsite around nine, I was a completely sodden exhausted mess.Got the tent up and stuffed most gear in the drying room,but very apprehensive about my state for the next morning, and the ability to finish if the weather stayed the same.

Saturday 29th July Crowden - Edale 16 miles
06.45 - 12.50 Net 6 hours 05min. A dry cloudy morning fortunately, although still windy.The final morning with climbs over Bleaklow and Kinder were not surpringly done at a slow pace.As the wind was so strong along Kinder Edge,I chose the classic direct route over Kinder from the downfall,but would'nt advise it southbound as the Grindsbrook desecent is so slow and rocky.Finally made the Nags Head finish,and a welcome pint, to just dip under the 8 days total,in 7 days,23 hours 35 mins,which was the target,as I think a sub-7 is beyond me now,even with good weather. Back home by train late afternoon.Took a good two weeks to recover from this,with slow weekly 5k park runs for the next three weeks!
Kit list I took was as follows, being about 11 pounds before food and water going in:
30 litre rucksack,bin liner for sack,sleeping bag 600g 1 season,1 metre Karrimat,tent 3 pounds,plastic bowl, Spork,2 0.5 litre water bottles,2 Footprint maps,compass,mobile, tin opener,soap,razor,toothbrush/paste,Nivea,Heel balm,Vaseline,toilet paper,spare shorts,technical T-shirt,polyester jumper top,spare marathon socks,dried milk powder,4 days muesli cereal,Zero 1 tablets. Wore off the start Asics Goretex trail shoes,two pair socks,tracksuit trousers,briefs,Helly Hansen thermal top,full lenghth hooded cagoule,peaked cap.Everything got used with the spare marathon socks on the very wet days as the toe box does not rub at all.I put Nivea and Heel Balm on my feet each night, and Vaselined my toes each morning,so did'nt get any foot damage or blisters.
Being the third attempt,I was determined to finish, although there were several mornings I was ready to chuck it in.Had I had a honest BBC weather forecast for the week, I would probably have postponed and not even started, but very pleased now to have finished.
So, with walking time days rain of 1/6/8/1/0/7/3/8/0 = 34 hours out of 99 hours walikng, can anyone beat a 35% rain content!!
Posted by: Harland

Re: Pennine Way 21st-29th July - 08/09/17 01:07 PM

Thankfully I can't beat your 35% rain! I usually walk my LDPs in April time and to date I have always been very lucky with the weather. You did well to complete the walk so many congratulations, at the start of my 1st LDP, the Pennine Way, a guy said to me that whether you complete it or not is in the head, excepting injury.

Very sorry to hear that May's shop (Aladdin's Cave) is up for sale, lets hope that the new owner will continue with the wonderful and friendly service she provides.