23.4 miles – Mostly overcast, strong winds, completely superfluous rain, some sunshine later
In deference to my readers, I have tried keep these posts fairly upbeat; however there comes a point at which the historian must come clean.
Hence I have to admit that this morning I packed my tent away, freezing in the perishing wind. But that was the least of it. I seldom walk in comfort for long. There’s a recurring stabbing pain in my left shoulder and another near my left hip (I suspect caused by trapped nerves). I spend much of each day adjusting my rucksack to try and get comfortable, or at least bearable – usually afternoons aren’t too bad. But this morning was the worst – there was just nothing to do but put up with it.
So I growled into bellingham – and found the delightful Fountain Cottage cafe, where I consumed two great wedges of sweet cake and four thick, terra cotta mugfuls of tea, after which I perked up. (I was so impressed that when I asked for ‘a large pot of strong tea’ I got just that.) And strange to say, after getting back on the trail, I felt no more pain for hours!
Back in Kielder Forest I encountered Armageddon. Storm damage had devastated untold square miles of forestry, and the Pennine way was completely blocked. I clambered over the battlefield, where the fallen still lay, and past great beasts of machines which were removing the injured, and I finally got through.
I found the perfect camping pitch, in sheltered woodland, by a lake; it was so hard to decide, but eventually I opted for The Twice Brewed Inn, where I found six handpumps delivering beer brewed in the pub’s brewery next door, a vast plateful of roast lamb, and where the landlord offered that I pitch my tent in the pub garden. So I think I made the right choice. But it’s been a long, exhausting walk – the longest mileage of the trek to date.