Day 41: Whitley Pike – Bellingham – Shitlington – Kielder Forrest (another bit) – Hadrian’s Wall – Twice Brewed

23.4 miles – Mostly overcast, strong winds, completely superfluous rain, some sunshine later

The shape of the sycamore tree intrigued me, but I was also glad to have the opportunity to photograph something which wasn’t moorand!

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.

Apparently I’m not the only walker to get dispirited in these parts. I found this discarded boot by the roadside, followed a few yards later by the torn remains of the hiker’s tent…
…and a few yards further on still was where he finally threw the towel in.

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!

The Pennine Way goes through this private garden at Lowstead: follow the way marker to avoid going through the greenhouse.
I loved the vertical bank of Houxty Burn

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.

Armageddon
The beast is awake! I watched it devour this spruce tree in 20 seconds flat.

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.

Four of the beers on offer at The Twice Brewed Inn

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