Day 14 - September 15th 2004

Alston to Greenhead - 18 miles


As always seemed to be the case, I did not sleep as well last night as I would have wished. A non scientific theory is that the high from finishing the tough day carries over and makes for a restless sleep. Anyway, I woke still feeling pretty good. The lovely day might have had something to do with it. After a good breakfast, I kitted out and went back to where I had left Brian yesterday. Unfortunately, he was not there. After a bit, I found him waiting for me at the bridge over the South Tyne and off we went. While the sun was shining, the breeze made it cool and I wore my fleece for a time. After about fifteen minutes, Steve caught us up and we three finished the rest of the Way together.

There is not a lot to be said of this day’s walk. The weather was good, the scenery really quite pretty and there was little up and down since most of the walk was in the South Tyne River valley. Unfortunately, my right ankle started bothering me. It had started paining me on the last of the downhill into Dufton. The bog hopping north of Cross Fell did not do it any good, either. I have essentially no ligaments in the ankle from repeated spraining over the years plus breaking it at least once. Therefore, if I sprain it now, my ankle dislocates, my foot just pops inward and stays there. With no support, down I go. I then have to bang the inside of my right foot on the ground to put the ankle/foot back in its proper location. Today’s uneven and often muddy paths did not help the matter any.

Even with the ankle problem, this was a fun walk. At one point we paused at a disused railway bridge and discussed stalagmites and stalactites. Brian opined that what we were seeing, hanging off the underside of the brickwork, were stalagmites. I asked if he was sure, and that perhaps they might be stalactites. Of course I had no idea which was which. Steve then said he has a degree in geology and cannot keep the terms straight. A good laugh followed, something that can be rare on the Way.

The only real problem we had this day was route finding on Blenkinsopp Common. The book was no help at all, stating “The Pennine Way is distinct in most places but is unreliable.” I never have figured out what that means. Anyway, after tromping about in the boggy grass, getting lost and looking at compasses and back at the book, we finally managed to get rid of this desolate place. Frankly, I am surprised we did not flip a coin as to which direction to take. Naturally, with the uneven ground, the ankle was painful.

Once we cleared the common, the path was fairly easy to follow down to the A69. From there it was an easy stroll down the road to Greenhead and to the hotel with me bringing up the rear. I dropped my gear in the large and rather bare room and went down to the bar with Connie, Steve and Brian. We had a very good late afternoon there, drinking some good Cumberland Ale from Jennings, talking and laughing for over an hour. Connie really enjoyed the tales of what we had gone through that day, including walking through someone’s back yard while the lady of the house hung out her laundry.

After cleaning up and a read it was down for dinner. I had a steak and ale pie and it was good as was the Cumberland ale I had with it. The pub was pretty crowded but I guess that can be attributed to it being the only one in town. After dinner, Connie went up to the room and I joined Brian who was having a pint with Steve who was having dinner. I enjoyed a half pint and we talked a bit. It was then up to the room and to bed after rubbing my ankle and the bottom of my shin with some hot liniment. This was a good day but a bit muddy which certainly did not help the ankle problem. 

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