Day 16 - September 17th 2004

Once Brewed to Bellingham - 15.5 miles


A pretty good night’s sleep and up looking forward to what is said to be a fairly easy day. After the usual breakfast and a chat with two fellows who were off on a four day walk, Connie drove back to Once Brewed where we met Brian and Steve in front of the pub. They piled in the car and off to Steel Rigg where it was off along the Wall once again. As with yesterday, it was up and down with the wind picking up and chill setting in from sweat. However, this minor discomfort was more than offset by the fantastic views, both along the wall and to the north. We finally hit Rapishaw Gap where we dropped down and headed across essentially flat areas to the north. This was an easy walk across fields and down forest rides. Although Wainwright did not like this part of the walk, I found it to be a pleasant change from the bogs and wind since the trees screened us from the latter.

We continued on, making good time with a very brief stop at Lowstead Farm where we removed some apples from a tree as a snack. We finally came to Shitlington Crag where we climbed to the top and had lunch. The weather was very nice at this point, sunny with a light breeze. Unfortunately after lunch my right ankle started paining me so it was limp time from then on to Bellingham. The situation was not helped at all by the three of us getting a bit lost on common ground north of the crag. You would think that at least one of the three of us could find the correct path. We finally righted ourselves and dropped down onto the highway leading across the North Tyne to Bellingham. Across the bridge we headed down river and into town where I found Connie reading in the car which was parked in the town square. She was surprised at our early arrival time but I told here that this was a pretty easy day, all things considered.

We four repaired to a local pub where they had no real ale on offer. Steve recommended cider and although I would not want it for a daily intake, I found it to be pretty good. After the drinks we agreed to meet at the Cheviot Hotel for dinner at 7. There was a significant accommodation problem in Bellingham caused by the Kielder Challenge. I was told this is a team building exercise for young executives who stay in Bellingham on Friday night then take to the woods for the remainder of the weekend to learn how to work as teams. Whatever the outcome of this new “management technique”, the sheer number of people had an impact on the rather limited facilities in town.

Brian, Connie and I met outside the hotel at 6:50 and spent ten minutes shivering until the doors opened. Connie got the last unreserved table for dinner and I got the one real ale on tap. Steve joined us shortly thereafter, more ale was purchased, dinner was good and the talk even better. It was then back to the B&B, a short read and lights out. This was a pretty easy day, despite the sore ankle, with good weather and pretty flat walking. 

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