I walked 17.8 miles of the Pennine Way today without meeting another walker.I did, however, meet two cyclists in the Kielder Forest and asked if there were any food shops in Byrness thinking they had come from that direction. ‘I don’t know’, one of them said, ‘but you’d better have these just in case’, and handed me two caramel bars!
It turned out that there is an amazing and famous place amongst Pennine-wayers; establishment called The Forest View Inn. This is the mid-terraced home of Colin and Joyce who love looking after walkers. I knocked at the door and was welcomed in; ‘the restaurant is closed at the moment but I’ll gladly make you a sandwich,and help yourself to as many free teas as you want’, said Colin. Their house is an inn, a restaurant, a pub, a campsite, a hotel, a walkers’ information centre, a shop and many more things besides.
Colin explained that this is not Pennine Way season yet but in a few weeks it will be really busy. ‘I’ve had to open a bunk house over the road’, he said, ‘I simply can’t bear turning walkers away’.
He also told me that the maps for the section I was about to walk are usually out of date – the woods have been cleared. The paths have changed or been rerouted. He was right; both my new OS map and my GPS OS map showed the Way in different locations to the actual path.
Some of the paths were quite boggy and whilst avoiding a particularly bad section I grazed my leg on a tree stump. I think it’s all OK – I’ve cleaned it up with water and applied some Germolene. I also have a slightly sunburnt left calf. Might wear long trousers tomorrow.
Another common complaint about the Pennine Way is that ‘it is nearly all paved’. Well, this is not the case with the 40 or so miles I have walked. Where there is some paving it has been sympathetically done in granite which blends in to the surroundings – it is infinitely better than getting boots full of mud.
I passed through Scotland today and am just on the English side of the border in the Yearning Saddle Mountain Refuge Hut for the night. A basic hut but location, location, location.