Tuesday, 28 July 2009

Still going!

we're still going - I've just been a little late updating due to a lack of phone signal!

We have met John for a couple of days off by Hollingworth Lake, which has been lovely. I didn't plan that too well though as I'm now struggling to sort a campsite to get to tomorrow night!

There's a good possibility that Patch will go home with John tomorrow due to a couple of reasons, one being the fact that she's often too stressed for my liking because of her sound phobias, and the other being our worry of crossing the many fields of cows safely after 3 people were killed in four weeks doing so with dogs. I've had the chance to have a quick look on the web for advise on this matter but have only come across information telling me not to go through fields of cows with a dog. Not very helpful! I've tried to stick to quiet roads and bridleways lately to avoid this problem, but Patch just ends up stressed - she's much happier on a footpath where she can absorb herself in the scents of rabbits and sheep, but unfortunately these often lead to fields of cows...very difficult. It's a difficult situation for both dog owners and farmers, but I do feel something needs to be sorted to ensure both sides are safe and happy.

Onwards and upwards (southwards!)

Wednesday, 22 July 2009

A hot bath and a warm fire....

I'm a happy chappy.

I've had a hot bath, am wearing clean clothes, and I'm sitting in front of a log fire. Lovely!

Patch and I are in the home of John, Steph and baby Sierra who are putting us up for the night. Steph kindly picked us up from Horton-in-Ribblesdale, and we are very comfortable and grateful. Patch is a little too interested in baby Sierra and is a little too boisterous with her introductions.

After a day off in Hawes yesterday we walked over the Pennines again today. It was a lovely walk - even the wind and rain didn't detract from what a lovely part of the world this is. Patch had a lovely time trying to chase sheep and rabbits (she's on a lead of course) until the jets came over again.

We must have done about 560 miles now - almost half way!

Sunday, 19 July 2009

It's a scarey world for a little dog...

Poor Patch has been having a tough time. If it's not the RAF buzzing about in the skies then the MOD are busy blasting up the hills. Why is it that as soon as you find a nice bit of countryside "The Forces" have to play war games on it. A sign on an earlier part of the Pennine Way read "Do not touch debri as it may blow up and kill you". Very subtle.

On top of the military creating havoc we had the added bonus of rabbit shooting to contend with this weekend. I was hoping Patch would start to handle scarey noises a little better on this walk, but the poor soul was reduced to jelly legs today. I'll see how she goes and if she's still stressed when I see John next (in a weeks time) then she may have to go home. The problem is we live under a RAF "Low Flying Zone" so the jets go over everyday, so even in the security of her home the poor girl is reduced to a quivering wreck.

The last couple of days have been rather boring plods along quiet roads so we're looking forward to getting back on the footpaths again tomorrow. Hopefully this will perk Patch up a bit. We are currently camped in a nice quiet site just outside Kirkby Stephen. Rain has threatened a few times, but thankfully it's been a lovely sunny day mostly. Lovely. I've had my evening meal...Pot Noodle was a welcome change from "Pasta n Sauce", but hardly fine dining! Good enough for me though!

Friday, 17 July 2009

I've made a decision...

It wasn't an easy decision to make - I'm a proud person, also very stubborn, and hate failing. I thought long and hard about it and took everything into account, but eventually the decision had to be made. I booked into a B&B. There, I said it.

In the 7 or so weeks that we have been walking this is only the 3rd time I've used a B&B. The first 2 times there was literally no-where to camp, but this time I actually walked past a campsite to get to it. The strange thing is, now that I'm here I don't feel the slightest bit guilty. I was absolutely sodden...my feet were squelching, and poor Patch was frozen. PLUS we've just been down to the pub for a bar meal. I'm so naughty.

Yesterday we walked along an old railway line (the South Tyne Trail) to Alston. I reached the campsite to find a very strange set up. It was full of static caravans which people seemed to live in, with a tiny bit of grass for tents. I was told where the water was, and that it was "probably all right". To get to the toilets you had to go through a yard full of skips and old machinery, through a strange tunnel underground that seems to be part of some old big pipe, and into the bottom of a 3 storey building. The facilities were basic, and the showers were free but very grotty looking so I stayed clear. That said, it was only 5 pounds a pitch, and the lady running it was very friendly so I was happy to stay there.

Today's forecast was for heavy rain and gales, so instead of the Pennine Way I opted for a mixture of roads and footpaths to a small village called Ousby. I'm now in a B&B called "Bradley Foot", which I highly recommend. My boots are drying by the fire, my socks have been rinsed and dried (they were very brave to do THAT) and I've had a cup of tea. Lovely. I've also had a bar meal from the pub just down the road. That's blown the budget. Patch has been very happy from the moment we set foot indoors. She loves the B&B and all the fuss she has got. She also loved the pub and meeting everyone...and everyone laughed at us when she then refused to leave the pub to return to the B&B.

I must admit, nothing would make me happier right now than a phone call from John saying we had won the lottery...I would straight away send the tent and gubbins home and use B&B's from now on...I may be getting soft, but I'm loving being comfortable!

Wednesday, 15 July 2009

We've crossed Hadrians Wall...

From Byrness we walked to Bellingham. The weather was wet and windy so instead of the Pennine Way we opted for a quiet lane that ran over the moorland parallel with the footpath.

The first campsite in the centre of town had chickens everywhere - not a good plan with Patch. We walked to the larger site just outside of town which would have been a good site if it weren't run by Hitler. The woman seems to hate backpackers - I even got warned to take my boots off before going near the shower as "backpackers make it messy".

I reluctantly took a day off as Patch needed a break. I met a lovely couple (Fred and Natalie) from Scotland, who I ended up having dinner with that evening - and had a really enjoyable evening.

The next day we walked along the Pennine Way again to Hadrians Wall Campsite near Haltwhistle. The site owners greeted me like an old friend and gave me a cup of tea - John had been on the phone to them a couple of times about a re-supply parcel he sent here for me.

Unfortunately my Satmap GPS unit was playing up so I sent it home. I didn't realise John had quickly got on the case for me and the good guys from Satmap sent a demo unit here for me to use for my walk while mine is fixed. I'm so impressed with their service. Unfortunately they just missed the post with it though, so I had to take another day off to wait for it's delivery this afternoon. Very frustrating, but at least this is a great campsite.

To be honest I'm already fed up with the Pennine Way. All I've got so far is sodden feet. I'm trying to avoid it as much as possible now...especially with more rain on the way.

Patch has enjoyed the day off - that was until the blooming RAF jets came over again.

Saturday, 11 July 2009

We made it to England!

I'm not sure what I expected as I crossed the border...a marching band...balloons etc, but all I got was a notice on a gate as I hit the Pennine Way reminding me that I no longer have the right to roam. Ok then.

Yesterday I met up with someone who wishes to stay anonymous, so I'll just call him "A Proud Scottish Gent". A lovely fella who I thoroughly enjoyed walking with. He went out of his way to meet me, and even brought me his Thermarest mattress to use until I can collect mine again from John. What an absolute star. I loved walking along and leaving the navigation to someone else for a change, and I needn't have worried as he was clued up on all the footpaths. I had a lovely time, and walked the rest of the way to Jedburgh with a smile on my face.

After stopping at Shell (just outside the campsite) for some more supplies I noticed a cafe with outdoor seating - dog friendly! I treated myself to sausage & chips...a welcome break from dried packets of Pasta'n'Sauce. I saved Patch a sausage of course!

Today we walked 22 miles or so to Byrness campsite. We're getting there slowly!

Thursday, 9 July 2009

Stung by wasps but plodding on!

Last night I stayed in a bothy for the first time. It was a very basic wooden hut on the Southern Upland Way. It was very cold and I managed to get myself somewhat spooked (too many scarey films!) and was rather glad when another hiker, Jim, turned up.

Today we continued along the Southern Upland Way into Melrose. It was a very pleasant walk indeed - I thoroughly enjoyed walking over the hills. Patch loved it and was a lunatic on the end of the lead. She would love to have caught a sheep for dinner. On finding a river I took my pack off to refill my bottle and take a break, but I must have put it down on a wasps nest as I immediately got ambushed. I ran away squawking and left my pack behind so I then had to pluck up the courage to go back and get it. I ended up with 7 stings and no water...

I'm now in a campsite in Melrose. A very pleasant town. I stopped in Spar before coming to the campsite to buy some food for dinner, and two separate lots of people got talking to me outside the shop, and they both donated another 3 pounds each! That's 112 pounds in donations from people I've met along the way so far. Patch is great at attracting people over and melting their hearts!

Patch and I are now zipped into our bivi about to have an early night. It's been blissfully midge free for the last few days. Lovely!

Tuesday, 7 July 2009

We're in Peebles!

Just a quick update as I've been thrown out of this page 3 times already by my phone and my battery is starting to suffer (the phone's battery that is!).

After a wild camp in the Pentland Hills last night we are at a campsite...toilets, showers...lovely!

Patch is doing well, she was still pretty chirpy as we got to the campsite which is great news.

I'm wishing I didn't swap my inflatable mattress for a cut down section of kipmat when I met up with John though! I'll swap back when I see him next in 3 long weeks time....!

Saturday, 4 July 2009

Been a bit lazy...

I'm feeling a little lazy...I was supposed to have a day off with John on Wednesday & then start walking again on Thursday as John had to travel back for work on Friday, but instead he managed to take Friday off also, so we've had extra time off together. I start walking again tomorrow (Sunday).

I think having a few days off has been a good thing for Patch as all she did for 2 days is sleep! I took her to the vet to get her feet checked, and came away with antibiotics as it looks like there may be something in her foot - it doesn't seem to be bothering her but I'll keep a close eye. I'm glad actually to be able to give her some time for her feet to recover. They are much tougher now so I'm hoping she will be trouble free for the rest of the walk. To be honest, I was rather glad to not have to walk with her in the recent heat.

I'm swapping my tent for the bivi bag and tarp. This doesn't really save me any weight, but it will be a nice change after a month of putting the same tent up and down.

Thanks to everyone for the comments by the way. I love reading them, even though I don't always have enough battery life to comment back!