Sunday, 24 June 2012

Pennine Way Day 1 - Kirk Yetholm - Byrness

June 24, 2008


An understated start (end) of this National Trail.  
0805 At the start! 
Got up all excited and made a flask of coffee - turned out the water wasn't properly boiled but I was too excited to do it again. From here I'm carrying enough water for 1.5 days - should get me to Byrness.
Put plasters on feet to try to protect them more after yesterday - we'll see...
Oh well, let's get on with it!

1033 The Schil (601m)  5.5 miles from KY
So far there are more cows on the Pennine Way than people! Seen 2 guys so far going the other way so they're nearly done. Took the high level option to gain height immediately - that's what it's all about after all. Pretty steep climb, but then I expected that. When I get to The Cheviot I'll have done the majority of today's climbing.

Cows and Cotton Grass.
Approaching The Schil.

Had a fall! Already! Just went over on my right ankle for no apparent reason. Could've ended it there and then - that would have been embarrassing. Anyway, guess it was because of the weight I'm carrying affecting my balance. 658m of ascent so far today. Have to say it's beautiful up here. This is just what I wanted - scenery, peace and quiet. Bliss.

1230 8.22 miles from KY, 991m of ascent so far today
Had a bit of a rest at a hut (bothy?) just before the (steep) climb up to Auchope cairn. A nice old guy came along, going the other way. Still, now I'm at Auchope cairn - onwards. Oh, that guy advised the hostel in Alston, but camping good at Dufton.

Auchope Cairn.
Duckboards. Press on!
1320 The Cheviot (815m) 9.95 miles from KY
The trig. point here is very strangely placed on some breeze blocks, about 1.5m above the ground! Also, the bog is reclaiming some of the nice flagstoned path, requiring some tricky balancing on planks! Strange to consider that I'll only be higher than this once on the whole rest of the walk! Oh, and it's lunch time.

The Cheviot. 2nd highest point on PW.
Tricky in places.

1510 Windy Gyle (619m) 1302m of ascent, 15 miles from KY
Windy, but otherwise not much to see. Apparently, this is the best place to camp between KY and Byrness - doesn't look too good to me! Looks like Byrness may be pushing it today. I'll already be very stiff tomorrow but I knew that. I will try to get to 20 miles then find a place to camp, possibly near Chew Green.

Windy Gyle.

2120 Byrness!
Yes I know, and I'm completely battered - hopefully I'll be able to get up tomorrow! It did start raining but not too badly. I got to Chew Green and looked for a good spot for the tent, but couldn't find one so I decided to press on. Eventually I realised I could get to Byrness before dark, and decided to go to the YHA, and here I am. This place is very well organised - more so than KY. They have a cupboard that you can buy all kinds of stuff from - even real ale, so needless to say I got a couple of bottles. Cooked some rice and ate some fruit. Not a banquet, but there you go. Oooh I'm sore, hope I can stand up in the morning! Heard shooting on the ranges before when I was coming down into Byrness. Tomorrow I should camp. How was day one? Marvellous! It feels good to ache.

Raven's Knowe, looking back to The Cheviot.

Day 1 statistics

29.08 miles (10.6%)
1889m of ascent
815m max elevation 
time stopped: 2h38m 
time moving: 10h26m 
overall average: 2.2mph 
average when moving: 2.8mph


So, you see, the plan already got changed! If I had booked it all up, I would've booked Byrness for tomorrow night, meaning I either would have had to wild camp up in the hills, or I would've come to Byrness a day early and had to have a rest day tomorrow. Doing the PW this way around makes the start a difficult problem. You're fit and eager, you want to keep walking forever. In hindsight, it was perhaps a bit foolish to do a bit more than 10% of the walk on the first day, but hey. I'd do it again ;) On the other hand, if you are doing the PW in the traditional direction, this is a killer last day, and you'll probably break it in two up in the hills somewhere. Unless you push on for the Hotel and then seize up in the bar there!

There really wasn't anywhere obvious to camp at Chew Green. And you'd never know it was a Roman fort if it didn't tell you on the map. You'd walk right past it! Windy Gyle is supposed to be the best place to camp up there, but it didn't look that good to me either. The two guys I saw going the other way had camped somewhere, clearly. Should've asked them where.

Byrness YHA is one of the ones that is now under private management. We will see a lot of issues with the YHA as we go through this journey.

The weather was good today - this was probably the one day where I really didn't want a soaking, or I would have tolerated a soaking if I could still see views. A high-level walk in mist and cloud would've been no fun at all. So, my first stroke of luck vs the weather :)

Byrness YHA.

View today's photos on a map at Flickr.

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