The Pennine Way, 1983

Day 12: Hadrian’s Wall to Bellingham, Monday, 8th August

17.7 miles in 7hrs 35 mins (08:55-16:30). Cold, overcast start. Warmer later. Sunny evening.

Accommodation: Bellingham 80p

Milecastle 42 – Hotbank Crags – forests – Horneystead – Shitlington Crag – Bellingham

I had a lie-in today until 07:05 after waking at 6:45 and having slept soundly. A warden (not the same one as last night, apparently, but I saw neither) came round to wake each tent up at 07:30, which was very thoughtful. We were off before 09:00, but only on yet another muesli breakfast and I suffered another energy crisis all morning. The rest of the wall was a struggle: up and down, up and down… How on earth can Wainwright think it’s so marvellous?! Still, it was good that we’d cleared so much of it the evening before, even though it didn’t seem so at the time. Needless to say, we didn’t bother with Housesteads. “Farewell, Hadrian! Good riddance!” to paraphrase Wainwright.

The Wark forests were hardly an improvement – dull, dull, dull. We eventually stopped for lunch after 13 miles at Horneystead farm. There was no food to be had there, just hot and cold drinks, so it was back to our own rations: be warned that Primula Cheese and Pineapple is nothing short of revolting. The old woman in charge of the farm was frightfully well-spoken, but seemed somewhat dizzy as far as money was concerned – or, at least, that’s what she made out…

The afternoon was much better, and we soon reached Bellingham with time for a banana and peach and to stock up for the next day’s breakfast. It seems that the filling station at Byrness still does basic rations, so that’ll be the place to stock up for the final push.

I managed to get another shower at the campsite – and it was free this time. We were off early to the Black Bull for food. The pub sold McEwans 80/- and I decided it was too good an opportunity to miss, so I started working up to a pint of two via Cokes and shandies. However, by the time I was ready for a shandy, the 80/- was off and the landlord was not going to be around to change the barrel… We had a few games of pool at our usual standard; I beat Richard, and then we won one and lost one against Pat and Ivan, who seem to be approaching the same skill level as Richard and me. The pub had one great idea: takeaway fish and chips – they were delicious!