Walk completed August 28, 2011

Sunday, July 31, 2011

Day 61 – Innerleithen to Eddleston, 12 miles

Today was another day for meeting interesting people. Although there was no recurrence of yesterday’s foot problem, I was getting tired of walking on paved roads. So I scoured the map for an off road route that would take me in the right direction. The first opportunity came about 4 miles out of Innerleithen. The map showed a vehicle track leading away from the road, turning into a footpath, passing through a private garden estate, and back to the road for about a mile. I decided to take it.

On the ground, things don’t always look like they do on maps. In real life, the lane looked more like a driveway, and was posted with a notice that it was only for guests of the bunkhouse. I wasn’t a guest at the bunkhouse, but I’m a foreigner, so that pretty much excuses any trespasses. As I started down the driveway, I came upon a lady tending to chickens. With my best American accent, I asked her if this was the track which connected to the footpath.

Champion chicken
She replied that it was indeed the right of way, and explained that she was in the process of moving her hens. Her name is Dorinda and she and her husband run the bunkhouse. More interestingly, their hobby is raising exotic chickens. They’ve got chickens from Japan, Poland, Russia, and I can’t remember how many different countries. The chickens all look different, and about the only thing they have in common is feathers, beaks and feet. Several of the chickens are British champions, and she shows them regularly. I’m not exactly sure what’s involved in showing chickens; I doubt they are led around on leashes. Some species were bred for fighting, but since that’s no longer allowed, I’m not sure how they are judged.

Dorinda pointed me in the direction of the lane, and told me to climb over the first locked gate, and proceed to Kaislie Garden, about a mile down the path. After passing through the garden, she said my way would be barred by a high, locked gate, but I should turn left down a lane, pass through the gift shop, and out to the car park. Since I was walking and not visiting the gardens, I wouldn’t have to pay the admission charge.

Well, OK. I followed her instructions to the letter, and when passing through the gift shop, I told the clerk in my best American accent, “I think I’m lost.” She pointed me to the car park and I left without paying the admission. Funny thing, though, I walked through most of the garden to get there. I wonder if the same process works in movie theaters.

A little later, I was back on the road, and saw a man working in his garage. I don’t normally enter people’s garages to engage in conversation, but right there next to him was a vintage Triumph. So I walked up and introduced myself to Peter, and asked if I could take a picture of his car. Peter built the car in 1984 from a kit, so it’s not exactly a vintage Triumph, but it is 27 years old.

The walk continued on the road to Peebles, after which I tried several times to follow footpaths to Eddleston. Generally the footpaths worked, but every time they brought me back to the major road A703 between Peebles and Eddleston. I finally gave up and walked the final mile dodging high speed traffic. I figure it was good practice for when I have to walk the busy A99 between Inverness and John O’Groats.

© 2011 Ken Klug

Day 60, Saturday, July 30, 2011 – Melrose to Innerleithen, 18 miles

I surprised myself when I awoke this morning to discover that I had survived last night’s beer festival. Then the thought occurred to me that maybe I hadn’t actually survived it, but rather had gone to heaven, because the sky was totally blue, and the sunshine was stronger than I’ve seen in weeks. The stiffness in my legs confirmed I wasn’t in heaven, but rather in the same place I was when I went to bed. The warm sunshine continued throughout the day.

Cairn atop Hog Hill
The footpath from Melrose started on the Southern Upland Way, a national trail running along the River Tweed. I encountered many locals who were out enjoying the Saturday morning sunshine. After passing through a series of parks between Melrose and Galashiels, the SUW borders a forest and then climbs to a high hill, descends through cattle pastures and again crosses the River Tweed at a place called Yair Bridge. Here I was faced with a difficult choice.

Moi and her dogs Kira
and Sophie
I could follow the SUW as it ascends steeply through a forest to another high moor, and then runs along an historic drovers' road to Traquair, a distance of 18 miles from Melrose. Traquair is two more miles from Innerleithen, making for a 20 mile day. Alternatively, I could skip that portion of the SUW, and continue along a little used road (now a cycle path) following the River Tweed all the way to Innerleithen. That route would be 2 fewer miles and avoid 1,000 feet of climbing, but it involves road walking, which isn’t fun. I chose the road to save the distance.

View from cycle path

I’m not sure my feet liked the choice. About three miles from Innerleithen, my right foot started hurting unmercifully, and I couldn’t avoid limping. I desperately needed to sit down and examine my foot, but there was no place to sit. The road was tarmac, with tall grass and stinging nettles covering the verges. There wasn’t so much as a rock or a fence gate to sit on. As I limped on, I had all sorts of horrible thoughts that unless I could take care of my foot, this may be the end. I couldn’t help but think about Daryl May’s blog, and all of the benches he photographed. I may have been hallucinating about benches.

Serendipitous bench
And then, almost miraculously, 100 feet in front of me was a bench. It was the only bench I’ve seen all day, and it was right there in the middle of nowhere when I desperately needed it.  I sat down, removed my boots and socks, massaged my foot, ate some cookies, and generally relaxed for 15 minutes. I then put my socks and boots back on and walked smartly the remaining two miles to Innerleithen without any foot pain or limp.

© 2011 Ken Klug

Friday, July 29, 2011

Day 59 – Friday, July 29, 2011; Jedburgh to Melrose, 18 miles

Jedburgh is a large town, so I had a choice of eateries. I’ve eaten in enough pubs lately, so yesterday I decided on an upscale restaurant with a varied menu. The special of the day was wild deer. Just as I was ready to order, it was scratched from the specials board. I instead had a steak and ale pie – a standard pub food. Go figure.

Today was a beautiful walk, mostly following three rivers: Jedwater, Teviot and Tweed, along Dere Street and the St. Cuthbert’s Way. The flowers were in full bloom – perhaps due to the recent rains, or perhaps because spring arrives later in Scotland.

Dere Street/St. Cuthbert's Way
trail maker
Despite the distance, it was mostly a pleasant stroll, with only slight ascents and descents. The entire route was well-signed, so I rarely needed to check my maps. I arrived at St. Boswell shortly after 1:00, found a grocery store and bought a pasta salad and a pint of milk for lunch, which I ate at a picnic table in the city park. After the rigors of the Pennine Way, today seemed like a walk in the park.

Piper, Muriel, Joan and Cody
Out on the trail, the only people I met were two ladies walking their dogs.

With few people to talk to, good footing, and a well-signed trail, I covered the entire distance in just over 8 hours, and have no stories to tell.

Andy and John --
transplanted Geordies
There’s a beer festival tonight at the hotel I’m staying in. Twenty-five different beers, £1 for a half pint. That was too good a deal, so I’m letting the pictures do the talking. They don’t slur their words.

Footbridge over River Teviot

Jedburgh Abbey

River Tweed

© 2011 Ken Klug

Day 58, Thursday, July 28, 2011 – Byrness to Jedburgh, 19 miles

Byrness from high moor
Byrness is a small village, formerly devoted solely to logging. I suspect that everyone who lives here is still employed in one capacity or another in either logging or forestry. There are no shops, pubs or restaurants, and of the two B&Bs, one was formerly a hotel and one formerly a youth hostel. I stayed in the former youth hostel – with a private room and shared bath. Dinner and breakfast were served family style.

George and Justine
I said my final good-bye to James at breakfast. He will be finishing the Pennine Way today, and I shall not be seeing him again. Also at breakfast were George and Justine, father and daughter, who will also finish the PW today, as well as two other Englishmen whose names I didn’t get. Two other dinner companions, Paul and William, left before breakfast, attempting to walk the final 29 miles in one day.

One topic of our breakfast discussion was the famous biting midges of Scotland – swarming black flies whose bite seems always to draw blood and takes days to heal. I hadn’t seen any midges yet, but I remember them from the last time I was in Scotland. Apparently, the only effective repellants are DEET or Avon Skin So Soft. DEET melts plastic, so you need to keep it away from watches and eyeglasses, and if it’s on your hands, you can’t touch plastic parts of a camera or GPS, not to mention water bottles, etc. It’s nasty stuff, so no wonder the midges don’t like it.

When I mentioned that I didn’t have any Skin So Soft, Justine gave me a small spray bottle of it. Since she is finishing the PW, she doesn’t need it. I was happy to receive it, because I knew that sometime in the next month I would need it. As things turned out, I needed it this afternoon. But I’m getting ahead of myself.

Today’s route involved a steep climb out of Byrness to the top of a ridge where the moorland was more featureless grassland than heather. I initially followed the Pennine Way, and the route was never in doubt. After 5 miles, I was to leave the Pennine Way at Dere Street, a former Roman Road constructed in AD 81 by Roman governor Agricola. It originally ran from York to Edinburgh. Today, parts of it are paved and other parts are merely footpath. Like most Roman roads, it is generally straight, and seems to curve only when contouring a hillside. Dere Street runs through hills, across streams, and through woods, almost to Jedburgh. It was difficult to get lost, and with 19 miles to walk, I didn’t even try.

I thought the trail junction for Dere Street might be difficult to find on the featureless moorland, so I kept checking my maps to be sure I didn’t pass it. Actually, when I arrived at the trail junction, there were several large signs, which couldn’t have been more obvious if they were flashing lights with my name on them.

Ford for cars, footbridge
for walkers
After passing through the Dere Street gate, I arrived in Scotland. On the remote moor, I didn’t expect to be welcomed to Scotland by a kilted bagpiper, but a lass offering samples of Scotland’s national drink would have been nice. Alas, there wasn’t even a welcome sign. Maybe the Scottish tourist board got my entry date wrong.

I met only one other person the entire day: Malcolm, who is finishing the PW. He and I walked together on and off from the high ridge above Byrness until I finally turned off at Dere Street. But I wasn’t lonely, being accompanied along the way by thousands of sheep, cows and midges. Usually I smell like a sheep or cow at the end of the walk, but today, thanks to Justine, I emitted the perfumed scent of Avon SSS. I wonder if my host noticed when I checked into the B&B. He didn’t comment.

Today’s puzzle: What is the derivation of the name Dere Street?

a. The name of the archaeologist who identified the road as a Roman construction.
b. The manufacturer of heavy equipment used by the Romans in construction.
c. A near-sighted Roman mistook a sheep for a deer.
d. Other (explain).

Dere Street

© 2011 Ken Klug

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Day 57 – Bellingham to Byrness, 15 miles

View towards Bellingham
Today’s weather forecast was for overcast sky in the morning, changing to rain in the afternoon. I decided to walk as fast as I could to avoid as much of the rain as possible. Fast walking was not a choice for the first hour, as the trail climbed relentlessly onto the high moorland north of Bellingham. Eventually, the trail leveled out, so I picked up my pace for about 100 yards. Then I came to a bog field, requiring delicate footing and evasive routing.

Watery bog
 There are different types of bogs, and today I encountered mostly wet, non-muddy bogs, recognizable by the chartreuse plants covering them. The plants are green sponges; when you step on them, they release their water and your foot sinks into the pool. The trick to crossing them is to find tall reeds nearby, and to step on the reeds so they fold over the bog and provide float, like snowshoes. Stepping from reeds to reeds is a slow process, so no rain-avoiding speed yet.

Then I came upon Annie and Liz, two English ladies with whom I had breakfast at the B&B this morning. They had started walking before me, but had now stopped just off the trail for a spot of tea. Of course, I stopped to talk with them, further delaying my intended rapid start to beat the rain.

Eventually, I got into a good stride and walked rapidly to a high point on the moor, where I found – miracle of miracles – a sitting rock. Rocks to sit on are virtually non-existent on the moors, and how this rock came to be at its location is beyond my comprehension. But there it was, and my watch said 12:30, so I took the opportunity to have lunch, all the time knowing that I was tempting the forecast storm to arrive.

As I finished lunch and was packing my backpack, Lester arrived from the north. He is walking the Pennine Way from north to south. He and I had a nice chat while the clock ticked inexorably towards the forecast rainy afternoon.

Annie and Liz
Lester declined the offer of my rock – perhaps he had also heard the weather forecast – but as he was getting ready to leave, Annie and Liz arrived. They were happy to sit on the rock while I moved on.

A quick descent was followed by a steep climb up the next ridge, further slowing me down. At the top, the route passed over some two miles of the wettest bog I have yet encountered. All the water on the decaying peat was a haven for flies, which swarmed around me by the hundreds as I passed over their feeding grounds. Fortunately, they weren’t biting, but their constant swarming distracted me from the task at hand – or rather, at foot – to wit, crossing the bog dry and alive.

Near Byrness
After what seemed like forever, I finally got past the bog and onto a dry gravel road. Only then did I notice that the sky was blue, with only a few cumulus clouds. The forecast rain never materialized, and warm sunshine accompanied me all the way to Byrness.

I arrived at my B&B at 5:15, and was welcomed by James, who will be finishing the Pennine Way tomorrow. I’ll also be done with the Pennine Way tomorrow, and I won’t be sad if I never see it again. There are wonderful footpaths in England, but I don’t consider the Pennine Way to be one of them.

© 2011 Ken Klug

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Day 56 – Hadrian’s Wall to Bellingham, 12 miles

George and Ann dropped me off this morning at the point along the Hadrian’s Wall footpath that I had walked to yesterday. Ann sent me off with two sandwiches and an assortment of crackers for lunch. I can’t thank Ann and George enough for all they have done for me, not only during the past week, but also during the past 18 months while I’ve been planning this walk. It would be an exaggeration to say I couldn’t do it without them, but it’s no hyperbole to say it would have been extremely difficult without them. Thanks, George and Ann.

Old and new
I decided to wear my new boots today. I may have been able to get another week or two out of the old ones, but the sole was getting so worn that a small crack was starting to appear. A cracked sole is not what you want when walking in a wet environment.

Hadrian's Wall at top of cliff (not the
drystone pasture walls)
Today’s route passed through a gap in Hadrian’s Wall, descended into some very wet bogs, through a forest plantation, through farms, and over a high moor, finally ending up in the fairly large town of Bellingham.

Hadrian’s Wall was built at the command of Roman emperor Hadrian in A.D. 122, in order to protect the empire he had established in what is now England from being invaded by Scots from the north. The wall ran for some 75 miles, was 10 feet wide and 15 feet high. My route did not run along the wall, so I really didn’t get to see it; rather, I passed through a break in the wall which was probably the result of centuries of removal of building blocks to be used in other building construction. Why quarry new rocks when the Romans did the work for you centuries earlier?

Indira and Fran
I was entirely alone most of the day, and although route finding was difficult around the bogs, I didn't get lost even once. About an hour before Bellingham, I caught up with Fran and Indira, two English ladies who are walking the Pennine Way. We had met previously outside of Thwaite when I was accompanying James and Alec on their walk to Keld. They said that they had spoken with James last week in Forest-in-Teesdale, and when he learned of their schedule he told them that they would probably see me in Bellingham. The ebb and flow of walkers continues.

Old bicycles become flower pots
(enlarge to view pedals)

© 2011 Ken Klug

Monday, July 25, 2011

Day 55 – Allendale to Hadrian’s Wall (near Housesteads), 13 miles

Ann filled George and me with a good cooked breakfast and then ferried us to Allendale, where we met Tony and Sally. Ann and Sally went off to continue whatever it was they did yesterday, and George, Tony and I started our walk.

Meadow to Plankey Mill
This was the fourth day that George had put together the route, through forests, along rivers, over pastures and across meadows. We initially followed the River Allen, a fairly small stream near its head. We departed from the course of the river, to rejoin it much later at Plankey Mill where it had grown substantially in both width and force from the numerous tributaries that contributed to it.

Ruins of Staward Peel
Along the way, we passed the ruins of Staward Peel, once a large fortified home constructed in the 13th century, but which was mostly dismantled with the king’s permission in the 16th century so its building stones could be recycled to construct the then current landowner’s mansion. All that remains now are pieces of wall.

This was also the fourth day that Ann had fixed up George and me with fortified lunches. Each day’s luncheon highlight was a “morning cookie” made from a recipe Ann had received from Chef Yvonne, Utah’s maven of cuisine. Unfortunately, George and I finally depleted Ann’s supply. I’m hoping that Chef Yvonne will have a new supply waiting for me when I return to Utah.

But that won’t be anytime soon. For those of you keeping track of these things, yesterday’s walk barely ticked the odometer past 700 miles. There is still much more fun ahead, so stay tuned.

River South Tyne near Ridley Hall

© 2011 Ken Klug

Sunday, July 24, 2011

Day 54 – Blanchland to Allendale – 10 miles

Tony, Lost-a-lot, and George
Once again Ann ferried George and me to the trailhead (after a full cooked breakfast, of course), where we met Tony and Sally. Tony joined George and me for today’s walk, while Sally and Ann headed off for coffee, shopping, and whatever else it is that ladies do when the men folk aren’t around.

George on stile
Today was the third day of the four which George cobbled together to keep me heading north through the part of the country he and Ann call home. And what a day it was, through forests, moorlands, and pastures.

One farm we passed had dozens of dead moles strung on a fence. Apparently, the moles pose a danger to cattle, sheep and horses which can break a leg by stepping in a mole hole, so farmers want them destroyed. The reason for stringing the carcasses on a fence escapes me, and I doubt that other moles take it as a warning – they are blind as bats, you know.

There are so many moles in the area that we actually saw one run across the trail ahead of us. I had never seen a live mole before, and I thought that they were nocturnal, rarely leaving their burrows. Perhaps their burrows get overcrowded and they need to surface for fresh air. Live moles move much more quickly than dead moles, and they don’t make good subjects for photos, so all I can offer is another photo of moles on line.

Near the end of the walk, we came upon some odd looking tools, basically a rectangle of neoprene attached to a pole. Today’s puzzle is a multiple choice question: what is the purpose of these unusual tools?

1. To beat out heather fires on the moor.
2. To flush grouse for hunters.
3. To encourage LEJOGers to keep moving north.
4. To erase tracks left by moles.

© 2011 Ken Klug

Saturday, July 23, 2011

Day 53 – Westgate to Blanchland, 12 miles

On Thursday I mentioned to Lady Ann that my body can no longer function on merely cereal and toast, and that I really needed the full English breakfast in order to get up the hills that her country keeps throwing at me. When Dr. George does his marathon cycle rides in southern Utah, he has a full breakfast, and I deserve reciprocity when I come to England for a marathon walk. Being both sensible and sensitive, Lady Ann acknowledged the dilemma and cooked me a full breakfast this morning. As a result, I was able to keep up with Dr. George on today’s hike.

Today’s route crossed over the pastures of Westgate, and then along a quarry’s dismantled railway track to the village of Rookhope. From there, the route ascended steeply up an old funicular track formerly associated with a now abandoned lead mine. The route was created by Dr. George to test both the state of my fitness and the caloric capacity of Lady Ann’s cooked breakfast.

Wildflowers along the route were blooming again as a result of the recent rains. The heather on the moors was just about to break into its purple majesty. Another week or less should produce a spectacular display of color on the moors.

Along the way, we encountered Mark, who’s been walking the hills in the area for quite some time. He alerted us to some of the features of the former plant which powered the funicular that carried lead ore from the mines to the furnaces, and put sense into what we saw upon reaching the top of the incline.  Afterwards, the rest of the walk was anticlimactic until we met Lady Ann at the medieval town of Blanchland and concluded the walk in the proper English method of having an ale at the local pub.

Power plant ruins

© 2011 Ken Klug

Friday, July 22, 2011

Day 52 – Rest Day

Today was a rest day, which George and Ann planned to devote to showing me the sights near their home. But first, I had several business items to address.

First, I needed to replace my boots because my blazing speed has worn the tread thin, and they won’t possibly last all the way to John O’Groats. Yesterday I ordered new boots from Amazon.com.uk, and they arrived first thing in the morning. The new boots fit fine, but I decided to wear them all morning to be sure that there weren’t any hidden pressure points. They proved to be perfect.

Second, I needed to reserve accommodations for next week, when George and Ann tire of me and drop me off near some God-forsaken moor without a pub and with instructions to walk north.

Third, I desperately needed a haircut. George drove me to the barbershop, but on arrival I remembered I forgot my camera. You’ll just have to imagine my Rapunzel-length hair falling to the floor as the barber clipped his shears together. (All this time I was blaming my backpack for being too heavy, when it was really my hair.) Meanwhile, outside the barber shop, frenzied wool traders were bidding on my shorn locks as if I were a rock star. Perhaps news traveled from Much Wenlock.

George, Ann, Sally and Tony
Renewed from head to toe, I was ready to tour northeast England without embarrassing my hosts. George drove us along the beach fronts north of Newcastle, with their Victorian homes and bay windows, bearing an uncanny resemblance to the painted ladies of San Francisco. We then joined with Tony and Sally, who I met last summer in Utah, and continued driving north through quaint villages too numerous to name (or at least too numerous for me to remember their names), past more old castles than I could count, ending up at a beachfront resort and pub. After a delightful lunch in the warm sunshine, we continued the tour, ending up at – where else? – another pub for dinner. Touring and eating; touring and eating. Oh, and there was also some ale. I could get used to these rest days.

But tomorrow, George and I head back to the hills. Ann, if you’re reading this, I’ll do my best not to get George lost.

© 2011 Ken Klug

Thursday, July 21, 2011

Day 51 – Newbiggin to Westgate – 8 miles

After a rather comical effort at my trying to pack a small rucksack, Ann drove George and me to the trailhead. My effort was comical because for 50 days I’ve carried everything with me. On those few days that I didn’t need to carry everything, I merely chose from what was spread about my room. Today, I didn’t need to carry most things, but the items I needed to carry were scattered around Ann’s and George’s home to dry after yesterday’s soaking. It’s one thing to place everything you own in a pack, being confident that if you need something you have it. But today, my boots were in one room, drying near the radiator. The insoles were elsewhere. The GPS and camera were in a basket containing various loose items, and my waterproof jacket was hanging in a different room. I finally got it all together – including lunch – and had my pack in the trunk of the car all ready to go. (In Britain, the trunk is the boot, but the boots were on my feet, so I’ve used the American term. For you Canadians, I know Canada is in America, but I don’t know whether you have trunks or boots, so please cut me some slack.)

In any case, Ann was ready to drive off when I remembered that my map was in a different room – and not in my pocket. A map is always useful when walking in unfamiliar territory, so my Keystone Kops saga continued. I’m not going to explain that reference if you don’t know it. Trust me – it’s comedic.

Bridge over River Tees --
proof I closed the gap
(this is not Photoshopped)
Ann dropped George and me off in the village of Newbiggin, which is on the route to High Force, but not quite on the trail which James and I walked yesterday. To be true to the walk, I had to close the gap by walking a quarter mile from Newbiggin to a footbridge crossing the Tees to join the trail walked yesterday. Then George and I turned around, walked back to Newbiggin and made the 8 mile walk to Westgate.

George and Ann
practicing after-walk rehydration
George is well known for his cycling prowess, but he is yet to develop a reputation as a walker. He had a good start today, because he didn’t complain once on the 4 mile steady climb to the highest ridge. Well, to be honest, he didn’t complain twice. And he didn’t complain twice about the long, steep descent on the other side of the ridge. He may become a walker before I leave next week, but I’m a little concerned about his wanting to take a rest day tomorrow.

© 2011 Ken Klug

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Day 50 – Wednesday, July 20, 2011 – Bowes to High Force, 14 miles

A close look at my map showed that the Pennine Way would lead James and me through marshlands. Names like Levy Pool, Blackpool Sike, and Kelton Bottom told me I don’t want to go there after all the rain we’ve had. But the decision was sealed when I saw that Needless Bridge eventually led to Swallow Hole. I didn’t want to be even half swallowed.

View from railway path
We needed an alterative route. The route I found follows a minor road north to a dismantled railroad bed now known as the Tees Railway Path. The footing on the former railway bed was not only better, but it was a beautiful walk, mostly flat, connecting lovely villages – much more fun than sinking in a soggy moor, although probably less exciting.

The day started out mostly dry, with only slight sprinkles not even requiring rain protection. As we approached the village Cotherstone, I was impressed by the large number of mansions, or what seem to be called manors here – big, old, stately homes, with huge gardens. They even get milk delivery.

As we approached the affluent village of Romaldkirk, we were joined by John, from Northern Ireland, who had been following us since we joined the track, but who couldn’t catch us until I stopped to remove my long sleeve shirt in the ever-warming day. John used to be a sheep farmer, but now that he is retired he walks a lot in sunny England. He also walks a lot when it’s not sunny, but today he was limiting himself to 10 miles.

Bridge over River Tees
I had made plans with Dr. George and Lady Ann to meet me at Middleton-in-Teesdale at 5:00 pm. Because of the good footing on the Tees Railway Path, James and I arrived there at 1:30. James had to continue on, and I was faced with the choice of joining him or sitting in the now sunny beer garden of the local pub for 3½ hours. Since it had become a lovely day, and James’ route followed the River Tees, I decided to continue on. I telephoned George and asked him to meet me at the High Force Hotel, near a large waterfall known as High Force, 5 miles beyond Middleton-in-Teesdale.

Low Force
The peat-covered hills which are the source of the Tees leech tannins into the river and give it the color of…well, tea. Most of the walk was delightful, passing increasing rapids and a small waterfall known as Low Force. Then James read in the guidebook that in order to view High Force, a £2 fee must be paid. With Yosemite and Zion in my backyards, I am offended by having to pay anything to see a waterfall – certainly one that can’t possibly compare to what I have at home, except maybe for the color. In any case, we decided to walk close to High Force and then detour to the nearby hotel where we would wait until George and Ann arrived.
Twenty minutes before reaching the hotel, the heaviest rain I’ve experienced since Hartland Quay came down. Upon reaching the hotel, James and I were totally soaked, and sought refuge in the hotel. The hotel was closed. With heavy rain still falling, and no shelter available, James continued on to his B&B, and I stood waiting for George and Ann, who arrived only 10 minutes later. But I was still soaked, and they have a lovely, clean, new car.

George thought for a moment about returning to the city to rent a car, but remembered that Ann had the foresight to bring a change of clothes for me. With dry clothes on, I was welcomed into their car, and even treated to a nice tour on the drive to their home. I am now clean and dry, well-fed, and looking forward to walking with George over the next few days without carrying a heavy pack. So that’s today’s puzzle for you – which am I looking forward to more, walking with George or no heavy pack?

© 2011 Ken Klug