Walk completed August 28, 2011

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


  1. Done with the Pennine Way, yeah....You are still flying through the countryside! Hopefully you will keep seeing blue skies, you have had enough of the soggy stuff.
    Can't wait for the pics!

  2. Indira and I caught up with Annie and Liz at the Byrness Hotel and walked the last two days with them. Finally completed! Phew, as you say, there are some bits which I definately wont miss.