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  • Writer's pictureJane Smith

Day 60 - Slaggyford to Greenhead

The second of three easier days in a row today. Every afternoon and evening my routine is straightforward. When I arrive at the night’s accommodation I shower or bathe, wash my clothes and sort out my rucksack ready for the next day. I do my physio exercises, ice my leg if its playing up, and do a series of stretches. I start to write this blog. Then I check the weather forecast and bearing that in mind I look at my route for the next day. Often I keep it exactly as I’d planned six months ago. Sometimes I tweak it a little, perhaps to take in something of interest I’d not previously spotted. Sometimes I tweak it a lot, perhaps to take an easier or shorter path if the forecast is bad. But on occasion I change it completely, which is what I did today. Instead of walking the Pennine Way, I decided to continue to follow the railway line and the South Tyne Way. I’d enjoyed it yesterday, my leg was aching again and it was also a route that led more directly to my pub for this evening. So a very straightforward day ahead.

My landlord Colin was telling me about the viaduct at Lambley, and how striking it is. He’s not wrong. The elegant arches soar above the trees in the distance from miles away. And up close it’s extremely impressive.

Crossing the river by the footbridge next to the viaduct means an even better view. The bridge is quite narrow, and high up, and I was suddenly very conscious of what a disaster it would be if I dropped my phone whilst taking a photo. There was of course no reason for me to drop my phone, I’ve not done it so far. But the relief when I zipped it safely into waist pack was ridiculous.

I then followed Tyne Trail for a couple of miles as the river spread and gained confidence. This was a lovely episode, as the swifts swooped over my head, despite a muscular bull next to his harem of cows checking me out on the horizon. He fortunately thought I was no threat and let me go on my way, the swifts unperturbed. I met a couple by the river who were telling me that they have been coming to this stretch for twenty years. In this time they have seen the route of the river change dramatically, and seen the track eroding because of that. As I looked at where they had pointed this out, I could see the evidence - the tarmac had fallen into the river, and one of the entrance posts to this area had fallen in too.

The other intriguing aspect to this section is that it was the site of a PoW camp. A sign at the entrance said that thousands of German officers were kept here from 1945 till 1948. Those dates are intriguing enough, as the war had been over for three years by 1948. More research told me that it was originally set up to house American soldiers arriving for the Normandy invasions. Then it housed Italian POWs, and finally for the ‘rehabilitation’ of Nazi officers. I feel that this raised more questions than it answered. There were a few buildings left. I love this sort of evidence of history in front of me. If you had to be kept prisoner at least the view was good.

The final section was on quiet but not very exciting byways, so it was good to be diverted by talking to Jessie at the same time, and for her to take a stint of having a conversation whilst having the rhythmic accompaniment of my poles on road at the same time. After only about 9 miles I arrived at Blenkinsopp Castle. This was originally built in the 14th century, built on over the years and finally ruined by fire in the 1950s.

My pub for the night is in the grounds of the castle. It opened at 3pm, and because of the short walk today I arrived at about 1pm. I was completely prepared to not be allowed in, but thought I’d give it a go, as I wanted to leave my rucksack before going to look at the Roman Army museum north of Greenhead. Not only was I allowed in, but I was given a cup of tea bythe landlady Carol, and then brilliantly the landlord Gary gave me a lift to the museum which saved a couple of unnecessary miles. So kind, and really appreciated.

Tomorrow is all about Hadrian’s Wall, so it was great to go to the museum to get a bit of context before I see it in real life. It’s really well designed, with an excellent 3D film too. I came away even more excited about the next day’s walk. It’ll be short, only 8 miles or so, but I’m planning to spend a couple of hours at Vindolanda too. Bring on the Romans!


Distance travelled: 9 miles

Total ascent: 550 feet

Calories burned: 1200

Local tipple - half pint of Allendale Golden Plover

Dinner at Blenkinsopp Castle Hotel - good

Moroccan nut roast with all the Sunday roast trimmings

Protein bar as pudding to keep my protein intake up!

Video of the day

New song of the day

All of these Nights - Tom Grennan

It took me a while to translate what I thought he was saying. It wasn’t ‘I kick ukelele’, it was ‘I’ve been thinking lately’. Once I got through that confusion I enjoyed the upbeat chirpiness.

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