The Roaches

Memories from Sean and Nigel's Pennine Walk in 1986

Many, many years ago, in a peat bog many miles away Sean and Ratboy walked the Pennine Way.

270 miles of moor and bog was too great a challenge to ignore and so on Sunday 20th July, 1986, our heroes set off from Edale with only one aim - to spend at least 3 weeks doing nothing but walking!

Route Mileage Camping Info Price Comments
Edale - Crowden 15.3 Camp Site £1.30 Over Kinder and Bleaklow - decent weather. No pub!
Crowden - Whitehouse 17.5 Old Quarry Free Standedge and more good weather. V good pub.
Whitehouse - Ponden 18.7 Camp Site 50p Top Withins and gentle moors. Mike Peach retires due to injury. Decent pub but with strange customers.
Ponden - Gargrave 15.6 Camp Site £1.50 Easy day over pleasant moors. Decent weather continues.
Gargrave - Malham 9.4 Farm Site 75p Excellent weather and an idyllic walk next to the River Aire. Good pub.
Malham - Horton 14.4 Camp Site 75p Fountains Fell and Pen-y-ghent, the first big hills. Great pub.
Horton - Hawes 14.7 Camp Site £1 Easy day over the green road to Hawes. V good pubs.
Rest Day Camp Site £1 Time to wash a few clothes.
Hawes - Tan Hill 17.5 Field Free Weather begins to deteriorate. Excellent night in Tan Hill pub.
Tan Hill - Middleton 17.5 Camp Site £1.25 Poor weather clears towards lunchtime. Easy going. Multiple pubs.
Middleton - Dufton 20.9 Farm Site 75p Weather deteriorates quickly after a pleasant start. Final 10 miles over remote moorland in dreadful conditions. Stag Inn was a life saver.
Rest Day Farm Site 75p Time to dry everything in either the barn or the Stag Inn.
Dufton - Alston 20.6 Camp Site Runner Cross Fell in good weather and then more rain. Multiple pubs.
Alston - Greenhead 18.7 Camp Site £1 Decent weather and an easy route. Reasonable pub.
Greenhead - Once Brewed 8.2 Farm Site 65p Short day enjoyed on Hadrians Wall. Good weather. Reasonable pub.
Once Brewed - Bellingham 15.6 Farm Site £1 More wall and then into the great forests of Kielder. Good weather. Multiple pubs.
Rest Day Farm Site £1 More washing. Prepare for the final push.
Bellingham - Byrness 16.9 Camp Site £1.50 Easy day through forests. Weather deteriorating.
Byrness - Kirk Yetholm 30.7 Camp Site £1.50 Abysmal weather, dreadful peat bogs and high winds.

Average mileage - 17 miles per day

A young Ratboy sorting out his gear at Crowden. Torside Clough is in the background.

Him again on the top of Malham Cove. Note the use of extremely light hi-tech jumpers.

Hardraw Force - just outside Hawes. Its amazing what you can do after 8 pints of Theakstons XB.

Tan Hill, the highest pub in the country. Ratboy and me erected our tent in the pouring rain whilst fellow walkers laughed at us from the warmth of the pub. Luckily for them the rain got heavier and darkness set in - oh how we laughed as they erected their tents in torchlight.

Oh how we all felt pissed off when, next morning, we found that the pub let walkers sleep in the bar!

Dufton - the night after the storm.

The walk from Middleton to Dufton had been a shocker due to the heavy rain and mist. We were that wet that we walked through streams, rivers and bogs just to shorten the route.

We then met a middle aged walker who was lost on High Cup Nick so we helped him descend from the thickening clag. To thank us for helping him off the moor he invited us into a tea shop for tea and a cake but, after we'd had our fill, he refused to pay. If I ever see him again he'll be buried up to his neck back at High Cup Nick. As would be expected, everything was wet - rucsacs, tent, rucsac contents and boots.

Cross Fell, the highest of the Pennines (2930ft) from Knock Old Man. The early warning station on Great Dunn Fell in the middle distance.

A rest day was required in order to get our belongings back to a state where they were wearable but the wait was worth it as the ascent over the Pennine's highest peaks was enjoyed in lovely warming sunshine. This was the best part of the walk.

Dave the mad hippie Geordie at Bellingham. We walked most of the way with Dave and his fellow walkers and intended to have a good drink together at Kirk Yetholm. Unfortunately it was not to be.

Ratboy on the Cheviots. Taken after the Lamb Hill bog fall.

We intended to split the final 30 mile Cheviot stretch by camping with fellow walkers at the Hen Hole. The weather however was so poor that the going underfoot was shockingly wet and in many places dangerous. Ratboy nearly disappeared in a peat bog as the slime reached above his waist.

We decided to carry onto Kirk Yetholm due to the conditions and never saw Geordie Dave and co again. They must have suffered from the shockingly wet going and camped at the Hen Hole. Geordie Dave didn't like uphill sections so the Cheviots must have been a nightmare.

The Hen Hole.

This was meant to be our stopping point on the final stretch. The final 30 mile walk in terrible conditions took us just under 11 hours. The extra mile was due to a navigational error on Windy Gyle - the conditions were shite mind.

Job done! - the day after the 30 miler.

Clean clothes and back home. It had been a pretty quiet night in Kirk Yetholm due to us not finishing the walk with the other group. Many walkers had retired earlier on the way and a few had walked at a slower pace and were a couple of days behind. One day, we may do it again: 2016 will be the 30th anniversary of the walk - anybody on for it?


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