This section of the Pennine Way would be ‘bleargh’ in the best weather, and with a very sore leg and a steady downpour it was a grim slog. It was a classic Pennine Way day – wet, muddy, an indistinct path that seemed to cross fields for no reason – and for some time I thought that the highlight of the day would the wonderfully-named Slaggyford.
By the time I stopped for lunch my leg was so sore and swollen that I couldn’t see how I could finish the stage. Fortunately, just after Slaggyford the Pennine Way meets the South Tyne Trail, another disused railway track which goes all the way to Haltwhistle. It’s mainly light woodland and some pasture – even if it’s not hugely interesting it makes for some very flat and fast walking, and made for a welcome change for my sore feet and legs.
By retying my boots so they didn’t touch my ankle and taking some painkillers I was able to keep up a decent pace, and the weather improved dramatically as I headed towards Haltwhistle. The highlight of the day was undoubtedly the Lambley Viaduct, an enormous and hugely elegant piece of Victorian engineering lovingly restored to its former glory.
After the impressive view down the valley from the viaduct, the rest of the walk to Haltwhistle was a long hot trudge by comparison. By the time I got to the end of the track I was really hobbling and it was obvious even to me that I wouldn’t be able to continue without fixing my leg. I finished the day sore, tired and very apprehensive about my LEJOG plans.