Distance: 27,8 km (17,3 mi) for a total of 1403,2 km (871,9 mi)
Ascent (ca.): 1150 m (3775 ft)
Weather: Cloudy with sunny spells getting longer in the afternoon
As there was nobody in the hut to serve us a breakfast we left early without any fuss. It wasn’t an overly comfortable stay but better than pitching the tent somewhere in this area. We knew that there were some hills to cross today, immediately starting with Lamb Hill.
Underfoot conditions seemed to have slightly improved. Between Lamb Hill and Beefstand Hill even a section of slab stones started and lasted for quite some time. This wasn’t the only stretch prepared like this today, the share of slab stones or wooden beams making up the way dramatically increased compared to yesterday.
So we passed name after name on the map like Mozie Law and Windy Gyle. On the way towards King’s Seat we met the first Pennine Way walker for a long time. He had stayed in a B&B quite off-route, but announcing themselves on the junction of the PW with another byway.
Going was still hard and a wet affair so we had no ambition to take the detour to the summit of The Cheviot. The descent after Auchope Cairn was very steep and required careful footwork. By then we knew that it was only The Schil left to climb as major obstacle between us and the end of the PW.
At Black Hag we took the alternative low route as we hoped for a bit drier path. Indeed, this way turned out to be very walkable and although I usually don’t fancy walking on tarmac this time it made a nice change. Marching along this road I could finally play one tune I had taken with me on my mobile phone for this occasion: Scotland the Brave. And I saw a lot of foxgloves which for me somehow belong to Scotland.
Kirk Yetholm was soon reached, the reward for this achievement – the famous half pint in The Borders Hotel – claimed and the completion certificate received. As the youth hostel wasn’t open by that time we asked if we could leave our backpacks somewhere in the hotel to walk over to Town Yetholm to the post office. I had had a resupply parcel sent here and Jim wanted to post the certificate home even if he’s going back tomorrow because paper is not really easy to transport in a pack unfolded.
We had reserved a table for the evening in the hotel and enjoyed a delicious meal. There was a constant flow of walkers into the hotel, in every corner conversations dealt with walking and the way.
Would I walk the Pennine Way again? No, definitely not in its full length, only certain sections, mainly between Middleton-in-Teesdale and Dufton for the landscape highlights and the stretch over Kinder Scout. But after just having had three days of a Kneipp cure on what could in most places hardly be called a path I’m convinced that the PW is only ending in Kirk Yetholm for three possible reasons: to include the Cheviots at any cost, to let it end in Scotland or to test the stamina of PW walkers, but I find none of these convincing. If the way would start a bit further south in the Peak District and end at Alston or perhaps Greenhead because of the proximity to the railway in Haltwhistle, it would be ok. We heard similar appraisals from other walkers. But now I’m looking forward to Scotland!