Garrigill to Slaggyford
Imagine this. You’re walking the Pennine Way and you have two nights in a B&B half way between Garrigill and Slaggyford. Do you a) get up early, take a taxi all the way back to Garrigill, yesterday’s destination, walk back past your B&B to Slaggyford and then take the same taxi back to the B&B or b) stay in bed all day?
Garrigill looked better in the sunshine when I leapt from the taxi and I greeted the usual sheep as I walked along a damp river track and out onto the pastures. I can’t believe this weather. No rain forecast for the next few days.
Soon I arrived in Alston, a former mining village (lead, copper, zinc, coal etc.) and the highest market town in England (320m). The village store served coffee and had a single table with an old sign saying they belonged to the chatty cafe scheme. Occupants are required to chat to others at the table. Somebody came in wearing a face mask to buy a bag of sugar but that was it.
Instead of walking through more bog, I headed to Alston station where the South Tynedale Railway starts its picturesque run to Slaggyford. It’s an old mining railway which also carried passengers until 1976 when it closed. Restoration work started some years later. A new narrow gauge (2 ft) line has been laid (the highest in England) and it’s fully operational with gold star sustainability, no plastic cutlery, special services for people with additional needs etc. Except the rust is settling on the lines and everything is locked up because of the virus.
There is a walking trail alongside the track and I love nothing more than walking alongside a railway so that’s what I did. It’s a glorious walk and there are two little stations along the way. It’s become popular with Pennine Way walkers despite a grim warning in the Pennine Way guidebook about cheating. Anyway it’s fine for Weybridge to Holy Island walkers, says I.
Last Train to Clarksville was the song if it wasn’t obvious. Late 1966 chart topping Monkees’ debut single. I used to watch their TV show when I should have been doing my homework. I didn’t understand the lyrics back then. I’m not sure I do now but I love them. Is there a subtle reference to Vietnam?
At the end, I waited by the level crossing for my taxi back to Alston where I ate lunch and stocked up with KitKats before returning once more to the Pennine Way to walk to the B&B. So, it was a funny sort of day walking forwards and backwards and ending where I started but good fun.
The usual sheep at the start of the day
Grouse moors where a lad can now earn £50 a day for beating the grouse.
The railway runs alongside the Tyne
A Pennine Way Walker (not cheating)…