Total distance covered so far : 330 km
I'll be frank! This trip is doing my head in!
The incessant rain is miserable to walk in but more horrible than that, it turns what might have been 'soft' moors and fields into total quagmires strewn with streams and no-go floods where previously neither existed. Pastures turned into a greasy smoothie of mud and sheep shit so slithery any attempt to cross without poles courts disaster! You know those filthy ankle-deep mud zones by field or farmyard gates where the cows gather? Yes, that, over and over and over again!
A lovely walk on the moors admiring the views turned into a slippery game of chance. Hours of stepping and leaping heart in mouth, from tuft to tuft of marsh grass, prodding layers of floating weeds to see how far a boot will sink if you step there. Coming across floods deeper than a boot with no way through. Streams that you could previously have stepped or leaped are now 10 feet across edged with squishy moss and marsh grass. A vast area of floating weed and moss that seems only two inches deep lures an attempt to squish through and suddenly becomes 8 inches deep leaving you sinking and stranded in the middle of a lake! Every step a potential disaster. It plays on your nerves and its exhausting! And I alone!
With that said, call me a big old cheat, but after 10km of riverside and meadow ooze the opportunity came to change routes and cover a few km on the South Tyne Trail which runs roughly parallel to the Pennine Way but has the huge advantage of being on a disused (and partly reused) railway so it is basically flat and mostly mud and ooze free. Okay so that's not the Pennine Way! Sue me! I stuck it more than could reasonably be expected and I promise if you'd been there you would have done the same. I sneaked in about 5 easy km of respite on another trail and am grateful! It was a badly long day and frankly if I'd squished through all those fields for the entire way, I don't think I'd have made it in time before dark. Oh the horror of being stuck out there on the flooded moors after dark! No no no!
And anyway, I still had to deal with the final slap in the face of the isolated. trackless, sinking, squishing mess of Hartleyburn and Blenkinsopp Commons.