From west to east

The morning breaks and this is what passes as a dry day in Cumbria so we decide to walk in to Coniston before setting off for Northumberland. It is predictably muddy and there is the odd shower but we have at least got out on foot. Chris spots a couple who look remarkably like our friends Dave and Gloria from Essex; that would be because they are our friends Dave and Gloria from Essex. What a shame we are leaving today so we can’t meet up.

Overlooking Coniston

We set off on our 145 mile, four hour journey to River Breamish near Alnwick. As we travel eastwards on the A69 the scenery changes and become less barren and we see our first dry roads for a week. The views are beautiful as we drive along parallel to Hadrian’s Wall, although glimpses of the wall itself elude us. We cross the River Tyne, with no fog in sight. As we get nearer to Newcastle there are some signs of industrialisation. We then start travelling northwards on the A1 and the lovely scenery reappears and even better it is bathed in sunlight. The drystone walls have disappeared and the building style is very different from further east, with plenty of yellowish stone. This is the furthest north I have ever been and I am excited at the prospect of treading in the footsteps of great grandfather John Hogg and his ancestors.

The site at River Breamish is lovely, with plenty of wildlife promised. I spot what I think may be a blackcap. Unfortunately, as I was already pushing it with the number of books I have on board, I left the decent bird book at home so a positive identification will have to wait. The site is within a mile of an antique centre and the nearest town is home to one of the largest second hand bookshops in the country, perhaps staying here should have a government health warning. We go for a brief walk round the nature trail attached to the site. Although today is the best weather we’ve had since Tewkesbury, there are clear signs of the heavy rain that also affected this area last week. I am still having problems with my boot leaking and I point out a possible crack in the sole. Chris is unconvinced but nonetheless decides to test my theory by attempting to insert the handle of a teaspoon through the alleged hole. The spoon handle disappears convincingly. Gratifying though it is to have been proved right, I am yet to be persuaded that this was the most sensible course of action. The hole may be repairable but probably not within the next week. Inspired by the lack of rain I do some washing at the site laundry, where the sinks are designed for vertically challenged persons with very long arms. I wonder if the designers own shares in the local chiropractor.

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