23/02- 15 mile
Day 1 started with a 07:23 train from Chester-Le-Street, meaning a fully packed bag the previous night and a lift down to the station at a unreasonably early hour. The train was packed with commuters going to Newcastle and I couldn’t help but smirk when I knew they were all going to get off the train and walk into an office block to sit in front of a computer until 5pm. Conversely, I was heading to the moors for a couple days.
After a short wait in Newcastle, I was on the slow, rackety train to Carlisle. At around 08:30 I hopped off at Corbridge with 1 local and stepped up the stairs out of the station with anticipation to start.
I set off South, straight up a climb and quickly took a right off the road and into a forest. Beads of sweat started on my temples as the incline did not cease. Weather is perfect, blue sky and the sun is generous, wishing I had brought my shades. Although 3 degrees, complaints are none existent as its beautiful.
Tramping though woods and farmers fields un-disturbed with my big pack on my shoulders was the closest I have felt to being free for some time. Getting lost through some farmers property, I start heading South-East on a moor, but quickly switch on and after a 30 minute de-tour I am back on track. It is muddy in parts, but most of the mud is frozen as it get’s cold here by night. I stop by a river for a lunch of malt loaf and sports mixtures with a coffee.
I carry on through many farms (nearly getting trampled by 60 or so very sketchy looking sheep, but averted by hopping over a wall into a field with calmer looking sheep) but soon make it onto Hexhamshire Common. Having been close by, but never on the Common itself before, I begin to wonder why I have never been up before. Being late February and the forecast for below -5 tonight, I see no one apart from a man in a pick up who gives a wave as he drives off the common.
I climb steadily for 2 mile then it flattens on the top for another 2 mile until I reach Stobb Cross. It is around 4pm so I start looking for places to camp. I take some photos then decide to head back where I came from as I spotted a possibility for a place to settle down for the night over a wall and hidden out of the way of the path. So 20 minutes walk re-tracing my steps, I hop over a wall and clear a space out of sight of everything, apart from a group of 6 or so sheep about 500m away looking confusingly in my direction. The view is great, through a valley northwards so I set up my tent and get sorted in no time, quickly wrapping myself up in the sleeping bag as its getting nippy.
Settled, I make a coffee and some rice while checking the map for tomorrows leg. I nod in and out of sleep until 12, dreaming of sheep standing outside my tent, wondering what is snoring in this small green dome. Get up at 12 to pee, and the sky is mostly clear apart from a few rouge clouds and a moon so bright I don’t need my headtorch. Back to my cocoon, I dream some more weird scenarioes, one being my tent getting washed away into the sea (even though the closest coast is around 50 mile away). The mind takes some diverted journeys when your in a tent by yourself.