Return of the Pennine Way!

I always said I wanted to do it again! This will be “revisit” as opposed to “do” though!

My youngest son Liam (12) and I are off in that direction next week. This was all Liam’s idea. He had carefully read many of my webpages about the various nomadic adventures of Jimmy and I, and decided that he wants a piece of the action for himself. His proposal was to do the Pennine Way, but in a car. Cross-examination by myself revealed that he wanted to enjoy the views and various country villages and landmarks, plus some nice evening meals and relaxing B&B or hostel stopovers - but without the walking!

I thought it was a great idea, so will be heading off early next week, with no particular schedule or plan other than we intend to follow the PW through all its towns and villages and make it all the way to Kirk Yetholm!

So why mention it here? Well, I do intend to sneak in a couple of activations. All that feasting and merriment will require some exercise and fresh air to offset it (DON’T tell Liam yet!!!), so I may pop up on the radio from time-to-time. Only from previously activated summits in my log though. I have a pact/gentlemen’s agreement/solmen oath (call it what you will) with Jimmy to only ever increase our uniques records together, so only repeats will be on the cards. There won’t be many, just enough to walk off the grub, and even then, we may well find some lovely walks that don’t even go over hills (shock horror).

The other point is that we have many friends, almost all met through SOTA, who live at various places along the Pennine Way, and some meet-ups would be very pleasant if mutually convenient. Please email me via tommyread at hotmail dot com if you are interested and want to exchange numbers.

I’m rather looking forward to it.


On Day 1 we breakfasted at Stocks Cafe, Chapel-en-le-Frith (perfect for en route to G/SP-001) and had a wander around Edale, and then Crowden where we had a good look around the new youth hostel location. Before Standedge, we walked between Diggle and New Barn Farm, before another short walk between Lumbutts and Mankinholes. It then took us ages and many wrong turnings (where’s Jimmy when you need him?) before successfully locating Ponden, but by then it had gone dark, so no walking. Finally we drove into Earby and Thornton-in-Craven, meeting Geoff G6MZX for a nice meal and a couple of pints.

Current thinking is that SOTA may appear tomorrow or Wednesday from Kisdon G/NP-026. Most likely SOTA will be on Friday or Saturday while returning south, visiting some or all of NP-029, NP-028, TW-004 and TW-005.


First on Day 2 was the Cross Keys Inn at East Marton. We had eaten here the previous evening before moving onto our accommodation (and another couple of pints) at The Tempest Arms, Thornton-in-Craven. However, this visit to East Marton was to show Liam the double-arched bridge. Unfortunately, I initially used the wrong access gate, leading me onto steep muddy and wet grass, lethally topped with a little fresh overnight snow. I was soon sliding down a bank getting very muddy, and hadn’t thought to take an ice axe!

We paid tribute to Gargrave with a short stop, but we were soon into Malham. I was originally going to take Liam up the Pennine Way to Malham Cove, but following a recommendation from Geoff G6MZX, I turned right over the bridge and followed the road to the end. Liam and I then walked right into Gordale Scar, but didn’t attempt to follow the other walkers who were scrambling up the waterfall at the end! On the return walk, I noticed a sign on the gate that warned of a “difficult ascent in 0.5 miles”!

Horton-in-Ribblesdale prompted only the briefest of stops, but Hawes demanded a visit to Liam’s Favourite Place In The World - the Hawes Wensleysale Creamery and Visitor Centre. Having sampled the samples, we opted of a block of smoked blue Wensleydale and a piece of fruit cake to take away for our later lunch.

Next stop was Keld, and Liam initially walking enthusiastically, motivated by his Wensleysale lunch to follow. His mood diminished as the gradient increased and he spotted a fishing pole sticking out of my rucksack! The funny thing was, with all the snow down, he hadn’t recognised Kisdon G/NP-026 at all! The snow was very deep across the top, but firmly consolidated, so progress wasn’t an issue.

At the summit, I set up for 80m and started dishing out the lunch goodies. It started snowing heavily, but not for long. Then trouble! Network coverage was patchy, so my 'phone was showing “Limited service”. This normally means 999 calls only. I tried sending a text on the off-chance - to a distribution list of a few likely suspects - and after a few minutes the calls started to come in. Thanks to Sean M0GIA, Jimmy M3EYP, Geoff G6MZX and Richard G3CWI. After a slow start, I made a modest run of contacts into a few DXCCs. A move up the band to offer the summit on SSB resulted in no more replies. It was now getting very cold, so I decided that we should be getting moving again.

The descent to the car was quick, and we set off on the top road to the Tan Hill Inn. I was soon regretting this, as up on the top the road was no more than two tyre tracks in a sea of white, and the tracks were white as well! I took it very steadily, and nursed the car to the Tan Hill Inn. We had a quick drink and a chat here, then made a sharp exit down the road towards Reeth, which had been treated. However, the road turning off towards Bowes had not, and I was driving in more difficult winter conditions again! I was pleased to join the A66!

Bowes was dead. Even the residential properties didn’t seem to have any lights on, there weren’t any shops and the Ancient Unicorn Inn - our prospective dinner bed & breakfast for the night - looked very very closed!

Instead we drove into Barnard Castle, and had a very good curry, and a very average bed & breakfast there instead.


Wednesday 17th February 2010 was Day 3 of the road trip. Our first rendezvous was with High Force. We parked in the visitor car park up on the main road, and walked down the specially made tourist path to the viewing point. This was a very enjoyable walk on a beautiful clear sunny morning.

We then drove up to the Langdon Beck Hotel, which is closed until Easter, so we then drove up to Cow Green Reservoir. We walked around the shore of the reservoir which was completely frozen across the surface - a spectacular sight with a backdrop of the white mounds of Mickle Fell G/NP-002, Murton Fell, Dufton Fell, Knock Fell, Great Dun Fell, Little Dun Fell and Cross Fell G/NP-001. I had hoped to walk all the way to the dam and Cauldron Snout, but the going was slow in places and we turned back. Even so, the eerie sound of the water burbling underneath the ice and the loud crashes of cracking ice echoing around the place was entertaining enough. I hadn’t spotted the possibility of walking down a service road to the dam.

A very brief stop in Dufton was followed by a slightly longer one in Garrigill - I bought a Turkish Delight in the Post Office, which was also the accommodation Jimmy and I used on the Pennine Way in 2006. In Alston we had a short circular walk mainly by the River South Tyne between the railway station and the youth hostel.

By the time we got to Greenhead, it was going dark, so after a quick photo we drove across to Once Brewed. Which is where we are now, staying in the Once Brewed Youth Hostel, and currently in the internet cafe in the Twice Brewed Inn next door. We aim to ‘complete’ the Pennine Way tomorrow or early Friday, then get a bit more SOTA done.

Note to Jimmy - get your Great Orme activation report on SOTAwatch!


Hi Dad,

My Great Orme Report can be viewed by clicking on the link below.

Jimmy M3EYP

Hi All,

My Dad M1EYP has decided that he is isn’t doing any more activations today and he will driving straight home to Macclesfield. He says he will monitor 145.500 fm if anyone local wants to contact him and he will monitor the GB3MN repeater on 145.650 fm as soon as gets to Manchester.

Jimmy M3EYP

Thursday 18th February 2010, and Day 4 of the Pennine Way road trip. Liam and I left the youth hostel at Once Brewed and took the very short drive up the road to Steel Rigg. From here, we took the opportunity to explore a little along Hadrian’s Wall on a glorious cold, clear and sunny morning.

Next stop was Bellingham, where we parked right by Bellingham bridge. We followed the Pennine Way along the riverside into the town centre, located the new youth hostel - now in a substantial stone building in the heart of the town, rather than the wooden shack at the top of the hill - but continued our walk into the visitor car park for Hareshaw Linn. Now we walked the wonderful path in the steep sided wooded valley, eventually criss-crossing the river on some wonderful wooden footbridges, until reaching the end and the spectacular viewing point for the Hareshaw Linn waterfall, claimed by some to be the most beautiful waterfall in England. It would have to go some to beat the raw power of Cauldron Snout for me, but the whole walk in and out of the Linn is truly stunning, and highly recommended. It was about a 5 mile round trip and took us a leisurely 75 minutes each way.

Now it was to the forestry village of Byrness on the A68. I pointed out the Byrness Hotel (where Jimmy and I had overnighted in 2006) to Liam but was more interested in locating the youth hostel, now run as a private enterprise but still in conjunction with the YHA. I had a pleasant chat with proprietor Colin before hitting the road again.

We would now add some serious mileage to the car. We had agreed to endeavour to get close to some nominal halfway point of the Cheviot ridge. Jimmy and I had stayed at Uswayford Farm in 2006, but the road to it was not a public access and the owners have now retired from the B&B business I understand. I tried to drive as far as possible up the military road to Chew Green, and made it most of the way until snow made progress impossible - and, not particularly sensible! After the priority business of reversing down the road and 11-point turning the car back into the descent direction, Liam and I had a short walk up the road to admire the views. The Cheviots are visually pleasing “egg box” hills anyway, and covered in snow they were delightful. Further down, they were green, with a beautiful river winding its way between them, and the return drive was slow as we savoured the aesthetics of our surroundings.

Despite having been within 20 miles of Kirk Yetholm via footpath, it was a considerably longer distance required to get there by road. We arrived there in early evening, and enjoyed a good meal at the Border Hotel. Finally, thinking that I would like to get a few SOTA activations in on the next day, I set off East for the A1 with the aim of getting a long distance south before checking in somewhere for the night.

That “long distance south” got me as far as a bit south of Berwick-upon-Tweed, and about 40 miles still North of Newcastle-upon-Tyne. But tired driving is never a good idea, and I was flagging by this point. As I pulled into a petrol station to stock up on the Red Bulls, I noticed that the service area also had a motel. I couldn’t resist the idea of a quiet pint and a comfy bed, so I booked the two of us in!


Friday 19th February 2010, and Day 5 - the final day of Liam’s Pennine Way road trip. Having completed all of Liam’s itinerary, it was time for me to return to a bit of SOTA for me. It would be curtailed though - my fatigue last night meant that we were starting out from much further north than anticipated.

We breakfasted on “Warm Devilled Eyemouth Crab with Buttered Toast” and fresh orange juice, as we looked at the heavy snow outside. A couple of inches had fallen in the local area, but the A1 was still moving well, even though it was down to one lane in each direction. By the time we were passing through Newcastle-upon-Tyne, there wasn’t any snow to be seen, and progress was good down onto the A64 and A166 for Bishop Wilton Wold G/TW-004.

I parked in the usual lay-by, just a few yards from the trig point at the summit, and wandered further along the grass verge to find a suitable operating post. I set up for 80m after soliciting a spot by text. Again, coverage was found to be patchy enough to disrupt phone calls, disallow WAP, but accept texting.

A pleasing run of contacts was had on 80m CW, followed by a handful on 80m SSB. Many thanks to Roy G4SSH and Sean M0GIA for the spots. Thanks also, and apologies to Graham G3OHC who posted information about my next summit (intended to be TW-005), but which I soon cancelled via Jimmy as I realised that I really ought to be going home!

The final activity of the outing was on approach to the Pennine Way crossing of the M62. I exited the motorway at the A672 junction, and led Liam through the snow along the Pennine Way to the famous Pennine Way footbridge for photos. This had been pencilled in for Day 1, but was thwarted by torrential rain at that point.

I drove home to Macclesfield while chatting to friends and family - Bob 2E0RHM, John M3GHI, Jimmy M3EYP, Richard G3CWI and Sean M0GIA - on the GB3MN repeater, arriving (of course) at the Weston Balti Raj to pick up the family tea and enjoy a pint of Bangla beer.

A five day SOTA outing with a difference - just two SOTA 1-point activations! - but some great outdoor (short) walks anyway. And also a bit of my “old” hobby of broadcast SWLing as well, with the following ‘catches’ of interest (frequencies in MHz (VHF FM) unless stated:

972 kHz MW - BBC World Service - Europe Today programme in English, relayed from NDR in Germany
1350kHz MW - URY (University Radio York)
87.7 Radio Milaad, Huddersfield
95.0 BBC Tees, Middlesbrough (new ID for BBC Radio Cleveland)
95.7 Penistone FM, Penistone
97.5 Smooth Radio, North-East regional
98.8 Spice FM, Newcastle-upon-Tyne
100.3 Real Radio, North-East regional
101.8 Real Radio, North-East regional
102.1 Teesdale Radio, Barnard Castle
102.5 NE1FM, Newcastle-upon-Tyne
102.8 Star Radio, Durham
103.2 Star Radio, Darlington
103.4 Sun FM, Sunderland
105.5 Teesdale Radio, Barnard Castle
106.8 Star Radio, Durham
106.9 Drystone Radio, Cowling
107.7 Smooth Radio, North-East regional
107.9 Pennine FM, Huddersfield


The Pennine Way Road Trip, including two SOTA activations, is now up on my website, with journal and photos.

Follow mine and Liam’s half-term adventure in the north here:

73, Tom M1EYP

In reply to M1EYP:
Hi Tom & Liam.Lots of super photo`s and what looks a very memorable trip to many places that I have never been.All the best Geoff.

Had it not been for you Geoff, we still wouldn’t have seen Gordale Scar. But after talking to you in the pub, we decided to do that short walk instead of the one to Malham Cove. And it was well worth it, really enjoyable and quite a spectacle at the end.

At least that one would have been photos of a place that you HAVE been to - because it was you that told me about it!