Byrness 6th March 2016

I must admit that when there’s a long drive to a walk it always worries me a little. It’s not the drive to get there, it’s the drive back where the problems lie. After walking seven or eight miles the thought of a long drive home in a warm car with a gently dozing partner beside me can often seem like an accident waiting to happen.

This walk had me worried for those very reasons. It was a long old drive (an hour and a half almost) up the A68 to get to Byrness, the self-styled ‘Last village in England’. It was a bright clear day and good for walking. After shaking the stiffness out of our legs we set off through the village and then up the thickly wooded slopes that stated they were on the Pennine Way! If the path was, then it must certainly be the most unobtrusive stretch on that long distance trek, hemmed in by tall pines and spruce.

As we climbed higher we encountered a sprinkling of crusty, frozen snow on the rocks and the heather and this quickly turned to a smooth even covering as the path wound onwards. Pretty soon we were crunching through six inches of the stuff – our first snowy walk of the year!

Although cold, the weather was bright, clear and sparklingly sharp and the walking was good. We had lunch in the shelter of a rocky outcrop, warmed by early spring sunshine. We continued on over the rolling landscape, above us a huge sky spreading out in all directions. Our target was the border fence and the chance to shake a leg in Scotland before heading home. However, the short-ish day, the long climb and snow covered footpaths meant that we were probably ½ a mile short of our target when we started back. Nonetheless it was a fantastic walk up to the moorland.

On the way down we had to negotiate waterlogged paths and tricky underfoot conditions before we arrived at the Border Ride road and firmer going. As the sun dipped spectacularly down in the west we wound our way down through the snow line parallel to the tracks of a fox who had been wandering earlier in the day. We arrived back at our cars feeling a little leg-weary and snow tanned.

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