Spring arrived eventually this week up north, the Lakes would be heaving, so we chose an isolated North Pennine walk for the weekend. Ten miles plus of moorland walking, with only a small group of walkers seen at a summit, doing a separate route, to interupt complete loneliness. This is walk 9.8 in the Nuttall book, with some of our alterations. Start at the (new) car park for the Roman camp called Whitley Castle on the map, Epiacum by the Romans, which avoids the main road walk. Go upto and through the camp and its many ramparts to the Pennine Way, and then as per the book up the gentle slopes of Grey Nag. The easy path to Tom Smith’s Stone – a huge disappointment the stone, we were expecting a large one – is on the far side of the wall. As the fence to Black Fell turns sharp left, with more peat groughs visible, we went straight on to pick up a grassy channel to the summit plateau and turned left for the top. Easy grass descends to the long streams home, the filthy “bothy” with the bunk-bed in the upper story is still there, and from here a track leads up and along the valley. The advice to keep to the north bank seems wrong, it is better to cross (easily)the Burn after the delightful limestone mini-gorge and the joining of the Woldgill burn, and then recross as appears right. As you approach the Pennine Way bridge, amuse yourself by trying to see where you think the Maiden Way Roman road to the camp and onto Greenhead on Hadrian’s Wall, and from Kirkby Thore, crossed the burn. Following the Pennine Way path up and then down through the camp again keeps you legal, but does add some 70m of climbing.
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