If you ‘Google’ Yomp the result is something like – ‘a long distance march carrying heavy equipment over difficult terrain’. Perhaps that, and the weather forecast, put people off as only three of us joined leader Martyn at this somewhat desolate eastern outpost of Cumbria. Conditions were sparkling though as we left the village with warm sunshine helping us over the initial trackless section towards Garrigill. Fortunately we were not overburdened with heavy equipment as the terrain was certainly not easy at the start!
Things improved, however, on the walk into Alston above the river South Tyne though the comforts of the well walked Pennine Way were eschewed for a more overgrown and nettle infested path which was plainly more character building. Relief was eventually at hand as we enjoyed a well deserved coffee stop at Blueberry’s in Alston. We then continued northwards for a while as the sun was gradually replaced by cloud. Trending east we joined Isaac’s Tea Trail for a short section passing through the hamlet of Ayle and lunching at Clargill Head.
It was certainly a day of two halves as the rain arrived after lunch though not in the industrial quantities forecast. It chased us down past Ninebanks hostel and kept us company as we ascended southwards over the interminable Middle Rigg. Pathless yomping again we eventually reached the disused mine on Wellhope Moor (a misnomer if ever there was – try Ill Despair Moor!!) before a welcome and gentle descent back into Nenthead. It only remained to negotiate field paths into and through the village, passing a fascinating miniature village en route, thus completing the 22 mile circuit in about 8 hours. The heavens then opened as we changed and dripped into the Miner’s Arms for a swift one before parting company.
Footnote (or legnote) – the sight of 6'7'' Martyn changing in the back seat of his car is a privilege not granted to many!