With a decent breakfast on board and my new tent safely stowed on my rucksack and my old one donated to the Black Bull at Wooler I set off to try out my tent. I wasn’t sure exactly I was going to pitch it but safe to say I certainly didn’t imagine where I actually ended up pitching it.
The track towards Beal on St Cuthberts way was now passing through farmland, filled with wheat and more surprisingly poppies.
The path climbed steadily until I reached St Cuthbert’s cave. This is a sandstone cave which despite the signs is covered in carved graffiti dating from at least 1954. The sandstone gives a tale of the change in fashions of people’s name, hello Josh goodbye Nigel.
I climbed over a hill and got a good view of the sea. It was all downhill now to Beal and so it proved. I had a good view of two bulls in nearby fields having a shouting match and general aggressive display.
Glad I was in the lane separating them.
The path then entered woodland. And what do we all know about Northumberland woodland? Storm Arwen has made lots of the paths impassable and this forest did not disappoint.
The main path was blocked by fallen trees and I attempted to follow what appeared to be a track but just petered out in another tree graveyard.
There were no sign posts so it was a question of negotiating through the woods to another track.
Unfortunately during this exercise of scrambling through a wood with a bulky rucksack I managed to slip and fall down a 12 foot gully and end up on my back, turtle like, lying on top of a stream. Having done this before I know the drill. Get out of the ruck sack and sort yourself out.
I did this and whilst being a bit shaken wasn’t injured , good old walking poles again.
However my mobile phone had vanished. This was a major problem as getting it replaced and restored would be a huge job. Plus I couldn’t tell people what was going on.
I spent a little while doing a finger tip search of the stream bed but nothing. I was concerned at this point then remembered I’d passed a cottage shortly before the path was blocked. Get them to ring my phone and see if that helps. I had searched thoroughly but no sign.
I arrived back at the cottage and explained what had happened, Paddy the owner was more concerned I had concussion but once we had sorted that she also explained there was no mobile signal here so ringing it would be pointless.
I also had the niggling thought , what if I had lost it earlier than my fall? I left my gear with Paddy and made one more search.
And I found it. Somehow it had managed to come out of pocket fly through the air and land on a small shelf under tree roots in the bank. The only reason I found it was I slipped when in the stream and literally put my hand on it.
Much relieved I returned to Paddy who had organised a cup of tea for me and was still concerned about my welfare. I explained I was wild camping and she suggested I called it a day and camp on their lawn. She also made a delicious chicken dinner for me and Jamie her son who lives there. Dinner was at 8:30 because the generator needed to be switched on, no mains at this woodland cottage. This gave me time to erect my new tent.
By the time I had followed the instructions and got something vaguely tent like covering my kit, dinner was ready.
We had a long chat and Paddy told me that the cottage had been where Anthony Quayle the actor, had been based in the war and he had come back to visit it and met her and her husband.
Full of chicken dinner and the warm feeling that comes when you meet someone who helps you above and beyond expectation I had a good sleep in the new tent as the Tawny owls set about their business in the forest outside.