Trails and trials of the writer who walks
This is the football pitch on the village green at Wall. Just out of sight is the public toilet block. But where is the campsite? This is it! (Two locals informed me, and laughed when they saw my face.) Camping is permitted on the village green for 24 hours. They are very trusting at Wall. The public convenience is never locked and has an automatic light. Strangely, I felt more vulnerable here, in full view of several houses and obviously camping solo, than I did on Great Dun Fell. But I needn’t have worried. They are a remarkably friendly bunch at Wall. I inadvertently left my poles on a bench on the green when I went off in search of the pub. They were still there when I got back (after the sun and two delicious pints had dropped below the horizon). “No one steals anything in this village,” I was told. In the pub, a few hundred yards down the hill, I was identified publicly as someone intending to camp on the green, which made me feel even more nervous, but was simply offered advice on which side to pitch in case of rain.
I was tempted to erect my tent between the goal posts, but that might have tempted someone else to take a pot at it. Instead, I opted for the most secretive corner I could find that was not too far from the toilet block and overlooked by just one house (behind the large bush on the left), with the added benefit of a park bench. Quite des res.
Wall was also memorable for the strength and variety of its dawn chorus: pheasant, cuckoo, blackbird, sparrow, chaffinch, woodpecker, collared dove,wood pigeon were among the identifiable soloists.
So dawned Day 5 of my rambling off-piste journey. I set off on a pleasant chain of footpaths towards Hexham, with the intention of catching a train up to Berwick upon Tweed via Newcastle. More cheating. I love it. On my original itinerary, the one where I fantasised actually completing the final section of Pennine Way, I would have reached Berwick by bus from Kelso in time to catch an afternoon train back to Preston on Day 8. Advance ticket only £9.95. Any other train would have cost me about £45. Instead I had in mind a leisurely weekend at Berwick, which I had never visited before, and where there were both campsites and a youth hostel.
Such were my thoughts as I enjoyed the peaceful green hills south of Wall: thoughts which I tried to transmit to the field of frisky, over-curious and over-muscled bullocks that blocked my way.
But bovines, I think, deserve a blog of their own, so will write that one next.