Stage 12 of the Pennine Way is less than 17 miles from Alston to Greenhead. Sadly, today marks the end of the Pennine Hills but the Pennine Way still has a long way to go! As compensation, we’ll meet up with Hadrian’s Wall at the end of the day. Highlights of day 12 include Slaggyford, Knarsdale Railway Bridge and Blenkinsopp Common.
There are no supermarkets until day 14 in Bellingham so you may wish to top up on supplies in Alston. More importantly, there’s a Spar near the Pennine Way which opens for early risers selling hot takeaway breakfast sandwiches. If you’re setting off later you’ll easily find a good bakery / restaurant in town to get breakfast. Lastly, there’s also a CO-OP supermarket in the centre of town where you can top up on supplies for the next 2 days.
Pennine Way Leaving Alston
When we entered Alston from Dufton yesterday, it was on a picturesque path. Today, as we leave the path is equally as picturesque. If you’re sharing pictures on social media, these paths are definitely Instagram worthy. Even more so early morning when you have the path to yourself. The Pennine Way follows the South Tyne Trail for a while before forking out to Wanwood Bent.
As you head away from the South Tyne River you’ll go uphill to Wanwood Bent. As I was admiring the views I could clearly see buzzards soaring over the valley.
Today we’ll enter Northumberland, out last county before we cross over the border to Scotland. As always, there’s a good photo opportunity next to the ‘Welcome to Northumberland’ sign.
If you didn’t fancy walking up and around Wanwood Bent, you could have stayed on the South Tyne Trail and rejoined in Slaggyford. However, if you went this way you’d have missed a hill and some bogs! Slaggyford is a small village and home to a historic railway. Finally, an interesting fact about Slaggyford is it used to have a population larger than Alston.
Railway Bridge at Knarsdale
This area is famous for the Lambley Viaduct but it will add an additional mile to todays journey to see it. If you’re into viaducts and have enough energy then you should definitely add Lambley Viaduct to todays itinerary. Alternatively, one sight which the Pennine Way does pass is the railway bridge at Knarsdale. Shortly after the railway bridge you’ll pass another impressive building called Knarsdale Hall.
Stile to Nowhere
The Pennine Way was England’s first national trail and opened up back in 1965. For this reason, it’s not unusual to see stiles to nowhere which have lost their purpose over the years.
There’re 2 things blocking our route to Greenhead. Firstly, we need to cross the boggy Blenkinsopp Common and hill. Secondly, we must cross the busy A69 road. I knew of a cake shop in Greenhead which kept me motivated as I skipped over the bogs.
Blenkinsopp Common Trig Point
Blenkinsopp Common trig point is just less than 300 meters altitude. Comparatively, yesterdays climb over Cross Fell was 3 times the height. As you descend through moorland you may see red grouse. You’ll almost certainly hear their familiar call.
Descent to Greenhead
After descending Blenkinsopp Common, there’s some farm land to pass through followed by the A69 road. Once you cross the road, you can either walk on Green Bank into Greenhead or on the official Pennine Way through Haltwhistle Golf Club.
Greenhead / Northumberland National Park
Greenhead is located at the entrance to Northumberland National Park and also close to Hadrian’s Wall. Additionally, there’s a good cake shop in the centre which is exactly what I needed after todays walk. I didn’t just take a slice of cake for now but also a slice of cake to takeaway!
Where to Stay in Greenhead
Greenhead has a few good accommodation options. In addition to hotels you’ll also find Greenhead Hostel. However, I decided to continue walking a few miles along Hadrian’s Wall and took a slight detour to Hadrian’s Wall Camping. If you have the energy and you’re camping, I highly recommend this option.
Stage 13 – Greenhead to Bellingham