Saturday, 17 August 2013

Post 4, Over the Pennines to Northumberland

 Melmerby is a lovely place to stop for a night. It's nice to be able to sit in the pub, looking out over the wagons and horses and have a drink with the lads on their way back to Scotland and Newcastle. I travelled over the Pennines to Alston the next day and about 20 other wagons were also headed in the same direction.
It's a long climb up the pass but not too hard on the horses. There is a cafe at the top and a kind lady bought me a hot chocolate and a cake, while I let the horses eat some grass. The lady had seen that it was awkward for me to go into the cafe, as there wasn't anywhere to tie the horses. When travelling, people are often kind and considerate, but exceptionally, some people are very mean-spirited. Sometimes petty officials try and impose their mean-spiritedness and small-mindedness over me. Last year I pulled out of Appleby, early on the Sunday evening to a verge near Brampton, the police put signs up everywhere saying, "No Stopping" this is inconvenient for people travelling with horses. Just before dusk a policeman pulled up and told me I couldn't stop there. I told him that the sun was just going down and I couldn't move as I didn't have any lights. He replied, "If you're still here in half an hour I'll give you a fixed penalty notice!" I said to him, "Well officer, how much is the fixed penalty?" He replied, "£30", so I said, "Well in that case officer, I might as well stay," he drove off and never came back.

 Stopped at the Cart's Bog.
 Stopped in the park at Hexham with Mala and Liam. All the other wagons had gone their different ways.
On my own again at Cresswell, on the Northumberland coast. Coal washes up on the beaches around here and you can collect it and use it as fuel. There is an interesting film on ( about collecting sea coal with horses and carts. At one time 80 horses and carts were working on the beaches near here. This was a big coal mining area. An old man came and talked to me and told me that in the 1970's he'd worked down the mine with a spotted pony just like my one.
The next day I went to Amble and stopped by the docks on some nice grass. Somebody rang the council to complain and two traveller liaison officers came to see me. They were very friendly and gave me a leaflet about unauthorized stopping places in Northumberland. They also asked me if I needed anything, like a doctor. The leaflet is an Unauthorized Encampment Guide. It starts by saying, " Gypsys and travellers have been part of the community in Northumberland for hundreds of years. Northumberland County Council respects the right and choice of travellers to live a nomadic way of life... [They] have an agreed protocol for managing unauthorized encampments that reflects government guidance. .

 The next day I stopped by the sand dunes near Bamburgh Castle. There were lots of orchids.
Had a lovely walk and paddle on the beach, sometimes my feet get a bit tired and it does them good to have a paddle.
 Sunset over the castle.
 By Saturday 22nd of June, I'd done 758 miles since leaving Cornwall. The hills in the background of this picture are the Cheviots. Really nice countryside. Belles shoes were worn out, it was a hot sunny day and I knew I'd have to re-shoe her myself. I wasn't looking forward to this but there was nothing else to be done. It's very difficult to find a farrier sometimes and they are often too busy to come out. I had a set of spare shoes for her and they luckily didn't need much shaping, I just had to open the heels out a bit with the pinchers, so I was able to do it without heating the shoes up. It took me an hour and a half but I wasn't in any hurry. I was pleased with the result but I was hot and exhausted by the time I'd finished, and lay down on the bed for 3 hours to rest (I had already walked 9 miles).