Hiking Boots

An epic journey for CFC

Counsellor 'Walks the Talk' 

Deb walks the Penine Way

Earlier this summer, our counsellor Deb undertook a largely solo trip along the Pennine Way, starting in Kirk Yeltholm in the Scottish Borders and aiming to finish in Edale, some 268 miles. Below, she shares some of her thoughts and encounters.

To date, Deb has raised £1,107 for the Counselling & Family Centre. A massive thanks to Deb for her amazing effort, and also huge thanks to everyone who has been generous enough to support our charity by donating. There is still time to give via Deb's Just Giving Page >

Interested in fundraising for us? Click here to find out more >

Day 1:  Kirk Yeltholm to Byrness - 28 miles

The Border Inn, Kirk Yelthom, touch the wall.  In the rain, 8am.  Met Simon and George at 8.30am as I just started.  It struck me an hour later to wonder where they had set off from to be where they were at that time in the morning.  Then I started climbing.  Wet walk (very wet), cold feet, no views.  Camped high up – one rookie error.  My flint had got wet (along with most things) so nothing to light stove with.  Thankfully enough hot water in flask to make tea but nothing left for breakfast.  Hopefully get a bacon butty in Byrness in the morning.


Waving aurevoir to the Cheviots and heading into Northumberland National Park

Day 2:  Byrness to Bellingham - 15.5 miles

Woke up to beautiful views finally.  Re-met Jeff (85!) and James (his son) (I’d met them yesterday in the mountain rescue hut warming up a bit).  They do the same weekend walk every year.  They were pleased to see me and had said they’d been worried about me with it being so wet.  Only saw 5 other people all day.  Finally got some more hot water but no food (Covid shutting shops/pubs) so stopped in forest for hot choc and porridge eventually.  Back up the hills and a beautiful sunset camp.  Tired and every battery was flat.

Day 3:  Bellingham to Greenhead - 23 miles

Hot day, early sunrise.  Into Bellingham and grateful to find a Co-op.  Heard a cuckoo.  Met Joh from Dunbar walking from Lands End to John O’Groats.  He asked to take my photo as we sat chatting under a Pennine Way sign eating our lunch.  Does it class as lunch if you’re eating every couple of hours?!  He was collecting photos of people on his journey, I collected photos of views.  Met friends who had driven up to Greenhead.  2 pints and a shower, knackered, sunburnt and bitten to pieces but loving it.

Day 4:  Greenhead to Alston - 17 miles

Hot day again.  Sausage butty, cheese scone, Hadrian’s Wall, and someone to carry my pack for a bit (thanks Rob).  He gave up after an hour though.  Passed through a yard and was met by RastaRoy who’s love for life came from meeting people walking the Way.  He had every drink to offer – I settled for lemon San Pellegrino that hit the spot.  He has a YouTube account apparently.  Spectacularly lost by 7pm.  Had walked up wrong valley.  Don’t ask how, just tiredness maybe?  Hot choc, compass out, no panic just more walking.  Finally fell into The Turks pub in Alston. Noisy but England won so all good, pint was divine. 

Day 5:  Alston to Dufton - 19.5 miles

River crossing, lost on the moor – learning how to follow white way markers.  Three summits (Cross Fell, Little Dunn, Great Dunn).  Long day but such wonderful views of the Lakes when pitching wild camp.  Only met one person all day.  Blowy and a bit cold by the time I got into tent but the views and sunset were glorious.


100 miles in.
Top of Cross Fell.
168 miles to go...


Day 6:  Dufton to Middleton-in-Teesdale - 20.5 miles

Nippy.  A sheep came to say good morning.  Burnt off to be a tough hot day.  No shop in Dufton so cadged a packet of frutella off an unsuspecting couple already heading down from High Cup Nick – if you haven’t been, go.  Stunning.  2 Chinook helicopters flying up from valley below right over head.  Views of the Lakes.  Water off the moor as ran out – thank goodness I had purification tabs with me.  Lots of scrambling round Cauldron Snout – not easy with rucksack.  Bailed at Langdon Beck and found a pub to stay at.  Best ham, egg and chips and ever (think I was hungry!).  Bit worried I’ll be really stiff in the morning, body telling me it’s worked a bit.

Day 7:  Middleton-in-Teesdale to Tan Hill Inn - 17 miles

Left pub with Pam and Steve and walked together to start of path.  They were going the other way.  High Force and Low Force waterfalls, blisters sore, another Co-op in Middleton-in-Teesdale.  Moor, God’s Bridge and steady walk over more moor to Tan Hill Inn.  Pub and camp site.  So ready for a beer that didn’t pitch until 11pm after 2 pints.  Tent wasn’t up the best. 

Day 8:  Tan Hill Inn to Hawes - 16 miles

Wet day, saw owl as left hunting for breakfast, heard it first.  Completely midge attacked when putting down tent. Lovely eerie bird sounds in mist as crossing moor.  No view from Great Schunner Fell but stunning views of the Dales once below cloud line.  Little detour round Hardraw Force waterfall – 100feet single drop from rocky overhang so you can walk behind it.  Claimed to be highest unbroken waterfall in England.  Got there at 5.30 and it shut at 6 so was a bit lucky.  Stopped at Hawes YHA and was pleased to be able to spread everything out to dry.  Sore feet, lots of bites but a pint of Wensleydale Pale Ale and another England win.

Day 9:  Hawes to Horton-in-Ribblesdale - 14 miles

Sister joined for breakfast.  Another wet day, and thunder.  She drove rucksack round to tonight’s stop so I had a lighter pack – oh the joy.  Practically ran.  Easy route, not too exciting though could see Pen Y Gent and all the way round to Kinder.  Sister walked the wrong way to meet me so didn’t.  We met in the pub (funny that).  Pie and chips and sticky toffee pudding.  Not looking forward to putting on wet trainers again tomorrow.  According to my watch my average daily step count for the week so far has been 48464.

Day 10:  Horton-in-Ribblesdale to Malham - 14.5 miles

Double poached egg breakfast and a quick run up and over Pen Y Gent then another up and over before the rain came.  Feeling fit today.  Lunch under a tree at Malham Tarn.  Sun came out as descending through Malham Cove.  What a place Malham Cove is – why have I never been before?  Hot choc and on to another pub stop so could be fed and watered, showered and hair washed before a Zoom interview tomorrow. 

Day 11:  Malham to Cowling - 17.5 miles

Interview.  Slow plod in the rain to Cowling.  Pretty walk but not exciting.  Noticing such variation in path types.  Highest point on moor summit looking over to Haworth moor.  Managed to fall in a stream but was soaked anyway from the rain.  Found Winterhouse Barn (as recommended by lads from Buxton who I crossed paths with - they were going North).  A summer house in the garden, let out by Olwyn and Tony to walkers, with electric, a kettle, two beds, homemade wine and a bacon butty for breakfast, all for a tenner.  Sat with Olwyn chatting for a bit as we shared the wine.  She didn’t want to charge me as she felt she had benefited from my counselling skills?!  Looking forward to tomorrow’s walk over the moors past the house that inspired Wuthering Heights.


Plodding today.
Not so glam!

Day 12:  Cowling to Hebden Bridge - 16 miles

A moorland day.  Dry’ish but soggy shoes.  Beautiful walk up to Top Withins which is where there is an old derelict stone house that was thought to be Emily Bronte’s inspiration for Kathy’s house in Wuthering Heights.  Just a long leisurely day that was going peacefully until I realised I had dropped my map a few Km back as I was trying to remove my waterproof without taking off my rucksack.  About turn, a few extra Km but my map and I were reunited.  Was so tempted to go for a wild swim in the reservoir – it looked so inviting.  But I declined.  Another time.  Steep footpath down into Hebden Bridge.  Lovely looking town.  Want to go back and explore more.  Had booked an apartment as friends coming to visit and yet another England match on.  Friends brought dinner with them – good friends!

Day 13:  Hebden Bridge to Standedge - 15 miles

These good friends then walked the whole of today’s leg with me.  What a joy.  Beautiful landscape past lots of reservoirs and up along Blackstone Edge.  Could see Manchester and Liverpool in the distance.  Over the M62 and down into Diggle.  Calm, steady walking, chatting, eating, drinking tea.  A very peaceful day for body and soul.


I can see Manchester ❤️ 

Day 14:  Standedge to Torside - 13 miles

Continued moorland walk.  Rolling cairns in amongst heather turning purple and white cotton grass.  Birdsong, grouse chatter, very few humans.  Warm, peaceful and slightly reflective as I knew I was nearing the end.  Gratitude for time and space.  Gratitude for a healthy body and slower mind.  Gratitude for friends and support and for the kindness of strangers along the route.  Off the path and along the Longdendale Trail into Glossop to meet friends and go out for dinner.  A bed with a family for the night and chat into the wee small hours.

Day 15:  Torside to Edale - 16 miles

The last one.  Up over Bleaklow with a muddy bum as slipped when tried to jump across churned up ground.  Classic banana skin fall.  Today’s walk is one I know well so I just set out to enjoy it.  Constant eyes on Kinder Scout and knowing daughter and Team CFC somewhere heading towards me.  Only they weren’t, they got lost.  So, a few phone calls from the summit of Kinder I helped them find their position and we arranged to meet 1 mile from the finishing pub.  The Old Nag’s Head, Edale.  Touch the wall.  And then we walked home.  268 miles walked, 11,210m ascent, a few pints.

My Just Giving Page for the Counselling & Family Centre >


Reunited after my epic!