Although I awoke to blue sky (and grabbed a photo of the turret of Esdaile and our cherry tree branches against the blue), the clouds soon arrived and the forecast was rain/sleet and snow over 200m. James decreed that this ruled out a beach walk as he did not spend five years in Aberdeen and walk on the beach in all weathers as I did. The second option was varying the route back down south which I am always in favour of. The A68 was the choice and after passing through Pathhead where James did his trainee year, we were soon south of Earlston and spotted the Leaderfoot Viaduct which I did not remember from childhood visits to these parts (we used to go to the campsite at Lilliardsedge). Just north of the campsite is the Monteath Mausoleum which again, I don’t remember.
Outside the towns there was very little traffic but some great views on the B road from near Otterburn and through Bellingham.
We kept seeing Pennine Way signs which is a reminder to walk from Smallwood to Edinburgh, taking the Pennine Way for the majority of the journey. Today we had to pass by. The ubiquitous hill sheep are a potent reminder that these hills would have all been covered in forests before the sheep came.
Nearer to Alston (the highest market town in England) we could see the north Pennines had a dusting of snow and it was by the road as we drove over the Hartside Pass (1903 feet)
and then descended into Penrith, the rain and the motorway home.