The last leg on the Coast to Coast Route takes us from the hamlet of Rookhope in the North Pennines up a steep hill to Stanhope Moor and past the sparse remains of the highest ever railway in the UK which, from 1846 to 1923, transported lead from the local mines to the Tyne river, amongst other things. The tracks have long been removed and the former line now provides a superb gravel cycling path.
The moor is a world of its own, vast and mighty. For the first time in my life, I hear the gabbling chatter and snigger of red grouses hiding in the heathers talking to one another.
Unfortunately there is a strong wind and we can’t record the garrulous conversation of the birds. (We have therefore worked a fiddle and used an acoustic red grouse we found on the web.) They fly away scolding as we approach them. In contrast, three rabbits don’t seem to mind the camera at all.
The trail through wind and light rain on the cleared train lines takes us through an all but deserted landscape. Yet there doesn’t seem to be a place without grazing sheep and their lambs.
Back in civilisation in Newcastle we use the next best office – a bar on the banks of the Tyne – to edit our films before catching the ferry to Amsterdam and saying goodbye to England.