Friday, 8th May, Clennell to Elsdon, 13.52 miles
I decide today would not be a good one to go through the forestry ranges. Sarah had told me it might be full of felled logs, logs being felled and rutted, muddy tracks, not to mention industrial machinery. It would also mean we would have to cross the military land marked DANGER on the map and no entry when red flags are flying. I didn’t fancy being the target for practice today so I decide to stick to the B road that skirts the forestry land even though it meant inevitably having to confront the dreaded monster log lorries. There are signs warning of military vehicles but we don’t come across any.
There is an aroma of turpentine that hangs in the air from processing plants. When we do come across our first monster, the road is narrow and the driver stops the wagon. I decide to dismount and lead Tommy past the very long vehicle which he does without any fuss. Things are definitely looking up. I call up to the cab to say thank you and he tells me he has already radioed the driver coming up behind him to slow down. How amazing is that?
We take a break next to this sign at Darden Lough to get our bearings and I hear my first cuckoo reminding me of Richard’s poem. The last stretch into Elsdon seems to go on forever, but we make it eventually and find a lovely village which seems to be largely shut down.
Just a mile further along the road and we have reached our destination. Redesdale Equestrian Centre and Helen comes out of the stables to greet us. Helen Self and her partner bought the property about a year ago and have since built up the business as a livery yard and training centre. Her passion is for eventing and she has achieved some success at Level 2. The facilities are excellent.
Tommy is installed in a comfortable stable in an American style barn with some feed and hay, and we head out to the pub for supper with Jackie, a friend of Helen’s and spend a very enjoyable evening together.