Robson Green’s endurance will be put to the test in the second episode of Further Tales from Northumberland, which will be screened next week.
The Hexham-born star will join fell-running legend Joss Naylor – who was 79 at the time of filming, but is now 80 – for a run in the Cheviot Hills, before spending a night in a mountain refuge hut. Robson’s marathon efforts in the Cheviots come as he hikes along the Northumberland stretch of one of Britain’s most famous walking routes – The Pennine Way.
Robson says: “Straddling the border between England and Scotland, the Cheviots are incredibly isolated and the weather is notoriously unpredictable. I’ve hiked in the Cheviots before, but this isn’t going to be a walk in the park, particularly as I am putting on my running shoes, to try my hand at the past time that has been popular in these hills since medieval times – fell running. It’s one of our most ancient sports, but only the toughest and the fittest need apply.”
Enter Joss Naylor, aka Iron Joss, who, in 1974, wrote himself into the history books by running all 268 miles of The Pennine Way faster than anyone had done before.
Reflecting on the incredible feat, Joss says: “When I started off on The Pennine Way that morning I was really full of running. I don’t think anything would have stopped us. The record then was just over five days and I did it in three days, four hours and 16 minutes – something like that. You look back later in life and you think, ‘I did that’.”
Speaking to Robson about his love of fell running, especially in the Cheviot Hills, Joss says: “The Cheviots are beautiful. You have the rolling hills and the views are magic. It is a beautiful part of the world.
“When you’re out fell running and you’re going well and the distance isn’t in your mind, you can go anywhere, any time, you’re floating along and you can switch off and take in what nature provides for you.”
The Pennine Way trail runs from Edale, in the northern Derbyshire Peak District, north through the Yorkshire Dales and the Northumberland National Park and ends at Kirk Yetholm, just inside the Scottish border. The path was the idea of the journalist and rambler Tom Stephenson and it celebrated its 50th anniversary in April 2015.
As part of Robson’s exploration of The Pennine Way in next Monday’s second episode – to be aired on ITV at 8pm – Robson also visits Castle Nook Farm, Alston, which is home to the remains of a vast Roman fort called Epiacum. Robson learns how the farm’s moles have been unearthing buried Roman treasure. He then stops off at Blenkinsopp Castle to meet owner Mike Simpson, whose family bought the castle for just £2,000 in 1955.
Reflecting on his hike along The Pennine Way, Robson says: “It is an absolutely spectacular way to see the beautiful landscape of Northumberland.”
The second episode comes on the back of last night’s third-series opener, which saw Robson catch a bird’s-eye view of the county.
In each episode of the weekly, eight-part series, Robson will tackle a different journey through Northumberland and along the way he’ll tell the stories of the people and landmarks he encounters on his travels.
The third series also sees Robson take on exciting new experiences, including sailing a 100-year-old tall ship in the North Sea, leading The Rothbury Highland Pipe Band in a commemorative parade through the village, taking a tour round The Alnwick Garden’s Poison Garden with The Duchess of Northumberland and ringing osprey chicks in Kielder Forest.
He’ll also uncover the stories behind Northumberland’s fascinating history, traditions and wildlife – including tales of Britain’s oldest working lifeboat station, seafaring explorers and Anglo-Saxon kings.
The previous two series have been watched by millions of viewers and have helped to raise the profile of the county and increase tourism numbers to the area. Robson says he is delighted that a third series has been made. During filming he said: “It’s always great to do a third series of anything and with this, we are just discovering more hidden gems in Northumberland. The series is just more of a great celebration of an area that is beautiful, idyllic and still one of the last, great, isolated, remote wildernesses that is on the planet and a place that I am still very proud to call home.”