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Day 8 – Garrigill to Dufton (or Hill, Hut, Shelter, Radar, Bog)

Oh what a beautiful morning
Oh what a beautiful morning

What a beautiful morning. I can’t think of a nicer day to head off up over Crossfell. We had been warned many times about how bad it was going to be up there but it was simply beautiful.

I feel like singing a song
I feel like singing a song

What’s more the path was an absolute delight. The breakfast had been served promptly and accept for a minor delay created by my remembering that I wasn’t wearing any sun screen or insect repellant we were out of Garrigill before nine. I had hoped that this would allow us to arrive at the half way point before three in the afternoon I was sure to be mistaken.

You only get the nice path if you have a PONY!
You only get the nice path if you have a PONY!

Crossfell was certainly one of the most well marked paths we have been on so far. Much more so than on the Cheviot. 

All the other hills have clouds!
All the other hills have clouds!

Unfortunately a little after five miles we moved off the beautiful path and on to a disused “level”. I don’t know what a level is but it seemed to be a road along a fixed contour. There was clearly once a village here (and we later discovered that there had been a lot of lead mining around these parts) but if there was it had been well destroyed. The only remnant was a Bothy named Greg’s Hut.

Come in from the cold.
Come in from the cold.

The George and Dragon contained information which would make me doubt that there had been a village here as in at the turn of the 19th century the town clerk had written a very detailed description of the surrounding area that had made no mention of it. 

And get warm!

Take away your rubbish mind - I'm watching!
Take away your rubbish mind – I’m watching!

This refurbished bothy is rather wonderful. We were apparently seated next to the Greg’s Hut AGM Dinner party last night in the George and Dragon. The hut itself used to be an the Smythy for the lead mining as well as accommodation for the minors (maybe only the senior minors?) during the week with the 7 miles to Garrigill being completed only on a Monday and Friday. In a way it is a shame we weren’t camping / bivvying as this is the sort of place that it would be great to say you had stayed at (along with the huts on the Cheviot) but I really keen to take any steps to avoid taking a “wild one”. I’ll even eat my greens!

What shall we do with al this stone?
What shall we do with al this stone?

We arrived at the top of Cross fell in pretty good time to find even another awesome shelter and though we had only stopped at Greg’s hut to write in the visitors book it felt impossible to pass by such an immaculately curated wind break so lunch was eaten and celebrations had for making it to the highest point of the whole journey. Quite literally it is all down hill from here.

First!
First!

Yeah, right, you are just stood on the left!
Yeah, right, you are just stood on the left!

With half our journey completed all that remained was to climb Great Dun Fell (the second highest peak) to have a closer look at the Radar station which dominates the skyline around here. From what had been said by locals and those we met out here today I had generally assumed it to be something to with the “4 minute warning”.

I thought weapons systems were supposed to be phallus shaped.
I thought weapons systems were supposed to be phallus shaped.

Looking on the internet though I can find no evidence for this and instead can only find suggestions that it is used as part of the National Air Traffic System.

Well protected against the Cravendale cows.
Well protected against the Cravendale cows.

The total lacking of any security would back up this hypothesis though I was in no rush to confirm that the “Men in Black” do not come and arrest you should you cross the cattle grid.

And those who forgot their bolt cutters.
Don’t forgot your bolt cutters.

Well apparently there was some security which would probably stop you driving up with a car (unless you had a pair of bolt cutters).

Flags make everything better.
Flags make everything better.

Unfortunately up on the tops there was some bogs (and I don’t mean the kind to help you avoid a wild one) but there is one good thing about bog. Flags!

Bridges! Keep your feet dry.
Bridges! Keep your feet dry.

It seems that the the responsible park service has recently placed a lot of flags on along the final stretch of today’s walk. Unfortunately they have not yet lead them out apart from the view that made this wonderful bridge. (Again, sadly I can’t capture the sound of a babbling brook).

The hedge and sitch presumption?
The hedge and ditch presumption?

The final decent into Dufton was along an old (ancient?) road, Hurning Lane, much of which I was clearly being at least occasionally used by a farmer (as it was still clear). Along much of it had been placed, at intervals, some (I want to say Hazel) trees. I am taken to understand that there is a legal principle called the Hedge and Ditch presumption which assumes that a landowner always begins digging his ditch at the edge of his land and tips the waster further back into his land. However, the way that the ditches were dug on the outside (from the lane) of the hedge would suggest that that the owners of the lane had done this digging which opens a whole new series of questions. Who owns a lane, why would they go to all this effort, why was the tract of land set aside for the lane so wide? 

This could be heaven (only it's missing Hannah).
This could be heaven (only it’s missing Hannah).

As we approached the village of Dufton there was some truly brilliant lowland views of what (on a nice day like today) simply looks idilic. Sheep frolicking in flat lush green fields with a brook bubbling gently in the background.

Sod Kelvin, I want to do this one up.
Sod Kelvin, I want to do this one up.

Our final approach on our final approach into town a cyclist informed us that the pub had “run out of beer” which made me rather thank full that we had not been lucky enough to get into the Youth Hostel and were staying with a very generous lady in Long Eaton who had kindly offered to pick us up from outside the pub. Her B&B is lovely and can only be empty because of a lack of advertising. I can not emphasise how delightful it is when there is the ability to get a even a small amount of washing done. Though I am curious what story is represented in this artwork. It’s a long day tomorrow and as the proprietress also has a regular job we are able to have breakfast at 0630 making our long trip (20.52 miles) to Middleton achievable in-time for dinner!

I think they are making beer ...
I think they are making beer …

Day 7 – Alston to Garrigill (or Food, Food, Amble, Beer, Beer)

IMG_1344
Flat is beautiful.

The breakfast at the Youth Hostel was the first breakfast were we had had the option for it to be served early. Which was quite a disappointment really as today was very much a rest day it seemed a real shame to have to be up for an early breakfast but they did let us bum about using their internet while they did the cleaning which was awesome.

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Even on a short stretch there is bog.

In the end we went back into Alston to have lunch and to send some more things home. We managed to unload another three kilograms so I find it quite hard to believe that my father is still carrying anything on his back. (Un)fortunately the ‘tea room’ was full so we had to try a different cafe opposite the town hall and I am glad that we did. The flapjack was awesome and the Red Leicester really worked well in the Panini. Arriving back at the youth hostel the it seemed like we were perhaps taking too much advantage of our hosts and so we left for the short walk to Garrigill.

IMG_1342
Alas I can’t capture the sound.

Yesterday I bought a couple of ski poles at the outdoor shop and I was keen to see if they helped or hindered the process. When younger I always walked with a stick but it seems that the fashion is now to walk with two. I must say that I was skeptical at first and I already appear to have broken them as I can’t apply sufficient force to unscrew and thus collapse them but they allowed me to get sufficient start on my father to take some pictures even on our incredibly short journey today.

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Even the low views can be awesome.

I had expected that we should arrive within two hours of leaving and so there was no excuse for sitting down and using some of the beautifully carved benches. Even if we had wanted to  we didn’t have a packed lunch to eat (it didn’t seem necessary).

IMG_1339
Winner of best bench 2014

The rest of the day was spent catching up on blog posts from the locations where there had been insufficient wi-fi to upload the photographs from my phone and publish them to the web. In all honesty I don’t know where the time goes to at night I had hoped to really take this opportunity to get my body into a ‘proper’ sleep regime as when I see something like this my first thought is that the apocalypse has come and that we are being surrounded by shoats.

IMG_1346
At first I thought this was a two headed geep.

When we arrived in the village we were not expecting the Old Post Office B&B to the location of a shop which looks like it is still a post office. Our host seems very nice but due to some sort of issue with the use of Aga we had to go the George and Dragon for dinner. I can’t believe how lively this pub is considering how rural the area is. However, it is Saturday.

IMG_1336
There is always some bog. Even on a Saturday.

Getting access to the internet is often half the battle and I ended up buying three separate sets of internet from BTFON before I was finally able to connect. Of course this is the price you pay for being in an area of sufficiently low density to allow open fires like this beauty.

IMG_1349
What a fire.

Day 6 – Kellah to Alston (or Tractors, Bog, Rail, Rail, Rail)

First self catering holiday was here
First self catering holiday was here.

I had intended to get up a little earlier than usual with the hope of having time to walk about around Kellah farm. As it happend I wasn’t up early but I got a chance to walk around. From a farmers perspective I’m sure it has changed a lot. There is a new shed, a 5000l hot water tank powered by biomass and some sort of fancy device for producing? silage. To my eyes apart from being a bit tidier it hasn’t changed at all. Most of the gates are still the (the blue gate in particular) and all the sheds still appear to be filled with tractor (parts?) that don’t work. Of course when I was younger I also assumed that all these tractor parts didn’t work until Tom came driving out of a shed on one.

Parts of a Tractor?
Parts of a Tractor?

Before we left Mr Teasdale came to say hello and we must have been chatting for about half an hour. We asked about the farm and their family (I used to follow his father around like a lost puppy) and everything seemed to be well. I don’t know if I had much useful to contribute besides the fact that his daughter’s baby being late vastly increased the probability of it becoming a Premier League football or rugby player and would increase his lifetime earnings by over 20%.

0602OldHall
Big door. Hall, House or Barn?

The walk to Alston was the second of our two lighter days amounting to only 13 miles and we had been assured that the worst of the bog would be over and to be sure it was – though it was still nice to see some flags leading the way ahead.

Where were you yesterday?
Where were you yesterday?

After only a very small amount of climb it was pretty much down hill all the way to the old railway line. There was a brief point where we managed to come out on the wrong side of a wall which led us onto a rather sharp road bend rather than a quaint little foot bridge but eventually we were out into our stride.

0604Pointless
If a stile exists without a fence is it still a stile?

Originallly I had not been wholly convinced that we would make it as far as Kellah. When we attempted the way 10 years ago we only lasted two days and as much as this was due to my boots not fitting I was concerned that it might have happened again and so I didn’t book past Kellah. While out on the moors there is, surprisingly, very good internet reception and consequently I had been able to book a youth hostel at Alston and the old Post Office at Garrigill. Unfortunately when I had come to try and book the youth hostel at Dufton it proved to be full! This put me in a bit of a panic and made me want to really make a bee-line for Alston in case we needed to go on to Garrigill that evening and so I could get access to the Internet at the Tourist Information Centre. Consequently following a conversation with to South-to-Northers we decided to complete the last 6 miles into Alston along the South Tyne Train which is very close to the Pennine Way but which is actually an old railway.

0605NarrowGauge
This is a great path!

Excellent progress was made and I arrived in Alston for about 3p.m. Unfortunately my back up plan of buying a tent at the the outdoor shop so we ‘could always camp’ was scuppered by the lack of tents for sale in the shop. This actually made perfectly rational economic sense. Who comes to Alston planning to camp without a tent? Fortunately after an hour and a half on the phone we had a place to stay near Dufton and then on at Middleton and even had the offer of a lift the 2 miles off the path it would be to the place in Dufton. Alston is a great place with lots of pubs and shops, including a post office and the proprietors at the youth hostel were very accommodating. After drinking several cups of tea at the youth hostel we retired to the pub for a meal.

Since everyone's favourite bit is the pastry why put the pie inside it?
Since everyone’s favourite bit is the pastry why put the pie inside it?

Day 5 – Twice Brewed to Kellah (or Wall, Wall, Train, Bog, Memories)

0500TwiceBrewed
Once or Twice Brewed?

The first of our two shorter days began with light drizzle. Not sure how it would turn out we opted for being fully prepared and put on our waterproofs (including trousers) this proved rather over zealous and they were soon removed.

0501TheWall
What a view!

The views along the wall are quite impressive. Oddly I don’t much remember walking the section to the west of Twice Brewed as a child and as much as walking along a two thousand year old wall can feel it all felt very new.

0502TrigPoint
What a convenient leaning post.

Soon after starting we were at this trig point which one imagines is useful in some ways to the Ordnance Survey (or at least was). It is so very strange to think that when we first started walking around here 20 yeas ago my father only just had his first phone and the number did not yet begin ’07’!

En-garde!
En-garde!

I always imagined that the two foot high wall had somehow survived the last 2000 years by a mysterious fate but it is clear to me now that this is the consequence of some serious restoration work over the last, many, years. Without the restoration it just looks like all the other Roman Roads in Britain.

Don't walk on this road it's a wall.
Don’t walk on this road it’s a wall.

As soon as we were satisfied the rain had stopped we took our waterproofs off which was, of course, a sure sign it was about to rain again.

Keeps it dry.
Keeps it dry.

Once off the wall my altitude projection indicated a strong uphill climb. Sadly this, combined with my desire to make it to Kellah as soon as possible, meant we had to pass on the very tempting sign at the level crossing indicating that afternoon tea was available at Greenhead until 4pm. We did, however, get to enjoy an old ruin.

IMG_1288
Kelvin Macleod wants to film someone refurbishing me.

Before setting off my partner asked whether or not there was any chance I might die on this trip. Of course the answer she was looking for was, ‘of course not darling do not be so silly,’ but that would not really be true. I knew that there were roads that needed to be crossed.

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More dangerous than climbing the Cheviot?

From our trip so far it would seem that the path to Kellah from the top of Greenhead Clough is one of the worst parts of the path. In my humble opinion it is because there is no path.

IMG_1297
Can you see the path?

Foolishly, I have had a form of ‘GPS vision’ akin to ‘tunnel vision’, which due to the accuracy of my location information leaves me unable to look around the map and insted I tend to focus on the green diamonds that make up the legal PenNine Way. Having completed this section I am convinced that there is no identifiable path around the legal route on this stretch but the map contains a path which we should have seen and which is there.

Still no path.
Still no path.

Having trudged through the bog we met a walker with some rather bad sunburn on the tip of his nose. Soon after we landed at Kellah where we greeted by a very heavily pregnant Teasdale the younger. Staggeringly, I would swear that Mrs Teasdale had not aged a day since the first time she took me out to feed the lambs as a boy. What is more this B&B comes with that most rare of all things – do-it-yourself laundary!

I went to Halton Lea Gate once, it was a disappointment.
I went to Halton Lea Gate once, it was a disappointment.

Day 4 – Bellingham to Twice Brewed (or Breakfast, Wow, Hut! Bog, Wall)

The Northumbrian Breakfast
The Northumbrian Breakfast

Of course it’s a play on the idea of an “English” breakfast but I’d never come across it before. I’m quite sure that it was “just” a Full English and it was delicious. We were very keen to fill up for the day as we had been told by the Australian man at the end of day 1 that this was the journey that had “broken him”. Given the bogs we had seen on yesterday (which he had therefore also seen before telling us how bad this stretch was) we were certainly apprehensive. I can’t fault the accommodation at the Cheviot there had been some confusion about what time we were coming down for breakfast but this was accommodated.

0401Post
It’s a lot easier without all that junk.

Bellingham has a Post Office which opens at the astonishingly early time of 0630. Consequently before having breakfast I had been able to ship back to Solihull over 7 kg of unnecessary frippery. Including a camera, excess clothes, flash gun, flasks (to be fair I sent one of these back), glasses, gloves, an additional water bottle and the first map (which we were now off). I also took this opportunity to drop down from carrying a 4 litres of additional water to 1 as the platypus lasts until 3pm easily and it is simply a matter of being a little more thrifty with the water consumption.

0402Pylon
A big mast like this means 4G.

It was however a good day for twitter. Once up on the hill the phone signal was staggeringly good and we were often in receipt of 4G.

0403Onward
Onward!

Having run out of (or at least been about to) Compeed it proved necessary to wait for the Chemist to  open and so we were not away until after a quarter past nine. In away this proved fortuitous. The vast majority of people walking the Pennine Way fravel North. As well as making the path feel more like it’s down hill (at the North Pole one would have more Gravitational Potential Energy than at the Equator) it has the benefit that when walking from Greenhead or Twice Brewed into Bellingham about 6 miles out there is this rather wonderful little shed on one of the farms.

0404Hut
All we have is a stable.

One could not miss the signs and it really is just off the path. The owners of the farm apparently walked a very long way down the pacific coast of America and with the owners mother having once run a tea shop at the farm they wanted to do something for walkers. It’s really funny because in the centre of a town I’m sure that the environmental health officers would shut it down (even operating on a donations only basis) but up the side of the hill it is truly wonderful to be able to stop and use a flushing toilet, have a shower, if so inclined (I wasn’t), do a load of washing, and even eat a home made scone with tea made with pasteurised milk (many guest houses don’t even offer this)! I doubt the owners of the hut will ever read this but I would like to genuinely thank them it is a marvellous thing to do and I hope the donations are sufficient for it to continue to be worth it.

0405Erosion
Erosion – more powerful than man.

0406Gale
Wind – more powerful than woman.

There were some truly brilliant examples of both the power of nature and the power of humanity today. The storm which uprooted the above trees must have been tremendous (there were dozens) but the man power required to build the enormous Hadrian’s wall is also staggeringly impressive. As we came out of this little wood we gained our first glimpses of the wall and it looked exactly as I remember it from my childhood.

0407HadriansWallApproaches
I can see the waaaall.

I had perhaps hoped that the track would continue to be so well laid all the way up to the wall, but alas it was a track to a farm and before we got to the wall it was diverted off towards the farm with a clear sign indicating that it was private. Bizarrely in the final approach there was a sign from the Northumberland police advising all that the Bothies were not to be used for wild parties. I am not sure but if wild parties are going to happen, and they are, then I would have thought that a bothy in the middle of nowhere would probably be the best place as it will annoy the least number of people.

0408HadriansWall
Seemingly a knee high wall is all you need to keep the Picts out.

we are using my first ever iPhone app as a navigation ad on this trip to keep us up-to-date with what proportion of our planned elevation and distance we have completed. This is much more useful that simply knowing how far you have come because occasionally one will go off the path or back on oneself or meander slightly and there is nothing so disheartening as to think you only have 2 miles left when in fact you have 5. Consequently we have at altitude graph planned out for each days trip and this last section to twice brewed was so hilly it looked like a thick blue line rather than the zig zag it really represented. But the view from the top was phenomenal.

0409HadriansWallPano
I can see why they wanted to keep the Picts out.

You know you are near twice brewed when you this tree (made famous by being?) seen in the Robin Hood Prince of thieves film. I am not sure why Robin Hood would land in Britain from the Holy Land and on his way to Sherwood pass this enormous tree on this enormous wall. However, there were more trees in them days and perhaps the forest was simply bigger.

Back in England but without my Moorish Morgan Freeman
Back in England but without my Moorish Morgan Freeman

From the tree the Twice Brewed Inn is very close by and I was very glad to see that my Compeed had mainly held the blistering within it today.

0410Blisters
Getting better all the time.

Day 3 – Byrness to Bellingham (or Track, Bog, Flags! Blisters, Pint)

0300WelcomeToKielder
Get a stick and flick!

It doesn’t make for very good blog or photos but today started with the most beautiful road. The walk passes through the beautiful Kielder forest where the sign clearly states that if your dog egests some fecal matter than they don’t want you to bag it up in a little plastic bag but to ‘Get a stick and flick’. Apparently when people were much less bothered about dog waste the insects used to take the nutrients out of it and put it back to work in the environment. I’ve still been lucky enough to avoid having to think about such matters in human form.

Unfortunately as with all good things the beautiful path eventually ended and we were plunged into a muddy wooded bog. The path was incredibly muddy and even though there had not been any rain for 4 days in the area it seemed incapable of drying out. The only benefit that I have so far seen of bog is that it provides the most perfect conditions for some exceptional mosses to grow over bits of tree – sometimes its hard to be sure that what you are seeing isn’t actually some sort of alien life form.

0301CrawlingMoss
I’m coming to get you.

This path was clearly along some much older boundary as it in the near distance one could see several boundary stones marked with the initial CH

0302BoundaryStone
Don’t cross me.
0303Flags
Flags!

This bog but was really unpleasant but having spoken to a man about it in the Bar at the end of day 1 we were concerned that the worst was yet to come as he had told us that the Bellingham to Twice Brewed section had ‘completely broken’ him. Oddly this improved our spirits slightly as it meant that where we were now was not the worst it was going to be. The best thing about bog though is that if it is really bad it gets covered in flags and today I remembered to take a picture of some.

0304LunchSTone
Why has this not been cut into flags?

The remainder of the journey into Bellingham was fairly uneventful. We had lunch behind this awesome stone.An important lesson about map reading was learnt after lunch. When the pennine way was designed the ability of any person to read maps was such that immediately local factors like “here is a well worn path going along a very similar bearing to my direction” would override “the path is this way”. One of the many benefits of using the GPS is that in general it allows us to keep on the path so when we see a way mark that contradicts the GPS we could safely ignore it.

0305PWMarker
Your map is wrong, I am right.

Except of course that this can lead you to walk off on to a bog. But at least you will get some fantastic views.

0306Panorama
What a view.

I wanted to show how much it was hurting to go through all this walking and I think the following picture can do better justice than my words.

0307Blisters
You should have seen it before I cleaned them up.

But the great thing about walking is that there are sufficient Weigh Watchers ProPoints to wash away the pain with a jar of cider in the bar!

0308Pint
Get a thirst first.

Day 2 – Trowes to Byrness or (Bog, Flags, Wow, Bog, Slide)

0201NiceView
Pretty hills.

Something that is very difficult to capture with a picture are the characters that you meet while walking the way, resting in a guests’ lounge or supping a pint in the pub. Even though one could obviously just take a picture of the person that you have met it would certainly not do them justice and would not represent them the way that you saw them.

While waiting for our evening meal last night we met an Australian man who had walked all the way from Edale but claimed that he had had his spirit broken by the bogs between Greenhead and Bellingham. It’s quite boggy up on the Cheviots but for the most part the amazing Ranger Service have been up on the moor laying out the most enormous slabs of stone to make walking through most of the worst bits actually more pleasant than walking on the less boggy bits (as these don’t have flags!) Suffice it to say this left us very worried about our Day 3.

0200Hill
Sigh, breaking the trip in half means walking back up to the path.

When I first learned that two seats had become available on the mini bus I must confess that I was a little disappointed. Having completed a 28 mile practice walk with 2km of elevation I felt sure that we would be able to able to manage this 25 mile walk with only 1.4km of elevation. I wished this at no time more than walking these first two miles of the second day it seemed like all this hill (300m) and distance (4 miles) was for no actual benefit particularly since as we arrived at Windy Gyle at 11 a.m. only four and a half hours earlier than we had been there the previous day.

0202NiceView
Wow, what a view!

These pictures are all very pretty but they are starting to look a bot same-y perhaps I will have to start focusing on cloud formations.

0203NiceView
That better not be a rain cloud.

The weather was really beautiful again today, better even than yesterday. Our rain coats were able to stay well and truly inside our bags and unlike yesterday we had sandwiches – care of the Forest View Inn – which made for a great lunchtime treat. I think Dad found the going much easier I think after having identified a large number of items which could be deposited at the Post Office in Bellingham (so even though he would need to carry them to Bellingham he able to leave them at the Forest View with in the confines of our loosely defined ‘rules’ of what counts as cheating.

0204TheMoneyShot
The money shot

With the day coming to an end there was a large due south stretch which being up on the hill meant that we were in prime evening sun territory and I knew that I would be sun burnt when we got in. The stretch finished by this Cairn which seemed like the perfect opportunity to sport my Barclays t-shirt. After all they have agreed to match any funds that I successfully raise for 2nd Dukinfield. The view from the Cairn was pretty amazing but it is clear that the sun is setting out over Byrness resevoir.

0205NiceView
Fat alien sat on a cushion?

0206NiceView
Who does this reservoir serve?

We had originally planned that we would walk the whole of the journey from Kirk Yetholm to Byrness in one day. As discussed earlier if we had done so we would have arrived here at least four and a half hours later. That would make it 11p.m.

0207Hill

It feels like it might rain soon, this hill is very steep and the sun is starting to go down over the next hill along and all I can think is how stupid an idea it would have been to come all this way in one day. We could have got to the top of Byrness but would have had to get down in our Survival bags as it would have been complete madness to attempt in the dark.

0208AtNight
It’s a jungle out there.

Towards the end, about 7p.m. we very near to the end of the journey and I thought it prudent to ring ahead to ensure that an order was put in for our evening meal. No sooner had I assured Joyce of the Forest View Inn that we were would be arriving within 15 minutes did my life flash before my eyes as I slide backwards at the top of a very muddy bank. Fortunately no harm was done except getting a little muddy. Fortunately the Forest View Inn has a wash basin in the drying room to allow me to hand wash my clothes and a large brush for dusting mud off that I could use in the morning to dust the dry mud off my trousers so we could set off on our way to Bellingham.