The Great North Walk – Day 5 – Ridge Top Camp to Cowan

Feeling 95years old, with legs that simply refused to bend, I was starting to wonder when the ‘fun’ part of this ‘bushwalking for fun’ gig would actually kick in.

Instead, I just hoisted my backpack, pulled up my big girl panties and headed off for a decadently short day.

Is it my imagination? Or is it that Newcastle doesn’t seem to be getting closer?

Taking time to smell the flowers, it was Day 5 out on the Great North Walk.

A map of Day 5 of the Great North Walk
A teeny, tiny distance…


Day: 5

Date: Tuesday, 9 August 2022

From: Ridge Top Camp

To: Cowan

Map #:  part 11

Official Distance: ??km                 Actual Distance: 5.3km

Total: 79.6/277km

Time: 2h22m

Ascent: 203m                                  Descent: 245m

Glorious bush paths on Day 5 of the Great North Walk
Oh joy!

Weather: Cool and sunny

Stayed At: Hornsby Inn

Getting to the Start: The only way to get to Ridge Top Camp is by walking. There is a management trail that connects back to the suburbs of Berowra and it is popular with trail runners and mountain bike riders.

Finishing This Stage: This stage ends right on the doorstep of Cowan railway station. Regular train services connect North towards Newcastle or South to Strathfield, or south-east to Sydney CBD. An Opal Card is handy for use on all public transport in Sydney and surrounds.

General Comments:

  • Well, if my body didn’t hate me yesterday morning, it thoroughly despised me this morning! Every muscle was screaming and complaining about the rigors of yesterday. Trying to shimmy out of my sleeping bag liner and sleeping bag in a small tent with legs that simply refused to bend would have been hilarious for anyone watching. Thankfully I was completely on my own. I suspect from the outside of the tent it looked like a possum fight was going on inside – complete with grunts and groans and random swear words, not that possums have been known to swear as far as I am aware.
  • Battle won, dressed and presentable (or as presentable as you can be after nearly 30km of rock scrabbling, two days and no shower) I was packed. Each day the process has become a little more streamlined and faster. I have slowly grown in confidence and I feel I know a little more about this bushwalking and hiking thing.  One day I may even know what I am doing! Or perhaps WHY I am doing it!
  • Due to the sorry state of my legs, I made the call to end today at Cowan. I had enough water to get me there, but would have had to load up again to tackle the stage to Brooklyn. I just didn’t have it in me. Rocks = 1, Mel = 0.
  • While I have probably made this all sound pretty bloody unattractive, with hindsight and a couple of days, I am still glad I did it and am committed to walking the rest of the trail as time allows.
  • I have also learned that:
    • I need to be more serious about my training and get fitter before setting off again. This includes losing about 8kgs as I do not need to haul that up mountains/cliff faces as well as a backpack.
    • While I used 97% of what I had packed, I need to review the packing list again to see where I can prune more weight. That is going to be a tough ask.
    • Water is crucial and there are times I just had to carry extra to be able to rehydrate at the end of the day and have sufficient to last me to the next water point the next day. Water is bloody heavy!
    • Heat: even in Winter it was hot work and walking. Maybe I just struck an unseasonably warm patch, but it will be an important consideration when I schedule GNW Mach III.

Top Tips for this Section:

  • Water: There is a large stream you must cross about 2km after Ridge Top camp. The water looked clear, but you would be safe to treat it before consumption.
  • Stay: the Hornsby Inn has simple, basic rooms for around $130pn including breakfast. It is a 3minute walk to the station and was surprisingly quiet on a Tuesday evening. It’s not fancy, but it does the trick.

Here ends my Great North Walk adventure for another six months or so. The plan is to tackle the remaining stages – around 12 days – in April 2023 when the trail may be cooler, completely open (i.e. no landslips or flooded creeks) and access to drinking water may be more reliable. I will keep you posted.

Until then, happy trails, everyone!


  • The Great North Walk – Read more about it – HERE
  • NSW National Parks & Wildlife Service – Find out more about Berowra Valley National Park – HERE
  • NSW Train & Buses – Plan your trip – HERE
Thinking ahead to Day 6 of the Great North Walk
Bring on April 2023 for the next adventure to Brooklyn

#travelinspo #greatnorthwalk #berowra #adventurebeforedementia #longdistancewalks #australianbush #sydney #bushwalks #greatoutdoors #berowrawaters #birdlife #cowan #coastalwalks #nationalparks #berowravalleynationalpark

37 thoughts on “The Great North Walk – Day 5 – Ridge Top Camp to Cowan

  1. Very relatable and funny 🙂 Yes, it is so easy to become dehydrated even with the knowledge of how not to get into that state, says she, who landed up doing so last weekend after a long training walk. I failed 101. Mel, I admire you doing it on your own. Awesome!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks, Suzanne. I like to think I am starting to get a LITTLE wiser and know when I need to call it a day. I suspect other people will beg to differ! 😉 Drink up! Mel

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Big walk tomorrow and yes I will be drinking plenty of water 🙂 I am sure you are more than a little wiser. I really do want to do longer treks, one day and hopefully before I reach 70!

        Liked by 1 person

        1. Work up to it. It is surprising what you can achieve when you stop telling yourself you can’t. 😉


          1. Training for a half marathon at the so long distance walking is not an issue. Solo tramping is 😊

            Liked by 1 person

          2. Just pretend you are running very, very slowly! 🙂


          3. Hahaha 🏃‍♂️ walking the half marathon. Running is for the more craziest of fitness fanatics 😊

            Liked by 1 person

  2. I have visions of a possum fight in your tent from the outside! You’re account makes me not want to do these last couple of sections! But glad you did. M

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Yeah, sorry about that. I am afraid my descriptions have erred on the side of reality, rather any super-cool picture I would prefer to paint! What I do is not pretty, but I do get there in the end….eventually! 🙂


      1. Reality is much better than fiction 😊

        Liked by 1 person

  3. Great report and I like your humor. Carrying water not only for the hikes but also for the overnight camping must be really heavy. How many kilometers of the Walk have you done so far and how many do still rest?
    Good luck with your preparation for next year.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you for your kind words. I have completed around 80km of the 277km path. Still a distance to go, but it gives me something to look forward to and train for. Onwards and upwards. I have also been enjoying your Ley Put posts and you have given me some inspiration for the future.


  4. Got to admire you, lass!

    Liked by 2 people

    1. 🙂 many thanks for condoning my madness! x


  5. Hi, Mel. You’ve got perseverance, and you learn from your mistakes. So, I have little doubt that you will complete the hike in future days.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks for the vote of confidence. I have a better sense of what I am ‘in for’ now and all my delusions have been sweated/scrambled away! 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  6. Feeling 95 years old made me laugh….and I look forward to the next installments in 6 months 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thankfully I am back to feeling +50 years now. 🙂


  7. I love your description of your sleeping bag exit. Meaning this in the nicest possible way, I would think that if there was a species of possum anywhere in the world that could swear, it would be in Australia. 😉

    Liked by 1 person

  8. Well done, Mel. It’s a tough ask to get up each day and continue on but even tougher to recognise when you’ve reached your limitations and to call it quits earlier than expected. Deep respect to you.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Sometimes common sense does overall optimism! 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  9. As I go through life I meet some crazy and crazier people!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Yeah, sorry about that! 🙂 A little bit of crazy is good, but sometimes I do doubt my own sanity! 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  10. I resent the water more than anything else. Logic tells me I should love it, but really, it’s so ungrateful for the ride and gets warm just when you want it ice cold.


    1. Unfortunately it is a necessarily evil and unfortunately I am a lousy camel! There is just no avoiding the water and its weight. Ho hum!

      Liked by 1 person

  11. I know that feeling of “feeling 95 years old” after serious rock scrambling … but somehow the body kicks in (though not without protest)! Pack less, loose weight, train more … all those things go through ones head when planning the next hike/stage – good luck! For a “95 year old”, you took really lovely photos 😄.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. It remains to be seen whether all those important things actually get done before the next walk! 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  12. Congratulations. There is no way on earth I could have attempted that. You must be very fit. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

      1. Yes maybe that too 😆

        Liked by 1 person

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