Humbelton Hill and Yeavering Bell
Mon 25th August 2014
Weatherwise this walk has to be the best of the whole year to date. We had excellent visibility, lots of cumulus clouds and blue sky and contrasting views throughout. The temperature was cool for the time of the year, but ideal for walking, and we managed to find plenty of sheltered spots out of the wind for elevenses, lunch etc. The company was similarly excellent too even including a Swede on this occasion. As is so often the case this personís spoken English was immaculate but try as we may nobody could pronounce his name despite it being only four letters long! We thought that we were pronouncing the name correctly but he didnít think so. It could have been embarrassing but both everybody saw the humour in the situation.
Everyoneís perception of a particular walk is different and this walk was no exception. The nominal distance was measured as approximately 10 miles or 16 kilometres but the various pedometers and GPS units, sorry Global Navigation Satellite System (GNSS), totals produced a scatter of measurements roughly in agreement with this – so much for electronic accuracy. Satnav systems are quite topical at present as only two days beforehand two satellites that were intended to form part of the European Galileo satellite navigation system went astray from their intended orbit after launch from French Guiana. They were launched for the European Space Agency (ESA) which of course we pay for!
Travelling west at relatively low level we were soon getting really good views of the Milfield Plain, site of a massive glacial lake towards the end of the last Ice Age and the reason for the present day sand and gravel extraction site and Second World War airfield (RAF Milfield) part of which is still used by the Borders Gliding Club. Sailplanes were being tugged aloft above our heads from mid-morning onwards and the occupants were the only people to get a better view of the Cheviots than us. Our target for lunch was the Yeavering Bell the largest Iron Age hillfort in the area but before that we skirted the slopes of Humbelton Hill, Harehope Hill crossed the Akeld Burn near Gleadsclough to pass below the summit of White Law to have a picnic lunch just below the southern entrance to Yeavering Bell: The Hill of the Goats. The whole of the route towards Yeavering Bell was strewn with archaeology (forts, settlements, homesteads, hut circles); a target rich environment for anyone interested in antiquities, there wasnít even time to consider the important site of Gefrin on the south side of the River Glen below and north of the hill itself.
The return route took us south-west over old field systems and much more recent shooting butts to join the St Cuthbertís Way passing south of Tom Tallonís Crag and coniferous plantations via Black Law and Gains Law towards our starting point. The combination of the morningís rough walking, the wind and sunburn plus the time of day meant that nobody opted for the transit over Humbleton Hill alongside the deep cleft of the glacial channel to its immediate south. The great whaleback bulk of Cheviot and its second-in-command, Hedgehope dominated the southern horizon. The clear air made it easy to distinguish the large cairn that occupies the top of Hedgehope, the objective of a previous walk. The heather was just about at its peak and the variations in sun and shadow revealed numerous shades of pink and purple. There was no Grand Prix start on arrival back at the car park; everyone was far too relaxed (not tired) for that so hopefully a good day was had by all. Thank you for your company and both Ian and I hope to see everyone again soon.