Linhope Spout Walk
Mon 22nd October 2012
What a lovely day, the best single day’s walking that we’ve had in the whole of 2012 so far. I was in Kielder Forest all day on Saturday and it was positively chilly and only came out sunny and warm later in the day. Sunday was exceptional, clear, bright and sunny from the start and relatively warm mainly due to the lack of wind and the visibility was excellent. Even the Seaking search and rescue helicopter flying from RAF Boulmer over us at the start was seen as a good omen, they were out enjoying the weather too. How about that for a positive interpretation?
The rendezvous at Bulby’s Wood was completely empty when I arrived but rapidly filled-up when a Ramblers group also arrived to begin a walk, they even tried to “poach” some of our clients! We made use of the facilities and moved up the valley to the informal car park beyond Jenny Bell’s bridge below Brough Law where the River Breamish makes a right-angled turn overlooked by Ingram Glidders (screes). There was plenty of evidence of recent flooding altering both the course of the Breamish across its floodplain and selectively excavating its bed to form a new rapid section. As we climbed Hartside Hill the views opened up and it was easy to appreciate the deepening and steepening of the valleys caused by a combination of glacial action and post-glacial meltwater.
Although we were less than half a kilometre from the valley road up to Linhope we couldn’t see it due to the convex slopes but we did see a lot of evidence of human antiquities as the Ordnance Survey refers to them in their conventional signs. Hartside Hill is Access Land (no need to stick to rights of way) so we were able to “purposefully wander” to see the visible remains of settlement and field systems dating back to the Roman period (AD 43 – 410). Once the remains of historically later ridge and furrow plough patterns had been pointed out we saw them everywhere in the landscape. Even when the ground was covered by swathes of invasive bracken the old parallel plough patterns were obvious once everyone “got there eye in."
Off Hartside Hill and down to the road to Linhope beyond Hartside Farm we started to see lots of pheasants due to the feeders in both the conifer plantation and fields on either side of the road. We had a good view of the overdeepened valley of the Shank Burn to our south west where it flowed down to join the River Breamish. Crossing the bridge over the Linhope Burn as we entered the hamlet we saw the pink colour of some of the Cheviot lavas that make-up the solid geology of the area. We weren’t far from the edge of the metamorphic aureole a result of the injection and cooling of the Cheviot granites. Walking uphill above the steep-sided valley of the Linhope Burn passing the plantation that clothes its sides we reached Linhope Spout for lunch in the sunshine. There was plenty of evidence in the recent floods in the valley bottom with bankside vegetation being flattened in a downstream direction plus undercutting and limp overhanging vegetation along the eroded banks. The flashy response of channels in the Cheviots is largely due to a combination of thin saturated soils, impermeable bedrock and the intensity of rainfall.
Following a pleasant lunch in the sunshine we walked back through Linhope and up to the site of Grieve’s Ash dating from the Iron Age (800 BC – AD 45) which is also considered to have been occupied into the following Roman period to see the well exposed remains of the hut circles and adjacent walls and field systems. Walking east out onto the rough grazing land beneath Dunmoor Hill, Cat Crags and Cunyan Crags formed prominent features. Cunyan Crags is composed of altered and hardened rock the result of the injection and baking of the country rock by granite magma 400 million years ago when the Cheviot volcano would have been erupting thousands of feet above our heads. In our present position we would have been well below ground level than, magma chambers occur well below the surface. We crossed the moor back down to Greensidehill passing some huge field clearance cairns along the way. To the east was the site of a medieval village which testifies to a warmer climate in those days which allowed arable as well as pastoral farming evidenced by even more of the ubiquitous parallel lines left by ridge and furrow cultivation. It is odd to think that today we are concerned about global warming when we are geologically in an interglacial period. Similarly we consider that the Iron Age settlements are really old (beginning approximately 800 years BC in Britain i.e. 2,800 years Before Present) until we consider the span of geological time dating back to the Cheviot volcano at about 400 million years ago which is “only” a factor of about 14, 286 times longer ago. Everything is relative.
We did have a really good day, lots of friendly light-hearted banter and laughs. Ian had lots of snacks in addition to elevenses and lunch and the girls only just managed to eat their exotic chilli flavoured chocolate before he arrived to photograph them eating it. The incident of the articulated heel unit on one of the participant’s boots was quickly dealt with and even the dog had a good time. Special thanks to Ian and Chris for their help with the person with the detached boot heel unit in more ways than one, you both really contributed to the success of the day as usual. Thank you. Sitting in my study dashing this off for Jon to put on the website it is grey, overcast, drizzling and cold; what a difference a day makes. Everything is relative. Thanks for your company I enjoyed your company and hope to see you again soon.
Monday, 22 October 2012