The Hen Hole
The group met up at Hethpool Carpark the end of the public road and the start of the private road up College Valley. Mike had four car passes so after a little jiggling about we all set of for Mountholly (which is a private Youth Hostel). On getting out of the cars we could see rain coming up the valley so the sensible ones waterproofed up the others very quickly followed suit as it started to rain quite hard. Walking on a good track we had only managed 300m or so before the rain stopped.
Just after Seddum Sike we left the footpath and continued to walk very gently uphill alongside the side The College Burn. Turn a sharp corner we had our first look up the Henhole, from here the going became a lot harder. At some mysterious point Mike decided it was time to cross over the burn and walk up the east bank. No one fell in but it was close thing for one or two.
At first the going was not too bad but then had to climb round the first of a number of waterfalls. Fortunately the wind was on our backs and if not a help at least did not make the walk/dog scramble harder. Eventually we crested the last waterfall and could look back down the way we had come an unbelievable inspiring view as by now we were high enough to look over the border ridge across the Tweed Valley to the Southern Uplands. More importantly it was lunch stop 1.
After lunch we continued to follow the burn until it split in to three at this point we now climbed out of the Henhole up a very steep gully before reaching a point where it levelled off somewhat but we continued uphill to Auchope Cairn. Although very windy the views made the effort worth it. As it was so windy it was decided to descend to the refuge hut and have lunch stop 2 there. After a steep descent following the Pennine Way down off Auchope Cairn we arrived at the Refuge Hut and lunch stop 2.
After lunch we had an easy descent down Red Gribs back to the point we had left the footpath to head for the Henhole. Now an easy amble brought us back to the cars and after a careful drive down to the valley we reached the rest of the cars in the carpark.
A good day was had by all (even Mike enjoyed it). The weather after the initial down pour improved throughout the rest of the day so it was really pleasant to be out and about.
Ingram to Biddlestone
After varying degrees of navigational difficulty every one arrived at Biddlestone Chapel climbed on the bus and we set off for Ingram. At Ingram Mike took a quick detour to see how the Tea Shop was doing and then we set off on the walk proper.
From Ingram we followed a good farm track up over Wether Cairn and passing by Cochrane Pike. After lunch stop 1 the path descended down to Prendwick passing some wonderful named locations Gingling Cleugh and Bowl Holes. As we descended the track we were met by two horse riders coming up, one of the horses was very skittish and took a lot of urging to pass us by (Yes it was the horse and not the sight of us making it skittish, honest).
From Prendwick we continued along another farm track to Northfieldhead. Here we started the second of the days climbs. The effort of going uphill was distracted by a tractor driving backwards and cutting silage leaving strips of uncut grass between strips of cut grass. When he started to cut the uncut stips it was amazing that they were the exact width of the cutters to the inch (or 25.4mm). After this we joined Salters Road climbed Northfieldhead Hill. On the way Mike decided to take another little detour but only after lunch stop 2.
After crossing the road to Ewartly Shank, we continued along a grass track to Old Hizeltonrigg. The last climb of the day took us on a path heading for Singmoor on a ridge between Hazeltonrig Burn and Harden Burn. Eventually the path swung round to the head of the Harden Burn and as we Crested Bleakmoor Hill we could look across mid Coquetdale to the Simonsides.
A difficult descent down to Biddlestone (the track surface had suffered from recent rains and washed out of the track). From Biddlestone a short walk UPHILL took us back to Biddlestone Chapel and the end of the walk but not the day. Mike had the Keys to the chapel and opened up so we could see the inside of the chapel. Much to everyone’s amazement it was a totally unexpected delight to the eye.
Once more we met at Shepherds Walks Shop in Rothbury and then staggered down to the bus stop to get the Spiritbus to the start of the walk. The bus driver was not sure whether we/ he could get up to the start of the walk as there were rolling road works from Hepple to Elsdon, fortunately we were able to get to the start of the walk without any problems.
A short walk downhill took us across the Grasslees Burn and then it was uphill all the way to Darden Pike. Mike took every opportunity to stop for a breather to look at the scenery the trees, the flowers (Cotton Grass at Millers Moss) and a lone Sand Lizard, as well as stopping to give the little dog a breather.
Eventually Darden Lough came it to view and we were greeted by a family of Canadian Geese. The last stretch uphill brought us to the trig point and cairn on Darden Pike. Just as mike was picking the best spot to have lunch on of the ladies fell over and cut her elbow. Mike immediately dived into action (well he decided he better do something to help before eating his lunch) treating the injury with care and sympathy. By time lunch was over the patient was feeling fine.
Leaving Darden Pike behind we now had a long steady decent with grand views all the way round. Eventually Mike stopped to show us the Frog this was a small outcrop of rock and when viewed from a certain angle look a bit frog like! The gentle decent continued until we crossed the Grasslees Burn once more and reached the bus stop in time to see the bus going to elsdon. So we jumped on the bus and went to Elsdon and immediately turned round to head back to Rothbury.
A good walk, that fits in very well with the Spiritbus timetable. Well worth thinking about.