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Tue 4th September 2012

St Cuthberts Way, part 2 - Wooler to Fenwick

St Cuthberts Way, part 2 - Wooler to Fenwick

Sundance had been at work all week with the old soft shoe shuffle and it worked not of drop of rain all day! and did he get any thanks for his efforts NO some people just complained about how hot and sweaty (Males) or glowing (Female) they were.  There is just no pleasing some people.

We nearly all met at Fenwick on time and got on the mini bus to transfer back up to Wooler Common where the last walk ended.  Here another walker joined the group.

We walked around the ponds and down into Wooler to find the first available comfort stop (Wooler bus station). We continued down through Wooler crossing the A697 and then river Wooler Water. After a short walk through a park we gradually began to climb out of the valley and up on to some open moorland. 

As usual Mike used the excuse to witter about the local glaciation and the layout of the land to have a rest and get his breath back after the climb.  It was at this point Mike’s mobile rang and we arranged to meet the last member of the group at the bridge crossing the River Till near Weetwood Hall. 

The route of St. Cuthbert’s Way now uses the public road to West Horton and after a steady climb we arrived at West Horton. 

What made this even better, one of the group lives here so we had tea, proper coffee and scones and what made the stop even better, we had access to a loo. Mike allowed us to make the most of the stop by also making it our lunch stop!  So we did not only enjoy the stop, coffee etc but also the SUNSHINE.

All too soon Mike was packing his rucksack ready for the off.  We continued to follow the road for a short distance before turning off on to a farm track that rose to a high point and allowed views to the south as far as the Simonside Hills.  We once more joined a minor road and had to dodge a couple of cyclists.

At Shop Hill we left the road and now walked through some fields and a herd of bullocks before arriving at St. Cuthbert’s Cave. Here Mike allowed us to stop for a short rest while he wittered about the various Saints that were linked to the area ably helped by one or two others in the group before  pontificated about the Celtic church and the Roman Catholic and the Whitby synod.

Eventually he shut up and we climbed the last hill of the day which gave some of the most breathtaking views of the Cheviots and to the east Lindisfarne.  Although this view will not be there for long as a wind farm with 19 turbines is being proposed/ built in the near vicinity. 

Once more we had to walk through a herd of cattle before heading north through some conifer woodland.  The path through the woods was the most clarty of all the days walk and needed some limbo dancing under a barbed wire fence at one point to miss a very clarty section.  For the last 1km or so we were back onto minor road that lead us to Fenwick village and the cars.

Well Done Sundance Kid you did us proud a perfectly dry day.

Mon 3rd September 2012

Private Guided Walk - The Cheviot, via Henhole

Private Guided Walk - The Cheviot, via Henhole

Over the year we do many ‘private guided walks’. These are totally tailored to the customer’s requirements, from an individual wanting to climb the Cheviot (as below) or a group of friends wanting a walk along the coast to a coach trip needing a guide for a number of days. Below is the blog from one of these we have just done for a lovely lady from the south of England.

It is strange the way things pan out, I have not been in to the Henhole for a couple of years and here we are in a matter of six days climbing up through the Henhole again.

A lady from deep down south even further south than the River Tees was coming up to Northumberland for a week’s holiday and wanted to climb The Cheviot and really liked the idea of walking through the Henhole.  Unfortunately she was travelling up the day that we were doing the Henhole as part of a circular walk that was to complete the final section of the Pennine Way. So she booked a private guided walk to take in the Henhole and The Cheviot.

We met at Rothbury and first drove up to Wooler to get the car pass for the College Valley and then on to Hethpool and up the College valley to Mounthooly which is as far as you can drive.

As usual Sundance had done the old soft shoe shuffle and it was dry and warmish although overcast.  With the dog on its lead we walked past Mounthooly and followed the old tractor track to its end here the footpath heads off to the border ridge but to reach the Henhole our route followed College Burn.

Rounding a shoulder of rock outcrop we were able at long last to look up into the Henhole.  This time the flow in the burn was quite low and we easily crossed to the north bank of the burn to continue up a fairly easy route up past the various waterfalls.
In what seemed no time at all we were at the top of the last waterfall and on looking back it was difficult to believe how much height we had climbed (some 800ft since leaving the footpath).  We could now see easily over the border ridge in to Scotland and the Tweed valley.

We crossed the burn to climb up a spur that lead us to Auchope Cairn and lunch. While having lunch we were entertained by a couple of Euro-fighters who were flying around the Cheviots and at times below the height of Auchope Cairn.

After lunch we walked south along some board walk that kept us above the marshy ground. We met our first people near the spot height 743m, they were replacing fencing.  At Cairn Hill we met someone having lunch and on The Cheviot summit we met a further four people.  As always the view from the summit is disappointing so we quickly retraced our steps back to Auchope Cairn.

A steep descent following the border fence brought us to the Mountain refuge hut and a welcome break.  From here after a rather boggy stretch we arrived at the head of red crib and it started to rain. The path now left the border fence to descend back down into the College Valley where we picked up the tractor track and by which time the rain had stopped.

After a pleasant stroll we arrived back at Mounthooly and a few minutes later we arrived back at the car.

Wed 29th August 2012

The Ingram Horseshoe The Shepherds Perspective

The Ingram Horseshoe  The Shepherds Perspective

Today was going to be a walk with a difference. The walk had been titled as ‘The Ingram Horseshoe – The Shepherds Perspective’ and that is exactly what is going to be.

Also we had a guest with us today, Kirsten, who had come over from Germany to record a programme for Deutsche Radio. She was recording a 1 hour programme about British sheep and shepherding and part of this programme was going to feature Shepherds Walks. She believed it was totally unique, myself Jon, a former shepherd who now spends his life shepherding people around the hills rather than sheep and showcasing and explaining the landscape from a shepherds perspective.

The group of walkers met at the bridge car park and a quick introduction we started our walk.

After days of rain it was great to have the sun shining and at last we had a bit of summer weather. It was just what we all needed as we rose up from the valley floor. Kirsten recorded our feet squelching along the wet path as she was very keen to ‘paint a sound picture’ of this great countryside.

We stopped a number of times to look at the sheep and to look at the landscape, discussing the way it has been managed by the farmer.

As we skirted Wether Hill the day got better, as the local shepherd approached on his quad bike and after seeing us all smiling at him he stopped and explained in great depth about the way he manages the hill ground we were all walking through. He was a very passionate man who truly loved the countryside he worked in and to be honest this was the icing on the cake of the walk.

We then dropped down and climbed up around the back of Old Fawden Hill to find some shelter for lunch. Sheltered from the wind it was a lovely day as we looked east.

After lunch we continued on to Fawden farm and watched the farmer as he gathered his sheep up with his Border collie. May I add again this was all unplanned but as we walked through this working countryside the skill of both the dog on the handler was second to none.

As we skirted East Hill we headed back down to the valley floor we headed into the Ingram National Park Visitor centre for Ice Creams.

A great end to a good days walking.