The Street via Windy Gyle
Sunday 13th September 2015
The midges were already out in force in the in the still air surrounding the Wedder’s Leap car park so we didn’t delay in setting-off as soon as everyone was ready. As soon as we left the shelter of the trees we felt the breeze blowing up the valley past Barrowburn. Ian Tait’s teashop wasn’t open yet but it would be as we passed on our way back, instead we admired his freshly cut hayfields before passing Windyhaugh Farm and its now missing footbridge over the River Coquet. On passed the sheep pens surrounded by a windbreak of conifers to Trows Road End as it is known to the site of the former delightfully named Slyme Foot drovers pub, now an informal car park.
From here it was all uphill for the morning as we climbed the initial, and steepest part, of The Street towards Hindside Knowe. Immediately we started to get good views of the deeply incised valleys of this part of the Cheviots. The breeze was becoming stronger as we climbed but it was thankfully behind us as we climbed the track. It was easy to follow with plenty of evidence of the shepherds’ quad bikes having passed this way recently – but we didn’t see on all day. It was here that one of our number opted to return to the car which we all felt a bit guilty about. When we met-up again later in the day by the tearoom the person concerned seemed to have had a lovely time, no need for the guilt complex.
We began the day with a lot of sunshine and blue sky with only the occasional cumulus cloud but buy the time we stopped near Black Braes for morning coffee it was beginning to cloud-up but where it illuminated the purple heather it looked magnificent. From the little knoll we were sitting-on we could see most of the concordant summits of the outer lava plateau of the Cheviots and got our first glimpse of Cheviot and Hedgehope forming inner plateau on granite. It was definitely cool in the wind and we soon cooled down despite the sunshine. The plan was to have lunch in the lee of Russel’s Cairn (619 metres) in Scotland as near to one o’clock as possible. The lead party (hares) just about made it, everyone was seated for lunch by 13.06 ( including the tortoises) looking out over Scotland picking out the Eildon Hills with its Roman Signal Station and discussing drove roads and the history of The Street aka The Clattering Path, in particular. As we were packing-up it tried to rain on us for a few minutes but soon stopped, but they were big drops while they lasted.
It was now all downhill (literally not metaphorically you understand). First back across the Border Fence back into England from where we got a good view of Russel’s Cairn, which is really a much older burial cairn, and discussed Reiving Times and the importance of the Truce Day’s on the Border Marches where Lord Frances Russel met his demise – a bit of a contradiction in terms really. Then it was off towards Scotchman’s Ford to descend via Murder Cleugh on the Uswayford road and Barrow Law. That was the intention but we diverted to take-in the ridge route to the west of the Ward Law Burn plantation instead and emerged at Trows which we had looked down on from The Street on our way up earlier in the day. Some of our number (no names) even paddled in the Rowhope Burn while the responsible rest used the footbridge.
From Trows Road End it was only a twenty minute stroll back to the teashop. I had a lovely walk in great company and it was a pleasure to be able to show people a beautiful and quiet part of the Cheviots which was enhanced by the sunshine and shade of the morning. The banter was good too. We just got back to Barrowburn in time to visit the teashop and avoid the odd shower, we’d lost the blue sky of the morning by now. Thank you all for coming, Margaret, Mark and myself hope to see you all again soon on another equally good day out in the hills. We certainly saw our part of the Cheviots at its best.
Richard, Mark and Margaret
Kielder Challenge Walk 2015
On Saturday we had some great weather for the Kielder Challenge Walk.
This iconic walk was again well attended and everybody finished with a smile on their face.
Please enjoy the pictures and YouTube film from the day.
29th August 2015
Who would have thought that the last weekend in August was anything other than a sure bet that you’d get decent weather for a trip up Ben Nevis?
The jet stream, unfortunately, had other ideas. It’s position over the Atlantic was holding a continental high pressure system further east than usual. The balmy days of late summer were instead held in the grip of an Atlantic low pressure system sitting over western Scotland.
Ben Nevis, being the highest mountain in the UK, was shrouded in swirling mist, prolonged rain and strong winds. According to the weather forecast at the visitors’ centre in Glen Nevis the summit conditions were akin to – 13 Celsius!
Despite this a small group set off up the regular mountain path. Within minutes we were soaked but as the wind was behind us we got some assistance as we made our way up the rocky route. Eventually we reached the half way point and the mist. A quick conversation within the group led us to the conclusion that today was not the day for going for the summit. These decisions are always difficult because of the effort taken just to get to the start of a route but the mountain will be there in the future.
At this point the real adventure began when we decided not to return down the path we had come up but followed on into the northern corries of the Ben and descend along the Allt a Mhuilinn. The north face of Ben Nevis is a world famous mountaineering area and is home to one of a very few alpine style mountaineering huts and some of the most daring climbing in the world. The soaring rock faces and ridges were stunning in the swirling mist and even though we were not tackling them they held an air of intimidation. Our concern was crossing the stream to get to the descent path on the other side. This is an easy task as in the high summer it’s usually a trickle – today it was a torrent. However by following it higher up the valley we found a place where a crossing seemed possible. With three of the party anchored mid stream we set up a safe passage and the excitement and drama of the situation meant that wet feet were of little concern.
Once on the other side the path surface improved and we made an easy descent back to Fort William having walked over 13 miles and made 2000 feet of ascent to get there.
You could say that Ben Nevis was one that got away this weekend but there is always adventure waiting around a corner.
Thanks for the support from the Shepherds Walks staff and to the group who remained positive in the face of some severe weather.