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Salters Way Drove Road Blog

Salters Way Drove Road Blog

Tue 23rd June 2015

Sunday 21st June 2015

Midsummer’s Day dawned full of expectation except that I was awoken at about 03.00 hours by heavy rain drumming on the roof, surely not an omen of things to come?

It was lovely to see The Regulars again and to welcome back both Alison, Peter, Val and Darren, none of whom we had seen recently – it is not an excuse to live abroad in County Durham, London or Greater Manchester although the latter does have the disadvantage of being on the wrong side of the Great Divide (aka The Pennines).

We set-off uphill a little earlier than advertised for the summit cairn of Hogdon Law (approx 540m) into the quite breezy westerly wind.  It was relatively cool and there was rain in the air.  The day’s weather was such that everyone instinctively decided to get togged-up with over-trousers and general wet weather gear even before leaving the cars.  The clue was being precipitated upon form a great height as we got ready.  Hats and waterproof gloves magically appeared on heads and hands over the next hour too.  By the time we topped-out for morning coffee at Hogdon Law we were wearing the same kit we had worn at the turn of the year.  It must be summer.

Then the fun actually began, it was called “Find you own way across the peat hags and mosses “ to the fence forming the eastern border of Kidland Forest.  The intention was to contour across from Hogdon Law to the vicinity of Black Butt just over a kilometre away.  Good game with added fun provided by the elements, heavy showers being foremost amongst them not to mention the saturated mossy conditions underfoot.  Then we had the privilege of being even more exposed to the wind and passing heavy showers as we trekked north towards Cushat Law via the Sting Head col clarty bit (note the classic British under statement).  The climb to the summit cairn on Cushat Law and lunch was punctuated by more showers, just for a change.   The phrase from a nonsense poem “After a drought of half-an-hour” springs to mind, except that we didn’t get a drought that lasted that long.  Lunch was taken backs-to-the-wind in whatever shelter we could find around the cairn which are never big enough to take a decent sized party.  Soggy sandwiches were enjoyed by all prior to the descent down Bush Knowe with Smalehope Burn to our south and using Shill Moor as our aiming point to gain the valley and gain the Salter’s Way.  Sometimes we could plainly see the detail of the surrounding landscape in bright sunshine, at others it simply disappeared in the poor visibility of the passing squalls.  For a few minutes over lunch we could clearly see Bamburgh Castle on the coast and south-east as far as Lynemouth, but it didn’t last long.  The downdraughts of cold air brought-on by the precipitation lowered the temperature quite noticeably and at one point it was bordering on sleet.  The three-hundred-and-sixty degree views continued to vary from excellent to invisible in the rain and low cloud.  All in all it was an interesting day both overhead and underfoot.  Phrases such as “If you can’t take a joke you shouldn’t have come” spring to mind and there may even have been some muttering in the ranks but I’m not paranoid.  

Think of the day as being a stress-test for your outdoor clothing and not a summer walk, clearly a misnomer.  As for the seminar and tutorial on drove roads, the conditions really weren’t conducive to either and they were cancelled due to lack of interest.  I will provide some notes for everyone who attended and promise not to ask questions or set tests on the content.  On receipt you can always adopt the Standard Operating Procedure (SOP) and press DELETE or deny ever having received them (another common SOP).

The day turned-out quite differently to how I’d anticipated it but was no less fun for that.  It was really excellent if, like me, you find the weather interesting – but there is no accounting for taste.  I bet everyone remembers this walk, on the day of the summer solstice, even if not for the reasons intended when signing-up.  The prevailing weather reminds me of the anonymous ditty:

 “ Whether the weather be fine, whether the weather be not, whether the weather be cold, whether the weather be hot, we’ll weather the weather, whatever the weather, whether we like it or not.”

And we did, I hope you enjoyed the experience.  It is fortunate that we British have a well developed sense of irony – I think?


Richard 

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