The Cheviot and Schil, via the Hen Hole
Sun 19th August 2012
Last of the Pennine Way via the Hen Hole
Sundance had soft shoed shuffled, Jon had promised that it was going to be a good day and what did we wake up to Rain. By 07.30 it had stopped whoopee!
Dry drive up to Wooler where it promptly started to rain by the time we arrived at Hethpool it had stopped but as we sorted out selves out it started to yes you’ve guessed rain. On the drive up to Mounthooly it had stopped.
As we walked past Mounthooly the top of Cheviot and the surrounding hills was lost in cloud. For the first one and a bit miles we followed a rough track but soon left the track to walk over rough pasture along the side of the College Burn. The view into the Hen hole was block from view by a shoulder of The Cheviot. On coming round the shoulder we got our first view of what Mike was leading us into, with the low cloud and dark threatening sky it looked very spooky.
Entering the narrow gorge with the sides towering above with the tops lost in the mist it had a very Scottish mountain feel. We followed now on a small path which frequently disappeared, lead us along the west side of the burn. All the while Mike was looking for an easy crossing of the burn as the path on the east side being easier to follow. We continued to make progress although several times we had to make scrambled detours round the rock faces forming the numerous waterfalls.
Eventually we entered a large amphitheatre above the Hen Hole formed by the Cheviot Platue towering still above us and had lunch. After a well earned rest we continued to follow the College Burn until a rocky spur took us up to Auchope Cairn and an unbelievable view back down through the Hen Hole and up across the valley to the Border ridge and the Schil.
We now followed the Pennine Way to the spot height 743m which we had reached on an earlier walk. On the way we met two ladies whom we had met at Barrowburn Tea rooms after an earlier walk in the year. Once at the spot height we started to fill in the last three mile gap of The Pennine Way that we had not walked in Northumberland by retracing our steps to Auchope Cairn.
After the steep decent from Auchope (it must have been steep as Mike slipped in the clarts and got a mucky bum) we reached the Mountain Refuge Hut. Mike must have found the walking hard as much to everyone’s surprise he said we would have a 15 min break. The cloud had now started to break up and the sun began to shine. All too soon we were off again and in true Cheviot style the path became very wet and squashy which entailed lots of little detours to get round the really bad bits.
Eventually we started the last climb of the day, the assent of the Schil. At last we had done it; we had completed all of the Northumberland Pennine Way.
As we sat and enjoyed the sunshine and the views Mike started wittering on about the next years project which is to walk back to Alston from Berwick using the North Sea Trail Then St. Oswald’s Way, some of the Hadrian’s Wall and some how linking up with Isaac’s Tea trail to finish back at Alston.
We continued to follow the Pennine Way for the decent down the Schil until the Pennine Way crossed the border into Scotland.
We turned east to follow a path down the Fleehope Burn. This was a very wet path with lots of slippery bits we allowed three of the party to sit down (fall) and take a close look at the vegetation. Eventually Mounthooly came into view and then as the sun began to set behind the Schil we reached the cars and the end of a long but really good days walk.