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Tue 29th September 2015

Volcanic Walk - Hedghope Hill

Volcanic Walk - Hedghope Hill

We assembled on probably one of the finest days for walking this year.   Blue skies, no wind, warm and with excellent visibility.This was a challenging walk which comprised three fairly distinct parts.

Firstly, there was the ascent of Hedgehope Hill (714m). Now this hill is steep! But with plenty of rests we made it. As ever the 'gain from the pain’ was all about the views in all compass directions. From the summit we could pick out all of the other hills over 600m in the Cheviot range (Cheviot, Comb Fell, Wyndy Gyle, Cushat Law, Bloodybush Edge).

Secondly, we walked a couple of miles over blanket bog to Comb Fell.  We did this in 'zig zag' fashion as dictated by the wet and not so wet ground. One or two boots went in too deep here and there. We then descended from the fell into the valley…a short leg but requiring a lot of concentration because we were 'off track’.

The third and final leg was along the valley…but we needed to cross the burn thirteen times (counted by Harry) before the track was defined enough to continue.  It was whilst returning along the valley floor that one of our group slipped into the burn.  Myself and other members of the group were well placed to assist her in getting clear of the water. Apart from getting wet from head to toe she was unscathed and bravely walked on….albeit with squelchy boots. We dried our boots a little further on whilst another member of the group took a ‘wild swim’ at Harthope Linn.  I must remember to bring my swimming gear in the future because we now know from first hand evidence that the swim is ‘invigorating”.

Along the way we noted the Alder groves along the river bank, drystone walls, different kinds of mosses (Star, Antler and Sphagnum) and flowers (Tormentil). In the walk description for this walk I mentioned Herons. On cue, at the end of the walk, there was a Heron flypast!  So graceful.  I wish I could really summon up one of these events whenever I wanted to!!  There was good spirit in the group. Katie, the collie dog, was as fresh as a daisy at the end of the day…giving us a display of her jumping skills towards the end of the walk.

This was my final guided walk of the season. It was good to have the company and assistance of Shepherds Walk’s volunteers, Julie and Martin as well Jon himself on this occasion. If you are reading this and you have been on one of my walks then I would like to say that I have enjoyed your company.

Roy Kennard (Hillguide)
Julie Barnett (Volunteer)
Martin Ainscow (Volunteer)

Sun 20th September 2015

Humbleton Hill Nordic Walk - 19 September 2015

Humbleton Hill Nordic Walk - 19 September 2015

We knew this walk wasn't going to be easy for the group as we (me and Laura) had been out and recce'd the walk a couple of weeks earlier.

The weather was absolutely fantastic  Blue skies and sunshine. 

My day started when I was having a cuppa at the Terrace tea shop and chatting to a couple when a lady I didn't know asked if I was Julie, I told her I was and sh said "I thought so, you look the part".  Turns out it was Anni, our new starter to our group but not to nordic walking.

We met the rest of the group at Wooler Common Car Park, where Laura was entertaining everyone.
As usual, introductions were made, warm up done and we headed off. 

First an incline, I refuse to call it a hill because I knew the hill to come.  We got to the top and quick photo taken for the blog/Facebook page, to many complaints.

We walked part of the St Cuthberts Way up to a gate when we turned right down a bank, Laura told us later on that she had heard some rustling when she was furthest back, funny we wondered why she walked extra quickly to catch up to us.

I showed the group which hill we were going up.  They were not keen as it is very steep.  I told them not to worry we weren't making them go that way there is an easier route around the back.
We followed the path through the field of sheep, who all had fluffy wool on the top of their heads where it was growing back.

We went around the bottom of the hill, then Ruth gave a little history lesson to Anni and Kim on the landscape.

No putting it off any more.  We were going up Humbleton Hill.

I encouraged everyone to go at their own pace, rest if/when they needed/wanted to and off we went.
Poor Audrey "Twinkle Toes" Dunn was stuck at the back with Laura "gold star volunteer" Frisby while the rest of us went ahead.

Everyone soon got into pairs, Ruth "Pedometer Bosum" Bull and Anni "new girl" Sanderson were going at a steady pace and poor Kim "pink face" Blackie was at the front with me.  I gave her a few pointers but I soon realised she wouldn't enjoy the walk if she kept going at that pace so I went ahead.

I got to the top, had a comfort break, and then headed back down to the group to shouts of "stop showing off!"

What I didn't know was what Twinkle Toes had said to gold star volunteer apparently it was something about going away.  LOL

The group got to the top.  I'm not sure what they had been complaining about as they weren't totally out of breath and had all talked all the way up.  Once again showing the benefit of nordic walking!
Short stop at the top when sandwiches, pork pies and even nuts "for the Nordic Nuts".

Another photo opportunity and we headed back down taking the route towards St Cuthberts Way.  Laura reminisced about how much she had enjoyed the St Cuthberts Challenge (NOT)

I asked everyone to walk quite close together so I could get an action shot and we continued back to the gate and wood where we had started the walk.

At the cars, we decided not to do a cool down, everyone wanted cake and tea.

We headed down to Wooler and the Terrace cafe, it was still warm so we sat outside.  Cakes, scones, coffee and tea were ordered but we had lost Twinkle Toes.  So I headed along Wooler High Street to find her.  Not to worry our tag line is "we never leave anyone behind" although this usually applies to the actual walk!

Everyone said goodbye, wished Ruth a happy holiday and told Audrey we would see her next year!

I hope you enjoyed the walk, the weather was fabulous, the company amazing and as always, a special thank you to Laura for her amazing help.

The next Nordic walk is Craster on 18th October.

Hope to see you all there.

Thanks again

Julie and Laura x

Mon 14th September 2015

The Street via Windy Gyle

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