Mon 2nd April 2012
What weather for the end of March!
The weather had been great all week, it was surely going to break on Thursday, the day of the walk, but thankfully this was not the case.
I met my walking companions for the day at the ‘Wedder Leap’ car park, nestled in the Coquet Valley. The group I was taking out where from Brasher Boots on one of their ‘countryside’ days where they get out and experience what their customers do and yes the whole group wore their Brasher boots with many sporting the most recent addition to the range, the Fellmaster GTX.
We followed the road up the valley a little way, passing Barrowburn Tea Room before we left the valley floor gaining height quickly as we climbed up Hindhill and we started to follow the old drovers’ road, The Street.
‘The Street’ is the name given to the clear track leading from Barrow Burn over Black Braes and the main ridge of the Cheviot, which is crossed near Monzie Law, and down to Hownam in the valley of Kale water. It is an old drovers’ road used by both packhorse trains and also for moving livestock to the English markets. Although traffic eased on these drovers’ roads during the period of medieval border warfare, it became firmly re-established in the 17th and 18th centuries, particularly by drovers keen to avoid the tolls of the new turnpike roads.
We stopped for lunch, sheltering on the side of Swineside Law, just out of the wind, it was a lovely little sun trap with a great view.
Then we continued on to the border fence and started our climb to the summit of the day, one of my favourites, Windy Gyle.
Windy Gyle is 2010 feet (619 m) above sea level. Therefore it exceeds the magical 2000 feet barrier, this is usually the point that hills finish and mountains begin.
The massive cairn on the summit is called ‘Russell’s Cairn’. This is a Bronze Age mound but it was named after Lord Francis Russell who was killed in the border battles in the area, probably at Hexpethgate where Clennell Street crosses the border ridge; on 27th July 1585. This was the day of the truce. It was the day that the English and Scottish met together at selected points along the border to air their grievances and right their wrongs.
We continued to follow The Pennine Way. The Pennine Way was the first U.K. Long Distance Path (now National Trail) and was officially opened in 1965. Its original theme was the provision of the opportunity to make long distance journeys through predominantly wild country.
In 1989 the Pennine Way was 502km (314 miles) in total, including loops. By 1994 rationalisation of some of the misalignments had reduced this to 463km (288 miles). It runs between Edale in Derbyshire and Kirk Yetholm in the Scottish borders taking in Northern England's finest moorland scenery.
We then left the Pennine Way and started to follow Clennell Street. This old road runs from Alwinton to Cocklawfoot in the valley of the Bowmont Water, on the Scottish side of the border. This ancient route has been traced back to prehistoric times but was used more recently by smugglers.
After a short distance we left Clennell Street and skirted over Middle Hill before dropping back down to Barrowburn and the car park.
After driving back down the valley we all went to The Coquet Vale for a meal to celebrate a great days walking one of the best day walks the area has to offer.
Great weather, spectacular walk, good company and a nice meal at the end of the day. A perfect day out!