Sun 17th November 2013
I would describe this walk as a ‘proper Northumberland walk’ because it encapsulated all that is great about Northumberland. A walk defined by the geography – steep sided hills and glacial cut valleys; a walk defined by the remoteness- not far from civilization but within a few miles there is a sense of being miles from anywhere; a walk defined by the history – we were walking in the footsteps of the ancient tribes of the iron age for it is estimated that the hillfort which is easily visible on the top the the double summit of Yeavering Bell was built around 500BC.
It was also a walk of two halves.
The first half an uphill and rugged moorland challenge as we ascended the steepest side of Yeavering Bell having passed, at it’s foot, the Old Palace, a buiding currently under reconstruction but which dates from the early 16th Century when it was build as a bastle house which was a defensible farmhouse. As such it offered protection for the farmer and his animals from the maurauding bands of the Border Reivers.
The ascent was unrelenting but it wasn’t difficult to find excuses to take in the views of the beautiful Glendale valley which revealed its self with every metre we climbed. In this valley at the foot of Yeavering Bell is the site of Gefrin an Anglo Saxon royal villa built around 600AD. The Anglo Saxons often occupied the sites of ancient Britons and this was no different as there is plenty of evidence of this area being used for centuries well before the Roman invasion. The name Gefrin is local and has evolved into the modern Yeavering that means ‘the hill of the goats’.
As we reached the summit of Yeavering Bell the view to the south and over the Cheviot Hills was stunning. The weather helped as the blustery and cooling wind kept the threat of rain away and gave us clear views of The Cheviot. With Yeavering bell behind us we walked across rough ground to an old settlement where we had a break to get out of the wind. As I sat there I wondered whose hands carried the very stones used to build it that we were using as shelter from the wind. Moving on we ascended White Law and skirted Akeld Hill passing a fort nestled on its slopes and descended to the valley at Gleadscleugh. This was the half time lunch stop.
The second half of the walk was gentler as it followed levelled and well marked paths with gentler inclines. Completing the cirle as we traversed the south side of Yeavering Bell walking was easier and allowed a more relaxed end to the day. To cap it all the clouds broke up and the sun shone down on us and the beautiful Cheviot Hills.
Well done and thank you to all of the folk who joined Ian, Margaret and myself on today’s walk. It is good to see friends and meet new friends who we hope will come back and join us at Shepherds Walks again soon.
The route covered 7.4 miles with 520 metres of ascent (1720 feet). The whole walk took 5 hours 35 minutes of which 3 hours 49 minutes were spent moving which gives us a moving average of 1.9 miles an hour.
Thanks to Richard who devised this route – a proper Northumberland walk.
Chris, Ian and Margaret.