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Around and Above the Harthope Blog

Around and Above the Harthope Blog

Tue 27th August 2013

Saturday 24th August 2013

A typical Bank Holiday weekend, grey, overcast and wet – and after a long spell of good weather too!  However, it was good to meet-up with the ever youthful “Old Team” of the usual suspects for another walk in the (Northumberland National) Park.  It was especially good to welcome back my indispensible volunteer carer, Ian, following his recent foot operation and to welcome Judith to the group again.

The plan was to circumnavigate the upper Harthope from the Hawsen Burn car parking spot along both the north-west and south eastern ridges dropping down for lunch somewhere overlooking the Coldgate Water near Grimping Haugh opposite Watch Hill.  The cloudbase was well below the ridges when we set-off up the Hawsen Burn to follow the stream up onto the bridleway towards Broadstruther.  Big mistake, the bracken growth was so dense that the path kept disappearing and parts of it had been undercut and washed away so we zigzagged up the burn nimbly switching from side to side until one of our number contrived to slip into the burn much to the amusement of everyone else – but we were concerned really.  The overtrousers were necessary to avoid getting soaked from the bracken overgrowth but at least it wasn’t raining now so we climbed up to the bridleway to make easier progress amongst good hearted banter about the route selection by the guide – at least I think it was!  I did recce (we professionals call it ground-proofing) the route a few weeks previously and it was fine, honestly.

Elevenses at the gate on the ridge above the Hawsen Burn were taken at 11.30; well we only started at 10.30 and onwards to the Cold Law trig point (452m) overlooking the Harthope.  The cloudbase was slowly rising and we could look down onto the parked cars through the ragged and decaying lower cloud, nicely atmospheric.  On towards Carling Crag with some of the “team” becoming restless, what is it about undulating ground that there is to misunderstand?  The terrain gently rolls down and up, the up bits were apparently the problem!  A brief lecture about managing the moor for grouse and the importance of peat in the ecosystem followed a question about what we were seeing meant it was approaching lunchtime.  One would think that regulars would learn not to ask questions by now; we must have some slow learners in our midst.  A quick look at the walled and Scots Pine cross-shaped livestock shelter and we were off downhill towards Coronation Wood free ranging across the Access Land.  Ian went off on his own around the back of the shelter to walk in peace and quiet for a few minutes, good plan.  More “observations” along the lines of “Is he lost again?” really helpful, confidence building and encouraging, thank you.

We crossed the Harthope Burn via the wooden footbridge and pitched camp approximately half a kilometre beyond it adjacent to Skirl Naked hidden in the plantation opposite.  Two of our number accused us of hiding from them when they eventually caught-up having made a comfort stop en route.  Marion and I did think we heard a whistle minutes earlier - but we were off-duty for lunch – it’s a team thing.  After lunch we trudged to the top of Brands Hill and I didn’t speak for a whole ten minutes, I don’t know whether that was appreciated or not as nobody was speaking, just breathing hard.  Langlee Crags, one of several tors surrounding the Cheviot granite, was our next objective and the wry witty banter continued throughout.  The invitation to climb only 60 metres (a mere undulation) up to Housey Crags, another tor overlooking our starting point was firmly but politely declined in favour of swift descent back down to the vehicles whereupon the weather decided to rain on our parade.  Actually we’d done really well compared to the forecast with a Big Drip leading (or allowed to think he was) the happy band both at the beginning and the end of the walk.

Sorry that you didn’t get the long distance views of the coast to the east and Cheviot and Hedgehope to the west but it was better than we could have hoped for according to the Met Office weather warning issued for the day.  I hope that everyone feels that the above account captures at least some of the experiences that we had on-route and that it corresponds in some measure to the actual walk you experienced.  This is in response to the obviously well-meant “observation” by one of our number that the blog sometimes didn’t correspond to their experience.  I know this is just to keep me in check, so thank you.  I don’t know if this particular therapy is working or not but will keep you informed when I develop a personality and some self-confidence.  Thanks to everyone who attended and I hope to see you all again soon to continue with my course of cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT).

Tuesday, 27 August 2013



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