Tuesday, 19 July 2011

A Cheviot Stroll

Date:                    Monday, 18th July 2011
Start/Finish:          Parking spot at the base of Green Humbleton, close to Kirk Yetholm
Distance:              7 miles
Time Taken:          4.5 hours (approx)
Companion(s):       Mick

Route Map:

Very little needs to be said about this walk to remind me of it in years to come.  In fact, only one word would sum it up very nicely.......Wet!

However, one word doesn't do justice to the day's outing so, I will continue to provide a few more details of the route and the events of the day.

I hope I'm right in saying that Mick and I had both been looking forward to our second outing together since we our first meet and walk on our coastal route earlier this month.  We had originally planned for our second walk to be a route in North Yorkshire but, recent personal events gave me a longing to visit a peaceful and quiet area so, we decided that the remoteness of the Cheviots would fit the bill.  Having not visited the area at all yet this year, the prospect of returning to my stomping ground from 2009 and 2010 was very appealing and I couldn't wait for the day of the walk to arrive.

So the day of our walk finally arrived and, following an extremely wet weekend in the North East of England, the latest weather forecast was predicting a dry start to the day, followed by a showery afternoon.  I remember thinking, as I looked out on the early morning sunshine that, if we were lucky, we might complete the walk before the showers started......hmmm......think again on that one ;-)

The plan for the day was for me to drive to Mick's, park up. transfer my gear to Mick's car and then head up to the start of the walk near Kirk Yetholm.  I left at about 8.10am and had a nice dry drive up the A1 to reach my destination in good time (after taking a slightly longer route than I needed in an attempt to find Mick's house I might add!)  As I arrived, Mick was just coming out of the front door of his house - I'm beginning to wonder if we have some kind of telepathy going on here as we arrived at exactly the same time at the meet point for our first walk too - spooky!!!

OK, so meet and greets completed, gear transferred to the correct car, we set off on our way to Kirk Yetholm.  Still a fine dry day at this point by the way, however, that wasn't to last for long and, as we headed further north, the threatening clouds started to accumulate and eventually, the rain drops began to appear on the windscreen.  Just a shower we thought - it'll clear up soon and all will be well.....hmmm!

Anyway, we arrived at our parking spot and waited for a few minutes for the, now rather heavy, rain shower to ease off and, within about 10 minutes, the shower was little more than drizzle.  We quickly got geared-up and set off up the hill.  I know I've said this a million times but - why do all the best walks have to start with an uphill?  I'm slow enough at ascents but the first one of the day always seems to be the slowest!  So, as usual, I stopped a couple of times to admire the view.....

About half way up the hill, the drizzle turned to rain again but, at this point we were still hopeful that the forecasters would be right and that it was only a shower passing over.  We joined the high level route of the beginning/end of the Pennine Way and continued on our way up towards the junction with the St Cuthberts Way from Hethpool.  From this point on there are quite a few ups and downs to continue along the Pennine Way passing Stob Stones on the way to Whitelaw Nick and, finally, White Law.  On any other day, the views on this part of the walk are beautiful in my opinion but the weather wasn't the best for photography today.

The route along the ridge continues from White Law, along Steer Rig towards Black Hag and we had considered extending our route to climb The Schill (601m).  However, by this time, the rain had been incessant and the wind was picking up, and we already had wet feet (!) so we decided that it might be best to stick to the original route plan and head down into the valley in the hope that the conditions would be a little better at the lower level.  The views at our decision point were really beautiful to me, clouds passing over the hilltops and everything.....but I didn't even bother to get the camera out in the the worst of it as it just wasn't worth it lol ... :-)

Anyway, we headed to the point where the high level Pennine Way path meets with the low level path and we proceeded to headed down into the valley and towards Old Halterburn.

At last we found a point on the route which might offer some shelter from the rain (a few trees and a dilapated sheep shed).  However, following the continuous rain we had endured, we found that everything was wet and even the sheep weren't going to be generous enough to let us have a sit down in shelter.  They were all huddled under the corrugated iron roof and, even though they vacated the area when we approached, we decided it might be a bit smelly in there :-)  So, we did our best to grab a snack break under the trees.  [Who mentioned snacks - I have to admit to having a cigarette break at this point - my only excuse being that I think I'd reached the limit of my comfort levels and needed to seek comfort from an alternative source.]


Nevertheless, breaktime over, we continued on our way confident that, in typical fashion, by the time we got back to the car the rain would have stopped and the sun would come out! I attempted to take a few more photos of the wonderful scenery.....but the raindrops on the lens spoiled these ones.....

We made it back to the car in one piece, even though we encountered sheep, cows and horses on our way but................I don't think I've ever been as wet as I ended up on this walk......I was, literally, soaked to the skin and so was Mick.  My feet had been squelching in my boots from about half way round, my waterproof jacket had given up being waterproof from about the same point which meant that I was basically wet from top to toe - including the underwear!!

Now, what do I carry in my rucksack that may have been useful on this occasion??  I can tell you that I carried waterproof trousers, gaiters, waterproof gloves, a hat and a waterproof rucksack cover but.....did I think to use any of them.....oh no....I just carry them around with me in case anyone else needs them......obviously :-) :-)

I know you will probably think I am mad when I say this but, I thoroughly enjoyed this walk.  The destination was just perfect, the route was brilliant, the company was 'the best' and the scenery (to me) is just wonderful!!!

Mind you, I didn't look quite so good when I called in at my local shop on the way home looking as though I had just wet myself (the only part of me still wet to the onlooker seemed to be the nether regions) and having to peel off the wet underwear is possibly something I really don't want to have to do again :-)


Mick has kindly supplied some photos of Old Halterburn that were taken in better weather - thanks Mick :-)

Now that's more like it :-)

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