Date: Saturday, 28th January 2012
Distance: 8 miles
Time Taken: 6 hours (including several stops!)
Companion (s): Mick
This was a rather last minute arrangement with a message coming in at about 3pm on Friday asking if I'd like to join Mick for a walk at 9.00am the next day. I think you can guess what the answer was lol :-)
However, that did mean that I didn't have a clue about which route we were doing....I only knew that we were headed to the Cheviots and that Mick was expecting it to be a lousy weather day. Bring a change of clothes, he said.....little did I know why I might need that change of clothes!!! :-)
Anyway, I headed up the A1 to arrive at Mick's place just before 9am. We transferred my gear into Mick's car and off we went. The weather was bright and sunny, crisp and cold and the hard frost on the ground made the passing scenery look amazing.
We were only a short way into the drive when I realised that Mick was almost as clueless as I was about which route we were going to attempt today! However, as I wasn't driving, I didn't worry too much about and simply enjoyed the scenery on the way :-)
Sometime later, following a few concerns about whether or not Mick actually knew where he was going, we arrived at the parking area and the beginning of our walk at Byrness.
On leaving the parking area, we headed to join the Pennine Way and I took a couple of photos to test my camera.....
It was an absolutely beautiful, sunny morning with a good, hard frost on the ground and, as we began the climb, we were grateful for this as it was easily seen that the path is usually very, very muddy. (I should point out at this point that Mick has walked this route before and therefore knows how bad conditions can get! Please remember this fact as you read on!)
As we continued to climb, we got warmer and so did the heat of the sun....
.....so we took a little rest break and enjoyed the view back downhill....
Continuing the ascent, I can tell we are nearing the top but Mick chooses this monent to warn me that there is a 'little bit of a scramble' before we get to the end of it!!
One way or another, we both manage the scrambly bit (Mick managed better than I did!) and we finally made it to the top and....Wow....the hard work and effort was worth it!
On reaching the summit, it's time for a few photos and a well earned Jetboil break :-)
Little boys just love to play with their new toys lol :-)
Refreshment break completed, we carried on. The sun was warm, there was no wind, the ground was mostly frozen and the views were amazing.....we could see for miles! :-)
However, you may be able to tell from the pic below how wet and boggy the ground usually is.
From here, we entered the boggiest section of our route. As the ground had been mainly frozen up to now, we were hopeful that we wouldn't have to take the extra long detour around the worst part but, I can definitely say that, with hindsight......I wish we had!!!
The camera stayed in the pocket as we negotiated our way across the next part of our route (I so wish it hadn't but, maybe it's just as well it did!)
My usual approach on wet, boggy patches is to stay as close to the fence as possible but, we kept getting pushed further and further away from the fence in order to avoid the worst until, eventually, we were quite a distance away from it and faced what can only be described as a vast frozen pond! Surveying the land as best we could, there seemed to be no discernible way around the vast expanse of icy, boggy ground and therefore Mick, in his wisdom (?!?), decided to go for it....
Not more than a few seconds later, he was up to his waist in icy, boggy, smelly, sludgy water and struggling to get out of it!!! I was stuck on the other side of the icy pond and desperate to do what I could to help him and all I could think about doing was getting to the other side as soon as possible. I hurriedly backtracked a bit and tried to find a narrower, more suitable place to cross the icy pond but....in my desperation to get to Mick and be of some help, I made yet another hasty decision and simply attempted to cross a narrower section of the same icy, boggy pond!......And yes, you've guessed it.....I fell through the ice too and ended up in the icy, smelly, boggy water up to the top of my thighs and, to top it all.....Mick had already managed to get himself out!!!
If there had been more people with us, there is no doubt that a video of the whole episode would ensue but, I'm afraid you're going to have to use your imagination here as I can guarantee you that the last thing we thought of doing throughout this incident was to take photographs of each other lol :-)
However, once we were back on solid (well, virtually solid!) ground....I did take this photo of Mick.....
As you can no doubt tell.............my camera got wet!!! :-( Apologies for the quality of the photos from this point onwards but I obviously had water on (or in) the lens and I was rather more concerned about getting out of my wet trousers, socks and boots before I turned into an icicle than I was about trying to fix my camera lol :-)
Anyway, we carried on walking rather hastily until we reached a safe place to assess the water/smelly bog damage and decide our best plan for the rest of the day.
At this point, we emptied the water out of our boots....I changed into a dry pair of socks (not sure why as my boots were soaking anyway lol)...I zipped off the bottom part of my trousers....Mick tried his best to wring out his sock....we both laid out our wet fleeces in the warm sun....and we both ate a couple of chocolate biscuits!!! :-) Oh....and Mick got the shock of his life at the sight of my legs in shorts!!! Milk bottle white is apparently not the normal shade of colour for legs these days lol :-) (Don't panic....there's no photos of the horrific sight!!)
Anyway, once we had redressed and made ourselves comfortable again....we decided that the best thing to do was to press on with the walk as planned. I for one, definitely didn't want to go back across that bog again! :-) Luckily, the sun was still warm and our main hope was that, from this point forward, it would stay that way as, if it didn't, we were at risk of turning into icicles!
We had one more Jetboil break before we headed down off the hilltops. The views were amazing, the hot drink was much appreciated but, we definitely began to realise that it was getting quite a bit colder and that it was improtant that we needed to head for lower ground and the relative shelter of the forest.
We still had more boggy ground to cross though...
Before too long though, we made it down and began the return section of our route....
We headed for Spithope bothy and the little waterfall nearby. We even struck lucky and found someone in residence at the bothy who already had a roaring fire going and made us feel very welcome.
We didn't have much further to go now and, as we were on a good forest track, it was fairly easy going. Just as well I think, as Mick and I were both beginning to tire now and I could definitely tell that the temperature had dropped.
We arrived back at the car just after dark, both a little weary but both still laughing and joking about our adventure and having thoroughly enjoyed the day.
Can't wait for our next adventure Mick but can I just say.......next time you want to take a look at my legs, there's really no need for the bog swimming trick.....just ask! lol :-)