Monday 15 June 2015

Semi slackpack?

Time away of late has been limited. With rumours of summer coming in, it was time to make amends. With the Cheviots just up the road from me and a bus pass, the choice was obvious.
Folks, I must offer a warning, the Cheviots are going to be appearing on a regular basis on these blog pages.
By a variety of buses, I arrived in Wooler early afternoon. It was mild, the sun was shining and I was keen not to be wasting time. Following footpaths and bridleways my footsteps led me over to Carey Bridge. Amazingly I was in shorts and tee shirt, first time this year.

Roughly speaking, I had a tentative outline of a plan. However, there was no rigid itinerary, no fixed route, no particular place I had to be.

The Carey Burn look interesting. There was a marker indicating a footpath. A check of the map, there was nothing marked in the way of a path. A well defined path led me upwards through the narrow valley, it was delightful place. Meeting an elderly couple heading down, we stopped and chatted for a few moments. They mentioned a waterfall higher up but had been unable to reach it, finding the path a little too difficult for them. Once again, nothing indicated on the map, a serious omission by the O.S. people?

There certainly was a waterfall, not a large one but very nicely proportioned, with deep pools and rushing channels.

Following the path higher, I had an idea where it would lead to. That though would wait until the morning. With no rush, it was an easy decision to spend a little time in this pleasant little valley. Dense swathes of bracken made finding a place to camp slightly difficult. There where several places I had passed though and I back tracked a short way to a grassy ledge that proved to be ideally tent sized.

Such simple pleasures in being able to sit outside the tent, a gentle breeze keeping the midges at bay, boots off and a brew of tea on the go.
Following the path upward the following morning, it led to precisely where I suspected it to go. Joining the bridleway that comes directly up from Wooler common. This leads on past Luckenarks and on to Broadstruther.

Here possibly I made an error? Rather than stay with the main tourist route up and over Broadhope Hill, on over Scald Hill and up to the Cheviot, I opted for a more obscure path that led around the back of Broadhope and on to a path that came up from Goldscleugh. In actual fact, that leads on to a forestry track. At first I lost the path a few times. It disappeared in deep heather and bog. However, I knew there was a path that followed a fence line. After a bout of heather bashing and bog hopping I gained the fence and indeed the path was where I knew it would be.
. My aim now was to follow the track that swings around the head of the valley. Following it. an old section of the track, now a rough heathery affair, swings left and upwards, climbing toward the Cheviot ridge.
 A good halfway up and suddenly I hit a brick wall. One moment I was moving slowly but fairly steady, the next I just came to a standstill. This was most frustrating. The day being hot, I had deliberately paid attention to my fluid levels, had been feeling ok up to that point.
Taking on more fluids and a bite to eat, I eased back in the heather and rested for a good half hour. Starting off again, it quickly became apparent that I was finding it hard going. Coming on to a lower ridge, I could see the old track contouring across and up to the cairn on the ridge line. Part of me really wanted to push on. Why though? What was there to gain? It may have been doable, however, it would have been an awful struggle. In the end I opted out. Some may think I was being a wuss, but I had nothing to prove. Instead I picked my way around the hill to where the main path rises steeply upwards. It looked a mess, a scar on the landscape. Two figures could be seen toiling upwards. Instead I turned and headed over to Scald Hill. A peruse of the map saw me heading down toward Langleeford Hope. Once a shepherds cottage, now holiday lets.

My intention now was to try and head up the valley and camp.  It was way above Harthope Linn that I found a spot for the tent. Bracken is not the best of stuff to camp on. It took a bit of time but I eventually settled for a small grassy area where the tent fitted in snuggly.
With the tent up, I actually snoozed for a while. Unfortunately the breeze that had been blowing up the valley died away. This brought the midges out. A  bite of supper and a cuppa was followed by a retreat to the tent.
Rain in the early hours pattered softly on the flysheet. By morning it was dry once more, but much cooler and overcast. The rest of the day was spent pottering. Returning to the tent early afternoon the temperature had  noticeably dropped, it was much colder.

By mid afternoon the cloudbase  was cloaking the tops of the surrounding hills. A small group of folk heading down told me they had had to don extra layers higher up and that the fog had meant navigation interesting?

Early evening saw the cloud base descending further with rain now sweeping up the valley.
It remained wet all night. A bout of what is becoming a normal problem for me, meant I got wet and very cold twice during the night hours.

Thick, grey cloud covered all like a shroud the following morning. It was not raining, as such, just a cloying wetness. There was only one option, put the kettle on and have a brew!
The folk I had spoken to the previous day had told me that the forecast was for it to clear by the afternoon. It was an easy call and the morning was spent snoozing, reading and drinking tea. Amazingly things actually did start to clear by late morning. By the afternoon I was heading down the valley. A delightful walk with no rush to be anywhere. My intention originally had been to camp but I really wanted a hot shower. Thus it was I made for Wooler and the youth hostel.

A mixed few days, well worth getting away though.

A few more photos, enjoy.


  1. Ah yes, the treasures revealed by the deft use of the Northumberland County Council bus pass... Carey Burn looks interesting... Crackin pics by the way...

  2. Carey Burn is a delightful wee walk Mike.

  3. Love the Cheviots. Must do more there!

  4. Always worth a visit Chrissie.

  5. Fantastic area, of which I have never been, and fantastic images to go along. Lovely waterfall shots.

  6. Thank you Alan. it is an area well worth a visit.

  7. Interesting...........and don`t forget, plenty of Cheviot walking ideas at our website.