Saturday, 27 August 2011

      To be a gadgie you need the following:
                a bus pass
                a pair of walking boots.

      Other things are useful too, waterproof clothing sometimes, a rucsac, maps and a

I like Carey Burn me.   August 19th.

       This is one of my favourite "easy walks" in the Cheviots.  To get to the start from Newcastle take the A697 and turn off at the sign for North and South Middleton. Follow the minor road past North Middleton  farm, through a ford and turn left at the signpost for Langleeford.  Follow this even minor road through the delightfully named Skirl Naked* down a steep hill to a small grassed parking area on the right just before Carey Bridge. (GR 977250 on OL 16)
On August 19th this year there are only three gadgies out walking, me, Harry and Dave.
Harry is a retired engineer and is terribly practical and a good photographer, Dave is a retired archaeologist and knows a lot about piles of stones and birds, and I know little about lots but drift along quite happily. Sathnam Sanghera, Times columnist, told me  once that I wrote well  but didn't publish my views on living with a vegetarian which was a shame really because it is one area in which I am an expert.

But Hey, as young lady columnists like Carol Midgely say when they want to make a point, WHAT ABOUT THE WALK. 

  On the carpark side of the Carey Bridge there is a stile and a signpost. Cross the stile and follow the burn. This path is not marked on OS maps but is very easy to follow and presumably has become official by popular use. After crossing a field the path sticks close to the burn in a narrow gorge, more like the Lake District than the Cheviots. As you approach a wood watch out for adders, particularly on warm days. We  found a couple  closely entwined one warm April day and thought the adders were multiplying but later discovered they were two males having a supremacy struggle. If Dave had known more about snakes and less about birds he could have told us this.
  Stay alongside the stream to a footbridge and cross it, pausing to look down the burn, it is beautiful and you might see a dipper.
 I asked Harry to throw my ashes in the stream here if I finally hung my boots up before him and would he please play "Kathy's Song " by Simon and Garfunkel as I floated away.


 Looking down the Carey Burn from the footbridge.

 Having crossed the bridge follow the path across open land until Broadstruther comes into view.  This old farm was in a poor state for years until somebody acquired it, rebuilt it and made it into a lodge for grouse shooting parties. On August  19th it was locked and deserted. No grouse ?No shooters ? The cuts ?
 It is a good place  for a Herbie stop however. (Gadgie slang for lunch, used to be a "Mike and Harry's" but time moves on.

 I was going to insert a picture of a Red Admiral butterfly by Harry here but had difficulty getting it out of its little file so this is one by me.

Red Admiral at Broadstruther.

Leave Broadstruther and follow the path that runs roughly south until you approach a fence and stile. Decision time. Turn left and follow the fence line up Cold Law or continue across the stile and stay on the path which comes down Hawson Burn into the Harthope Valley near a grassed parking area, which is what we chose to do.  Turn left and stay on the road for about a quarter of a mile before turning up Cockstraw Syke. This path leads at a steady gradient to the summit of Cold Law. Look west at the Cheviot plateau, south to Hedgehope and on a clear day the distant Northumberland coastline, Farne Islands, castles and fleets of invading Vikings. The view is worth the climb even when the peace is shattered by an RAF Tornado.
Follow the fence line in a North East direction until you come to a small wood with a bird trap in it. These traps are designed to capture members of the crow family which supposedly feed off the young grouse. They have been known to catch birds of prey. We found one once with a dead Short Eared Owl in the doorway. Out of season the door should be closed and the entrance on the top closed by boards but this seldom seems to happen. Turn East and follow the path which will lead you back to Carey Bridge.
At a little over 8 miles this is a good gadgie walk, not too demanding and very scenic.

* There are several books on Northumbrian place names Godfrey Watson in Northumberland Place Names, Goodwife Hot and others suggests Skirl Naked comes from its exposed position, Stark Naked.   I had fondly imagined some addle brained Scot played the pipes there wearing nothing but a grin.