Saturday, 4 February 2012

Across the Borderline.  February 3rd.
is an album and track by Willie Nelson, (Not the February 3rd bit).
Last week I had my "MOT" which consisted of a nurse weighing me, measuring my height, taking blood and asking questions about my drinking. As a result the Government has declared me overweight with a BMI of 27.7 Officialy a FAT PLODDER!
Today five FPs and an FTA are walking from Barrowburn  to Windy Gyle on the border with Scotland.
  To get to Barrowburn from Newcastle head north on the A1, turn onto the A697 at Morpeth, take the B6341 to Rothbury and about one mile after Thropton follow the minor road through Sharperton, Harbottle and Alwinton until you arrive at a car park and picnic site on the left hand side of the road.  There is an old building next to it which always looks closed. On OL16 the car park is at GR866104.
 Across the road a footbridge takes you over the River Coquet. This area is called Wedder Leap because years ago a labourer stole a "wedder" (sheep) and in an attempt to cross the river he stumbled, the weight of the wedder dragged him down and he drowned. It was that or a one way ticket to Australia.
Follow the footpath across the field and past the old school house, which is now a camping barn. Stay on the footpath which leads uphill until you reach a plantation. Inside the wood you have the choice of two paths. Take either, they join up later on.
Emerging from the wood and crossing a field pause to admire the view. Today the hills have a dusting of snow.

 Looking towards Usway Ford.

At the farm track there is a finger post. Take the track that heads almost due north between two plantations and stay on it until you reach a gate on the border fence. At the moment there is no need for  a  passport or other form of identification but if Alex Salmond has his way...
There is a finger post at this point, which is on the Pennine Way as well as the border.

On the border line.
Michael wears Regatta trousers (£13.99 from Great Outdoors market stall. Regatta jacket (£48 from Gaynors in Ambleside )and HiTec boots (£29.99) from Go Outdoors. Ben wears Meindl boots(a lot) Berghaus fleece (a lot) Rohan bags (£55) and Rohan sun glasses. This man has class, but he still speaks to us. The shadow by Michael's right foot is Harry the photographer, but he says he can clone it out
  Follow the Pennine Way in a south westerly direction and climb steadily on a paved path from Yorkshire wool mills. There are several cairns on the way up, originally used to mark the border, and a delightfully named spot called "Blair's Hole." Eventually you reach Russell's Cairn, a well established Herbiespot  on Windy Gyle. We stopped for lunch. My GPS said 5.6 miles, this is important.

Russell's Cairn on the border. Supposedly named for Lord Francis Russell, an Englishman, who was murdered in the area at a meeting with the Scot Thomas Ker in 1585. The trig point was added later.

Packing to leave Russell's Cairn

 Instead of pies I brought, at my wife's suggestion, some Quorn mini egg bites. They went down quite well, even with the carnivores. We chatted to a young Scot at the cairn, he was walking independently.
Near the top of Windy Gyle is a large block of porphry, named "Split the De'il" Nobody seems to know why, great name though, sounds like a Scottish folk dance.
 Leaving the cairn we followed the Pennine Way along the border west to Plea Knowe.  Normally at this point we gadgies turn south over Black Braes and back to Barrowburn. But it was a beautiful day, cold, crisp and bright, so we headed up to Mozie Law and on to Beefstand Hill, Lamb Hill  (Nice Names) and the Mountain Refuge hut. On the way we saw at least three flocks of the Cheviot feral goats, about twenty to a flock, and a lone group of three billy goats gruff,  looking for a troll, probably suffering from  BO and avoided by the rest.

Feral goats. Photo not taken today, and there were more.

  At the refuge I checked the distance on my Outdoors GPS App. We had now walked 23.5 miles, hard to believe but we gadgies are tough. This reading is important.
  From the hut the footpath, across Lauder grass, heads east. At the first fork take the left branch.  The path, heading east then south east crosses an area which is about to be forested and has lots of holes ready for the trees, until it comes to the farm at Carlcroft. Here we split, three of us opting for the road back alongside the river and three taking the bridle path back to Barrowburn. On the way we watched a dipper patrol his patch on the river and saw a heron, but generally it was quiet.
 Back at the car my GPS said 28.4 miles, my Higear ped said 14.9 and Ben's GPS said 14.8. Two ped Dave averaged 13.9 and he measured it at 14.3. Seems about right for a good walk out in perfect winter conditions. Quite good for Fat Plodders.
  On the way home we stopped at the ever welcoming Anglers Arms for beer or tea, one of these days we  will stop the night, have dinner and lots of beer. And breakfast.
When I got home I "drew" a map of the walk on my amazing but apparently faulty GPS App. For some reason I had shot off in a straight line from Russell's Cairn to a village called Lanton north west of Jedburgh and returned in a straight line to point on the path some hundred yards off the cairn. Not being able to collar a child to explain this I have decided that the young Scot must have had a similar device and that  he came from Lanton. The satellites got confused.
Great walk out though, and when I had erased the extra trip to Lanton from the walk, (yes you can!) it measured 14.1 miles. I'll settle for that.