Monday, 19 March 2012

Wind and Rain.............March 9th.
While I have been sunning myself in gadgieland, aka Madeira, the rest of the team have been out for the normal Friday walk and Brian the punmeister has kindly written up the day's adventure for me to add to the blog so here it is, added  by my recently acquired skill of cutting and pasting. The benefits of children are few but they are good with computers.

Wind and Rain – March 9th 2012

The day started so well with good warm sunshine and a bacon sandwich at the Terrace Cafe in Wooler. 

The route is a variation of the gadgie favourite – the Henhole (see walk on Sept 23rd 2011) but instead of the Henhole we would go via the Mountain Refuge Hut (GR 878202) on Auchope Rig.

Your regular author, the blogmeister, is away on the island of Madeira (19oC with light winds and sunny spells), so didn’t accompany the cinqgadgies on this walk but how he will laugh when he reads this account.

As usual we parked by the Harthope Burn where it meets Hawsen Burn and headed up Hawsen Burn into the teeth of what could be playfully called a stiff breeze. We, that is Ben, Dave, Ray, Harry and Brian, plodded our way up to the flat section between Blackseat Hill and Broadhope Hill and as usual couldn’t find a direct path to the style.  One day we will have a working party to build our own.  From the stile the path starts off muddy but then becomes good track down to Goldsclough. 

Howson Burn, very popular with Ring Ousels.

Near Goldsclough we saw Dave talking to a fellow walker.  What a friendly chap Dave is, always attracted by the lure of someone’s lunchtime sandwiches!

Goldscleugh Farm, probably named for a man named
Golda, and a ravine (The cleugh bit)

 A little further down the valley we honoured the absent grubmeister at our usual lunch spot, behind a wall at Dunsdale, where Dave produced pork pie and Ben ginger biscuits. Dave and Ben who carry next to no superfluous weight are net food exporters where as Ray, Harry and Brian are net importers. From Dunsdale we turned in a more south westerly direction down into the College Valley so the wind wasn’t now directly against us but perversely it did start to drizzle.

At the end of the College valley the only way is up, but there are choices. There is the regular path and a spur that is shorter and steeper with both leading to the Refuge Hut.  Dave decided to try the spur, whilst the rest of us followed the other path.  The Hut is a solid wooden building and could be a life saver for anyone caught out on the hill in poor conditions.  There is a Visitor’s Book but it made no mention of the map and compass Dave had accidentally left there some years before.

Now we were heading up to Auchope Cairn, into the cloud and heavier rain.  The section between the Cairn and Cheviot summit is almost completely pathed with duckboards to begin with and later stone slabs, to ease the passage over the Cheviot plateau. 

Cheviot Summit.
My best man, not knowing the Cheviots, decided to camp on the summit a few years ago, thinking there would be sparkling mountain streams for his morning tea. By the time he made it down in the next day he was so dehydrated he hallucinated.

To my mind this does nothing to detract from the walk, indeed the conditions underfoot on the plateau are so wet and boggy that the 1.6 miles to the summit, could under poor conditions be very very difficult without these walkways. 

By the time we reached the summit cairn the rain was lashing down, though thankfully now on our backs. They say that on a good day you can see the steep crowning glory of dark Lochnagar but it was not this day. I joked with Ray that I had just received a text that it was “sunny in Seahouses”.  The steep descent from Cheviot is no fun and is probably the biggest erosion scar in Northumberland however we were soon below the cloud and out of the rain and could see to the coast where, lo and behold, it was sunny in Seahouses.

It is a short walk up to Scald Hill where you turn south east and take a reasonable path back down into the valley and back to the car.

Now what is the distance of this route? Dave’s nuclear pedometers suffered meltdown but his map measurement was 12.4 miles.  I got 12.6 miles and 3250ft of ascent using electronic map measurement. Ben used a mixture of map measurement and “how much equivalent mileage can you add on for walking into a gale”  This adds roughly 1 mile for every 5 miles travelled directly into the wind and ½ mile for buffeting (this doesn’t mean eating lunch).  Ben’s calculation therefore was 13½ miles and it certainly felt like it.

After changing into dry clothes we left and headed to the Anglers Arms for good beer and a warm welcome.

Thanks Brian. Love the use of "cinqgadgies", un petit morceau de classe. And sorry about the rain.