Saturday, 23 February 2013

The Men Who Walk With Goats.....February 22nd
We gadgies have seen the feral goats in three areas of the Cheviots, on the slopes on the east side of College Valley, west of Windy Gyle and on the slopes above Commonburn House. There are also three isolated billy goats on a bluff in the Hen Hole, looking desperately for a bridge to cross or a lonely goatherd liddle liddle liddle lee.  They could of course be one herd who wander around a lot.
There is a good chance we will see goats on today's walk which takes in Humbleton Hill and Yeavering Bell on the north side of the hills.

                                                    A group of the Cheviot goats. They come in several colours and sizes and have roamed the hills for about 150 years.  In  2011 Newcastle University put electronic tags on them. Presumably to track their movements. I have no idea of the results, perhaps it was a wild goat chase.

To get to the start of the walk take the familiar route, A1, A687, turn into Wooler and go up the lane next to the Terrace Cafe that points to Wooler Common. After a mile or so there is a car park on the right, complete with information board. The walk is covered on OL16, The Cheviot Hills, and the car park is at NT976273.
There are five of us out today, km, pm, rm, vm and bm. Naturally we are starting with breakfast at the Terrace Cafe in Wooler. Friendly service, we were offered a choice of bread or buns, white or brown, brown sauce and a very generous quantity of tea. Reasonable price, although in Britain the word reasonable is under discussion at the moment as the result of a famous court case.
The Terrace was awarded five flitches. Awarding GABBAS this year is going to be difficult.

The Walk.
 Next to the information board in the car park is a footbridge across the Humbleton Burn which we crossed. A few yards further on a marker post pointed us through the wood on the first climb of the day. At the edge of the wood we went through the gate and of the three routes offered took the one that led us straight on. At the next junction we followed the right hand path that took us, eventually, down a lane to a marker on the left that directed us up Humbleton Hill.
Humbleton Hill is the site of one of the many Iron Age hill forts in Northumberland and much of the rubble of the walls remains.
                                                    Humbleton Hill Fort walls, left from the Iron Age.
The Battle of Humbleton Hill was fought in 1402 on the lower slopes of the hill. Just another of the many fought between the Scots and English over several centuries, this one was the local Helen of Troy story, a dispute over who daughters should marry. The English, starring Harry Hotspur won on this occasion, although within the year Harry, having fallen out with Henry IV was killed at the battle of Shrewsbury. Humbleton comes from Old English hamel dun, meaning bare hill, and it still is, with an impressive canyon on its South West side.
Down fromthe hill we followed the path in a North East direction, turning west and eventually arriving at the farm called Gleadscleugh.

                                                                 Gleadscleugh \Farm

 To the west of the farm, at a gate we chose the path on the right which led over Akeld  Hill. On the way we passed a cage designed to trap birds of prey which might attack nesting grouse.

                                            These traps are legal but may only be used when the grouse are nesting. Bait is placed inside the trap, the marauding bird of prey enters through a wire funnel on the top and is then trapped. Out of season the door must be kept open and the entrance to the funnel must be blocked.

              There are a number of ancient settlements and enclosures visible along this route which led us to the foot of Yeavering Bell. A sheepfold  was chosen as a Herbie Spot and we feasted on pork pie for a change, sandwiches and a piece of excellent flapjack from Cake Poppins*, a small family firm in Newcastle.
And then upwards again onto the top of Yeavering Bell. On the twin peaks of the Bell are the remains of the largest hill fort in the Cheviots. The outer wall encloses an area of 14 acres, or 5.7 hectares. The boundary consisted of an eight foot wall, a ditch and a rampart. and 130 individual circular platforms have been identified within. Experts think it was constructed about 300BC.

                                                       The ditch on Yeavering Bell

                                               Remains of the outer wall.
                                               And a modern walkers' cairn.PM and rm admire it.
                                               Must have taken a lot of hard work.
On the plain to the north of Yeavering Bell is the site of Gefrin, a Saxon Palace, mentioned by Bede in his History of the Church of England but a myth until it was discovered  by aerial photography in 1949. The word gefrin means goat and Yeavering is a corruption of this, so it is indeed The Hill of the Goats.
                A view of Yeaverin Bell, the wall in the foreground is a relatively modern field boundary.
We headed south down the hill before going off piste and heading across the heather (very good for cleaning boots but it undoes the laces), climbed a wall and found the path that led to Easter Tor. Having admired the view we turned south east along  a good track that meandered  in a south westerly direction to Wester Tor.
                                                  Wester Tor, overlooking Hethpool in the College Valley.
We retraced our steps from the tor until we spied the gate in the fence that would have taken us to Hare Law but we turned left and followed the fence line downhill towards Common Burn Farm. The goats are often seen on this stretch, but not today.Soon we reached the farm which boasted a John Deere tractor.
                                             Farm yard at Common Burn.
We considered walking over to Broadstruther  but it had been quite a demanding day so we stayed on the metalled road back to the car park. |On the way we disturbed a sandpiper, one of the few birds we had seen that day apart  from the grouse, so it has to be Bird of the Blog.
                                                A sandpiper on holiday by the sea.
 For a change we decided to stop at the Anglers Arms at Weldon Bridge to rehydrate. They had Timothy Taylor's Golden Bitter on offer and two other beers but as a driver I opted for coffee.

The Matrix

                                                       steps                               miles
MyASDAped                                30366                               14.27
Higear                                            28251                               13.362
Dave's asda curvy                          27120                               12.41
LIDLUSB                                      29297                               13.40
OUTDOORS GPS                                                                  13.29
Brians GPS                                                                             13.1
Measured by Dave                                                                  12.7
Well done Higear, all is forgiven.  and LIDLUSB seems good too.
*              for cakes to die for.

I apologise for only having small photographs. For some reason I can not enlarge them as on previous blogs. Except for the goats) I have written to Mr. Google but he hasn't replied. Very rude. But if you click on the pictures they enlarge. Amazing
Today I passed 20000 hits on the blog which amazes me.
Most hits from the US for some reason but the UK is catching up. In third place is Canada and then Russia!
                                                                        DDs Me, Brian