Saturday, 19 April 2014

The Border Reivers..............April 18th.
  The charming young lady who read the weather forecast promised us a bright sunny day, if cold, so we settled on the walk we chickened out of because of heavy rain a few weeks ago and headed for Windy Gyle on the English and Scottish border. (Hannah, if you read this, thanks for the birthday present. It was a complete surprise, but we all loved it!)

 To get to the start of the walk from base: north on the A1, turn off north of Morpeth on the A697, follow the diversion signs for Rothbury, continue west to the signpost for Alwinton, drive through that village, past Barrowburn and park at the bridge by the Rowhope Burn. Room for a few cars, and free.
The map that covers the walk is OL 16, The Cheviot Hills and the car park is at NT 859114, approx.

Naturally we stopped for breakfast at Tomlinsons Cafe and Bunkhouse in Rothbury for a bacon sandwich; it scored a 9 on the new Michael Gove inspired points system, the tea was good too.

Because it is a public holiday there are only four of us gadgies out today: Harry, John, Brian and me.

This part of the British Isles is the border country between the peaceful English and the aggressive Scots and from the 13th century to the union of the crowns was bandit country, both sides invading each other, stealing, destroying and probably carrying out other unmentionable deeds. They are generally known as the Border Reivers,* both sides occasionally made efforts to control them, not always successfully.  The "clan" names linger in the north east: Kerrs, Robsons, Armstrongs and Collingwoods to name a few. I suppose there is a possibility that the descendant of one tribe made that first small step for man.

The walk: (at last)
                                              NT 859114 (approximately)
  The sign post visible at the right of the picture points towards Rowhope and is not the route we followed. To the left of the three gentlemen standing passing the time of day a gate (or a stile) led us to The Street. This grassy track is probably an old drove road, used by both sides to bring cattle to market in the more peaceful periods, today it is used by walkers, mountain bikers and shepherds.
                                                   Looking back and down at the car park.

                                      In this area of the Cheviots there are the ruined remains of at least four                                                    whisky stills hidden away in the remote valleys.
          Starting roughly west the path climbs quite gently but steadily, turning north west then almost due north as it crosses the Black Braes. Often clarty as they say in the north east, today the path is dry. As it nears the border the track turns east and joins the Pennine Way, the English Long Distance Path that ends just over the border. We called a Herbie Spot and sat on a grassy bank, warmed by the sun and coffee, as we dined on sandwiches, chocolate, Mrs A's home made Kumquat and marmalade cake and fruit and yogurt breakfast bars. (191 pounds this morning).

Eating over we continued on our way climbing slowly to Windy Gyle and Russell's Cairn. On the way we met a small herd of the feral Cheviot goats.. There are at least three herds in the hills, this one must have been a sub herd as there were only five.

                                                Billy goat rough.
 We stopped at the cairn to admire the panoramic views; Scotland to the north and west, Cheviot and sea to the east and Simonside to the south.
There are two theories for the name Russell's Cairn. One states that it was named by Alexander III, king of Scotland in 1252, for Sir John Russell an English knight as they were riding out together in a peaceful moment between the two countries. The other says it is named for Lord Francis Russell who was murdered here in 1585 at a meeting with his Scottish counterpart as they were supposedly discussing peace. Archaeologists say it is a bronze age burial cairn.
                                 Russell's Cairn. The trig point is an added extra, presumably

                                             Gadgies John (in a sun hat!) and Brian pose for 
                                                     Kathy from Goole.
The weather forecast was slightly out, it was very warm and at this point top layers were removed and we continued with fewer layers. Break over we continued  down the Yorkshire mill yard path roughly north east to Cock Law Foot.
                                                       My daughter thinks I have a thing about stiles, so here's one.
                                Scotland on the left, England on the right, and a sign banning
                                 cars and motorbikes between April 1st and May 31st.Lambing time.

                                           Clennel Street is another drove road
                                         This is the border fence. Will it change if the
                                           Scots gain independence from the UK?
 At Cock Law Foot we took the path going south east before turning south and meeting the road that runs from Rowhope to Uswayford. We opted for the road  that goes south west. Just off the road on the left at Trows Plantation is Murder Cleugh:

                                    Poor Isablla, coming to a sad end shortly after the
                                  uniting of the kingdoms brought peace to the borders.
(Copyright Phil Thirkell and licensed for use  under this Creative Commons Licence NT8613)

Walking back along the farm road the discussion turned to steam engines for some reason, probably because of the recent exhibition of A4s at Shildon, one being world speed record holder Mallard .
Brian observed that Elvis had sung about steam engine; Love me Tender.
Soon, fortunately, we were back at the car. As we were changing two of Harry and Brian's colleagues, Emma and Taj appeared, so we agreed to continue the conservation in the Rose and Thistle, the village pub in Alwinton. It served a very refreshing pint of Tyne Blonde. For some reason John maintained he had had no specific aim in life. Brian maintained he had always wanted a cetacean: some porpoise in his life. Emma and Taj left.
We felt we must end the day in the Anglers Arms at Weldon Bridge. They had on Directors, Bombardier and London Gold.

The Matrix                                        steps                        miles
LIDL 3D                                           23477                       10.56
Brian's GPS                                                                       10.4
The new Garmin                                                                10.3

No Dave
Gadgie distance 163 miles

                              Northumberland Views in Border Reivers land.
* Read "The Steel Bonnets" by George McDonald Fraser. (Yes the writer of Flashman books)

The last four photographs are by Harry, routemeister and excellent, prize-winning camera artist.