Friday, 16 January 2015

May the forts be with you.......January 16th
The Ingram Valley is rich in Iron Age relics, many hilltops are crowned with the remains of hillforts dating back to the centuries well before the Roman invasion and occupation. Many have been recycled as field walls and more modern buildings but the boundary walls are still visible. Oddly, one of our group of gadgies has never been to Brough Law, close to the information centre and Muddy Boots Cafe at Ingram so today's walk includes this relatively well preserved fort.
A two car job so we have arranged to meet in tyhe car park at the cafe. Take the A1 north, turn off at Morpeth on the A697 and shortly after Powburn turn left on the road signed Ingram. At Ingram turn left down the lane past the holiday cottages and St. Michael's Church and the car park and cafe are there. The walk is on OS OL 16   Cheviot Hills and the car park is at GR NU020163, right on the edge of the map, which is useful for laminators.
The six out today are; John H, John C, Ben, Harry, Dave and me. The jovial one had promised a bright and breezy day, with low temperatures, most wore an extra layer.
                                             The Muddy Boots Cafe.
Leaving the car park we headed back up the lane past the church and the holiday cottages, turned right at the village hall and were soon back on the valley road, heading west. We past Ingram farm and close to the spot where there is a car park on the right we turned left and headed up a grassy track, icy in places.(1 mile) The path skirted a wood and after a short steep climb we were on the top of Brough Law, site of an Iron Age fort.
          Masonry on the inner wall, still looking good. after 2200 years
It may look like a pile of rubble to you but this hill fort is thought to have been built in the C4th BC. Unique in Northumberland it was built entirely of rubble, possibly ten feet high with inner and outer walls (bivallate!) and with the remains of a building erected in the Roman period, Excavations have found nothing but a blade and most of the stones have been recycled into field walls.

  Having examined the fort (again) we headed south along a grassy track. I have been reading the "Good Walks" in one of the country's quality papers. They are good and the descriptions are more flowery. eg. "The wind whistled gently through the leaves in the hedges, stirring the occasional blackbird from its slumbers" Well the wind today on the tops came roaring in from the north west and was bitter, making even our idle chat difficult to hear and causing eyes to stream, except for Ben and John C who had the good sense to wear goggles.(2)
The track wanders a bit and eventually we turned south west, cutting off a corner, and walking carefully down a steep hillside strewn with dead fern to the corner of a plantation. (3)
Crossing a stream we headed up the side of the wood and emerged into a rough field. A group of men with dogs were coming in the opposite direction. What we took to be guns turned out to be sticks, with flags attached. A mystery. Crossing the marshy field to a gate by the corner of a wood we headed for Chesters, an isolated farm house. It looks well kept but empty, maybe it belongs to an organisation like the scouts
                                                        Chesters front
                                                        and back
                    The view from a point just beyond Chesters, snow covered Cheviot
Walking on we came to a gate (4)t led to a narrow footpath leading diagonally downhill to a small plantation. Once through the plantation we were in the Breamish Valley and after walking through a couple of fields we arrived at the farm at Alnhamoor,an ideal place to lunch, tucked in behind a wall that saved us from the cold wind.

  Two views looking down on the Breamish, meandering through the valley
                                                    Alnhamoor Farm
Lunch at the wall. Today's delights were Mr Kipling's Victoria slices, Bens Ginger Biscuits,Snickers Flapjacks and home made peanut butter fudge  (still 182 pounds)
                              The Breamish at Alnhamoor
Lunch over, and it bwas cold so we didn't hang about we crossed the field  by the farm, walked down the track a short way to the bridge and then turned back on ourselves on the north side of the river. The hillside is planted with several hundred deciduous trees, protected still in their tubes and struggling to grow. We followed the steep path  by the fence and were soon on Hartside Hill, following  a grassy track north east(6).

 Alnhamoor Farm from Hartside Hill. The stripes in the fields are the remains of ancient "ridge and furrow ploughing". They show up well in late afternoon sun

Soon the path went downhill again  into the valley bottom and we walked back to the car park along the road, stopping only to chat to a motorised shepherd. We had admired the white looking sheep in the valley. They had, he said, had a good wash in the heavy rain that had fallen in the night.

 The Ingram Glidders,Brough Law is on the top of this hill, well defended on this side.
Once changed we headed for favourite hostelry number one, The Anglers Arms, which offered Bombardier, Speckled Hen and Timothy Taylor's Landlord, sometime called the nectar of the gadgies.
And the jovial on was right, it was cold, bright and breezy all day, a pleasure to be out. And for the birders we spotted robins, a treecreeper, a dipper and a pair of ravens.

                                                             steps                     miles
Higear                                                  15766                  7.157    (needs attention)
LIDL3D                                               20682                  9.41
Dave's LIDL3D                                   22064                 7.941
Dave's USB                                         21515                  7.47
OUTDOORGPS                                                              8.71
Ben's Bragometer                                                            9
John C                                                                              9

    Gadgie distance for the year 22 miles
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