Friday, 20 February 2015

Walk the High Cantle..............February 20th
I love westerns, especially classics like The Magnificent Seven. But I could never enjoy the films of Randolph Scott whose acting ability I considered marginally better than that of the wooden Indians seen outside cigar stores in western films, and it is a small margin. But I always think of the film" Ride the High Country" when we do this walk, probably because a cantle is part of the cowboys' saddle.
It's  a while since we walked this walk. There are five of us out; Ray, Dave, John H, Harry, and me. Note the Oxford comma. The walk starts at Hartside Farm in the Ingram Valley and to get there take the A1 North, A697 at Morpeth and turn left beyond Powburn for Ingram. Keep going for about four miles to the farm. It is the end of the road for members of the publics' cars, but you can walk beyond to Linhope and the waterfall and the hills. Take a map OSOL16 The Cheviot Hills and the start is at
NT976126, just a pull in on the side of the road. My favourite weather girl promised us a chilly day with strong winds but no rain.
Hartside farm in the background, shiny car in the foreground, unusual for me.

The walk: We went on the road heading due west past the farm and followed it to the hamlet of Linhope which consists of three or four houses. Just past the farm on the left hand side of the road is a device offering information on walks. It didn't work.
                                                        Great idea, if it works.
The road turns to the left by the big house at Linhope and curves round the side of a wood before turning into a well made farm track. Almost at the end of the tree line we took the grassy track on the left and climbed steadily uphill facing into the cold northwesterly wind. The track has a tendency to meander  and crosses several others made by quadbike riding shepherds but continues westward to Rig Cairn. There has been some snow, now melted and so the track was very soggy, frequently turning into pools which made the going hard, especially with the chill wind in our faces. From the cairn the path continues a little south of west until it reaches the fence line at the top of High Cantle itself. Not so much as a cowboy to be seen but, unusually, two other walkers. It is half term, they were probably teachers out gathering inspiration.

This outcrop is called Great Staindrop although to some of us it is known as the social worker.
£10 and an SAE will get an explanation but it isn't really worth it.
From High Cantle the path is quite steep as it heads down into the Breamish Valley. In the valley bottom there is a large iron sheeted shed  complete with some rather useful upturned tubs which made almost comfortable seats as we called a Herbie Spot and went inside to dine out of the wind.
An unexpected delight; Ray had brought a couple of Quorn "pork" pies. I eat a lot of quorn, living with a vegetarian and having vegetarian daughters. It was really tasty, texture like that of the real thing. We also had mini apple pies, almond slices and flapjacks, sadly as Ben was away, no ginger biscuits. (183 pounds)
                                           Not exactly Gordon Ramsey, but there was no swearing.
 Lunch over we continued the walk towards High Bleakhope, the farm where we were once verbally abused for looking at the building. Now the house looks empty and deserted.

This interesting structure allows quadbikes to cross but keeps sheep out. Providing the gate is closed of course. We have seen several of these bridges. They are called Jackdaws after the man who invented them. He is a Northumbrian farmer/blacksmith and has a workshop near Rothbury.
The farm track heads roughly south east. At one point there is a concrete slab in the road with the inscription "TURN BACK" cut in it. Probably put there by the one time verbal abusers to discourage walkers.
The next farm is Low Bleakhope and it is inhabited.
                                                  Looking back at High Bleakhope.
                                           Looking back at Low Bleakhope on the Salters Road.
At Low Bleakhope the road on the left leads back to Alnhamoor farm but we took the well made track on the right which climbed very steadily but quite steeply up the side of Shill Moor. It is part of the Salters Road. The track continues to Ewartly Shank but near Little Dod on the map we took the path on the left that goes across moorland and eventually arrives at Alnhamoor Farm.

                                                  Some of the locals
                                                      Alnhamoor Farm
                                                         River Breamish near the farm.
                                                       On a warmer day you could swim in the pool.
 From the farm the road leads back to Hartside and the car. Surprisingly we called in at the Anglers Arms for a beer. As driver I stuck to coffee, as did Harry and Ray. As a reward we were presented with some really fat making chocolate cakes by the barman.
The young lady weather forecaster was spot on, a dry day but breezy.

                                                  Three Cheviot views, a few snow patches.
The Matrix MMXV H
                                                                  steps                              miles

3D                                                        22757                                10.33
Hi Gear                                                16834                                  7.642
Dave's 3D                                            20390                                 11.21
Dave's USB                                         20001                                 11.04
OUTDOORGPS                                                                              8.71

A selection of photographs from Harry the camerameister.

 Ray and John H at Hartside
 The road to Linhope
 Track from Linhope to High Cantle
                                                  On Rig Cairn

                                                    High Bleakhope
                                        The team at High Cantle
                                  Ray, John H, me,Dave, Harry.
                                                     Brough law from Hartside