Friday, 10 March 2017

Go West Tor Old men.(Northumberland)      March 10th.
Another familiar walk. From Hethpool at the entrance to the College Valley and up on to the Newton Tors. I think the College Valley the most beautiful of the Cheviot valleys. Because it is a private valley with limited access it is peaceful, the surrounding hills roll along giving views of the whole Cheviot range. It is possible to drive down the valley but it is necessary to buy a permit from John Sales Estate Agent in Wooler. The permit cost £10. But there is a car park at the entrance, at Hethpool, which is free and the walk starts from there.
To get to the start take A1 north, A697 at Morpeth, drive through Wooler, turn left for Kirknewton at Millfield, pass the memorial to the ancient Saxon capital at Gefryn and turn left at the sign post for Hethpool. Four miles down the minor road and the car park is just beyond the row of cottages.
The map is OS OL 16 The Cheviot Hills.
We did stop for tea/coffee/bacon/scones at the Terrace café in Wooler. Nice and friendly.

                      The cottages at Hethpool. The hall at Hethpool, once the home of Admiral Lord Collingwood, Nelson's number two at Trafalgar offers bed and breakfast. It is at a point just before the cottages.
                        Getting ready in the car park.
We walked on the road going south down the valley. At Cuddystone Hall, the valley community centre there is a memorial to the planes and crews of the RAF and the USAAF who crashed in the area. Some wreckage of some of the planes is still on the hilltops.

                       The memorial and a map indicating crash sites. Sorry for the quality.
A short distance from the memorial the road divides, we took the left fork and walked on to the farm at Southernknowe.

              Southernknowe, and a telephone box! Could be useful, we all failed to get a signal on hitech mobiles. (Cell phones to American readers)
Just beyond the farm a signpost on the left indicates the rough track that climbs uphill to Harelaw. A steep track and muddy after the recent heavy rains. At the junction we headed to the left and walked north to Harelaw which has a cairn, shelter from the wind and superb panoramic views, so we called a Herbie Spot.
                Some snow remains on the gully called the Bizzle.

           Getting ready to move on after lunch, which consisted of Soup for some (with croutons), sandwiches, Mars Bars, cookies, ginger biscuits from Ben, cheese scones from Mrs A and flapjacks from the blogmeister himself. (Supervised by the kitchen elf of course.)
From Harelaw we followed the path along a fence line before turning north east to climb up to Wester Tor, a rocky outcrop.
                                   College Valley from the tors.
After scrambling like teenagers on the rocks we came to our senses and invented a path south east across heather and Lauder Grass (qv in glossary) until we found the track to Easter Tor,  another rocky outcrop looking down on Hethpool. Leaving the tor we spotted half a dozen of the feral goats that inhabit various regions of the Cheviots.
                This blur is actually a goat
                  Hethpool Hall and pool. Heth refers to hillforts, there are several in the valley.
There are good tracks, but muddy from the tors heading north east. At junctions there are low level sign posts. After walking generally East for a mile we turned north east (mile 7) and walked downhill before turning south west and passing Torleehouse farm which has gates eaten by hungry horses or goats.

                  Torleehouse Farm and eaten gates.
From the farm the footpath, now well marked, crosses fields, a wood and scrubland before it reaches the College Burn.
                                         College Burn.
We crossed a few more sheep filled fields before turning sharp right up a farm track and back to the cars.
On the way home we stopped for refreshment at The Shoulder of Mutton in Longhorsley, three ales on offer and a friendly welcome.

Contains OS data, copyright. Crown copyright and database right 2017.
The Matrix MMXVII K
                                                                    steps                            miles
NAK                                                           27969                          11.47 (generous)
Dave's 3D                                                   22930                          10.55
""" USB                                                     21112                           9.99
"" NAK                                                      21032                           9.95
IPhone                                                        24326                           10.3
Brian Fourtrek                                                                                 9.77
  ""   Viewranger                                                                             9.35
John C                                                                                             10.4
Ben                                                                                                  9.6
OUTDOOR GPS                                                                             9.8