Back in College.
We may well be playing out by the end of march, visiting pubs in June! Meanwhile this week's reminisce is a walk in the College Valley in Northumberland. All the Cheviot valleys are beautiful in their own way but the College Valley is a personal favourite. Nothing to do with studying the name comes from "letch" meaning a slow moving stream in marshy ground and possibly col meaning cold.
The valley is privately owned. Only a dozen cars are permitted to drive down it a day and to be one of the lucky ones you need a pass from John sales and Sons, estate agents in Wooler. They cost £10 and for all I know the valley may be closed at the moment. There is a car park at Hethpool, at the valley entrance, free and a good place to start a walk.
To get to Hethpool: A1 north A697 at Morpeth, drive past Wooler and turn left at Millfield. After a few miles turn left at the sign post for Hethpool and drive another four miles to the hall and a row of cottages. The car park is just beyond the cottages. The map is OS OL 16 Cheviot Hills.
Hethpool was the home of Admiral Lord Collingwood who took command of the Royal Navy when Nelson was killed at Trafalgar in1805.
Hethpool takes its name from the number of hillforts or Heths in the area, the first two, on the right of the valley are Little Hetha and Great Hetha.
The walk, at last.
We followed the road, almost due south and close to the College Burn, sluggish as it is so far down the valley.
The walk passes Cuddystone Hall. available for weddings but only five guests at the moment and probably closed anyway.
Cuddystone Hall, beautiful views across the valley as a reminder of your special day. This is an old photo, it's whiter now as befits a wedding, and you get a marquee outside too.
Beyond the hall is a memorial to the men of the RAF and USAAF who were killed in crashes on the hills during WW2. On the memorial a map shows the spot of the crash sites. The remains of one of the planes, an American B19 is plainly visible on the Cheviot, just off the main footpath.
Memorial stone and map
A little further on we came to a fork in the road. Going right takes you to Mounthooly, once a farm, then a Youth Hostel and now a bunkhouse. As the area is part of the Northumberland Dark Skies I think it would be a great place to stay on a clear night.
But we took the left fork, crossed the burn and headed for Sothernknowe.
Sothernknowe and a phone box, one of the few remaining in the UK thanks to mobiles and a reluctance by BT to subsidise them.
A short distance beyond the farm there is a footpath on the left which we followed uphill first climb of the day. At some point not marked on my older map a path leads off almost due north to Hare Law which has a fine cairn and good views over the valley.
The work of a hungry horse at Torlee.