DISTANCE 9.2 MILES
WEATHER COLD, GREY WITH SLEETY SHOWERS
START / FINISH ROADSIDE PARKING BY ALNHAM CHURCH
I knew that there would still be a lot of snow and ice laying around on the higher fells so once again I had to resort to some careful planning, but going off my last trip into the hills at least I had some idea of what to expect, so why not start a bit further along the same area that I did last time? Yep makes sense to me.
A quick look at the map and Alnham seem to be the logical place to park up and start from, I have walked around this area several times in the past, but being a lazy hack I haven’t got round to doing any trip reports yet (but one day I will get round to doing some) so today rather than do a set route I decided that I would have a day of exploring different footpaths, quad bike tracks and even sheep trails so one day in the future I could sort of link a few up to make a different type of walk , the whole area is open access so you can wander around almost anywhere. However there are quite a few very wet boggy areas in this region something that I forgot about and was reminded about on more than one occasion when I sunk up to my knees, in icy cold peat boggy water.
In fact thinking about it even in the middle of a dry spell in summer there are areas up this way where a set of flippers would be more useful than walking boots, but as normal I chose to forget about stuff like this. Arty leg wasn’t bothered about getting covered in wet peat bog, a simple hose down then a spray with silicon spray covering and he would be as good as new.
It’s one of the things that I like about this kx06 knee unit, it doesn’t matter how mucky or wet it gets it carries on doing the job its meant to, a few years ago I was using the smart adaptive microprocessor knee, it’s a really good bit of kit, but I used to have nightmares about getting into the middle of a bog and the knee getting wet and simply dying , and as any hill walker will tell you , no matter how much you read the maps or think you know the area there is always a surprise waiting for you in the next valley and I can’t even begin to tell you how many times I had to limp or hop back to the car when the knee died and had to go through the long process of contacting the limb centre then waiting for an appointment then another long wait whilst they got new spare bits in .
The wait is just as long with the kx06 knee but at least it doesn’t break down every time I go into the hills.
Anyway back to the walk, parking was on the grass right in front of Alnham church, gear was sorted and coffee made, I still didn’t have a clue, what or where I was going today, thinking about this it was a mistake, yes I wanted to go exploring different routes / paths but I think a small amount of homework should be done before hand and I spent quite a bit of time thinking …err shall I go left or right here?. No in future I think a bit of planning done in advance is the way to go.
The weather was not at its best, I had been neglecting the weather gods and they let me know about it today, gusty cold winds with very fine sleet showers, you know the type the sort that stings and makes it hard to see. Then just as you get the right gear on it stops.
The route (see map) was a lot harder than what it seemed, I think that this was mainly due to the amount of bog trotting I had to do, the endless tussock hopping just trying to stay above the sinking bog and the snow and ice that was still scattered about ,
I did about 9 .2 miles with about 1542 ft. of the ups and downs but it seemed at lot more , throw in the weather which was also doing its best to ruin my day I had one hell of a day ………………….but as normal I loved it and felt quite sad when I got back to the car.
Some lessons learnt today , I must have a rough plan of where I want to go , just wandering around isn’t really the thing to do , if I am going into a wet boggy area allow more time , I forget how much longer it takes to cross a bog and more importantly how knackering it is .
A few photos from today, with all the rain, wind and general greyness they are not the best and certainly don’t show how lovely this area is.
The notice / info board in front of the church, I think that I will visit the cairn sometime today
The church with its geese.
The privately owned tower house next door.
Heading up Northfieldhead Hill looking back down towards the church.
Still heading up, there is still a fair bit of snow and icy scattered about even on the lower hills, I had my micro spikes with me again today just in case, as it turned out I would have been better with some flippers.
Looking towards a distant west Hill where I walked last time I was up this way.
As I get close to the hill top, I am greeted by the views starting to open up a bit.
Again looking down towards where I was walking only last week.
Looking towards Hogdon Law at 548 meters it is way out of my league today with the snow and ice.
Looking across at the sheep almost walking in straight lines.
One off my many mistakes the footpath took me through this small plantation.
There was also this old stone work, I had seen it from a distance but wanted to have a closer look.
However even though it’s a dull grey day and there are no big mountains or anything it’s still very relaxing and peaceful.
Now at the Shepherds Cairn.
With Hogdon Law in the background.
Just passing through an icy bit, it was a couple of feet deep in some places, 100 meters further down nothing.
Now on a footpath heading towards the Tod stones , another mistake it is a swimming pool for the next few miles , don’t let the snow and grass fool you it’s wet ,very wet even with care I was over the top of my boots before I had gone 100 meters .
Looking back towards a distant Shill Moor (528 meters)
The footpath takes you through this, as you can see it’s not very well used and even the sheep avoid this area in the winter months.
Then every now and then a path reappears.
Once again I have left the path(what path?) and have decided to visit “Pigdon Leap” according to folk law some cattle rustler was being chased by the kings troops or sheriff and escaped by jumping across at this point , sooner him than me but then you don’t get hung nowadays.
Getting closer ………….still I wouldn’t want to jump across.
Looking down at the entrance.
I decide to get out of the wind and stop here for a well-deserved coffee.
A small waterfall on the Mossy letch that I have to cross.
A few photos as I make my way across it and out onto the other bank.
Now at the Tod stones (don’t ask because I don’t know why they are named)
Looking towards the old farm buildings at Old Hazeltonrig.
Again a another bit of mooching , I have seen these from a distance before if I had known that they were just a couple of old lorry containers I wouldn’t have bothered , but I did set out to “see” stuff and find things today.
The weather is starting to close in now, not a problem because I am well down, but the sleet showers could make like fun if I was up high someplace. At this point I decide to follow the Hazelton rig Burn to where it meets up with the Spartley Burn.
A quick look behind me confirms that I have made the right choice the weather is really starting to turn to pants in the hills now.
Now in the sheltered valley of Hazeltonrig.
Last time I was here that building was nothing but an old ruin, someone is making a nice job of rebuilding it, and I wonder if it’s going to be a home or yet another holiday let?
Looking across at the side of Castle hill.
Spartley Burn, I decide to have a small detour and have a wander along it for a bit.
It’s a lovely small but sheltered valley, I know nothing about this place but the types of trees suggest that there used to be something or other special in this place, you don’t normally get these types of trees in the Cheviots. One day I will get round to doing a bit of research (and pig will fly) a few photos.
Looking at how these trees have been almost buried it would seem that the burn has changed somewhat as well over the years.
Time to head back looking back down the Valley.
Heading up Castle hill, (there is a huge hill fort up here, hence the name Castle hill) but it can only be seen from above (try Google earth) a looking back what really means that I am getting my breath back.
It’s all easy walking back now across dry grassy meadows , where there are lots of young lambs playing around a few photos of the locals , again they aren’t bothered by me at all , even arty leg is amused by them playing around , (and he’s a grump)
About to drop down to the church where I left the car.
Day after thoughts.
I found this hard work in places today, I forget how hard it is to go bog stomping or jumping across from tussock to tussock. throw in the slippery ice and snow it’s not surprising that I went to bed early totally knackered, next morning I was stiff and ached all over even my lower back, however after a couple of pills and a bit of moving around I soon got back to normal, the sole of my foot was hurting first thing as well, but after a bit of stretching it seemed to settle down as well.
Other stuff, my boots had to be rinsed out for ten minutes they stunk and the sock had to be chased around the kitchen before I finally cornered it and managed to kick it into the washing machine. And of course Arty leg was cleaned down and sprayed with a silicon spray ……………..ready for our next trip into the hills.
ALL 2013 WALKS ABOUT ME NORTHUMBERLAND