DATE                                           12.06.05

DISTANCE                                  ABOUT 4 .4 MILES

WEATHER                                  DRY BUT GREY

START / FINISH                         CAR PARK AT  HETHPOOL

Great Hetha

After what turned out to be a huge successful walk down High force the day before I wanted to carry on and get out someplace nice, I had woken up in a great mood made even better because I had no aches and pains (other than the normal “I’m getting old” stuff) my stump was ok, my good leg was a bit stiff but I knew once I got up and finished my exercises it would be fine.

Over breakfast I mentioned to my long suffering better half about getting out again and much to my surprise she agreed, next thing was where?, that was easily solved by reading through the new booklet we had , someplace  not too far away , we decided that we would visit the old hill fort on top of Great Hetha . gear was quickly sorted and thrown into a ruck sack followed by a quick dash upstairs where I went into my stump routine which was basically foam dressing on all (possible sore or weak spots) all held in place by tegaderm plasters followed by a quick wipe of anti chaff cream, I got thinking how much longer will I be doing this, I know its early days but surly I wouldn’t be doing this every time? Something to think about I suppose.

Gear was thrown into the car and off we went, according to our little booklet our walk would start at the small but free (I like the word free) car park in the Northumberland National park at Hethpool

On arriving gear was sorted, the book walk reread and off we went heading down the road along the college burn after a few hundred meters we left the road and linked up with the path that would take us straight up to the summit, at 343 meters Great Hetha is no giant or mountain but looking from the base straight up it seem like it to me. What the book failed to say was how steep this route was , however we where here to visit the old iron age hill fort at the top and so that’s what we will do , going up was slow and very difficult , I discovered almost straight away that due to the steepness of the hill I couldn’t really swing my arty leg out and take a step , I tried to use the hiking poles to sort of push myself up but it required huge amount of effort for very little reward and I was concerned about any possible damage to my newly fixed shoulder , no time to try something different , it would appear that thee is more to this legless business that what I thought , time to try something different so for the next few minutes (what seemed like hours ) I experimented  with different styles , side stepping seemed to be the best way however it was slow and was hard work , my lungs where already bursting and the lack of air was making my head turn a funny colour  of red , looking around there was plenty of sheep trails  made by the local sheep what seemed to be easer to walk along with a more gentler climb , so I decided to switch paths , by this time I had spots dancing in front of my eyes , time for a rest . Sitting down and looking back behind me made me realise how far up I had climbed but at what price, I was puffing like an old man and it felt like someone was banging a drum in my head. Things it seemed are going to be a lot different now, even going up a steep(ish) hill cant be done by normal walking styles it looks like I will have to develop my own type of style or system of what will and what wont work and what more it going to take a hell of a lot of practise if I ever want to get to the bigger hills or mountains in this country. black thoughts cross my mind .why o why wasn’t I more carful on my cycle going to work , am I being punished for doing something wrong earlier on in my life……….. NO MY BRAIN SCREAMS AT ME STOP THIS NOW ……….this train of though will take me no where fast and I suppress the thoughts straight away I have done the why me thing and it’s a path that will take me nowhere.

Time to get up and get moving I tell myself , I find the best way of going uphill is a sort of side step , its slow but at least it works , whilst I am doing this I think of other ways of getting up here even where I place my feet makes a huge difference , if I place my right foot (good foot) on higher ground it makes it easer to move my arty left leg around …………….I am amazed that something so simple could make such a difference (another lesson learnt) .however there is a price to be paid  and I can feel my stump starting to get warm , I am about to sit down , when Yvonne come bounding down and informs me the top is only a few minutes away , no dear it’s the summit I inform her (trying to be all correct ) with the last of the air in my lungs , she simply gives me one of those looks that states “look I’ve been up there and you haven’t “ and scampers away back to the top .

With dark spots developing in front of my eyes and the drum beat in my head getting loader and louder I make it to the top (I know it was the summit a few minutes before) and promptly claps into a snotty heap …..Made it but at what cost? , after a few minutes laying there whilst my breathing get back to normal and my head returns from bright red back to its normal colour , I sit up time for a stump check ………………nothing bad just a little hotspot that will get sore if I don’t dap a bit of cream on it . Stump check done time for a look around.

Yvonne who doesn’t look even slightly tired is sorting food and drink and we take it easy for a bit.

The hill fort is nothing but an old stone circle, but hey it’s been around for ages so what do we know, I get thinking am I the first above knee amputee to come up here? Does it matter? Or should it be worried that no one is daft enough to even think about it …….i guess I will never know. Over the next few years we will often go to these places where there are old hill forts or bastle houses or ruins and often joke about how they are named we go expecting to see something and normally its just a pile of stone or a grassy ridge and being unschooled in the old stuff we would never have known if it wasn’t marked as something on the map.

I look around clearly for the first time (now that my sight has returned ) and see the surrounding hills ……………………wow suddenly its all worth it , I am here today , right now nothing matters at this moment in time …………to the shops and back on a good day ……….. Well Mr Doctor there is no shops up here are there.

Some of my training from my previous life starts to kick in and straight away I see numerous routes that would have made it a much easer climb up here for me today, I remember my training as a pathfinder and something clicks into place ………….yes things are going to be different but its time that I started using my brain to plan stuff.

According to our booklet we should drop back down to visit little Hetha, we can see it lower down on a smaller hill just a grassy lump nothing to get excited about but using my new found confidence I decide to take the completely opposite direction and decide to extend this walk a bit, once again something clicks in my head which is that there is always more than one route up and down most hills its just a case of studying the map and surrounding area and picking out what best for me. coming down off Great Hetha down a much gentler gradient  towards the farm at Trowupburn is a joy to walk along even though I am having problems coming downhill , but its grass underfoot and doesn’t hurt when I get it wrong and take a tumble .  Walking down I make yet another promise to myself and that is to return to this area and “bag” all the hills that can be seen from here.

(Note from ten years later yes I did them all)

From the bottom it was a simple case of linking up with the small road and walking back along the college burn to the car park.

A few photos enjoy

Taken from the summit looking up the valley


The stone circle (remains) of the Iron Age hill fort


A few photos from the summit


My better half Yvonne


Part way down on a much easer route


Looking back up


Our new path takes us down there then into the woods where we link up with the road


Heading towards the road


On the road looking up at the side of Great Hetha


Me stopping having a look


Looking across to the Torr’s it wold take some time but I did get up there


Looking back along the road


Looking down towards the burn

The photos from this walk weren’t very good for better ones please see:-

 Thank you

Day after thoughts

Once again my system of foam, plasters and creams kept me from tearing my stump apart, my shoulder didn’t ache or hurt so that was a success but my good leg really had the shakes and it felt like pure acid was running across the muscles by the time we got back to the car, I think that this was because of all the extra work it had to do to get my lardy arse up the hill, I need to work on different systems of walking for different gradients / chambers , like wise I need to work on my fitness but on the good side I feel chuffed about myself today , I did it.

Nothing to most of you but a big thing for me

But more importantly something happened to me out there today and that was ………. I now know that in the future I don’t have to blindly follow maps or other people’s routes I am a good navigator (famous last words?)  who has a natural ability for knowing where I am and where I am going ………… I just have to master the actual  walking bit and I’ve got it cracked  but its early days.