DATE                                        14.09.14

DISTANCE                                ABOUT 7.0 MILES

WEATHER                               GREY AND DULL

START / FINISH                      NEAR CLENNELL HALL

Ravens Crag

Today was going to be my first trip into the hills for what seemed like ages, I won’t bore anyone with the reasons why other than I had just gone through possibly the worst time in my life and was still struggling to come to terms with everything. But that was the past and today is a new day so its time to start getting on with things again. The other bad bit of stuff was I had missed out on the whole summer season, you know  the little things like, bluebells, young bright green fern shooting away, the trees turning green etc. etc. sunburn!  And even the Heather was past its best now yep I missed it all.

Naturally my fitness has all but gone out of the window (again), but once again having the pup’s had saved me from really getting really unfit, despite everything that had been going on, the boys still needed to be walked three times a day and that was my saviour, admittedly the walks with the pups where only a few miles at a time, normally along the beach or other easy walking places but three times a day was enough to stop the rot really setting in.

Today I was planning to head up to Clennell street and have a wander up that way someplace, I was a bit concerned about my ability so it would be case of make it up as I go along  after all its one thing to walk the dogs for a hour  or so its another to go hiking for the day especially up in the hills, but I figured as long as I don’t do anything stupid things and stuff will be fine and I desperately needed to get out into the wilds for a while and clear my head.

I would be taking Bob with me today, both Munchy and Flynn love their walks but with their short legs I have noticed that they start to get tired after a few miles so taking them out for big hikes is a bit unfair, where as Bob is just as fresh at the end of the walk as he is at the start and I know he really loves the hills simply by watching him ranging ahead exploring things stopping only to look at me before he goes running off chasing some other fly or whatever he is chasing in the other direction in fact the only time he stops is for a drink or something to eat , I was a bit concerned about how he would get on with the local sheep , he has been in amongst sheep before and behaved  himself , but that was ages ago , I had packed his lead in the ruck sack but I was really hoping that I wouldn’t need to put him on it but ……………better safe than sorry as it was I needed have worried , he wasn’t bothered by the sheep at all , in fact he took no notice of them when we walked past them , however each time we approached any I always called him to heel and he seemed happy wandering along at my side until I sent him off again .in fact I think that he liked to be called back as I normally rewarded him with a small treat .

I made a mistake in that I hadn’t bothered to check out the gear that I leave in the ruck sack so when I came to get stuff out I found that my twisty hiking poles had rusted up solid and wouldn’t lock up no matter how many times I twisted them, fortunately I keep a set in the boot of the car so a major problem was avoided , the only other thing I found in the bottom of the ruck sack was an old half eaten kit Kat and after a closer inspection I decided to bin it .my walking coat that was folded up nice and neat had a huge spider nesting in it but being brave I soon shook that out , the rest of my stuff was in self sealing  waterproof containers  and was ok except for the spare batteries which had decided to go mouldy , again not a problem for today as I should be back long time before it gets dark …….but another lesson learnt …don’t take thing s for granted and check your gear the night before.

Bob of course couldn’t care less about stuff like this as long as he had his food & water packed along with my food he was happy and spent the first few minutes running around trying to wee on every thing he could see whilst I got my boots on and sorted the gear out and was running ahead the moment I locked the car up , I did try telling Bob to slow down as we had all day , but he was in his element , running , sniffing ,chasing fly’s dropping down to the river bank for a paddle and a drink and generally doing what young dogs do , my first test came after twenty minutes when we went round a corner and spotted a few sheep on our path , straight away I called him to me and much to my surprise and joy he came bounding back , after a few words like walk nice and heel he soon picked up on what I wanted him to do , naturally he was rewarded with a tasty treat and seemed very happy to walk alongside me , passing the sheep he gave a little growl but after a quick word from me he went quite and just walked along like he didn’t have a care in the world , I was extremely pleased with his behaviour and made a fuss of him and then once clear sent him off on his way again , we followed this Patten of events every time we spotted sheep and it worked very well , in fact there was a couple of times where Bob spotted the sheep before me and actually came back without being called so all in all it was a very good day for me and Bob.

Our route for the day was ……………as normal nothing set in stone, park up near Clennell Hall, walk along the river Alwin then for some strange reason we cut up the Dodd at 332 meters it isn’t very high but believe me, my head turned red, I honestly think that my lungs stopped working and I just had to stop and sit down about three times before we got to the top , Bob of course ran up and down it a few times just to prove how easy it was and how unfit I was . However once I finally got to the top and got my lungs working again and the blurry vision cleared I was treated to some wonderful views, they weren’t as good as what they could have been due to the lousy weather ….low cloud and a very misty / foggy day but that really didn’t matter , from there we followed along an old sheep trail for a while before the overgrown fern and grass forced us back onto the well used quad bike track where we made better time …not that time was an issue but the sheep trail was that overgrown we was making almost no progress , from there we went along to Kitty’s Crags then up to Puncherton Hill at 410 meters  before we started to drop down at Ravens Crag , I think that this set ? Of Crags is one of the best in these hills and I love to come and visit every now and then, it something that’s overlooked in all the walking books that I have read for the Cheviot Hills. Naturally we stopped for lunch here, Bob of course woofed his food down then proceeded to help me by eating the roast beef from my sarnie leaving me the boring salad , then it down (rather steeply ) over the Allerhope Burn , where Bob had a drink and a paddle then onto the forestry track running down alongside Kidland forest , this forestry track I am pleased to say is slowly being reclaimed by nature and made for a very pleasant walk down walking on grass rather than the stone chippings it was a few years ago , at the bottom we linked up with “the main”  forestry track and headed out of the trees , Bob of course decided to have a swim in the River Alwin then we said our goodbyes to the track and headed up the well used path to Cross Dyke and from there cut onto Clennell street for a while , then sadly it was time to start to head back to the car , we decided to make our own  path back (its all open access)  and cut down to the river Alwin and cut across where the farmers  quad bikes cross , naturally Bob had another swim , this time he was chasing small fish (trout?) And was really enjoying himself so I sat down and watched him play for a while, he had been running around all day and he still was playing ………….it must be nice to be young and have unlimited energy , he rewarded me by jumping soaking wet onto my lap then proceeded to shake on me , before running off to roll in the grass , then it was time to get to the car , I did just under seven miles ………Bob of course did loads more but the distance didn’t matter it was all about “getting out and simply breathing again” I cant tell you how good I felt and I cant wait till I get out again .

As normal a few photos:-

Looking along the river Alwin

Bob on a high speed return


A bit further along the valley


Looking at the path heading up the Dodd, for some strange reason I decide to head off up there

Looking across at Clennell Hill

Part way up the Dodd and my first sit down, I really had trouble getting my breath and this was just the start of the climb up


Looking towards the entrance of Kidland forest (or used to be before they cut the trees down


Bob waiting for me to catch up


Nearly at the top, with bursting lungs and spots dancing in front of my eyes I see this and its all worth the effort


For a while we follow an old sheep trail along the edge of the hills, Bob tends to lead the way (he takes his job of support dog very seriously)


Peering down to the valley bottom, if all goes well we should be down there looking up later today


Looking across towards Inner Hill (looks like they have been busy harvesting over there as well)


First view of Ravens Crag (taken at max zoom)


Looking back towards Kitty Crags


A bit further along again looking towards Ravens Crag


Looking down


Years ago this was part of a lambing shelter; it’s fallen on hard times by the looks of things


Ravens Crag


Bob waiting for instructions


Part way down, Bob is heading back up to inform me the path is overgrown


We try this way instead


Bob once again heads off and finds a path to lead me down


Bob seeing that there are sheep sits down and e waits for me to catch up


And we are off again still heading down; it might not look steep but believe me it is.


Again Bob sits and waits because there are sheep around


Looking back up


Part of Ravens Crag


Lunch spot and Arty leg want his photo taken


Our lunch time food spot ……not bad eh?


Bob checking that things are fine, before he munched the roast beef out of my sarnie


Starting to head back down, looking up the Gully there is a small waterfall here in the wetter months


Still heading down, nature is slowly reclaiming this forestry track, only a few years ago it was all stone chippings...ugh!


Last look back


Looking down our route, sadly even the Heather is past its best, these hills are really beautiful when it’s flowering at its best


A gap in the trees looking towards Kitty Crags


A bit further down and looking towards the distant path that we will be taking later on


Bob having a sniff in the trees


Looking up towards the Dodd (we where up there earlier on in the morning)


Looking back, it really does me the world of good just being here


Heading up Cross Dyke (looking back)


Looking along the valley

Bob once again waiting for me again (well it was uphill)


Looking back (really I was getting my breath back)


Looking own towards Clennell


Our path


Time for a cake break and sit down, Bob of course assisted me with this reminding me that I was getting rather fat so I should share the cake out.


Down at the river Alwin, Bob decided to jump in and chase what I think where small trout, he didn’t catch any but had fun trying


Being a bit of a wimp I crossed over here walking across the stones  so I didn’t get wet feet .


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