DATE                                28.04.16

DISTANCE                       9.63

WEATHER                       BRIGHT TO START WITH THEN COLD AND SNOWY

START / FINISH               ROADSIDE PARKING AT SHILLMOOR

 

Shillmoor

Once again I had been to the Freeman Limb centre with a poorly Arty knee and once again Karen and Richard had worked their stuff and so I was fixed up and ready to go again  ( thanks guy’s) ……………There is a bit of a Patten forming here isn’t there ………I break it , they fix it and then I have a day out in the wilds to get to know it again so todays wander wouldn’t be anything different , I should go on and say it is an ambition of mine to try to go at least a few months before I have to return to the Limb centre for whatever reason . But somehow I can’t see that happening any time soon no matter how much I wish it. So the big question was where to go or more importantly what was the weather going to do?

I had spent a silly amount of money (well 75 of my hard earned pennies) on a weather app for my IPad and it informed me that the weather for the 28th was going to start off , clear blue sky but turning to rat shit as the day went on and come tea time the s**t was going to hit the fan , that sounded promising and  if I was really cleaver I should be back at the car before the weather closed in , and as you know we have been having some seriously bad weather for the time of the year , only last night we had a covering of snow and ice and we have been having quite a few icy / snowy showers that would come and go almost without warning ….however I was going I would make sure I was back at the car long before tea time ….or that was the plan.

Come the morning I was up nice and early, gear was already sorted, I did pack an extra layer just in case and had full waterproofs packed as well, Bob dog was his normal self and didn’t leave my side (just in case I went out without him) however both Munchy and Flynn wished us both a good day and snuck back upstairs to bed , there was no way that they would join us today , Bob did ask if had packed plenty of his favourite treats and asked if we would be stopping for a sarnie and could he please have his normal roast beef slices , I of course informed him that it would all be taken care of , I also packed Bob’s coats (just in case) then it was a simple case of throw everything into the car and off we went (with our normal stop for sarnie and beef).

Our starting point was at the farm at Shillmoor and that was about my only fixed thing for the day it was going to be a sort of make it up as I go along, the one main concern that I had was cattle, in the warmer months there is a herd of cattle that roam around here and I am very reluctant to take Bob dog anywhere near cattle especially when there range goes on for miles so it isn’t even a case of hopping over to the other side of the fence because the fence could be miles away , but on arriving I could see right up the valley and sure enough there was no black dots scattered along the valley or on the higher fells , of course there where sheep and lots of lambs around , now as much as I trust Bob dog around sheep and I know that he wouldn’t case or hurt any I would still put him on his lead until we was well clear of the lower pastures , the last thing I want to do is cause any bother with either the young lambs or any farmer that I might see . Bob of course wasn’t impressed but after a reassuring talk with a few treats thrown in Bob soon settled down and as always walked nicely by my side , Passing through the farm we met up with the farmer and had a chat , I could tell that he noticed that Bob was on the lead and made a joke of it , but I really can see the farmers side it only takes one dog to start chasing and there could be several deaths , so even if your dog is well behaved put him on a lead even if it’s just for the lambing season….end of lecture .

Mum with just born lamb (yes we did watch it being born from the other side of the stell)

The farmer also informed me that the weather was going to turn rough later on in the afternoon and make sure that I’m down by three thirty at the latest, I assured him that it was my plan to be back down off the higher fells or a least in one of the valley bottoms heading back by that time. And off we went.

Our route for the day (see map above) took us along the valley bottom following the Usway Burn to the small holding? At Batailshiel Haugh at this point I did give some serious thought about cutting up past the Castles onto Saughy Hill and then back via the track known as Copper Snout, but as we had made very good time heading along the farm track and things were going ok with arty leg both me a Bob thought why not stay on the footpath and follow the Usway Burn all the way to the holiday let at Fairhaugh, Bob of course wanted to do this extra bit as it meant he could be let of the lead , and so with Bob leading the way we headed along the burn , anyone who hasn’t been along here .you need to it is a very easy but lovely walk . However once we got round the bend in the Burn we could see that all the trees had been cut down. However the path was still good and in a strange way it opened up the views along the burn showing all its small but delightful waterfalls that are dotted along this section.

One of the small waterfall along this section of the Usway Burn

making the most of the situation we stopped for coffee and tasty treats for Bob and it was only at this point I noticed how the sky had suddenly clouded over, the steep sides of the valley must have sheltered us from the wind that was now picking up bringing with it some dirty black clouds flying overhead.

At Fairhaugh we joined the forestry track that would take us up a huge uphill section (well it’s not that huge) to link up with the old drovers road known as Clennell Street, I noticed as we gained a bit of height the temperature seemed to drop quite a bit and there was the odd patch of snow / ice.

Still the odd patch of snow / ice laying around

Even though we was sheltered by the tress I could see that the wind was picking up quite a bit, then right out of the blue we got to the top and linked up with Clennell Street and what a mess the forestry people had totally decimated the forest and not being content with that they turned what was a pleasant forestry track (admittedly slightly overgrown in places) into something that wouldn’t be out of place on a motor way , I can’t tell you how disappointed I was this section used to be a gem to walk along with the odd break in the trees would give you some fantastic views , I always got to see deer / rabbits and other assorted wildlife with the air full of birdsongs whenever I walk here before but today with the big machines cutting and stacking there was nothing.

What  can I say about this ?

On the plus side it does open up the views , but looking today it seemed that mile after mile looked like something from an old war film .

Yes the views have opened up but at what cost !

yes I know that they planted the trees to be harvested and in a few years it will be covered in green again and the wildlife will return but I have walked along this section in all weathers in all seasons and it always had an almost magical feel to it , I had over the years even placed a few rocks to make a good sitting area where I would stop for coffee and take in the views , sadly these had all gone under the huge road that had been laid down …………….yes us humans and our need for materials have got a lot to answer for .

Lunch was a sad affair, well for me not for Bob who woofed his down in record time and then asked me if I wasn’t going to eat mine he would, and so we set off walking along this horrid road , the weather started to close in and we could see snow showers heading along various valleys , very small and very local but I knew it was only a matter of time before we got hit , then just as we headed off the road onto Saughy Hill we got caught , firstly with a really strong gust of wind then a stinging sleet / snow shower . It had been my latest plan to get to the top of Saughy Hill (our highest point of the day at 494 meters) and try to get some photos looking down at the valley we walked along earlier just making our own way back as we went along, however that went out of the window and we beat a quick retreat down to an old sheep fold for shelter, sitting down making coffee out of the wind wasn’t  to bad but as time went on the views just disappeared and we experienced a total white out for a while , fortunately I had packed Bob winter coat and I had my waterproofs so it wasn’t a problem and I knew that’s these snow flurries came and went very quickly this time of the year so we was prepared to sit it out for a while , and sure enough the wind died down and it was possible to see a hundred meters give or take a bit so it was time to head back down , any chance of getting some photos of the valley will have to wait for another better day and so I decided to cut straight down to link up with Copper Snout and head back that way , on the way down we met up with a couple of walkers.

Yep its spring weather

And after a brief chat about the crap weather they went one way and me and Bob went another way , the wind kept coming and going each time bringing yet another icy shower , but as we got lower and under the cloud it didn’t seem that bad ,(it never does when you can see where you are going)

Dropping under the cloud

and so we made our way down back to the farm at Shillmoor , Bob had to go on his lead as we got down into the lower pastures but he didn’t seem to mind , in fact I think that he was looking forward to getting into the car and having a good rub & dry with his towel but we didn’t get away that easily the wind and stinging sleet and snow seem to follow us down all the way blowing straight into our faces, Naturally we bumped into the farmer at Shillmoor and when I asked why was the bad weather early (it was just 3.30 now ) he replied that this wasn’t bad .which just goes to show what a hardy lot the hill farmers are … We walked about 9.63 miles with about 1792ft of the ups and downs.

A few photos:-

Taken at the start of the walk looking up the river Coquet

 

Looking down towards Shillmoor farm

 

The long and winding road, our route for a while

 

The Usway burn and some locals

 

A bit further along

 

New born lamb taking its first few steps

 

Looking further along the valley

 

Mums with some bigger lambs

 

Bob dog on his lead (he isn’t impressed)

 

Mid Hope burn near Batailshiel Haugh

 

Dead sheep

 

The footpath takes us up and around the small holding of Batailshiel Haugh

 

Another new mum with a little one a few days old I think

 

Looking back

 

Heading along the Usway Burn

 

Primula there was loads of these plants scattered along the river banks

 

Following the path around the side of the Castles

 

A bit further along

 

Looking back

 

Old sheep fold, there used to be a forest here, now it’s all gone

 

Looking at the Hosden Hope burn (what’s left of it)

 

Bob dog having a sniff he’s now off his lead for a while

 

One of the small waterfalls that are dotted along this section of the burn

Bob running back to check up on me

 

A long forgotten sheep stell that is now exposed after the trees have been cut down

 

Mid hope burn running down from Hosden Law

 

Looking back

 

Another small water fall

 

The holiday let of Fairhaugh

 

Heading up “the bank” forestry trail looking back

 

As we get a bit higher it starts to get colder and signs that winter hasn’t completely gone yet

 

OMG linking up with Clennell Street what was a lovley forestry path

 

They certainly have changed the landscape around here

 

Looking along our route this used to be a lovley forestry track, lots of green and lots of wildlife

 

A few photos showing the extent of the forestry harvesting

I wonder how long these tress will be standing

 

The wind is starting to pick up now and looking across it looks like I have just missed a snow shower

 

It’s getting colder by the minute time for Bob dog to have his coat on

Leaving Clennell Street and heading off to Saughy Hill but the weather doesn’t look to good

 

No not looking good at all, the wind is really gusting now and it’s getting very cold

 

After a quick trip to the summit and an even quicker trip back down we take shelter in an old sheep stell , then after coffee we notice that the wind is dropping we decide to make a dash for it , and we meet up with a couple of other walkers , who like me are thinking spring ? You have got to be kidding

 

Bob dog waiting for me to catch up, the white stuff is ice / hale and yes it stings when it hits an exposed part of my body

 

At this point I give up on any idea I had of taking photos looking down into the valley, believe me there is Shillhope law on the other side of the valley and I can’t even see that so I stand no chance of see the valley bottom.

 

Now on Copper Snout heading down and we drop below the cloud, but instead of sleet it’s now rain.

 

Bob in his normal position of path finder (well you can’t really wander away from this track)

 

Looking down to where we walked this morning

 

And for a moment Shillhope law is visible again

Then the wind picks up and we get pelted with sleet and rain again

 

Last look before everything disappears again

 

Day after thoughts

 

Despite everything I really enjoyed todays walk, I would have liked to spend a bit of time exploring the hill tops looking for the best views down into the valley as it’s quite steep in places, but as they say there is always another day. Bob dog was positively steaming when we got back to the car and I removed his coat, but he enjoyed being towed dried and snuggled down with a few treats whilst I drove home , the drive along the Coquet Valley was interesting when we got hit by a sudden snow flurry and visibility dropped to a few meters . But noting to get concerned about.

Home, gear sorted then hot bath for me, I was very tired and my stump was feeling quite sore in places, nothing to be concerned about as I hadn’t broken the skin, I think that the fast walk back down over the last couple of miles did it, I would have stopped for a coffee break if the weather wasn’t so bad but there is nothing I can do about that.

Arty leg behaved himself, but I have noticed that despite the cylinder being new it is already starting to wind itself off (something that I will have to monitor in the future)

After a good night’s sleep I was stiff first thing in the morning but once I was up and moving things didn’t seem to bad likewise the walk  just over 9 ½ miles in a strong wind…..not too shabby roll on our next walk.

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