DATE                        15.02.16

DISTANCE               3.86 MILES




Today was the Day, for one reason or another I had been putting off this day trip out for ages, firstly it was my Arty leg not working correctly, then it was the nerve pain in my stump, then it was too wet or too windy .basically I was scared of things going wrong and having yet another disappointment, but today that would all change.

I knew that I am very unfit after doing bugger all the last few months and the weight has piled on and if I don’t get off my arse and start I never will , so it was with great excitement / fear that when the alarm went off and  I peered out of the bedroom window to see that we had a covering of snow ….I felt sick knowing that if we had a covering on the coastline there would be a lot more  in the Cheviot Hills , I very nearly turned around and snuggled into bed but something in my head screamed no!!! Knowing full well that if I put this trip off with an half arsed excuse I would never get out again. I have a good 4x4 with lots of the toys fitted that should help in snowy conditions something I had never had to use so sod it why not  So it was up breakfast, gear thrown into the car ,

I had a quick thought about the Pup’s, Flynn was a no go I know that he doesn’t like anything cold or wet and would much sooner snuggle down with Yvonne in a nice warm bed, Munchy on the other hand would be keen but he is simply too small to be out in snow all day and to be honest he didn’t seem too happy to even go out in the garden with the snow lying about and scampered back upstairs at the first change  so that left Bob , I knew that Bob would be joining me today in fact I could hardly move without him being under my feet , and so it was just Bob and me that jumped into the car and set off.

We had one stop on the way and that was at our normal sarnie shop where I treated Bob to a few slices of roast beef and packed a few extra bits for lunch along with my sarnie.

The drive up was uneventful until we got past Rothbury then as expected the roads slowly but surely got worse as the level of snow built up , but so far nothing to get concerned about and my 4x4 seemed to take it in its stride , then before we knew it we was driving up the Coquet valley towards our starting point at Barrow burn , I knew that there is a couple of tricky downhill sections and I stopped and put the car into downhill decent ………….I wasn’t really sure what it would do as it’s the first time I have used it and down we went , with me not touching anything just steering ………..weird is the only word I can describe it .but saying that I am certain that I could have just driven down the bank as normal just a bit more slower without any problems the next dodgy bit I put the car into some sort of 4 wheel lock with limited slip (whatever that is ) and again just went down the hill with no problems but again I am certain that I could have just driven down as normal , but if the cars got toy’s to play with why not try them .

We pulled into the small car park at Barrowburn and was delighted to see that we was the only visitors , there was a 3” covering of fresh snow laying on top of the older icy stuff ………..good job I had packed my micro spikes ………..I got the feeling that I would be using them a lot today . But once again I got that normal excited but nervous feeling as I got out of the car and took in the snow covered hills with the blue sky  ………beautiful ……..nothing can even come close to describing this valley  And as normal I went into my routine  of speaking to the hills .yes I know I’m just one step away from the loony bin , but I do speak to the hills when I first get out of the car and the strangest thing is they hear me and reply letting me know that I am welcome and that they would look out for me today …………..knowing this just added to my sense of anticipation . (I always thank the hills after a day walking as well)

Bob on the other hand was having none of this mumbo jumbo and barked at me to let him out , but before I let him out I made him put on his walking coat , over the last year or so I have tried several different coats out on Bob , most are ok but they all had little faults , like they would hold the water in the lining or something or they wasn’t water proof or they would come lose  when he was running about or pushing past the undergrowth  etc. etc. so after much searching I had finally settled on a “Barbour wax coat link :-

This seemed to fit the bill, it’s tough, water proof, and warm and most importantly Bob is happy to wear it and despite him charging through the bracken it stays in place.

Letting Bob out and watching him run around the car parking area was a joy to watch , this is the first time that he has been in deep snow and I wasn’t sure how he would react , I needed have worried he simply loved it , running and jumping mooching and generally charging and skidding around .

I left Bob to it and sorted my gear out as I was keen to get started.

I knew that I wouldn’t be going far today simply because I knew I was unfit and I didn’t want to push too hard with my stump and trigger any nerve pain but today was simply about getting out getting some fresh air into my lungs and dare I say it building up a bit of self-confidence again  recently my self-confidence has taken a right battering to such an extent I have even been noticed at work and had some restrictions placed on me as to where I can go and what I can do , of course I am in the process of fighting these changes ….after all I have worked  too hard to  get the freedom that I have enjoyed the last 11 years just to have it taken from me .anyway getting back to the walk :-

With Bob busy racing all around me we set off, our route would take us past the small farm and tea shop at Barrowburn along a well-used cart track which would take us up alongside Lounges Knowe and into the forest at Kidland, a route I have done dozens of times before, my plan was to decide where to go when I got there.

Passing the tea room I hit my first disappointment …it was closed but I did half expect that and had packed my jet boil so I would get a cup of hot coffee no matter what. Next problem was how would Bob react with the sheep, the farmer had set up the feeding stations right by the footpath and the sheep certainly wasn’t going to move, Bob really did me proud and just walked by my side until we was past then he went running off to explore again ….what a dog I was so pleased with him.

As we slowly made our way up the hill, the snow started to get deeper, I was already at my maximum walking depth before I really couldn’t walk correctly with arty leg so things started to get a bit more harder , I was already puffing and panting but it was such a nice day I just didn’t want to stop , the micro spikes that I had on started to get icy balls building up on the underside of my boots that made life fun and I resorted to banging them with my hiking poles to clear them  it was then that I noticed Bob was starting to ice up , he was getting covered in icy balls that where getting bigger and bigger , he didn’t seem to mind and was busy running all over the place completely disappearing every now and then when he jumped into a slightly deeper snow drift , I called Bob back and carefully picked him up and proceeded to break the ice balls off him , he didn’t seem to mind and his tummy felt nice and warm to touch so I wasn’t too concerned , but made a mental note that once we got into the trees at Kidland I would find a snow fee spot and set up camp so to speak and have a good look at Bob .

It took me ages to finally get to the trees, the snow was a lot deeper as we got to the top plus there was a couple of places where it had drifted to such an extend it really made it difficult for me to get past, I guess at this stage I knew that I wouldn’t be going far today. Eventually we found a snow free spot right under some huge trees and I set about making a hot coffee, I called Bob over and proceeded to break the icy off him again, it had built up very quickly, then got a towel out and proceeded to dry his tummy, again Bob felt nice and warm and was actually steaming in the sunshine but none the less I decided to keep a close eye on him.

Coffee was drunk, bob eat his treats, gear was packed away and off we went, I decided to keep under the trees hoping that the snow wouldn’t be so deep and headed down towards the river at Fairhaugh, I knew  that the bridge had been destroyed and hadn’t been repaired yet so I couldn’t cross over, but it’s a nice place to stop for lunch and I was toying with heading up the river by a little used path that follows the line of the river , I wasn’t even sure the path would still be there as it’s been years since I last walked along it and to be honest it was more of a deer trail than a path as such but it’s mostly sheltered by the trees so it might be .

On arriving at the river near Fairhaugh my cunning plan proved to be a dismal failure as for some unknown reason there was just as much snow under the trees as there was in the open and so my trip up the river proved to be a no go. so we decided the only thing to do was get the jet boil out for more coffee and have lunch, Bob agreed with the lunch part and went onto remind me that he had got extra slices of roast beef and to hurry up and dish them out and so we settled down for lunch, I picked the snow/ icy balls off Bob .he ate his roast beef, I drank coffee and fed most of the tasty bits from my sarnie to Bob , after lunch we had a mooch around the river and decided to have a slow walk back retracing our steps , me thinking it would be easier walking now that we had created a pathway , as it turned out that really wasn’t the case but we both had fun any way .

We only walked just under four miles, but I was tired, even when I am at my best I struggle to walk in snow but on a day like today it was sooooo worth it. Bob informed me he did at least double that distance and had a great day in the snow.

A few photos:

Taken by the car park looking at the footbridge

Looking up the river Coquet towards Barrowburn


Taken from the farm at Barrowburn, this is one view I never get tired at look at


Looking along the Coquet valley


Looking at the sheep, Bob doesn’t seem to be interested in them


Bob looking very snug in his winter coat, he just loves the snow


Looking back at our route


Now heading up, the snow is getting deeper, my lungs are getting weaker and the views are getting better


Looking back on one of my many rest stops


At the top (or the highest we will be going today)


Bob is starting to get iced up a bit


Looking down towards the Usway burn


Time to enter Kidland forest and find some shelter to get the jet boil on and de-ice Bob


Showing Arty leg with micro spikes


The mighty Shillhope law in the background


Off we go into the woods, Bob as normal is leading


Looking down at Fairhaugh


Looking along the Usway Burn


Trees still covered in last night’s snow


Looking at the fallen tree that has smashed away the foot bridge


We decide to head along the river bank there is an old trail here that I have used before


Still a bit on the chilly side in places


Don’t do it Bob!!!


At this point I decide to head back, naturally Bob is leading


Back at Fairhaugh


Time to de – ice bob again


But just look at this, it really doesn’t matter that I didn’t get far today when you see this


Heading up

Still heading up

Even though it’s a beautiful day with the sun shining there is still snow in some strange places that hasn’t melted yet


On our way down Kyloe Shin, Bob is waiting for me again


Bob having a roll he just loves it here today


Looking towards Barrowburn


Time to de-ice Bob again, he doesn’t seem to mind or care


One de-iced bob later and he is off again


Down by the Hepden Burn


That looks nice


Small ice balls are starting to form on Bobs coat already


Heading back to Barrowburn, once again Bob just walked at heel without being called back and wasn’t interested in the sheep I cannot tell you how pleased I am with his behaviour


Waiting at the gate


Looking back up


Back again on the footbridge over the Hepton Burn at Barrowburn

Looking back towards the camping Barn


Last couple of photos taken from the car as I drive back along the collage valley

Day after thoughts.

I was knackered, home , bath and nearly feel asleep , I hadn’t experienced any nerve pain at all today so I was well pleased about that , but I really ached all over and I was stiff and sore all over when I got out of bed in the morning  but on the good side I hadn’t damaged my stump and I coped with Arty leg not being 100% and the best thing was I had a great day there is something about getting out up into the hills that really lifts me so I’m putting this down as a great day .thank you