Saturday 6 February 2010.
Following a light breakfast, rustled up by a team of OTHC members, there seemed to be various plans afoot to bag this or that marilyn, or even both this and that Marilyn, to he Schil or The Cheviot and, being the grumpy old bugerigar that I am, I decided that as I’d never been up The Cheviot by the Bizzle Burn route, that’s what I’d do today.
And that’s what I did. The morning could best be described as “driech” and hill fog seemed to be at a fairly low level.
I wandered down the valley and turned up a side dale to Dunsdale, an isolated farmstead which now provides income to the estate as a holiday home.
At Dunsdale I began the long climb up by Bizzle Burn, a deep vee-shaped craggy gash, mainly hidden in the dense fog.
As I climbed, I started coming across a dusting of fresh snow, and this became a general cover after a while. There were also steep banks of hard snow which needed a step or two kicked here and there, and, ever higher, there was a deep, hard snow covered by about half a foot of fresh stuff. This made for heavy work and the fog and the snow made for a blank white and grey world with hardly any reference points.
Then I saw the sun – just emerging through the mist. I worked out that if I headed just a bit to the left of the sun, I should be pretty much on target for the summit trig point, provided I did it fairly quickly (bearing in mind that the sun doesn’t stay very still….)
So this is what I did. The mist remained thick with just this little yellow beacon shining through. I came to the fence that runs over the top. The fence had just the top inch of each fencepost sticking out of the snow. I guessed the direction of the trig and found it half a minute later. So that worked well. I heard voices.
Then, suddenly, there was no mist and instead, there was warm sunshine and people, a couple, appeared. We enthused about the conditions for a bit and they were replaced by another couple and a dog.
I started on the return trip – following the first couple’s footprints as far as Cairn Hill, where they were lunching, then I followed some more footprints along the Pennine Way to West Cairn Hill, where I met a large party of Over the Hill Clubbers coming the other way. We exchanged friendly greetings and I followed their tracks down to Auchope Cairn and a little way down the steep hill below it.
A short hop down the head of the Colledge Valley, past the bottom of the Hen Hole gorge – which seemed to have a bit of avalanche debris in it – back to Mounthooley for hot tea, a warm by the fire and a snooze.
Various posses of OTHC members cooked and served dinner and yet more damage was done to supplies of loopy juice, although several members were seen to be dozing off. There were early nights. A very few got to bed around 3:00 am. There was, apparently, less snoring. I suspect this may be that the culprit wasn’t in bed for very long.
The walk was 9 miles and 2500 feet of uphill and, it has to be said, probably much easier in the deep, hard snow than it’s normal outrageously boggy state.