This is a personal blog mainly to do with hillwalking things but with other stuff as well.....maybe the odd rant..
Wednesday, 18 August 2010
Border Walk Day 4 Kielder to Byrness
There’s phrase for today is “A walk on Northumberland County Council’s Comedy Bridleway” I started well again – in the correct direction (albeit after some urgent replanning) and with happier feet than last night. I’d originally intended to follow the Border ridge over Peel Fell and Carlin Tooth to Carter Bar and then on to Hungry Law. Reality stepped in somewhere and I realised that, for me, this would be a two day walk, or at least one and a half… Anybody else determined to walk the Border should really go this way and allow the appropriate amount of time. As it was, I wasn’t up to it, I had a bed booked at Byrness and a ticket at Berwick, so I could only take an extra day by forfeiting these things. Look, I’m a Yorkshireman, don’t be so daft. So a direct bridleway going almost all the way the Byrness in fairly short order looked to be an easy option. How wrong could I be? The Toll road at the A68 from Kielder leads the innocent innocuously into the inhospitable interior (thats enough of that now…) At East Kielder the bridleway starts over rough pastures with cows and sheep and a vague air of neglect. At Kielderhead bothy, there’s a beck to be paddled, some deep nettles and a barricaded gate all of which would effectively prevent a person on horseback progressing any further. The bothy is locked and bolted and closed due to Neds and their boozy parties and random vandalism and general arseholiness. It adds to the atmosphere but shows that the Forestry Commission can spend money on blocking up this building but bugger-all on the right of way. I entered tussock land. The tussocks here are deep and green and lush and big. The line of the path is less than obvious. As it progresses eastwards, it gets no better. Sometimes there’s a thin trod which appears to be more of a sheep trod. Sometimes there is deep and ravenous bracken, well over head height. Within the bracken there are holes for the ankles. Eventually, after many an hour of struggle, it gets worse. It started raining very heavily at this point, just to add to the delight, and having just put my foot into a two foot deep hole full of cold, black methane-water, I was rejoicing at being out, I can tell you. I heaved my way up throught he dep heather and ever deeper bracken to Girdle Fell, using GPS to hit the boundary at just over 520 metres. Here, there was a bit of a path and a noticeboard describing the walk to the waterfall and picnic place. Its a good job I didn;t try to go there. Both the path and the pickernick area are pure figment of Tilshill Forestry’s fevered imagination. maybe they get a grant or something. Just as things were getting better (it stopped raining) – it got a lot worse. The bridleway plunges very steeply through seven foot deep bracken down a forest ride. Lower down the ride is competely blocked by large fallen trees. The local black flies add to the sheer fckn enjoyment of this place. Eventually, I was on the verge of giving up altogether when I noticed, on the opposite side of the beck, a forest road. The bridleway itself was nowhere to be seen More bracken and trees seemed to be in the way. I plunged through the last of the jungle and crossed the beck. The forest ride, which incidentally was supposed to have the picnic area lead easily through a locked gate (how are you supposed to get to the non-existent picnic area?) – through a beef field, of which I was in no mood to have any nonsense from – so they allran away – down to Catcleugh reservoir where it started chucking it down again. I eventually arrived, somewhat bedraggled, or at least , more bedraggled than usual at the Forest view Hostel at Byrness where I was gently deprived of my soaking waterproof, boots and nasty socks and had hot tea and cold beer and a bit of sympathy from Colin and Joyce. Joyce and Colin must be well rehearsed in tending to the needs of the fragged off the Pennine Way and, despite the return of the pain in the foot, it was a good end to a duff day. About the bridleway – Something Must Be Done. This is an important route. Its not Government Cuts, Northumberland County Council, its years and years of neglect. A few strong words with those foresters would be a start, and maybe a few wooden stakes will yellow paint on the top would help to establish a path that can be followed. You know , the sort of thing they have everywhere else……. In theory at least, I covered 13 Miles with 1500 feet of ascent. It felt like a week in the Burmese jungle. On the plus side, I got the socks washed and the the tent dried and I got fed, showered, watered, beered and cheered up. I will be in contact with Northumberland CC about this. More of which later…
I am a retired NHS Personnel person. All I do nowadays is walk about.
I used to have my pet dog Bruno with me (in the front page pic). he was Superdawg but he died. Now I have Lucky the pup. He's a bit like Bruno, only smaller and more suspicious.