Today was the day for bagging Thirl Moor – a HuMP and Dewey on the edge of the Otterburn Ministry of defence Shooting Things range. They shoot very big things up here, and I mean very very big things that make loud bangs and make people disappear, so its wise to visit when they’re having a rest. Once such time is lambing time. Lambing time is now.
So we loaded up the rucksack with cakes and snouts and drove off up Coquetdale to a layby at 509 metres and about a kilometre away from the summit of Thirl Moor. It was easily bagged sans rucksack or big boots. The top has three ancient cairns and a trig point and some of those metal star things they use in the Cheviots to denote archeology. There’s lots of archeology up here, in fact, the layby is on the roman road from York to Perth, built in 70 to 80 AD without laybies, and latterly called Gamels Path – latterly being the 13th century. This was before tarmac, obviously.
We (me and the dawg) were about to nick off to another car park when a TGO Challenger turned up – Doug Cockburn. he was on a mission to support his wife’s bike ride and we had a long chat about the TGO and our respective cardiac problems. fascinating stuff, I’m sure you’ll agree. TGO challengers seem to have a nack of turning up out of the blue.
Eventually, we relocated to a car park by the bridge at Buckham’s Walls Burn – Buckham, apparently, being a whisky manufacturer sought after by local farmers, publicans and excisemen alike. can’t stand the stuff meself (koff)
Anyway, there’s a very nice path beside the burn which reveals lots of very nice paddling a plodging pools and quite a lot of very nice camping spots.
We made our way by a series of unplanned loops to the Ten Mile Hut or Yearning Saddle Refuge which sits on the Pennine Way. The idea was to follow the border a bit from here, instead of the Pennine Way. This is what we did and, I have to say, it was a lot nicer than the Pennine Way. The hills are green and dry and the views North into Scotland are extensive and beautiful. Its less than a kilometre from the PW at any one point, but the sense of remoteness is remarkable.
We dawdled. We sat about. There was nobody else but me and the dawg and the skylarks. We bagged Raeshaw Fell which has a linear earthwork and Scraesburgh Fell and up on to Blackhall Hill, which has two ancient cairns and a BIIIG green view.
After a bit, we joined Dere Street towards York (its 130 miles to Legio IX HQ, apparently) – and this reveals quite a bit of engineering as it cuts through the side of a hill on a 6 metre wide rake. The road surface is somewhere beneath lots of turf and some bog, but there’s a culvert at one point…
After crossing the PW, we used a bridleway to get back to the start. We disturbed two feral goats with a kid. Bruno was in pack hunting mode, or would be if it hadn’t been for his lead.
The conclusion is – bag Thirl Moor in April and, if you want to walk the Border (like wot I did last August) – don’t follow the PW all the way, but take Dere Street then follow the very lovely and interesting edge to the Ten Mile Hut. This is much, much better than the PW.
And expect to meet TGO Challengers around every corner….
Altogether, we did ten and a half miles and 1500 feet of climbing.
Nice, sunny day, too… AND, I had me new trousers on…