This is a personal blog mainly to do with hillwalking things but with other stuff as well.....maybe the odd rant..
Monday, 6 February 2012
Sleeping With Gas Canisters – A Cheviot Backpack with Dawn
Me and Dawn (up from That London) abandoned the knipemobile on the green bit at Alwinton, after having informed the nice young lady at Northumbria Police that that was our intention. She wished us a nice walk. Bless ‘er..
It were right cold from the start. We launched up Clennel Street on frozen hard ground with just a dusting of snow. On the way, we met Mick and Yvonne. I announced- Oooh – It’s Mick and Yvonne. Neither Mick nor Yvonne had any idea who I was. I introduced. We chatted a bit, then pressed on. Mick is distinctive in that he has one good leg and attached to the other knee is a complicated-looking piece of medical technology. Mick wears shorts all the time and is remarkable for his resilience and willingness to push himself into some quite rough walks in the Cheviots and North Pennines. Together with his walking partner, Yvonne, we’ve had a bunch of electronic conversations about potential routes and the stickiness of Weardale mud.. So, we’ve met electronically and now actually physically. Mick is not your average…..
Anyway, after a bit, we turned off downhill and found a comfy camping spot below a little outlying hillock called “The Castles”. It was a quiet if chilly night.
Day two saw us following the Usway Burn upstream and further up to the Border Ridge and then West(ish) to Windy Gyle and over the border down Windy Rig where we met the local hunt, mainly on ATV’s, one on a motorbike and one , in hunting red on a horse, followed some time later by a pack of hounds. We camped low down by the Back Burn. By 4:00 pm things were freezing hard. It was a viciously cold night – dark for full 13 hard frozen hours with a dog barking nearby and a beautiful starry night outside the tent. The stove would only work if the canister had spent the night in the sleeping bag. The camera and phone was protected in the same way. It was, in fact, desperately cold.
Eventually, next morning, we dragged ourselves from warm sleeping bags and hauled our loads back up the hill to Windy Rigg and, now in bright sunshine, we wandered the Border Ridge to the Ten Mile Hut. A tussle with tussocks followed till the short day began to end as we found camping spots high up Buckham’s Walls Burn. Another equally vicious cold night crept in. A long night. Dawn had provided small bags full of chocolate nibbles of different flavours. These helped. The routine established itself - filling up the sleeping bag with gas canisters and electronic equipment. There were random beeps in the night as a misplaced elbow turned something on and sent a confusing message against the wall of not having any signal… Beep. Beep. Turn over to relieve a cramp. Beep. Cold foot… beep….
In the morning the akto was frozen hard. My breath had frozen on the inner tent and it was snowing gently inside my refuge whenever I moved. A drift tried to form by the food bag. Beep. We packed and left – eventually into a warming sun. We wandered a long path beside the burn and on to the road. We arrived, eventually at soup heaven. Barrowburn. Our tentative entrance was rewarded by an invitation to take off cold coats and stand by the fire. We got hot soup and bread. And tea. Lots and lots of hot tea. It was snowing heavily outside as we scoffed thick buns richly endowed with thick slices of hot bacon. God bless Barrowburn.
Our advances for beds in the bunkhouse eventualy rejected (a party had booked exclusive use) – we plodded up over the hill to Fairhaugh and down once again by the Usway Burn to the huge sheepfold at the foot of Hosden Burn. It snowed heavily and, eventually resolved itself into yet another seriously below zero night. A dog fox barked nearby. A mouse visited my porch. I left it some small oatcakes in the morning. Another night with a gas canister and various bits of electronic equipment for company. Lets make no bones about this; it was perishing. No, I mean really bloody cold. The last morning’s routine of trying not to wake up, eventually brewing, then porridge and then , slowly the routine of packing, starting with unscrewing the canister from the stove… and leading to an icy tiptoe down by the Usway to Shilmoor, then over the Passpeth to Alwinton where the car was where we’d left it… We spent the night at Byrness where they have proper food and comfy warm beds and friendly conversation and …. beer….. I must say that despite the perishing, numbing cold, this was a damn good trip. Great fun. Thanks Dawn. Dawn’s probably back in That London* by now, drying out her stuff. I expect there’ll be a blog post about it from her shortly. I’ll put a link in at the appropriate point. STOP PRESS - LATE NEWS --- (beep beep etc) Dawn's account of this adventure is now here: http://dawn-outdoors.blogspot.com/2012_02_01_archive.html Its a cracker.... some nice pics there....
* All future references to the UK Capital will be “That London” from now on. This just seems to reflect that “That” London is responsible for many things…….. many, many things…..
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.