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Monday, 6 February 2012

Sleeping With Gas Canisters – A Cheviot Backpack with Dawn

camp at the back burn
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..
dawn  mick and yvonne

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…..
first camp by the castles

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.
clennel street
windy gyle
the high bit of the cheviots

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.
pw border ridge

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….
buckhams walls camp

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.
into the snow...

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.
usway burn freezing up
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…..
last camp
last look before leaving (from pass peth)
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…..

22 comments:

Martin Rye said...

Forgetting the cold and snow, and long dark nights. Its a good walk that Mike.

Mike Knipe said...

I'd do it again, Martin....

Geoff Edwards said...

Great report, it look like an ideal route for the weather conditions!

Alan R said...

Brrrr Brrrr Brrrr and more Brrrr. No it’s not your phone it’s my feet have just iced over reading that. Mike it has been perishing and i havn’t got me UK blood back yet.

Mike Knipe said...

Thanks Geoff - Not a long route, but the days are short, as are my legs...
Alan - I thought the phone was ringing there for a minute. Cold? Don't talk to me about cold... the ice is currently melting off the tent as it hangs over the bath

Alan Sloman said...

What a splendid stroll! I really ought to nudge Lord Elpus. We used to do a freezing cold February walk each year in the Lakes.

Is there any way you can make the pictures available at a larger size, fella? Some of them look frabjously good...

Cheers Mike.

Mike Knipe said...

If you do venture out into the cold and fristy, Alan, you will definately need some anti-freeze of some sort. Something around 40% proof orta do it.... Just a tip...

As for making the pics bigger... if I was vaguely competent I might know how to do it. As it is..... dhuhh.... er...

Alan R said...

re Picture sizing. It may be in the default Template you use to blog with. When i changed my template i suddenly had a gallery of the pics within that single post when you clicked on a photograph. I didn’t plan it. It just happened.
Other than that maybe an email to blogger would help.

QDanT said...

If you do venture out into the cold and fristy, Alan, you will definately need some anti-freeze of some sort. Something around 40% proof orta do it.... Just a tip...

Kylie's 40% then ?
No seriously better than a medal, I'll buy you a pint next time we meet ! unless the inspiration of your post proves to be my Demise !
cheers Danny

Mike Knipe said...

Thanks Alan - I might experiment, but then... I expect the other Alan will soon forget he ever mentioned it...
Dan - A pint, eh? Just be careful with the 40%. Not more than a half a litre each day is my advice. Moderation in everything.

Mark said...

Looks stunning, if a tad brass monkeys. Nice one.

Heather T-S said...

Looks a great trip even if a wee bit chilly.....I'm going a bit soft and have been retiring to my snug wee bed after snowy ventures but the Scarp does beckon....

Louise said...

You're not planning on bringing that kind of ice in May are you? At least I've got a new sleeping bag.

Tracey said...

Fantastic walk, but methinks overnight in the cold in fristy is one step too far for me. Love the pics though.

Meanqueen said...

My goodness, I was shivering as I read that. Think I'll wait till it warms up a bit before I start camping.

Howellsey said...

Brave !! But from the look of the photos, well worth it, some stunning snowy scenery!

terrybnd said...

Cracking pics mate. Never set foot round there - you'll have to be my guide :)

Aye, "dat lundun" eh? lol

Dawn said...

It was a good do Mike; even though my baby wipes froze.

Mike Knipe said...

Ooer - I've got behind with the comments. I didnt expect this many!
Thanks Heather, Mark, Tracy, Howellsy and LLona
Louise - I've booked a heatwave for May. Just take a thin sheet and some Aftersun.
Terry - The Cheviots are really just small Cairngorms. You'd enjoy the Peak-Dirstrict-like bogs and, possibly the lack of human beans. You should come. Bring a bottle.
Thanks for this, Dawn - A right good do, in fact. Nowt worse than a frozen baby wipe though, is there..?

chrissiedixie said...

Mike I just love these photos - it looks so COLD!

Mike Knipe said...

Dawn's pics look even colder than mine, Chrissie. ..Looking forward to spring, now...

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