On hearing the news that Beowulf was to be filmed over a period of five years (five years?) in a quarry in Weardale, I decided, completely at random and with absolutely no link to this even at all to visit some Cheviot Tumps and then to unload my word hoard in this ‘ere blog….
And so, as per tradition, me and
Grendel The Pooch set off a bit late for doing this kind of thing, but there being absolutely no speed cameras on the English part of the A68, we did, in fact, arrive in reasonable time. The car park at the foot of Buckhams Walls burn was occupied by a couple of dozen heavily armed soldiers being gently chided about the state of their bayonets.
So, I saddled up the pup and climbed the closely packed contours onto the ridge which leads , in fairly short order to the green, lumpy and pleasant summit of Yearning Law. I’d walked past Yearning Law loads of times but never thought to visit the top. Lucky mentioned that it seemed to be going well so far and had a nice little roll in the snow. Lucky has a very favourable attitude concerning snow.
So we plodded on – hitting more snow, this time deeply and softly inserted between lumpy tussocks. This soon began to feel like hard work, but we bashed on manfully and dogfully to the Border ridge which was occupied by a dozen or so shaggy goats.
The Pennine Way hereabouts is a line of Lancashire sandstone mill slabs and now these were slick with thawing ice – the very slippiest kind of ice, in fact. Its not really possible to walk on this stuff with any kind of dignity, so I walked just off to the side where the heather and the bogs were. We ground it out.
At a certain kink in the border fence, we hopped over into Scotland and descended yet more heather, tussocks and soft snow, sometimes, randomly, hard snow and thence up to the ancient Callaw Cairn – a Sub-Donald-Dewey (yes , I know…) and an excellent place to scoff a cornish pasty and a bonio with fox-poo afters and to gaze at the view whilst shivering a bit.
We bashed our way back up to the Border ridge and on to Beefstand Hill, abandoning any ideas concerning the bagging of Philip Shank, but , instead, head for Broadside Law, which was on the way back to the car.
There was a deer fence in the way with a padlocked gate. I bundled the dog over the top and lowered him down using his lead and his Ruffwear harness. I don’t believe he enjoyed this much. Once inside the fence, there were newly planted trees and the very worst kind of lank moorgrass possible, generously interspersed with that damned soft wet snow again. A struggle for progress developed into a struggle just to stand up straight between plunges into knee-deep snow overlying black and cold bogwater. Lucky learned some new words. Anglo-Saxon Words. You know the ones I mean.
We joined a “footpath” – hah! and met a ladder stile back over the fence. Once more Lucky was heaved up and lowered off. The ground eased a bit till finally, with the final few cornish pasty calories pumping into the bloodstream, we acheived the summit of Broadside Law. Phew.
The return was simple – a steep descent, sloppy path, footbridge and farm and 700 metres of tarmac. A new crowd of troops were waiting in the car park for their transport. They looked knackered. And so did I.
Good for the soul, though. Probably.