Sunday, 20 December 2015

Down a Hole on Cateran Hill Northumberland

Cheviots from near Blawearie

Not many sandstone-based moors have caves - but Cateran Hill - looming in a not-very-looming-kind-of-way above the Northumberland village of Eglingham does have a cave. Actually, it's more of a rift or gap between sandstone blocks but goes deep underground and is a bit hard to find if you don't know that there's actually a bit of a path to it.

Moody skies...
Cateran Hill summit cairn
So, I collected Dawn from where she lives and we hurtled off up the A1 to Alnwick and then to Eglingham where we parked specially prettily outside the old school.
Dawn and Lucky march purposefully off towards Cateran Hill

From here, we wandered up a gently tilted road, then a track, then a thin trod through the heather to the magnificent summit of Cateran Hill 267m  which has TWO cairns and some heather.  Locating the hole from the top is a matter of some compass and detective work and the entrance is quite obscure, but places in a shallow sinkhole with the only bit of green grass around.
Lucky attempts an escape from Cateran Hole
A few steep steps lead down into a passage which bears some chip-marks on the walls reminiscent of similar marks inside the coffin level in the mines at Scope End. Such chipping seems to have been abandoned as the passage widens a bit and once daylight was left, me and Lucky, who wanted to escape at this point, were faced with a duck under a lodged stone for further progress, which, without a hard hat and not willing to get covered in cave-shite, we abandoned further exploration to rejoin Dawn at the entrance.
Eermerging (hurriedly in the case of LTD)

 Dawn had, more sensibly, decided to wait on the outside. Lucky didn't like it at al and was keen to re-establish contact with the warm wind outside and the distinct sniff of heather
and moors and life in general. One of the things I really enjoy about underground stuff is the smell and buzz of life when you emerge from the dark and damp stuff.  It's a bit like being born, I should imagine, and coming out of Cateran Hole does have some similar aspects, I think (see the photo )
Blawearie and distant Cheviot Hills

After snuggling down in some friendly and deep heather for a relaxed lunch, we progressed along soggy bridleways to Blawearie - a ruined terrace of buildings which may well have been a farm. Blawearie, it seems to me, is a magical spot, ideal for a summer camp-out. There's more to the place than meets the eye, including, apparently, a garden, which we had no hint of. There's some nice green grass for a tent, though.
Corbie Crag hillfort and LTD sniffing the wind for suspicious pasties

Just on a bit further was a hill-fort - maybe a fortified settlement, quite typical of similar places up in the Cheviots, but with a double ditch. Quite an effort to defend a small settlement, I think. Again - a nice and breezy spot for a tent in summer. And just below, we explored the little beck and gorge containing Corbie Crag and "Grey Mare's Tail" waterfall, which turned out to be quite small.
Dawn and Corbie Crag

A boggy path took us back to Harehope Farm - which seems to be several cottages, and some roadwalking back to the car which was exactly where we'd left it.

This area will likely bear a bit more exploration. It's quite gentle if you stick to the paths and there's the expectation of more interest to be had. And worra crackin place is Blawearie fpr a summer overnight.

I made it 8 miles. Dawn thought it was 9. Lucky's idea was more like 7 and suggested that next time I might take a bonio or something, at least....


Dawn said...

It was a pleasant walk Mike. Next time i will keep my head torch nearer the top of my pack.

Anonymous said...

I'm with Dawn, I don't like going down holes at all even for the pleasure of coming out of them again.