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Tuesday, 2 August 2016

A Day in the Hills and a Night in the Sand

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So many things on the List Of Things To Do and so little time. And, impatient to fit everything in, me and Dawn (actually, it was Dawn, really) came up with the idea to have a hill-walk in the Cheviots followed by a bivi on a Northumbrian beach (and Northumbrian beaches are possibly the best beaches for bivis).

So we went to Hethpool at the foot of the Colledge Valley where there’s a small car park beyond which you can’t drive without a permit. This keeps the traffic down to a maximum of 12 cars per day except for those who have business driving up and down the dale.

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Our plans were off to the side a bit – starting with the diminutive and rippled – due to ancient cultivation terraces – White Hill 228m and fairly easyily bagged from the road.

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Onwards and sideways we went, ignoring a permissive path diversion for a jungly cleared forestry path to collect Haddon Hill 352m. Dawn waited at the bottom (actually, it was quite near the top) whilst me and LTD visited the summit. This provided a huge view of the East Coast right up to Crystal Rig windfarm, just above Dunbar, and West to far, far distant hills.

We lunched in the sun and then it was onwards to Ring Chesters 432m, for some reason, given the soulless name of “Haddon Hill SW Top” on the hill-bagging website. It’s called Ring Chesters because it’s clearly a series of defensive consecutive rings around a small hillfort or settlement and with a fine view over the Merse and the naughty Selgovae lurking in their forts on the Eildons. (You’ll have to google Selgovae)

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Dawn traversed the side of Coldsmouth Hill 414 m whilst me and LTD (Do I get to write any of this? (LTD) (No shut yer muzzle MAK) heaved our tiring legs up to the three cairns on the top, sustained only by handfuls of small and tart bilberries, of which there were copious crops. It only occurred to me whilst stood by one of the cairns spying over towards the Selgovae again, that many of those bilberries will have been weed on by sheep.

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Coldsmouth Hill sports two apparently ancient circular enclosures with significant above-ground remains and three cairns, probably fashioned from bits of those circular walls. Dawn was waiting by the trees at the bottom.

A fine romp along the English/Scottish border followed, turning left at a footpath and veering off up the slopes of Madam Law 397m, which has a tumulus on the top, according to my map.

Finally, a long descent and a gentle re-ascent took us to Ell’s Knowe 319m which had nothing particularly obvious in the archaeological deparment.

A plod down the road aka St Cuthbert’s Way brought us back to the knipemobile which was still where we’d left it. And that was that.

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LTD  says: Oh no it wasn’t. You drove to Wooller Co-op to buy beer and then we had a bit of a drive to some sand-dunes where, after some more walking, Dawn put up a tent shelter (they don’t allow camping, apparently). This wasn’t a  tent at all, so we didn’t camp we just stayed in one place for a while. Somebody dug a hole and lit a fire and sausages and spuds were buried in foil and sand and dug up about an hour later. The sausages had turned into black crispy things but the spuds were only charred a bit and, with added butter, were scoffed greedily and I only got some of the now sandy black crispy things and some sandy spud skin which wasn’t really fair. They don’t feed me enough y’know – I mean all I had was a tin of dog food, two bonios and a dentastick. And some Wesleydale cheese. And bits of bread and some measly scraps of Sorano ham. Oh and half a pulled pork pasty and some sand. I was starving…

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And then it went dark (ish) and we went to bed. I got under Pieman’s down jacket and had his TGO Chally fleece for a pillow, so it was a warm night. At one point Dawn said there were seals on the beach but all I could see were some vague lumps. These were very very close and if they were seals it would have been scary but when it came light they turned out to be clumps of grass. At another point Dawn said the sun was coming up and we should have a look because it was beautiful. But it was the middle of the night so we didn’t get up. Pieman grunted something about Kylie’s bra strap, turned over and stopped snoring. For a minute.

And in the morning, when the sun was high and hot there was frolicking and shivering at the same time in the sea. I don’t like water and I specially don’t like water that comes at you in waves. But these two seemed to like it.

And the beach was empty of life, except us and some birds squawking about and doing bird stuff.

And I got to dig holes and chew sticks and roll about. And sleep in the sun.

Then we went home. This took a long time.

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Ta for that LTD. For info, we did 11 miles (ish) and about 2000 feet of climbing and paddled a bit and even had a little swim or two. Its not so bad once the nerve-endings have frozen.

References to Selgovae I partly attribute to Ptolemy. Obviously.


Quinn said...

Sounds like a perfect trip, near enough, and very good pictures too. Nice to hear from LTD. Surprised he's got the strength, poor thin fella.

Dawn Linney said...

It seems a grand way of doing things. Some pleasant walking over the hills and having a bivi on the beach. Lucky lad, you were fortunate that you did not have to carry the bivi stuff in plus six litres of water and please, next time you dig holes, please, please, do not throw sand in my face!!! Mind, you enjoyed the wensleydale cheese!

Chrissie Crowther said...

Lucky, we're both really jealous of your beach adventure, we'd love to dig holes in the sand and kick it all over our humans - it's just what they deserve for not feeding us enough and not taking us to beaches enough and not taking us camping enough and generally not looking after us properly. Pebbles and Islay xxx