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Friday, 24 February 2017

Blustery Borders Bowmont Backpacking Bimble

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The Bowmont Valley is a specially beautiful dale running Northwards from the English/Scottish border ridge near Windy Gyle towards the Tweed and a circuit of the hills surrounding it seemed like a good idea at the time, specially as it could be taken reasonably gently over three or four days.
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So, me and Dawn and LTD set off last Sunday with full packs in order to take three and a bit days to walk the round. The full walk would be about 26 miles and 4500 feet of contours arranged in an uphill fashion, and a similar number in downhill too. So, it’s no mean feat. However , doing it in three and a half days does make it a bit less mean – and, it’s possible to knock huge chunks off it simply by turning right and walking down the road to the start. So, this was our plan.
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So, we set off to climb Staerough Hill which overlooks Kirk Yetholm and continued over the very lovely Sunniside Hill and Wildgoose Hill. It was a nice day, but the wind had picked up, so when we arrived at our planned camping spot, we thought it was too windy and the water supply was poor. So, we found a contouring track around Latchly Hill and descended to the shelter of Pennine Way at Halterburn Head where we spent a blustery night, just out of the reach of some apparently quite violent winds which roared just a bit overhead.
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Dawn had leant me a Hilleberg Enan, as a trial to see if I might use it on the TGO chally – and I might. Its a bit noisy and flappy and a bit cold when it’s windy, due to the mesh door. But it is very light and it did stand up to a bit of a bashing from the wind. And, apparently, I can add a couple of extra guys to improve stability and the inner/outer gap.
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The  very next morning we set off to follow the Pennine Way, but after about a mile, Dawn said she wasn’t up to the task today and turned back, leaving me and LTD to disappear into the mizzly gale that was blowing along the ridge. In fact, I got blown over once and fell over another time due to the piece of bog I was about to launch  myself off letting me in up to the knee.  We batterred on into the driving rain, and a fierce sidewind and the Twenty Mile hut overlooking Hen Hole and brew-time came as quite a relief. LTD was also indicating that he was quite fed-up by hiding under a bench and groaning. He does a good groan, does LTD.
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Having got duly soaked and batterred like a fish (cod) , we headed down to the Cheviot Burn for the camping and, after a bit of exploration, found a semi-sheltered spot on a little platform some way up Crooked Sike. The sky brightened up quite a bit but the wind blustered around all night. Nevertheless we were cosy and firmly fixed to the ground. In these conditions, LTD sleeps on a piece of old karrimat on a small thermal blanket and under my down jacket. For extra warmth he snuggles up to my sleeping bag. He’s quite content like that and moves little for several long, long dark winter hours.
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Back to the border ridge in the morning by following Crooked Sike uphill for a bit and then contouring round the using handy sheep tracks to rejoin the Pennine Way relatively easily to Windy Gyle, turning North (ish) along The Street to bag Philip Shank and Craik Moor. The Street was also mainly very easy walking, despite the obvious attentions of off-road motocyclists ripping the place up , so the ten miles or so of today’s walk was a bit of a romp, despite the return of the hefty winds. We met only a chap pushing a bike through one of the boggy bits and a chap on a tractor, apparently inspecting fences. I don;t think he saw us, though. Other than that the place was just for me and the dog. (Smug mode)
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We descended to Belford Hope where a sheltered spot with water and No Cows was hard to find. Eventually, I tucked the Enan into a small space between a corrugated-iron lambing shed and a sheepfold. Another noisy and flappy, and a bit cold night followed. I celebrated the successful ascent of Craik Moor by polishing off my rum supply. Other excuses were available.
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Inn the morning, there was early sunshine and a cold wind and soon, though, the sky turned milky white and I decided that it was going to rain and be windy (and, yes, other excuses were available too…) – So we quickly bagged Place Hill packless, where it was quite hard to stand up straight – and headed for a bale-out route along the road down the Bowmont Valley back to Town Yetholm where Dawn was discovered lurking in a bus shelter.
The local shop provided pies and coffee and that was that. Me and LTD had done 26 miles.
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Dawn’s account of her adventured can be read here   Dawn seems to think she let me down somehow. She didn’t. These things happen – it was a reasonable decision in the circumstances.
bowmont actual routebowmont pure route
On the right above is the purist’s round of the Bowmont Valley whereas on the left is me and LTD’s version, altered for sheltered camping spot, avoidance of the slog up Auchope Cairn with tired legs and windyness avoidance over Hownam Law by taking to the (lovely) Bowmont Valley road.


christine hindle said...

I think that might be a grand route to copy Mike.
I rather like it up there...

FellBound said...

That LTD. You are very lucky he lies down and lays still under your jacket. I wish my Moss would do that. He goes hyper. The smaller the tent the more hyper. I put it down to spite. 😆

NO said...

Great adventure i love reading your blog thanks guys

Dawn Linney said...

You did well Mike.

Meanqueen said...

Hi Mike. I am up your way next week, Thursday Friday. Starting at Newcastle on Thurs morning. pos Durham overnight. Are you around for a bit of a bimble? I'll be heading south. ilona

Alan Sloman said...

If it wasn't so far blooming north, that trip would make an excellent PreWalkDaunder.

I might nick it and do it another time.

Mike Knipe said...

The Plough pub in Town Yetholm seems fairly good, and there's a campsite there AND leavfing cars on the main street, where there's lots of room doesn't seem to be a problem. I don't think anybody noticed mine anyway...