Wednesday, 9 January 2019

Eight Years of A Shivery Walk To The Border–(Brrrrr)

shivery walk 004

Years and years and years ago, in the company of Rothman’s Walking Club (think cigarettes here…) – we did a walk across Burtree Fell on a lovely, sunny day in mid-winter with deep, hard snow. I suppose you might call it “neve”.

middlehope moor 001 

Now Burtree Fell’s walking is pretty rough in places – typical Pennine stuff with heather, sphagnum bogs, peat hags and tussock grass and progress can be quite slow. However, on this particular day, the walking was spectacularly easy on the hard snow, and it was veen deep enough to cover the walls and fences which might have impeded progress. The downside was that we completed the walk a couple of hours earlier than we should have done.

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Rothman’s Walking club eventually fell apart and time moved on to a period when I was volunteering for Durham Voluntary Countryside Ranger Service – mainly stewarding guided walks and, later, leading guided walks.

And I revisited Burtree Fell and encountered exactly the same condiions as on the Rothman’s walk. I decided at that point that should these conditions be repeated, that it would make a fine guided walk for Durham County Council, and so it came on to the programme, each early January, for a few years at least.


Later, in a strop, and because I was a bit bored, I stopped leading DCC guided walks but the walk appeared on the Wednesday and Saturday Walking Group programme (aka the Wednesday Walkers Walking on Saturdays)

So far, on both groups, we’ve now done this walk 8 times since 2012 with a total of 137 participants and several doggies.  We’ve never had the conditions for which it was designed, although there’s been snow 4 times – mainly thin and icy, cold and frosty twice and mild and drizzly the other two times.

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Last Saturday was the latest and it was cold, with a few icy bits, but no snow.

Ho hum. 

I’ve changed the route a bit and, instead of sticking strictly to the rights of way and staying in County Durham, it now crosses the border into Northumberland (adventurous or what?) and visits the summit of Middlehope Moor at 2007 feet. This is marked by a small cairn and, as a high point is a remarkable anti-climax.

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And I’m fed up of low-level mud and barky farm dogs, so I varied it a bit out of Blackdene.

It’s 8.5 (ish) miles and 1400 feet of ascent.

Pics are from some previous visits to the route and to Middlehope Moor.


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