Thursday, 21 May 2020

Walks Where Covid 19 Shackles Are Loosened A Bit

 In England, the rules about exercise changed last week, so that now, we can travel any distance to exercise i.e. walk (but not to Scotland) and we can meet just the one person from outside the household providing we stay 2 metres apart.  So, taking advantage of this, but bearing in mind the twitchiness of the people living in the more popular places in the North, me and Li Yang traveled all of 6 miles to Wolsingham for the purpose of walking a longish walk of some 17 miles -West on the Weardale Way, Bollihope, Five Pikes, Elephant Trees, Knitsley Fell and back to the start by the riverside path.

 As per all recent walks, I managed to avoid all farmyards and only came near to a couple of houses and, apart from a dozen or so cars and some families with their doggies around Bollihope, we saw only a couple of runners and a couple of other walkers, plus a family on of whom had left their toy plane by the trig on Knitsley Fell, which we managed to return to them. (nobody likes to lose a favourite toy, innit?)  And there was a chap fishing in the Wear. Fishing is now allowed too (I'm not entirely sure why it wasn't allowed before, the social distancing is quite extreme)
 And then, taking things a bit further, a couple of days ago me and LTD went off to Black Middens, on the very edge of Kielder Forest. I thought that nobody would be around. The idea was to bag Earl's Seat, a tussocky Tump on the edge of tussocky moors. It was a hot day. the first hot day of the summer and we saw nobody and met nobody. We saw some deer and that was it. It seems that the foresters aren't working. 

 Black Middens is a "bastle" or peel - a fortified farmhouse with cattle secured downstairs and a family and followers upstairs. And, in August 1583, one Armstrong, Kinmont Willie, from Liddesdale, not too far away over the Border in Scotland, raided Black Middens along with seven or eight neighbouring bastles, stole away with livestock and agricultural goods, killed 6 men and wounded another 11 and took away 30 people to be ransomed. He did it again a few years later. Lord Scrope, who was the Warden of the local bit of the border had Willie captured just after a truce day on the Scottish side of the border and taken to Carlisle Castle. Laird Buccleuch, the local Scottish bigwig and Warden appealed to the Queen for Willie's release, stating that his capture was illegal, being on a truce day. Queen Elizabeth ignored the request, but , apparently fancied the boots off Laird Buccleuch who, with help from English allies, who were opposed to Lord Scrope, arranged for a raid on Carlisle Castle to spring Willie from his gaol. This went well and Willie was freed. Liz, was miffed two knickers about the raid, but since it was Buccleuch wot done it, and trying to be on good terms with King James of Scotland, who may well have to be the very next English monarch didn't do anything. Kim may have had a quiet word with Buccleuch in case he ever considered doing that sort of thing again. Meanwhile, Ooor Wullie continued entering Northumberland and Cumberland, robbing and killing although nothing much was done to stop him since it might well have been that some important English locals were getting a percentage. Then Willie died, so it ended and they all went home and told their mums what had happened. You don't get this from other hillwalking blogs innit?

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