A solo mid Winter Borders / Kielder bothy trip (part two)

by backpackingbongos

Once the van had defrosted it was a short drive back to Newcastleton, the bakery providing some not very complex carbohydrates to take away for lunch. The destination was Kielder reservoir but I was keen to detour to deepest Liddesdale and the imposing Hermitage castle.

The castle sits in a wild and lonely spot, sombre moorland hills rising up around it. Unfortunately it does not open until April, so I was unable to explore inside. The low gate across the bridge that leads to is easy to hop over though and I spent a while walking around its forbidding exterior. The morning was cold and sunny, the grass still frosty in the shadows, with surrounding hills covered in a light mist. During the long bothy nights I was reading the fourth book in the Game of Thrones series, Hermitage castle conjured up the sights and sounds I had imagined in Kings Landing. More info on the castle can be found here. I look forward to returning in the summer when it is open.

IMG_0590

IMG_0596

I returned to Reuben who was waiting patiently inside the van. It was not too far to drive to Kielder and I parked up in a woodland car park to the south of the village. The ground and air were damp and fragrant,the smell of the forest filling my nostrils. Low winter sunshine was filtering through the trees at an angle, casting mysterious beams of light onto the mossy floor.

IMG_0599

IMG_0602

I decided that the car park was too secluded to leave the van so I drove into the village of Butteryhaugh and left it at the Village Library / School car park. There was a nearby sign stating that public nudity was an offence, with a request for people not to get changed in the car park! Luckily I was fully dressed when Reuben and I set off south, heading for the path along the north shores of Bakethin and Kielder Reservoirs.

The sky was becoming overcast as we walked along the Lakeside way, the forecast was for heavy snow to arrive later that evening. A mysterious shape in the woods beckoned us onwards, its empty eyes and gaping mouth looking over the large expanse of water. A large wooden sculpture called Silvis Capitalis invites you to explore inside its head but unfortunately the ladder that leads you upwards has been removed, to be replaced in the spring.

IMG_0603

IMG_0605

The reservoir was left behind, forest tracks taking us uphill towards Wainhope Bothy.

IMG_0607

The bothy sits in a large clearing, a pleasant space after being hemmed in by trees. I looked for the telltale smoke from the chimney or movement outside but it looked like I was going to have another bothy night with just Reuben for company.

IMG_0608

The bothy is a very attractive building with a lone tree outside and surrounded by a stone enclosure. Inside there are two main rooms, the one on the left being large with a stove and space to sleep lots of people on a wooden platform. I chose the smaller right hand room with its open fireplace. The bothy was tidy with no rubbish about but it looks like it receives a large amount of traffic, confirmed by the comments in the bothy book. I set about giving it a good sweep and then went to fetch water from as far away from the building as possible.

IMG_0610

As I was filling my bottles from a stream Reuben pulled off one of his poses on a handily placed moss-covered log.

IMG_0613

I was glad that I had carried in a bag of coal and kindling as the bothy was devoid of any fuel. It saved me a long trek into the woods with a rusty bow saw. With the fire lit and candles spread around the room, the bothy soon felt warm and cosy.

IMG_0617

IMG_0620

When I popped my head out of the door later that evening I saw that snow had started to fall, gradually settling after the earlier drizzle. At one point I noticed bright lights and the sound of machinery to the north as if there was a vehicle on one of the remote forestry tracks. It never passed my way and I assume that it was someone working in the forest.

I awoke to a white wonderland, the first time this winter that I had seen proper snow. I crunched around outside for a while, a big grin on my face as my hands got cold whilst throwing snowballs at Reuben.

IMG_0621

IMG_0626

I had planned to bag the remote Dewey of Monkside but a late start and the effort of walking through the snow would have meant I would not be able to get back to the van before dark. Instead I picked a series of high level forest tracks that eventually led down to a bridge over the kielder Burn. It was great walking through the virgin snow, with not a soul to be seen all day. Reuben especially enjoyed yomping along, seeking out all the best smells.

IMG_0627

IMG_0631

IMG_0632

IMG_0634

IMG_0640

When I got back to the van it was still plastered in snow which had frozen solid. It took ages to scrape it all off but at least the doors had not frozen shut this time. The set of winter tyres that have been next to useless this winter finally came into their own as I drove towards home on the snowy road along Kielder reservoir.

IMG_0642

Advertisements

16 Comments to “A solo mid Winter Borders / Kielder bothy trip (part two)”

  1. That is splendiferous James, Love Reuben’s pose. Nice one.

  2. Hermitage is the best borders castle, and so under visited. A great selection of snaps that make you just want to get out and do stuff – great work James and dog.

    • It’s a cracker Warren, I must go back and visit when it’s open, would love to see inside. Thanks and all the best.

  3. Superb photos and fine trip in the woods James. Liked that.

    • Thanks Martin. All those photos were taken on my iPhone, not used my proper camera for a while now. Much easier to just get the phone out to snap away!

  4. Dixie and I planned a trip to Wainhope Bothy once, but it never came off – can’t remember why not. Her and Tilly did climb up inside that head once though and look out of its eyes!
    That castle looks absolutely fantastic – well worth a trip I should think!

    • It’s all good backpacking country round there Chrissie. in fact I have one planned that starts from the castle and takes in the local hills. I think I have seen a photo of Tilly and Dixie peering out of the eyes of that head.

  5. Looks like a great trip, and some very nice photos there!

  6. Like the shots of the trees with the snow, never been to Keilder

    • Thanks Andy, can’t beat a bit of snow. Kielder is worth a visit in the winter, the midges are too much in the summer!

  7. Wow, looks terribly cold! Some cracking photography though and as always the cold is worth baring when you can take advantage of the magic snow can bring to an image.

    • Thanks, the photo’s were taken with my phone so happy with how they turned out. It was very cold, but the good kind if that makes sense!? Can’t be happier than waking up to snow.

  8. A nice write up James. Being fairly local to me now, will need to explore this area myself 😊😊😊

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: