Posts tagged ‘North Pennines’

January 7, 2016

A New Year week in Weardale

by backpackingbongos

We managed to bag ourselves a cheap cottage for the period between Christmas and New Year. This was in Weardale in County Durham, an area of high moorland in the North Pennines. The drive up on Boxing day was horrendous, the north of the country being deluged by rain and floods. The A1 was a world of spray and a couple of accidents, whilst the A roads were often hidden under water. The river Wear was a thunderous beast as we drove along the road through the valley to the village of Westgate, and our rather compact home for the week.

Myself and Reuben managed to get out and about on the hills most days, with Corrina joining us for half of them. The weather continued its mild, damp and cloudy theme, although the sun did occasionally put in an appearance. I have to say that I am rather smitten with this part of the North Pennines. It’s wild, rugged and empty once you climb onto the hills. Only two people were passed whilst out hiking. Here are a few phone pictures giving a flavour of the hills and dales.

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The first morning dawned clear and crisp so I walked straight out the door and onto the hills. Under blue skies patches of mist were draped over the higher hills. This is looking towards Fendrith Hill.

 

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The high moorland watershed between Weardale and Teesdale, again looking towards Fendrith Hill. I was on my way to the summit of Westernhope moor. The ground was very wet.

 

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Heading back into Weardale above the hamlet of Brotherlee.

 

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At the top of the Boltslaw incline is the ruin of the engine winding house, very atmospheric in the mist that plagued us that day.

 

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Easy walking on the moors above Rookhope. My top tip when visiting Rookhope is not to park in the village hall car park. This now appears to be for the exclusive use of the nearby residents. The gate was locked when we got back and we had to go door knocking to find someone with a key…….

 

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Corrina does not go into the hills with me very often so I promised her big views into Northumberland from the summit of Bolt’s Law. Visibility was down to a couple of hundred metres.

 

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A very well camouflaged dog. He now has a flashing red light on his collar so we have at least a small chance of spotting him.

 

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A golden dawn on the moors above Stanhope.

 

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Summerhill Force in Teesdale was rather disappointing in its volume considering all the rain that had fallen.

 

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However on the plus side you could walk behind it.

 

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Atmospheric old mine workings alongside Rookhope burn.

 

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Currick on the Northumberland / County Durham border.

 

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A boggy trudge to Dead Stones from Killhope Cross.

 

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Looking towards the shelter near the summit of Dead Stones. It looks like the roof could cave in at any moment.

 

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Climbing out of West Allendale.

 

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Ewe looking at me? Sheep keeping a close eye on Reuben in West Allendale.

 

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Dark clouds building over the summit of Hard Rigg.

 

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I stopped for a while on the summit of the A689 at Killhope Cross, at 623 metres it’s the highest A road in the country. The rain started to turn to snow.

 

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The hills above Cowshill are full of the remnants of the lead mining industry.

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April 3, 2014

Hot tenting on the moor of death

by backpackingbongos

I think that it is about two years since I have been backpacking with my mate Rae, who has been out of action due to a foot injury. She is keen to get back into the hills with a pack on her back.  Therefore I planned a short and sweet trip to the North Pennines. One of those trips where it is more about the camping than the walking.  My kind of trip as the walking sometimes gets in the way of a good slackpack.

With short walking days planned I thought that it would be a good opportunity to take the Kifaru Megatarp and wood burning stove. Nothing beats relaxing in a heated tent.

I escaped work after lunch on the Friday, picked Rae up and headed to the North Pennines, getting stuck in the usual weekend afternoon rush.

The plan for the first night was to park the car and walk a short distance up a remote valley to pitch for the night.  It was getting dark as we arrived at the small car park.  What had looked like snow on the other side of the reservoir ended up being a huge flock of gulls.  An impressive sight.

My pack was heavy with around 5kg of wood along with the stove itself.  We set off into the gloaming, eventually using our head torches once we left the security of the track.

Distances and obstacles can be exaggerated when you can’t see where you are going.  We sloshed through marshy ground and contoured along steep banks as we followed the river.  Finally we found a flat spot which we felt was far enough not to be discovered the following morning.

It was windy as we pitched, stony ground making it especially difficult to get a secure pitch with the large mass of material that makes up the Megatarp.  The wind soon brought rain with it so we retired to our respective shelters for the night.  With a badly pitched, flapping tarp with insecure peg placement I erred on the side of caution and decided not to set up the stove.  I felt that it was an accident waiting to happen.

With copious amounts of condensation (even with a large and very well ventilated shelter you still get it in certain conditions) during the wet and windy night I suffered the curse of not having an inner.  The wind would shake the walls leading to a very fine spray falling on me every now and then.  Luckily I had brought a lightweight bivy, meaning my bag stayed dry.

I woke at dawn, getting up to answer a call of nature.  I was totally surprised at the scene outside.

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It turned out that what I had thought was rain had in fact been snow.  I wandered around for a while taking photos, before the cold sent me back into my sleeping bag for another couple of hours.

Bright warm sunshine woke me up and it was nice to lay in my bag for a while, enjoying the feeling of warmth whilst outside there was snow. Rae was awake and cooking when I got up.  It looked like it was going to be a beautiful day.

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Unfortunately the sunshine was quickly replaced by a wall of thick cloud bringing along a stinging blizzard and strong winds.  The world became a swirling chaos of white, big flat snow flakes quickly covering ground that had melted in the sun.  That set the tone for the rest of the day.  Sunshine and big beefy wintry showers.

Packed up and on the way back to the car we were passed by a farmer on a quad bike towing a trailer full of collies.  He stopped at a gate and waited until we had passed through it.  He asked if it was our car parked and if we had spent the night on the moor.  We confirmed that it was and we had.  I expected a telling off but instead he told me about a shooting hut nearby that would have provided good shelter.  I had a feeling that he thought that it was a bit daft camping out in the snow.

Back at the car we sorted out our packs with food for that evening and drove off down the valley, heading into the hills above Teesdale.  A high level car park providing a springboard onto the moors without too much climbing.  It was a simple walk of less than five miles to our chosen spot.  My pack was still heavy with the wood I had failed to burn the night before.

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Traversing rugged pathless ground Rae spotted an adder curled up sunning itself.  It took my eyes a while to pick it out as it was so well camouflaged.  I had not brought Reuben along for the weekend as dogs are banned from much of the CROW land in the North Pennines.  I was doubly glad he was not with us as he would have spotted it long before us.

A rough path along the boundary of the moor led to seven very unpleasant surprises.  A series of snares had been set up, the first almost tripping me over.  I’m not sure what they are designed for but a small dog could easily get trapped  These along with several pole traps over water courses made it very clear that any creature other than grouse were not welcome on this moor.  I’m not sure on the legality of the snares as they were free running (I have used the word were).  Legal or not the ethics of such things are another matter.  Not exactly a humane way of eradicating predators.

Just to make a point; the only living and breathing things we saw that day or the next whilst on the moors were grouse.  Hundreds of the stupid bloody things.  No raptors in the sky and none of the usual sounds of spring on the moors that you get at this time of year.  A sterile dead monoculture.

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Further along the moor of death the views opened out to the east, the North York Moors visible on the horizon.

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We descended to one of my favourite wild camping spots in the area.  An oasis of green and nature amongst the sterile moors.  We forged a difficult route to a very secluded spot hidden deep up a valley.  With no wind, a burbling brook and birds singing in the trees it was paradise.

This time I had time to play around and get a perfect pitch.

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As darkness fell I set up the wood burning stove and piece by piece set fire to the bag of pre-sawn wood that I had lugged in.  The stove heated the tent nicely and we sat in front of it chatting for a while.

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Once the stove had gone out the temperature quickly dropped, a cold night following.  Thankfully there was little condensation and I did not wake to a morning shower.  We had a relaxed morning, enjoying the location and the sunshine.  Secure in the knowledge that it would be unlikely that anyone would pass by.

Pitched correctly the Megatarp is a well designed bombproof shelter.  Not one to pitch single-handed on a wet and windy moor though.

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Our route back to the car led up through pastures full of bird life before we once more entered the sterile monoculture of the moor.

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Patches of heather were being burned, smoke rising from all directions as far as the eye could see.  A cairn gave us the chance to relax for a while in the sun, before the first in a series of wintry showers barrelled in.

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Dramatic skies accompanied us on the final couple of miles back to the car.

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April 28, 2013

Two nights on the moors – the sounds of spring above Allendale

by backpackingbongos

The drive to Northumberland was punctuated by a gear stop in a middle class suburb on the outskirts of Leeds.  A shiny new Trailstar was waiting for Rich at his parents house.  He sat for a while with the package on his lap as I drove north, putting off the excitement of opening it.  Curiosity soon got the better of him and the contents examined, the familiar grey silnylon in an orange stuff sack.  It would be put to good use on the North Pennine moors over the next couple of nights.

Day 1 – 15 kilometres with 620 metres ascent

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Allendale Town is a pleasant village and we parked opposite a cafe which we immediately decided would be visited upon our return.  We were soon crossing the River East Allen and heading up a series of steep lanes.  High on Dryburn Moor are a couple of chimneys with smelting flues made of stone running up to them.  Most of the flues have now collapsed but in places the stone construction is clearly visible.  It must have been a feat of engineering on this high and desolate place.

The views to the north were extensive in the cold and clear air.  We could see all the way to the Cheviot hills, a patchwork of low moorland and forestry filling the huge panorama.  Northumberland really is a county of big horizons.

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A series of tracks and paths led us down into West Allen Dale where we misread a path sign and bumbled right past the back door of a cottage.  The dog in the garden did not appear to be too happy about this, or no doubt the owner who came to the back door.  A bridge crossed the river at an idyllic spot so we took the opportunity to sit for a while, listening to the sounds of water with the sun on our faces.

The remote Wellhope burn was to be our destination for the night.  Looking at the map it looked like it would provide plenty of seclusion with flat pitches next to the river.  South of the Ninebanks youth hostel we crossed the Mohope burn and entered the grassy pastures at the foot of the dale.  The view was of grassy fields finally giving way to the bleak moors.  We decided that we would continue for a mile or so into the access land and pick a spot for the night.

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Sadly our plans of picking a hidden spot was not to be.  As we progressed up the valley a farmer was out tending his sheep on the opposite slopes.  He was too far away to go and ask permission to camp but too close to camp within full view.  We therefore had a bit of a dilemma what to do.  As there was plenty of daylight left we decided to continue to the terrace of barns at Wellhope, whilst he continued to buzz about on his quad bike.  Without a cloud in the sky the low sun cast a magical light on the moors as we climbed higher.

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The barns were dilapidated and the ground outside unsuitable for camping.  The only alternative was to climb higher onto the moors and search for a pitch on the edge of the plateau.  In the end we found an acceptable patch of rough grass and I pitched my Trailstar whilst Rich noted what to do so he could pitch his.  It took a while to set his up as the guys needed to be cut to length and attached to the shelter.  With the air quickly cooling and trailshoes soaked with boggy water, it was a painfully cold process.  The farmer was still driving around on the other side of the valley, so we kept our fingers crossed that we would not get moved on.

The air was alive with the sounds of moorland birds.   The pastures that we had passed through earlier had been filled with acrobatic lapwings with their distinctive cries.  The most lovely however was the lonely call of the curlew.  If you have never heard its cry whilst dusk falls on the moors then you have not lived.  Then there was the familiar cackle of the grouse, letting out a sound like a broken instrument.  All in all a good selection of noises to fall asleep to.

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Day 2 – 18.5 kilometres with 470 metres ascent

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It was a freezing cold night, frost forming on the insides of our shelters.  I also realised once in bed that the slope was greater than initially thought.  I kept slowly sliding out towards the entrance.  All in all it was not one of the best nights sleep I have had.

The sun was very welcome when it finally rose and provided some much needed warmth.  It was a pleasure to breakfast and then pack in good weather.  The air was once again alive with the sound of birdsong, this time also joined by a skylark.

The farmer had not left until after dark the night before and was back again by 8.00am.  It must be a tough existence farming on the uplands, especially after such a cold spring.  With height gained the night before we headed south towards the spoil heap and shooting hut on the horizon.  There were great sweeping views back the way we had come.

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I had heard that this shooting hut has a flushing loo so I was rather disappointed to find both the hut and outside loo firmly padlocked.  Even the knackered looking old winding house was locked.  It was a gloomy and rather forlorn spot.  A nearby shallow pond however was teeming with frogs busy procreating.  There appeared to be an amphibian orgy taking place in one corner, a tangle of froggy bodies and webbed feet.

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A waymarked bridleway led us to the far side of the valley giving views of moorland as far as the eye could see.  I love these wide open spaces.

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The bridleway continued upward before contouring below the summit of the Dodd, a hill that just breaks the 2000ft barrier.  The path gave backpacking perfection for a while, grassy and level with panoramic views.  A few miles of that would have been perfect.

Alas our route soon left the path and we squelched our way through bog.  For a while the going was a quaking nightmare, a wrong step being potentially dangerous.  An unlucky sheep had not picked the best route, only its head and top of its back visible above the morass.  We were pleased to get to the summit of the road and feel a firm surface beneath our feet.

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The going up Killhope Law was initially good, a feint path followed a fence, the peat firm and dry.

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However we were soon winding our way though a series of sodden peat hags, constantly climbing up and down them.  It was impossible to keep to a straight line.  It was exhausting both physically and mentally as the summit for ages did not appear to get any closer.  Finally we picked up a feint path once more for the final section to the summit.

The trig sits in a desolate wasteland of soggy peat, the cold wind making us none too keen to hang around for very long.  The summit is also marked by a large wooden pole, the purpose of which we have no idea.  It must have taken a considerable effort not just to carry it up but to actually erect the thing.

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The original plan had been to continue across trackless moors for a few more miles taking in another 2000ft summit.  However progress had been so slow and to be honest a little tedious so we decided to change our plans.  We headed to a dilapidated shooting hut and cooked some lunch whilst looking at the map.  It was good to get out of the wind for a while and get the stoves on.  You can’t beat a hot lunch whilst backpacking.

The Carriers way descends to near Allenheads so we decided we would take that.  A good gravel track that led us straight down into East Allen Dale, a relief after the bogs of Killhope Law.

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Down at the road a sign pointed towards a cafe a mile away at Allenheads, we were tempted but at the same time lassitude had set in.  Instead we trudged along the road for a bit and took the access track for Byerhope farm.  This turned out to occupy an enviable position at 460 metres above sea level.  A large whitewashed building with views across to Killhope Law and airy views down the glen.  In our minds we imagined what it would be like to live there.

The track continued onto the moorland plateau above, eventually a couple of shooting huts came into view.  Unlocked they gave a good opportunity to sit for a while out of the wind.

Our chosen spot for the night was near the abandoned Halleywell farm which was approached by a couple more shooting tracks.  The buildings sit in a lonely spot at the head of the Beldon burn which eventually flows past Blanchland.

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We wanted to hide ourselves away as much as possible so descended past the buildings to the stream below.  The ground next to a circular sheepfold looked to provide an idyllic spot but it turned out the grass was about two inches deep in sheep shit.  Not too enticing with a floorless shelter!  A bit of searching around found a grass enclosure which was sheltered from the wind.  We soon had both Trailstars up, Rich deciding on a Hobbit height configuration.

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It was a cracking spot and it was good to relax in the early evening sunshine.  There was once again a cacophony of moorland birds which were joined at dusk by the drumming of the snipe.  The first time I heard snipe was whilst camping on the West Coast of Scotland.  I have to admit that I found the sound a bit unnerving as I did not know what it was.  Now it is up there with the cries of the curlew as my favourite sound of the moors in spring.

Day 3 – 12 kilometres with 160 metres ascent

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I managed a whole night without sliding out of the Trailstar so had a good long and deep sleep.  This was full of vivid dreams, the like of which I only really get when camping.  Usually Rich is up at dawn, even he was still fast asleep on this grey and windy morning.

We had a slow and relaxed start, neither really keen to get going, the sky threatening rain.  Eventually we did pack and headed up past Halleywell and onto the track we had walked the day before.  We followed it for a while before joining a bridleway, looking particularly bleak on a grey Sunday morning.

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It was a simple case of following a few tracks and bridleways back to Allendale town and we were glad to find another unlocked shooting hut in which to shelter and cook lunch.  The wind was howling through holes in the corrugated tin roof and walls whilst we cooked.  A final tramp across the moors led us to a lane which we followed back into Allendale town.

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The cafe was indeed open and we piled in after a change of clothes, eager for a carbohydrate heavy feast.  Unfortunately it was not that sort of cafe so we made do with coffee and cake instead.  Rich had offered to pay in return for me doing the driving.  I was pleased that he had as the bill was rather substantial.  The village really is a rather charming place and we enjoyed exploring both the dales and the moors above.  The area had been pretty much deserted.  A place I am keen to return to sooner rather than later.

March 23, 2012

Three men and a dog in a North Pennine bothy

by backpackingbongos

Once again I was motoring up the A1 in horrendous weather, driving rain reducing the visibility.  As usual I found myself questioning my sanity for heading into the hills in less than ideal conditions.  When the hills of Upper Teesdale embraced me I noticed flashes of white under the steely grey clouds.  As the road twisted its way higher and higher the snow line met me just in time for a heavy snow shower to blow in.  I was enveloped by a disorienting combination of white ground, swirling mists and fat snow flakes bashing the windscreen at 30mph.  Thankfully the road itself remained largely snow free and I eventually pulled over just past the summit at nearly 600 metres so I could stuff my face and watch the snow fall.

A car pulled up behind, it was Martin and his mate Keith.  We had managed to time our separate arrivals to within a few minutes of each other.  After standing around in the snow chatting for a while we set off in convoy down to the lovely village of Garrigill, tucked away in the South Tyne valley.

Parked up outside a house I noticed we were being watched through both the upstairs and downstairs windows whilst we were sorting out our gear.  I thought to myself that either they would keep an eye on our vehicles, or they would be annoyed and we would return to a flat tyre and scratches!  Three men and a dog all kitted out with backpacking sacks then made their way up past the village green to the track that would take us onto the moors.

The climb was long and steady but with good conversation and a firm surface we made quick progress.  Thankfully the rain had stopped which avoided a sweaty climb in waterproof trousers, something that I am never keen on.

As the track levelled out on the moorland plateau we reached the snow line.  With dark heavy clouds scudding just overhead it was an atmospheric place to be.

Further down the track Keith made the mistake of bending down to adjust his laces.  Reuben took this opportunity to sneak up so he could try to lick his face.  This was very effective in knocking him off balance.  Reuben is never shy about sharing his love with everyone that he meets.

Snow is great to look at but can give difficult conditions under foot.  Thankfully the track was completely free of snow and most of the climbing was now behind us.  The level track took us deeper into the wild open spaces of the North Pennines, a landscape on a huge scale made all the more dramatic by this sudden brief taste of winter.

Our planned home for the night was a bothy hidden deep in a secretive fold in the hills, unfortunately in a completely different direction to where the track was heading.  The comfort and security of the track was left behind and after crossing an infant stream we struck off across trackless ground dominated by deep heather and the occasional bog.  Wet snow sitting on top of the heather made progress particularly slow and hard work, not my favourite sort of terrain to cross.

With an area of limestone puncturing the surface of the moor the going became easier for a while, the heather being replaced by sheep nibbled grass.  Time to relax from the lurching exertion of earlier with the knowledge that the bothy was now just a short walk downhill.

It was only a few weeks since my last visit to this bothy and although I was approaching it from a different direction the area was pleasingly familiar.  We followed a quad bike track skirting a series of low hills and found that it was heading directly towards the still hidden hut.  The late afternoon light gave a wonderful texture to the hills, the rushes whispering in the wind and slowly dispersing clouds moving lazily overhead.

The bothy was thankfully empty, something we pretty much expected late on a Sunday afternoon in March.  We were glad that we had made the effort to carry in a couple of kilos of coal each as there was not a single scrap of fuel left by the previous visitors.  The bothy can charitably be called ‘cosy’ and the three of us, Reuben and our rucksacks filled most of the space in the small room.  I had brought my Scarp1 tent along and decided to pitch it outside.  If we had all slept in the bothy we would probably have had to of engaged in some synchronised spooning, something that I was not particularly keen on!

Outside I was disappointed to note that every single flat bit of ground had been ruined by inconsiderate moles leaving piles of earth.  The small patches suitable for a pitch were covered in thistles hidden in the lush grass.  Thankfully there was a mole hill and thistle free patch on the other side of the river and I pitched the Scarp1 with excellent views down the valley.  The bridge across the river is a DIY scaffolding affair with a metal lattice surface, as impossible for a dog to cross as a cattle grid.  Poor old Reuben had the indignity of being carried across squirming in his harness, clearly not keen on being hoisted high above the river.

I returned to the bothy with Reuben for an excellent evening of eating and drinking in front of the fire.  Once the coal was burning brightly the room soon heated up and Reuben was quick to bag a spot as close as possible.  Bothy nights are much more preferable to being in individual tents when backpacking as a group, especially in winter.  With space to relax and be sociable it is easy to put the world to rights in front of a bothy fire.

Keith removed a special treat from his rucksack later in the evening, a box of premium sausages for him and Martin and a box of veggie ones for me.  With the fire kicking out the heat he set about frying them over the open flame, the bothy soon filling once again with the welcoming scent of food.  With the sausages sizzling away, myself and Martin took ourselves outside to experiment taking night shots with our respective new cameras.

I have to admit that I particularly enjoyed running around whilst wildly spinning a torch in my hands, quickly getting giddy and breathless.  All the flashing of lights must have been pretty conspicuous as after a short while an estate vehicle came down the track before returning across the dark moor.  It may have been coincidence or they may have wanted to check out what was going on.  Play time was soon over when we were called back in for bothy cooked sausages.

Later as I left the bothy to retire to my tent with Reuben the grass under foot was crunchy with frost.  The crossing of the slippery bridge was tricky in the dark whilst carrying a squirming dog and I was pleased to get across without incident.  The fly of the tent was stiff with ice as I unzipped it to deposit the rest of my gear inside.  Reuben decided that he would much rather be back in the nice cosy bothy and proceeded to sneak off to sit forlornly next to the bridge he was unable to cross.

Despite the cold it was a fantastic night for star-gazing, the earlier clouds having departed to leave a crisp star filled sky.  I could clearly make out the shapes of the surrounding hills, the higher peaks covered in snow.  Wrapped up in my down jacket I enjoyed messing around with my camera attempting some night shots.  It is only now I wonder how I would have appeared that night to the casual observer?

It was then with great excitement that I discovered the ability to write using the beam from my torch.  Unfortunately my inner child took over and I produced some far from mature pieces of work.  This is the only one that I can safely publish on my blog without causing offence!

Actually I did spend a great deal of time attempting to write the word ‘Blog’ but was unsuccessful time after time.  You have to do mirror writing and my brain failed on each attempt to get the letter g the right way round.  I now have clearly defined aims and objectives for my next wild camping trip.

The night was cold and I did not remove my down jacket after getting in my sleeping bag.  Reuben snuggled up close wearing his fleece nightwear and with the luxury of both a foam mat and blanket to lay on.

I woke up just as the sun was flooding the valley with light.  Sitting up in the Scarp1 I got an impromptu shower as I brushed my head on the inner, the long cold and still night had let to copious condensation.  I was quick to exit, moving about to warm myself up.

Reuben however was more than happy to remain in the tent, the first rays hitting it providing a small amount of warmth.

It was one of those perfect wild camping mornings and I spent a couple of hours relaxing in and around the tent, brewing up and eating breakfast.  I did not want to unnecessarily put Reuben though the bridge ordeal so I did not return to the bothy to be sociable.  It was good to simply be outside.

As I was packing up Martin and Keith left the bothy and came over for a chat.  They were on their way onto the high hills where they would seek out a wild camp later that evening.  However I had to return to work the following day so we went our separate ways.  You can read Martins account of their trip here.

Rather than retrace my steps back to the car I decided to try to cobble together a circular route taking in a waterfall I have long wanted to visit.  Walking down the valley next to the river a quad bike approached, its driver clad in camouflage.  I got a quick flutter of nervousness as I was just inside a doggie exclusion zone due to the area being a grouse moor.  Thankfully he simply gave me a wave and drove on past without stopping.

The waterfall itself was tucked away in a little visited side valley and I would imagine it gets few visitors.  It was a slippery scramble down to the base of the falls but worthy of the detour.

After crossing the river and a steep climb, a great little path contoured the hillside giving panoramic views down the valley.  I spotted plenty of promising wild camping spots next to the river as it snaked its way downhill, a valley to return to I think.

The view from one spot especially reminded me of the Monadhliath, high and wild moors stretching off as far as the eye could see.  A truly wonderful spot.

The dilapidated farm buildings had been watching over us from a distance whilst we were at the bothy.  On closer inspection they occupy a perfect location in terms of a view, high above a river leading into the heart of the North Pennines.  The isolation and harsh weather conditions however must have been its downfall and the numerous buildings were in a sorry state of repair.  If I came into some money I would love to be able to restore the place to its former glory.  I did however enjoy the scene of dereliction and melancholia.

The map showed that the moor was trackless so I was happy to follow a narrow grassy trod through the grass up to the nearby trig point.  The earlier taste of spring was blown away on a cold wind, the higher surrounding hills still covered in their mantle of white.  The unmarked path continued for another mile of so across what would have otherwise been difficult ground.  The views north into Northumberland appeared unlimited in the clear air.

I was soon back on the track I had walked up the previous day and out of the wind it felt like spring once more, the whitewashed cottages across the valley giving it a homely appearance.

In the sunshine Garrigill appeared as a perfect English country village, sheltered from the austere moors above.  Reuben caused a few raised eyebrows and comments with his pack.  One woman being particularly impressed that he had carried his own gear for a night on the hills.  It was with some sadness that I drove home.

March 5, 2012

A short blast of winter

by backpackingbongos

Yesterday whilst driving up a high Pennine road the heavy rain was replaced by snow hitting the windscreen in a disorientating fashion.  The grey landscape transformed to a white one shrouded in swirling mists as I drove higher and higher.  Thankfully the road remained passable and I was able to make the rendezvous point on time.

Two half days snatched in the hills with a night spent in front of a bothy fire.  With great company the hours quickly dissolved.  Waking up on a Monday morning deep in the hills and with the sun shining is a tonic for the soul.

I’m now three trip reports behind on the blog, expect a regurgitation of words and photos in the next week or so.