Article stirred fond memories

The recent article by Ian Hall, regarding his climbing of every hill in the Cheviots over 2,000ft in one day, (Berwick Advertiser, January 18), brought back some very fond memories for me of walking hills in younger days.

By The Newsroom
Monday, 05 February, 2018, 08:00

I did this walk in September 1968 with two cousins, who lived in Durham, and the late Jimmy Mills, who, like me, was a local Wooler man.

Jimmy and I had visited all these hilltops before, most, many times, especially the Cheviot.

To do them all in one day was the idea of my cousin, also a keen walker, who often came to Wooler Hostel to stay.

It was during one of their visits when they gave me their usual call, spending the Saturday night with my wife and I, that they asked Jimmy and I, with our knowledge of the Cheviots, having spent years walking them, if we would accompany them.

So it was that we met outside the hostel in Cheviot Street, at 7.45am on Sunday morning, September 8.

We drove up to the hostel in Jimmy’s car, my cousins were waiting and I was surprised to see that one was sitting on a kitchen chair.

We were informed that the hostel warden had asked if we would take a chair up onto Auchope Cairn, where men of the Black Watch had just completed a new bothy.

Jimmy had a large estate car so space was no problem.

We drove up to what would be our starting point, Langleeford, and at 8.30am we set off, chair as well, to our final hill Cheviot, reaching the top at 9.45am. It was rather misty – that spoilt the view.

Then it was over the very tough, wet top to Auchope Cairn. We reached the summit at 10.30am.

The chair, after changing hands many times on the journey up, was placed inside the new bothy.

Sadly, this shelter was blown away in a severe gale. Not long after, parts of it were found in the Bizzle, on the other side of the Cheviot.

A very snug rescue hut was built down on Auchope Ridge, on a less exposed site.

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The next few miles we hugged the Border Fence to Windy Gyle, our next objective, which we reached at 12.05pm.

We had to retrace our steps down the hill then walk down the Clennell Street track. We left Clennell Street where it diverted to Ileway Ford, which was about the half-way of our walk. An uphill tramp brought us to Bloodybush Edge at 1.55pm.

Next was Cushat Law, where we arrived at 2.45pm.

I thought the walk from here to our next summit, Comb Fell, was the worst of the whole trek.

Down we went into the valley of the River Breamish, only to have to climb up very steep ground over the next hill.

From Comb Fell, we left at 4.55pm for our final summit, Hedgehope. After what seemed an awful long, weary walk, we reached it at 5.40pm.

It was now quite misty, and we were pleased when we passed through the farmyard at Langleeford at 6.25pm.

We were weary. My cousin worked out that we had walked 23 miles and had walked for nine hours, climbing approximately 5,030ft.

During the whole day’s walk, we never met a single person.

I don’t think that would happen these days, when more and more people are discovering what I always knew – that we live in the most beautiful area in the country.

John Roland Smith

Wooler