Walking, Hiking, and Scrambling route descriptions and reports, mainly focusing on Snowdonia and the Peak District, eg. the Snowdon Horseshoe, Tryfan, the Bochlwyd Horseshoe, and Kinder Scout. GPX files provided for all routes.
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This was the first walk of three that I managed to complete as part of a mini two day adventure in Northumberland – a county that I had never set foot in before. I’d been sent a copy of Cicerone’s ‘Walking in Northumberland’ book to review and so I selected a bigger walk in the […] The post Border Ridge including Windy Gyle appeared first on Hill...
This was the first walk of three that I managed to complete as part of a mini two day adventure in Northumberland – a county that I had never set foot in before. I’d been sent a copy of Cicerone’s ‘Walking in Northumberland’ book to review and so I selected a bigger walk in the Northumberland National Park for the first day, and two shorter walks in the hills around Rothbury for the second.
In terms of the journey… the A1 was as dull as always, but all changed at Newcastle when I turned onto the A696 towards Northumberland. Suddenly roads were quieter and I was surrounded by scenery that was actually worth looking at. The drive was actually enjoyable for the first time since setting off. I continued a fair way down this road as it eventually merged into the A68. Then, all of a sudden, my satnav informed me to turn right, which I did – only to be greeted by a sign saying ‘Private Road – Ministry of Defence’. I had a choice to make here… either find another way to get to my destination in an area of the country that I don’t know at all. Or risk being blown up by military debris. I decided to trust my satnav and proceeded down this little single lane track. And what a track it was! For the next four miles, it was utterly gorgeous. This little lane improbably wound its way around the hills, heading further and further towards the middle of nowhere. I felt like I might be the only person in a 50 mile radius – which is a great feeling when surrounded by such a beautiful landscape. It’s hard to describe how fantasic this road was, but luckily it just happens to be available to view on Google Streetmap. Enjoy!
The walk actually starts at a small car park that lies just past Buckham’s Bridge. The most obvious choice of line here to obtain the Border Ridge is to immediately ascend Yearning Law, however the route I was following had gone for a different variation. I headed west, following the line of Buckham’s Walls Burn as far as a an old sheepfold where the stream forked. So far the walk had been lovely with it’s surroundings of steep valley slopes. Unfortunately, there was also a horrid side to it due to the amount of dead sheep that I walked past. Not just the odd individual sheep but also clusters of them, five at a time. Together and rotting. I reckon that during the initial stretch as I followed the burn, I must have passed around 25 or more of them. The smell of death made an interesting contrast to the sweet fruity taste of the Starburst (I still call them Opal Fruits) that I was chewing at the time. I started to work my way through possible causes of their demise, such as a black panther on the loose, or maybe an airborne killer virus. This made me feel a little anxious. I won’t post the picture of the sheep here, but if you’re morbidly interested then they’re in my Flickr album linked at the foot of the post.
Anyhow, back to the route description! At the sheepfold, I took the right-hand fork onto Rennies Burn and headed in a more northerly direction. The Ordnance Survey map shows a path but in reality there’s none visible but it’s fairly easy to pick your own way. Eventually the stream forks yet again at another sheepfold, and again it’s the right fork that’s taken with the easiest walking on the left-hand side of the stream. It’s not far after this that the route eventually leaves the stream up the right-hand slope. It’s best to look out for a small stream running down the hill on the right-hand side as it’s just after this that the route makes it’s way up the slope.
Once up, the path is a little more visible and is followed until a junction of footpaths is reached. The right hand path (south) heads back to Yearning Law so it’s the left hand path that’s required that heads north before curving round to the west and to the mountain refuge hut. From here it was a sharp left onto the Pennine Way, which I would follow all the way along the ridge to Windy Gyle. The first stop was Lamb Hill, which has a trig point located on the other side of the fence and so I assume that the trig point is technically in Scotland. The terrain up here was much more familiar to me as a regular visitor to the Dark Peak with its heather covered slopes and patches of exposed peat. The path along the ridge is paved for much of the way, like many sections of the Pennine Way.
The scenery up in the Cheviot Hills is beautiful all around, and the rolling hills stretch as far as the eye can see. To the right was the expanse of Northumberland National Park, and to the left, Scotland. Next up on the ridge was Beefstand Hill followed shortly by the summit of Mozie Law. At various points, spectacular views were on offer to the right looking down into some of the large cloughs (I’m not sure if they still call them cloughs up here).
The final section of ridge wrapped around the clough that houses Rowhope Burn and led up to the final and biggest summit of the day, Windy Gyle at 619 metres above sea level. This hill also features a trig point that sits inside a large cairn named Russel’s Cairn which apparently dates back to the bronze age. It was the perfect place to stop to rest the legs and get some fluids down me. What had started as a fairly cloudy day had transformed into a red hot summers day, and I was suffering a little as I’d put no suntan cream on my arms. I could see them going red and could feel the heat radiating off them. They were going to be sore later.
From Windy Gyle, I descended south towards the ridge above Trows Law that runs high between Trows Burn and Wardlaw Burn. Galloway cows were out grazing on the ridge and, with me being such a coward with a fear of cows, I dropped down the slope a little so that I could safely skirt around them. The path eventually descends down to the Trows farmstead and continues on to the Rowhope farmstead where it forks off to the right up the slopes of Hindside Knowe. My legs were feeling very weary at this point thanks to the heat, but struggled on knowing that this was to be the final ascent of the day.
Once over and descending on the other side of the hill, I turned right and contoured around Stogie’s Cleugh before gradually heading downhill towards Carlcroft farm. Once back on the road which ran alongside the River Coquet, it was a simple case of following it back west to the car park. A spectacular day and so much more around here to explore. I was here for 2 days and already I was wishing it was 2 weeks.
I was recently sent a copy of the new book ‘Walking in Northumberland’ to review by Cicerone Press. I quite enjoy opportunities like this as it gives me an excuse to go out and test some of the routes, however this one was particularly exciting as I’d never actually been walking in Northumberland before. The […] The post Book Review: Walking in Northumberland (Cicerone) appeared first on Hill...
I was recently sent a copy of the new book ‘Walking in Northumberland’ to review by Cicerone Press. I quite enjoy opportunities like this as it gives me an excuse to go out and test some of the routes, however this one was particularly exciting as I’d never actually been walking in Northumberland before. The book is written by Vivienne Crow, an award winning freelance journalist and avid hillwalker. She has now authored over a dozen walking guidebooks.
So I’ll start with the outline from Cicerones website:
The book comprises 36 short walking routes between 4 and 14 miles in Northumberland, England’s most sparsely populated county. Ranging from easy ambles and gentle woodland trails to long days on the hills: there is something for all types of walker – and all types of weather. Taking in the beautiful coast with its immense, empty beaches and dramatic crag-top castles to the remote hills of the Cheviots and Pennines, the whole county is covered. Most of the routes are circular, but there are a few linear walks that make use of local bus services.
The landscapes are rich in history, featuring Hadrian’s Wall, Lindisfarne Priory, Bamburgh and Dunstanburgh castles, and much more.
The walks are divided into five geographical areas: north-east Northumberland, National Park (north), Kielder, Tyne Valley and National Park (south) and the North Pennines. Each walk description contains information on start/finish points, distance covered, total ascent, terrain, approximate walking time, grade, maps required, transport options, public toilets and refreshments, and is accompanied by 1:50k OS mapping. The book also includes a handy route summary table.
The book is very nicely laid out with plenty of well chosen photographs to show off the highlights of the routes. The guides themselves are well written and easy to read. It’s not just a ‘go here, turn there’ set of instructions. Plenty of useful information is included about the surroundings and places of historical interest. I journeyed up to Northumberland for a couple of days and tested three of the routes from the book: Border Ridge including Windy Gayle, Rothbury Terraces, and Simonside Hills. It turned out to be a quite wonderful two days due to an extremely hot and sunny Bank Holiday weekend, and of course the utterly gorgeous scenery of Northumberland. I may have fallen in love with it a little bit!
Along with a map (because you really shouldn’t go wandering off across the moors armed with nothing more than a book!), I had no trouble at all following the directions for the three walks in question. Points of reference were clearly explained and little snippets of text prompted me to explore a little more when it was appropriate to do so. The only unpleasant aspect of the three routes that I tested were the 25 (approx) dead sheep that I passed on the stretch of Buckham’s Walls Burn between Buckham’s Bridge and Rennies Burn (a section of the Border Ridge walk). The smell made me feel more than a little nauseous. Hardly the fault of the book though!
At the beginning of the book, before the walks start, there are a few mini chapters on subjects such as geology, wildlife, and history. I found these chapters to be very interesting and felt they made a nice addition to the book. The section on wildlife informed me that there was a chance I could encounter an Adder basking on one of the paths – and that’s exactly what happened! It was my first ever sighting so I was very excited about that.
The walks are also split into several sections covering different areas. There’s a nice variety to the walks that cover both high and low level walking, hills, forests, coastline, and sections of Hadrians Wall. Everything is logically laid out and therefore easy to find.
All in all, if you’re interested at all about visiting Northumberland to walk, then I highly recommend this book. It has a wonderful variety of walks to choose from across all of Northumberland, and all the important information you’ll need on those walks. Access for dogs, transport options, parking, facilities, etc… It’s all there.
Walking in Northumberland is available to purchase at Cicerone Press here.
We started the walk at the rather expensive car park at the end of Beach Lane (£6 for 4 hours!). It was a beautiful day. The sun had come out, the sky was a rich blue, and it felt like a proper spring day for once after a winter that seemed to go on forever. […] The post A Walk Around Weybourne appeared first on Hill...
We started the walk at the rather expensive car park at the end of Beach Lane (£6 for 4 hours!). It was a beautiful day. The sun had come out, the sky was a rich blue, and it felt like a proper spring day for once after a winter that seemed to go on forever. We set off west along the coastline, enjoying the seaside scenery but finding it difficult to walk fast on the pebble beach.
After a short distance, up to the left, we saw the anti-aircraft guns – relics from the Second World War when Weybourne was a highly secret military site and an Anti-Aircraft Artillery range. During the war, the coastline became a controlled zone by the British forces. Defences were constructed around Weybourne as part of British anti-invasion preparations, and the beaches were blocked by landmines and extensive scaffolding barriers. Further inland there were pillboxes, barbed wire entanglements, a long anti-tank ditch, and various other defences. The site is currently home to the Muckleburgh Collection – the largest privately owned military museum in the United Kingdom. The anti-aircraft guns that we could see now belong to this collection. At the north-western corner of the site, just before the area labelled ‘The Quag’ which appeared to be a wetland area and possibly a nature reserve, we took a sharp left and continued to follow the boundary of the Mickleburgh Collection site gently uphill towards Muckleburgh Hill.
Muckleburgh Hill is a small hill with a height of 68 metres. Despite its modest height, the views are fantastic from its summit, looking out over the Muckleburgh Collection below and a section of North Norfolk coastline. Like most heathland on the east coast, the earth is sandy and mainly vegetated by gorse. This is controlled by the grazing of cattle, and the main paths are usually well maintained.
We made our way over the hill, crossed the road, and continued heading north to Kelling Heath. This little area was much of the same as the last hill in terms of feel and vegetation – just larger. The north-east corner of the heath is labelled Telegraph Hill on the map and is the site of a trig pillar. It’s always a novelty when you come across one of these in East Anglia.
We continued heading north and eventually came to the North Norfolk Railway Line where, if you’re lucky, you can see one of the old steam trains come by on its journey from Sheringham to Holt. We were lucky and a train was coming past just as we got to the railway banking, however my camera wasn’t quite so lucky and my photo was somewhat ruined as I was facing the sun. Better luck next time!
We followed the line south-west for a short distance then crossed at the keeper’s cottage. Once across, we followed the path north-west, following the railway but this time on the other side of the tracks. The small station of Kelling Heath station was passed shortly before we arrived at a large pond on the right. Immediately after the pond, we turned right and proceeded to pick a path through the Kelling Heath holiday park, eventually emerging onto Sandy Hill Lane.
After a brief spell of road walking, we headed off down another path that led us through Weybourne Wood. We passed some horrid eyesore holiday lodges that really had no place there. Big triangular A-frame constructions which I guess are supposed to look Scandinavian but just looked plain wrong. After a short walk through the woodland, the trees eventually gave way to the open green space that surrounds Sheringham Hall. Sheringham Hall is a Grade II listed building that was completed in 1817 and stands in the grounds of Sheringham Park, which is in the care of the National Trust.
We took a turn to the left before we got to Sheringham Hall, and followed a path that ran between the steeply sloped Oak Wood, and an open crop field that appeared freshly ploughed and waiting for the next batch of whatever crop to grow. As we walked down this path, we saw a sign pointing up some steps that led up the steep slope of the woodland, and saying ‘Viewing Platform’. It sounded interesting and it was another excuse to exercise the legs on a steep slope, and therefore we started to climb to take a look. The steps were indeed steep and went on for quite some time. No match for my hillwalking legs though! At the top was a wooden tower with yet more steps that needed to be climbed to obtain the viewing platform – known as the Gazebo. It was well worth the detour as the view turned out to be quite splendid. It looked out over the whole section of coastline that stretched from Sheringham to Weybourne, and of course the sea beyond.
We came back down the steps, which were much easier in descent, and continued following the line of the woodland towards the coastline. There really wasn’t anything else worth mentioning between here and the coast. It was just a nice easy straight path that cut between fields. I tell a lie, there was one more point of interest. An old World War 2 bunker that amusingly had a picture of a soldier with binoculars in one of the side holes. Looked quite realistic as you can see from the pictures below:
The walk finished simply with a final stretch of coastline that led back to the car park at Weybourne. It had been a really great day out with the kids and the weather had been absolutely perfect. Already looking forward to the next walk.
This was a walk that I devised to cover a few of the areas around Kinder Scout that I hadn’t done before. After a fairly straight-forward and non-eventful drive there, I parked on the side-of-the-road parking area at Chunal and immediately proceeded with the walk up the hill to Chunal Moor. It didn’t take long […] The post Harry Hill, William Clough, and Kinder Scout appeared first on Hill...
This was a walk that I devised to cover a few of the areas around Kinder Scout that I hadn’t done before. After a fairly straight-forward and non-eventful drive there, I parked on the side-of-the-road parking area at Chunal and immediately proceeded with the walk up the hill to Chunal Moor.
It didn’t take long before I’d reached the trig pillar of Harry Hut. It was turning into a fine day with the sun out and the sky mainly blue, and so the views were rather enjoyable. Glossop is visible to the north, and the gritstone edge of Coombes Rocks is visible to the west. Next on the agenda was Burnt Hill, which lay directly south. Unfortunately, a clough separates Burnt Hill from Harry Hut and so a longer route is required to link the two together. I followed the path towards Mill Hill until I met the paved footpath that heads back to the top of Burnt Hill. It’s not really entirely necessary to do this unless you’re obsessed with grabbing every hill summit available. Burnt Hill isn’t actually classed as an official hill (ie it doesn’t appear in the Database of British Hills) but it did look to be an interesting viewpoint and I just felt the need to have a look. A quick photo from the Burnt Hill summit and I retraced my steps, following the path as far as Mill Hill.
Mill Hill lies on the Pennine Way and its eastern slopes provide the source of the River Ashop. Looming to the south-east is Kinder Scouts steep northwest corner. This would be the way a walker would go should he be following the Pennine Way. Turning slightly to the left brings Kinder Scouts northern edge and Black Ashop Moor into view. As tempting as it was to continue onto Kinder, the route first called for a descent back down to lower ground. Between Mill Hill and Kinder Scout lies the head of William Clough. This clough was used to access Kinder Scout from Bowden Bridge during the Kinder Scout mass trespass of 1932. I turned into the clough and began the pleasant descent down towards Kinder Reservoir.
The route doesn’t quite make it as far as the reservoir. At the bottom of the clough, I crossed the bridge and immediately began ascending again. This path would lead up to Kinders edge again at Sandy Heys. A lot of huffing and puffing was involved here as this turned out to be a very steep and arduous ascent. In fact, I’d perhaps go as far as saying that it’s the steepest on Kinder. I may be wrong, but it certainly felt like it at the time. Eventually, I made it up onto the edge where a proper snow covering awaited me rather than the patchy affair I’d been dealing with up to now.
I followed the path around the edge for a short while before venturing into the plateau to find ‘The Edge’ trig pillar. Luckily, somebody else had also recently visited it and so I had a fairly fresh set of footprints to follow through the deep snow. It wasn’t long before I arrived at the site, where I took a few quick snaps before venturing back towards the edge.
I continued around the edge, pausing briefly at Kinder Downfall to view some of the snow and ice formations before heading on past Red Brook and eventually to the Kinder Low trig pillar – a familiar landmark to most who head up from Edale. From the trig pillar, the route continues southwest to Kinderlow End before descending steeply down its slope.
At this point of the walk, I hadn’t really made the progress that I hoped for. Mainly because I’d spent a lifetime faffing around taking about a million photos. Chances of me getting back before darkness were going to be slim unless I pulled my finger out and got a shift on. I followed the footpath across Broad Clough before taking a turn to the left and crossing pastureland on my way to Kinder Reservoir. Once at the reservoir and above the dam, I took a sharp turn to the left and followed a path that led out over Middle Moor and eventually back to Chunal. I managed to get back just in time for it going dark – something that I seem to have made a habit of over winter.
August last year saw me and the kids out on a little scrambling adventure in the Lake District. The idea was simple enough: Some grade 1 scrambling in Lower Dungeon Ghyll before cutting across to Stickle Tarn and ascending Pavey Ark via another classic grade 1 scramble, Jack’s Rake. We started at the car park […] The post Lower Dungeon Ghyll and Jack’s Rake appeared first on Hill...
August last year saw me and the kids out on a little scrambling adventure in the Lake District. The idea was simple enough: Some grade 1 scrambling in Lower Dungeon Ghyll before cutting across to Stickle Tarn and ascending Pavey Ark via another classic grade 1 scramble, Jack’s Rake. We started at the car park in Langdale at the foot of Dungeon Ghyll, and proceeded up the Ghyll – sometimes directly in the Ghyll itself, and sometimes on the track that runs alongside it. The kids loved any opportunity to jump from rock to rock in the Ghyll, as I expected they would. All kids love rivers and rocks.
The best part of the Ghyll, both in terms of excitement and scenery, was the impressive Dungeon Ghyll Force waterfall a little further up. The waterfall wasn’t tackled directly, but via a wall to the left of the Ghyll just before it takes a bend to the right. The climb was easy enough but it was an amazing location. I could have easily stayed here for quite some time, soaking up the atmosphere. Not long after the waterfall, we escaped the ghyll up the left-hand side, before crossing back over a little further up and heading roughly north-east towards Stickle Tarn.
We skirted around the tarn clockwise. The line of Jacks Rake was visible, and it always looks intimidating from a distance. Once on it however, it’s a lot more protected than you’d expect. The kids were eager to get on with some good scrambling and so up we went with the kids being supervised by both Carl and me although, in truth, they handled every obstacle just fine. We stopped halfway up to admire the views and the kids insisted they get a photo with the carcass of a sheep that met an untimely end at some point in the recent past.
The route becomes a little more exposed in the last section but nothing too difficult to handle and it wasn’t long before the kids were making the final push to the top with a scramble up some nicely angled grippy and slabby rock, This, of course, was my second time up Jack’s Rake this year as I also did it as part of my Langdale Pikes walk.
Once at the top, we had a rest and let the kids play about on the rocks for a while before starting the descent down the east ridge. This path is steep, and loose in places, however it’s well defined and not much a problem to get down this way. Once back down at the tarn, we started the journey back to Langdale and followed the course of Stickle Ghyll through some quite astoundingly beautiful landscape. Stickle Ghyll itself looks to be a fantastic (and wet) scramble route and is definitely one to have a go at some time in the future.
Another fantastic day out, and another mountain route for the kids to tick off. They’re not doing too badly for a couple of kids from the flatlands of Norfolk!
The route starts at the Yorkshire Bridge Inn, with side of the road parking available just a hundred yards up the road. A brief spell of road walking follows, down Ashopton Road for a short distance before taking the right turn down Lydgate Lane. At the bottom of the road, just after it crosses the […] The post Win Hill, Bridge-end Pasture, and Crook Hill appeared first on Hill...
The route starts at the Yorkshire Bridge Inn, with side of the road parking available just a hundred yards up the road. A brief spell of road walking follows, down Ashopton Road for a short distance before taking the right turn down Lydgate Lane. At the bottom of the road, just after it crosses the bridge over the River Derwent, take a right onto Carr Lane. After a few yards, the signpost becomes visible on the left pointing up Parkin Clough and towards Win Hill.
Win Hill and Parkin Clough
It was a steep slog, as always, and the ground was incredibly muddy and slippery so care had to be taken. I normally head straight up in order to get the gruelling ascent over and done with as quickly as possible, but this time I made the decision to make a couple of stops on the way in order to carefully descend into the clough itself and take a few photographs.
The snow wasn’t making much of an appearance on these lower slopes, and that remained the case until I left the clough near the top and followed the path upwards through Winhill Plantation. All of a sudden, my surroundings had turned into a winter wonderland and I paused to admire the scenery before continuing the final ascent up Winhill Pike and to the summit.
The view from the Win Hill summit is probably one of my favourite views in the Peak District. The heather clad ridge of Thornhill Brink stretches out to the west before gently curving into a more northerly direction towards the bulk of Kinder Scouts eastern end. To the north lies the outstanding view of Ladybower Reservoir with Crook Hill on the left and Derwent Edge on its right. To the east lies Bamford Edge and Stanage Edge, and to the south is Hope Valley.
From Win Hill, the route continues west along Thornhill Brink, and then Hope Brink. To the right is the thickly forested area of the Woodlands Valley, and to the left is a wonderful view across to Lose Hill. Ahead and to the left is the bulk of Kinder Scout with the cleft of Jaggers Clough clearly visible up its side. The ancient medieval marker-post of Hope Cross is passed and, shortly after, a right turn is taken that heads down a bridle-road, eventually leading to Haggwater Bridge.
Bridge-end Pasture and Crook Hill
I crossed Haggwater Bridge over the River Ashop, crossed the A57, and started the ascent up past Hagg Farm and towards the junction of footpaths at the top. Just like my most recent winter walk, I hadn’t passed a single person so far. The Dark Peak was all mine!
I proceeded to follow the tree line of Hagg Side southeast across a deep blanket of snow that had only a single pair of footprints as evidence that anyone had been this way recently. Unfortunately, the snow was not consolidated and the ground underneath not frozen, and so every so often my foot would suddenly sink in a patch of bog. I continued ploughing through the snow until I reached the expanse of Bridge-end Pasture.
The route continues over Bridge-end Pasture until it gently descends. Ahead, Crook Hill is clearly visible and, despite its modest height, always makes an impressive backdrop to the scenery.
Once I arrived at Crook Hill, I began the steep ascent to the summit. Luckily, with it being a relatively small hill, the climb to the top is the work of minutes. The summit made a great viewpoint looking over Upper Derwent Valley, or forward to the hill’s second peak, or back over Bridge-end Pasture. After the compulsory photos, I descended down the other side and made my way towards the second peak. For some reason, all the sheep in the field started to gather behind me and follow me in a herd. It was a little unnerving. No amount of noise or scary gestures would make them shift. Luckily they decided to stop following me once I started ascending the second peak. The view, as you’d expect, is more or less the same as the one from its sister peak – but still worth a few more photos.
From Crook Hill, the route continues down through Crook Farm and to Ladybower Reservoir where the lane is followed back to the A57. A short section of road walking finishes the walk off as the route takes you back to the Yorkshire Bridge Inn. For one final photo opportunity of the day, keep a lookout for the Ladybower sink hole on your right as you walk down Ashopton Road!
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