The location was certainly a talking point in the run-up to the trip, with about half of the attendees having deciphered the clues before Friday and the other half deliberately keeping it a surprise. As we followed sign after sign to Edinburgh, those still in the dark could have been forgiven for thinking we were going to Scotland - but in fact we stopped just short of the border, finally arriving at Mounthooley YHA bunkhouse in wildest Northumberland some seven hours after leaving Cambridge. This remote base (around 10 miles from Wooler, the nearest town of any size, and reached via a 3-mile private road) proved ideal for exploring the surrounding hills. Enjoying the cold, breezy sunshine and taking a variety of routes, nearly everyone made it up the Cheviot itself on Saturday, and on Sunday we found snow on the high ground - and one group found a WW2 aircraft wreck. We also took advantage of the isolation and clear skies to practise some night navigation - and effect a border crossing or two!
Tom Ashton, Andrena Ball, Amy Bonsor, Valerie Brandt, Kirsty Brown, Phil Brown, Sarah Carl, Greg Chadwick, Mohammed Dmour, Dave Farrow, Michael Fordham, Joe Galvin, Anna Gurevich, Joe Hobbs, Mark Jackson, Ian Kitley, Jon Matthews, Jo Smith, David Trethewey, Andres Villar, Chris Wade, Gordon Williams, Andrew Williamson.
Dave's Day (DF)
0800: Get up. Use "experience" to give "advice" to those walking
0900: Start work
1100: Get bored
1200: Eat lunch
1300: Bake brownie
1400: Fall asleep
1500: Others get back
1630: Go for walk
2000: Get back, broken
A Northumbrian Trio (of walks) (JS)
Having never been to the Cheviots before (and due to the club's shocking lack of maps - I blame the President), I didn't have much idea what I'd be doing this weekend. As it turned out, three excellent contrasting walks proved a great introduction to the area - and added up to a thoroughly enjoyable weekend.
1. Saturday, 0900-1515
As it was so close, the obvious thing to do was to go up The Cheviot. Hen Hole, followed by direct ascent to the summit plateau and a tramp through the mist to the trig point, added interest. (Nothing like a good bogtrot.) Having descended out of the cloud on the Pennine Way, we enjoyed beautiful sunshine for the rest of our route over Comb Fell, Hedgehope Hill, descent to Langleeford and return to Mounthooley.
Interval: Tea and freshly baked brownies - amazing
2. Saturday, 1630-2000
In preparation for those times we might find ourselves still on the hill at night, we went out to practise navigating in the dark. (The clear night, bright stars and perfect view of the Forth road bridge were a bonus.) After three hours of timing, counting paces, interpreting contours, taking bearings along fences and a detour into Scotland, we were glad to return to the bunkhouse (only an hour late) for dinner!
Interval: Homemade Castle burgers, Irish Snap, Mafia etc...and sleep
I've never had a proper lazy Sunday on a trip - and rather enjoyed it! (Though stopped short of visiting a teashop.) After drinking lots of tea and waiting till everyone was out of the bunkhouse, I took the trip's resident cripple (Dave) on a short rehabilitation potter* up Black Hag. We were accompanied by Jon and Amy as far as Scotland, where they crossed No-Man's Land; we bid each other adieu and wondered whether we'd meet again...(In case you're wondering, we did - about 2 hours later when everyone returned to the bunkhouse.)
*Only so-called to justify our failure to take a map...and since we'd borrowed a pile of them from next door by that point, the excuse of there not being any was no longer valid. I still blame the President.
- Dave (referring to the stick of celery he was eating): "Good composite material, this."
- Chris: "Can we have a prostitute?"
- Jo: Joe, you're far too much like Tigger you know."
- Joe: The Cow's not a mascot, it's more of a...deity"