For the final trip of term, which falls in the festive Bridgemas period, the club journeyed to the picturesque Scottish border. With a weather forecast of clear blue skies, cars carrying avid walkers left Cambridge Friday afternoon. The six hour drive whisked us up the country, with a blessing from the Angel of the North as we passed on our way to the Northumberland National Park. At around 11pm, as the car I was travelling in navigated the final few miles of icy, winding countryside roads leading to the neatly tucked-away bunkhouse, we happened across Lucy J's earlier squadron of CUHWC walkers struggling to get to the top of a narrow road covered with a film of glistening black ice. We leapt out of our car to offer assistance, and together our two groups pushed the car to the top of the hill. Rescue successful, we drove deeper into the darkness. Arriving at the valley bunkhouse backdropped by a silhouette of rolling hills and stars, we unpacked, claimed our freshly laundered bunks and got a good night’s sleep before an early start.
Sunrise was 08:11am. The bunkhouse was bustling with activity from 7am. With walks chosen, everyone was ready to go before sunrise. All groups chose to attack the 850m Cheviot, with various walk lengths, including one walk led by Bronwen F which even visited a nearby waterfall after the summit. The weather was perfect for walking. Fluctuating around an average of -2°C in the valley, the sky was clear and the grass covered in a layer of frost. Climbing the Cheviot offered breathtaking scenery, with views across Northumberland and as far as the sea. Ascending was no easy feat, with faux-cairns proving frustrating for some. Frosty autumnal yellows, oranges and greens turned whiter as we climbed, with the peak feeling like a barren icy wasteland. Atop the Cheviot, two hardy walkers, a local Northumbrian and a Scotsman, were flying the Northumberland flag topless. After chatting for a while and getting a few memorable photos at the summit, we set off to descend back into the valley.
Back at the bunkhouse, the first group to have returned approached the challenge of preparing vegetables for the Christmas dinner, as is tradition. Industrial scale washing, peeling, chopping and cooking preceded a delicious Christmas meal complete with turkey, Yorkshire puddings, roast potatoes, cranberry sauce, carrots, parsnips, gravy, mulled wine and a Brobdingnagian serving of peas! Dinner was followed by games and carols, with new members and old members alike joining in. Full up on Christmas dinner and tired after a long day of walking, we retired to our bunks to sleep before another day of walking.
On Sunday, with the weather still holding in our favour, groups were keen to walk into Scotland. A shorter walk along the Pennine Way and up the Schill offered panoramic views of Scotland and England. Stopping for lunch in the clouds overlooking the Scottish hills provided the perfect place to escape Cambridge. Some slight mistaken paths meant we had to jump a few rivers, climb a few obstacles and dodge a few sheep before arriving back at the bunkhouse. Around mid afternoon, after cleaning the bunkhouse and packing up, groups set off back down South to Cambridge life, leaving the quaint Northumberland valleys behind, until next time.
Trip List: Mary M, Elliot B, Lucy J, Bill C, Paul F, Bronwen F, Gideon W, Susannah P, Irene N, James R, Svenja M, Anna B, Hansini M, Jeff F, Annabel M, Miriam G, Benjamin T, YuGeng Z, Femke A, Simon K, Ralph B, Ben Houlton, Tom R