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A first skirmish into the Cheviots.

A first skirmish into the Cheviots.


Postby trailmasher » Wed Oct 28, 2015 9:54 pm

Hewitts included on this walk: Comb Fell, Hedgehope Hill, The Cheviot

Date walked: 13/10/2015

Time taken: 5.11

Distance: 16.71 km

Ascent: 901m

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The Cheviot-Comb Fell-Hedgehope Hill.gpx Open full screen  NB: Walkhighlands is not responsible for the accuracy of gpx files in users posts


We had decided to have a week in Northumberland as E wanted to visit a few of the local historical places and I would like to get some of the Cheviot hills under my boots so the dates were planned and all we had to do was get there and hope for some decent weather to accompany us on our week in this wonderful part of the country. I have visited the area before but E hasn't, so after being advised of her choice of places to visit I have been given permission to be in charge of planning and "we'll see if we can fit a walk in for you one day," so I'd better behave. So much for 'being in charge' of planning.

Well the first three days went as planned and as the forecast for Tuesday seemed the best of the week it was decided that the man could have his walk in the Cheviots, not alone of course. It was decided to do The Cheviot, Comb Fell, and Hedgehope Hill as they are the nearest to where we are staying with maybe a slight chance of going for Windy Gyle later in the week if the weather holds and castle/country house spotting allows.

So it was then that we set off for Wooler on a mild and sunny day - albeit with a fair few clouds about - and from there took the road which led into the Harthope Valley that, once passing the slightly built up area and the few scattered cottages and farms opened up to reveal some really beautiful countryside laid out between the surrounding hills. It's a good road but rather narrow in places and was a longer drive to the parking area than I thought that it would be. Looking ahead up the valley to the hills it was noted that the mist was down but hopefully the sun will do its work and get it cleared before we get up there.

At last we arrived at the small parking area which is just before the gate with Langleeford a short distance further on. Just a note about the car parking to mention that there is room for a couple of cars just the other side of the gate and quite a large one on the left hand side just before the one we are on which is at the side of a round sheepfold and the junction of Harthope Burn and Hawson Burn.

We are the only people here but as we get booted up another car arrived with a couple in it and the 'good mornings' were exchanged as we passed them to find our way off the tarmac and onto the fells. We walked down the tarmac towards Langleeford for a few metres alongside a small patch of woodland when we saw a fingerpost in a break in the trees directing us through a gate and to The Cheviot and Scald Hill.
3 - The fingerpost and gate mark the way onto the fell.JPG
The fingerpost and gate mark the way onto the fell.

Passing through the gate we were immediately climbing the hillside on a 2 metre wide dirt track which is obviously well used by man and machine as it was very much churned up. This was endorsed when a farmer came down the track driving a large halftrack lorry type machine pulling a halftrack trailer so this was the reason for the churned up track which gradually got worse the higher we climbed. It has rained for the last three nights so wet ground was to be expected, but this was not.
7 - The track to Scald Hill.JPG
The track to Scald Hill.

Before reaching the first fence and gate we stopped to take a few photos and were caught up by the couple that we had spoken to earlier. Stopping for a chat it was established that they also were on their way to The Cheviot but maybe not any further so setting off once again they accompanied us on the easy climb up to and through the gate where the path splits with one following the churned up track west across and up the fell side to Scald Hill summit whilst the one we took also went west and slightly north to follow the fence running along the top of New Burn and upon reaching a cross fence we followed that as it went south for a short distance before turning very slightly west to take us to the summit of Scald Hill which is adorned by a fence stile - but no cairn - leading to the flanks of The Cheviot which can be seen with a light head of mist upon it.

If we had taken the left hand path to Scald Hill we would have come across the shooting butts, one of which can be seen just below the junction where the two paths meet at the bend in the fence which is about a third of the way up to the summit from New Burn.
9 - Shooting butts on Scald Hill.JPG
Shooting butts on Scald Hill.

10 - Scald Hill with The Cheviot behind.JPG
Scald Hill with The Cheviot behind.

The top of Scald Hill is where we temporarily left the company of the other two walkers whilst they had a bite to eat as we climbed over the stile and proceeded along the once again easy slopes leading to The Cheviot.
13 - The Cheviot in mist from Scald Hill.JPG
The Cheviot in mist from Scald Hill.

The lower part of the path from the stile is wet and sticky with the peat as we followed the fence as it led unerringly upwards towards our first major top, but as we began to climb the path became dry and stony as it wended its way through the rough, brown grass and heather endemic to these hills. As we progressed upwards the mist has cleared and the path is now changing in structure as it goes from dry and stony to wet and peaty, then there are stretches of grassy paths intermingled and so it continually changes as we climb. Just before reaching the very large cairn which is situated by the fence at about the 800 metre mark I stopped once again to take photos whilst allowing the following couple to catch up with us as they are good company.
15 - Looking back to Scald Hill from the flank of The Cheviot.JPG
Looking back to Scald Hill from the flank of The Cheviot.

As we passed the cairn the ground has now levelled out and we approached another fence stile from where we can see the summit OS column and that put us onto the paved Pennine Way spur path that would take us to the summit of Cheviot whilst ensuring that we were kept dry from the surrounding morass of black, deep, sticky peat and water of the same ilk. Although this paved way is good there are a couple of spots where the paving's have sunk and care had to be taken so as not to slip into the mess around us as the female partner of the other couple found out much to her distress as she did indeed slip off a narrow bridging length of timber that went across one such gap her leg disappearing up to the knee but fortunately only her pride amongst strangers was hurt.

Now this is a fair old length of paved path and must have cost a lot of money, time and toil to lay this lot through terrain such as this and there must have been a lot of wet moments and cursing during the execution of constructing it. It makes the one between Cross Fell and Great Dun Fell look as though it's passing through a desert compared to this one.

Well the path is more or less level and a good speed can be kept up as we approach the large block built plinth which is topped by the cracked and dirty white OS column while the whole thing is surrounded by the same large stone paving's as the path to here is. The outlook from here is as bleak as you can get as the only view is of water, black sodden peat, brown moor grass and heather which itself is water logged. As there is a patch of green grass at the foot of the summit cairn/OS column to enlighten the spirit we decided to have a break and a bite to eat and a drink whilst in these most salubrious of surroundings. There are a few midges about today but I bet its murder in summer when the weather is a lot warmer, thankfully it's a cool day.
23 - The Cheviot OS column.JPG
The Cheviot OS column.

Rested and sated with food and drink we threw the bags across our shoulders once again and reluctantly left this most wonderful water world and outpost of the Cheviot Hills to continue our walk along the Pennine Way which now ran north east towards Cairn Hill from where we will change direction to take in our second noted top of the day, Comb Fell.
24 - Elizabeth on her way to Cairn Hill.JPG
Elizabeth on her way to Cairn Hill.

The couple - Ross and Kerry - have decided to travel with us on our way round and we have no complaints there as the conversation is good and entertaining from all quarters. Once again the paved path is making its way across bog land but after a while the surrounding ground improves and is much drier, for a while. We saw a couple of walkers coming towards us; a father and son who we presumed were walking the Pennine Way and were nearing the end of their journey but was slipping the spur to The Cheviot in to ensure that they had completed all of it.
25 - Cairn Hill ahead.JPG
Cairn Hill ahead.

27 - The Pennine Way going west.JPG
The Pennine Way going west.

Within 15 minutes we had arrived at the fingerpost where once again we are in boggy terrain which we gingerly crossed to pass over the fence by way of the stile to Scotsman's Cairn a large shelter cairn on Cairn Hill.
26 - Cairn Hill fingerpost and Scotsmans Cairn.JPG
Cairn Hill fingerpost and Scotsman's Cairn.

28 - Scotsmans Cairn on Cairn Hill.JPG
Scotsman's Cairn on Cairn Hill.

The fingerpost points us in the direction of the path to Langleeford which we will follow downhill on a good wide path alongside a wire fence for a short while…
31 - Walking to the head of Harthope Burn.JPG
Walking to the head of Harthope Burn.

until the path turns northeast from the head of Harthope Burn just below Scotsman's Knowe to follow it down to Langleeford but from where we then continued northwest still on a good path until we came across the junction of three fences where we made the mistake of climbing over the fence running up to the top of Comb Fell instead of staying on the north side of it. Within a couple or three metres I had twigged on what was wrong so we made our way back over the fence and then began the pathless climb up through the grass and heather working our way through the peat hags and wet mossy areas sometimes finding an old sheep trod but mostly on rough ground. This went on for about half an hour and then we came across a very wet and boggy stretch of path which we gratefully took as it was preferable to struggling through the banks of heather and rough clumps of grass.
35 - Typical path conditions today.JPG
Typical path conditions today.

As the ground is so very wet the path keeps disappearing and then coming into sight again where not expected but we are making decent headway now as the ground slope has eased off somewhat. The ground was so bad at one point that we had to climb along the fence by clinging onto the wire whilst using the sometimes wooden bottom rail as support for walking on.
36 - Yes the ground is quite bad around here.JPG
Yes the ground is quite bad around here.

Just after the walking the fence episode we came across a conservation trial where a 2 metre wide plastic mesh mat which has allowed the local vegetation to grow through it had been laid down to form a solid walking platform. There was a warning sign to 'Please keep off the mesh' but as it looked well established and we had just struggled through waterlogged ground we didn't think anyone of any note would be watching so of course we used it as it was going our way, well who wouldn't?
37 - The Conservation Trial plastic matting path.JPG
The conservation trial plastic matting path.

We walked along this matting over the unmarked top of Comb Fell and down the hill towards Hedgehope Hill as far as it went which was near the bottom of the fell side…
38 - The matting and Hedgehope Hill in sight.JPG
The matting and Hedgehope Hill in sight.

when we once again came across the usual and now expected boggy path. We are still following the fence which must be a boon when the clag is down as it runs all the way down to Langleeford. For not the first time today we are once again working our way through large wet areas of vegetation lying in between the foot of the two fells but as we pass through it the climbing is easy enough as we make steady progress up the long, narrow and wet path to finally reach the summit after climbing over the fence by way of the broken stile.

The summit of Hedgehope Hill is adorned with an ancient massive shelter cairn which contains the OS column, this is where we had our last break of the day before leaving our shelter from the now cool breeze which has picked up this last hour or so.
44 - A welcome break on Hedgehope Hill top.JPG
A welcome break on Hedgehope Hill top.

The mist has come down and is just obstructing our views of the surrounding countryside but note that it appears to be just sitting on the summit so the chances of taking some decent pictures as we drop down from the summit is looking better. Turning northeast we took the path down the fairly steep fell side as we made our way to the rocky line of the aptly named Long Crags and the large rocky mound of Housey Crags. The path down is fair and dry whilst the stretch along the bottom before the climb up to the crags is not, as is the section just prior to reaching the foot of Long Crags.
46 - Leaving Hedgehope Hill behind.JPG
Leaving Hedgehope Hill behind us.

It is a nice surprise to see a good bit of rock instead of the rolling hills which remind me of the Howgills and the smaller fells in the Shap area. Don't get me wrong, I enjoy this kind of terrain and have walked many miles in it. And now as I look around I can see many large spurs of rock standing aloft from the fell sides and it is a shame that we can't spend more time in these hills this year but as Arnie said, "we will be back."
45 - The view towards Long Crags and Housey Crags.JPG
The view towards Long Crags and Housey Crags.

Long Crags is as its name suggests, long, and the path leads us straight up the centre between the two highest points of rock.
47 - Long Crags.JPG
Long Crags.

The top is grass covered with small bare areas of rock showing through and climbing onto the highest point it feels good to have some good solid rock under my boots, and it's dry.
49 - The keeper of Long Crags.JPG
The keeper of Long Crags.

We left these crags by the same direction and are now heading for Housey Crags, a large, grass covered hill of rock…
51 - From Long Crags to Housey Crags.JPG
From Long Crags to Housey Crags.

54 - The black line is the path leading to Scald Hill and The Cheviot.JPG
The distant black line is the path leading to Scald Hill and The Cheviot.

which we skirted on its east side before turning north and travelling downhill on a good dry path which runs through the heather before reaching Harthope Burn and the footbridge which we cross to get us back to the car park directly in front of us.

This has been a good walk and one that has been reported a time or two over the past year but I thought that I may as well produce and post one to put down my own slant on it. On the other hand it may provide some information to new members of WH. The weather has been good all day, not brilliant but acceptable for October. It has kept dry but cloudy with some early mist on the tops of the fells but that cleared before we arrived at the summit of The Cheviot only turning up again as we topped out on Hedgehope Hill. It has been warm enough all day with only the late cool breeze to grumble about as we had our last break on top of the last hill.

The paths and ground were wet, very wet in places, but then again it has rained for the last three nights so really couldn't have expected anything less. The half mile or so tramping through the heather on the lower slopes of Comb Fell was probably the hardest part of the walk which in itself is not a hard walk, but today after about 14 kilometres on more than wet ground it was a more pleasant experience leaving the top of Hedgehope Hill with some decent grass underfoot on our way back to the car park.
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trailmasher
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Re: A first skirmish into the Cheviots.

Postby Guinessman » Wed Oct 28, 2015 10:18 pm

Excellent trip report Trailmasher and congratulations on your first Cheviot report. It's a pity there had been rain before as the area does tend to bog up quite quickly. If you get a chance to return when there is either a frost in the ground or it has snowed it would be worth it. I,'ve used that piece of matting quite a few times, it's amazing the difference it makes underfoot and I wish it had been continued all the way to Hedgehope . If you get a chance Hedgehope is worth a trip from the Ingram valley.
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Re: A first skirmish into the Cheviots.

Postby johnkaysleftleg » Wed Oct 28, 2015 11:50 pm

Another fine report and of particular interest to me as this has been on my 'to do' list for a while. Certainty looks a little grim in places, especially after rain, so a dry spell or even better a frosty day may well be in order.
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Re: A first skirmish into the Cheviots.

Postby UrsusCanis » Fri Oct 30, 2015 3:44 pm

Walkhighlands - The Cheviot 1.jpg


Thankyou both once again for your company. Thought you might like to see this photo on the day.
(Kerry's name is Mandy !)
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Re: A first skirmish into the Cheviots.

Postby Gordie12 » Sat Oct 31, 2015 1:27 pm

Another great report trailmasher.

Those paving slabs bring back confusing and mixed memories of doing the Pennine Way in June. Sometimes it felt like I walked on the slabs for the vast majority of the walk from Edale which was hard going at times on the feet but then I would look on either side of the slabs, see the bogs, and think maybe they're not so bad :lol:

I nipped over to The Cheviot and was a bit disappointed with the top but I would have been annoyed with myself afterwards if I hadn't made the short detour.

Loved the 2nd and 3rd last photos with the low sunlight behind you.
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Re: A first skirmish into the Cheviots.

Postby trailmasher » Sat Oct 31, 2015 8:03 pm

Guinessman wrote:Excellent trip report Trailmasher and congratulations on your first Cheviot report. It's a pity there had been rain before as the area does tend to bog up quite quickly. If you get a chance to return when there is either a frost in the ground or it has snowed it would be worth it. I,'ve used that piece of matting quite a few times, it's amazing the difference it makes underfoot and I wish it had been continued all the way to Hedgehope . If you get a chance Hedgehope is worth a trip from the Ingram valley.


Thank you Guinessman :clap: and it was well worth the visit :D . We will be back into the Cheviots again as never mind the big ones there are plenty of others around there that look worth climbing up :D . I can see your logic in a winter walk around The Cheviot, etc and is one that I would love to do as I could imagine it's even more amazing than autumn. Thanks for the Ingram Valley tip I'll suss it out :clap:
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Re: A first skirmish into the Cheviots.

Postby trailmasher » Sat Oct 31, 2015 8:09 pm

johnkaysleftleg wrote:Another fine report and of particular interest to me as this has been on my 'to do' list for a while. Certainty looks a little grim in places, especially after rain, so a dry spell or even better a frosty day may well be in order.


Your comments as usual are much appreciated :D and I'm sure that you would love this walk :) but as you mention it would be better when dry for a few days although there are some areas that would never dry out :( As Guinessman said, a good cold, frosty day would be ideal for this one :clap: Reading your report on your trip to Windy Gyle inspired me to have a look at these hills, thank you :clap:
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Re: A first skirmish into the Cheviots.

Postby trailmasher » Sat Oct 31, 2015 8:13 pm

UrsusCanis wrote:
Walkhighlands - The Cheviot 1.jpg


Thankyou both once again for your company. Thought you might like to see this photo on the day.
(Kerry's name is Mandy !)


Now that's a nice surprise Ross :D and Elizabeth has just lost her bet as she was convinced that it was Kerry and over ruled me on the name :( A great day out and we may meet again on a hill :clap:
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Re: A first skirmish into the Cheviots.

Postby trailmasher » Sat Oct 31, 2015 8:20 pm

Gordie12 wrote:Another great report trailmasher.

Those paving slabs bring back confusing and mixed memories of doing the Pennine Way in June. Sometimes it felt like I walked on the slabs for the vast majority of the walk from Edale which was hard going at times on the feet but then I would look on either side of the slabs, see the bogs, and think maybe they're not so bad :lol:

I nipped over to The Cheviot and was a bit disappointed with the top but I would have been annoyed with myself afterwards if I hadn't made the short detour.

Loved the 2nd and 3rd last photos with the low sunlight behind you.


Thanks very much for your comments Gordie12 :D and I know full well what you mean when walking the slabs as they can get tedious :( but they are a better option to bog trotting :lol: The sky in those photos was the best that we'd had all day so was lucky to get 'em really :roll:
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Re: A first skirmish into the Cheviots.

Postby ChrisW » Mon Nov 02, 2015 7:52 pm

This looked like some good graft TM, some of that going was clearly very poor and no doubt draining over time. But even after 3 days of rain (or maybe because of it) it sure looks beautiful. :clap:
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Re: A first skirmish into the Cheviots.

Postby trailmasher » Mon Nov 02, 2015 8:00 pm

ChrisW wrote:This looked like some good graft TM, some of that going was clearly very poor and no doubt draining over time. But even after 3 days of rain (or maybe because of it) it sure looks beautiful. :clap:


Aye Chris, it's surely is a beautiful part of the world :clap: and tramping through the wetlands and struggling through the deep heather :( has not put us off a re-visit to this area :D
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