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A hazy day on the 3 southern Cheviot Hills.

A hazy day on the 3 southern Cheviot Hills.


Postby trailmasher » Sun Jun 05, 2016 6:13 pm

Hewitts included on this walk: Bloodybush Edge, Cushat Law, Windy Gyle

Date walked: 16/05/2016

Time taken: 6.34

Distance: 27.91 km

Ascent: 1123m

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Bloodybush Edge-Cushat Law-Windy Gyle.gpx Open full screen  NB: Walkhighlands is not responsible for the accuracy of gpx files in users posts


Before I start the report proper I would like to share an experience that I am having/had with my Garmin GPS Oregon 600. A few weeks ago whilst checking the stats on the GPS unit I was astounded to find that there was a large difference between the height gain stats on the trip computer and the actual track log, sometimes by as much as 150 metres with the lesser number being on the actual track log. After asking the question to a Garmin dealer I was told that the trip computer was the one to believe, but I wasn't entirely happy with this as when I put a walk report on Walk Highlands I want it to be as accurate as possible and not be open to any criticism of supplying wrong data to anyone who reads my reports.

The height gain anomaly was the only stat affected as all the others corresponded both with the trip computer and the track log. Wanting a more definite solution or answer to the problem I then contacted Garmin direct who advised me to set the track to record every 1 second instead of having it on auto. This I have done and the result is that after 4 separate walks both figures are now within a range of 1 to 12 metres of each other. This I can live with, or could until noticing that this method of recording was using up to around 95% of the memory and also splitting the recorded track into 5 separate bits, or sections. To stitch the 5 bits together is easy enough and doesn't alter any information regarding the walk details but it does make a GPX file size of over 4MB, sometimes 5MB depending on the length of the walk. This results in being unable to upload the track log to the WH web site as it is too large.

The answer to this is also easy enough in that the now joined up bits can be converted to a route therefore reducing the file size down to a manageable file size of around 200kb which is about normal. Now, the fixes are easy enough to do through Garmin's Base Camp software but it is a bit of a mess on and I now intend to revert back to auto recording as I now know that the height gain stat will be correct, or near enough. The large usage of memory concerns me as there is a risk of losing information if the memory runs out which is what I think happened on my last walk when only 4 sections of track was recorded with the last section missing.

The stats for this walk and the next two are correct but after losing data on my last walk I will, - as I mentioned - be reverting back to auto recording which will show a difference in the height gained stats between what I put on my walk reports and what it actually shows on the track log. If anyone downloads any of my track logs for their own use please use the height gain stats that are shown in the report title part of the report as they will be the correct ones as opposed to the track log ones. Sorry to bother you with this but it is important to me to be as accurate as I can with my reports.

Now I'll begin.

Last October E and I had a week in Northumberland and walked the Cheviot and its two close neighbours Comb Fell and Hedgehope Hill all of which abide on the northern side of the River Breamish. This year we made a second visit staying in the small market town of Wooler as we did last year with the intention of climbing the three big hills south of the River Breamish, Bloodybush Edge, Cushat Law, and Windy Gyle plus other bits and pieces over the length of the week.

We travelled up to Wooler on the Saturday and stopped at a small eating place for some late lunch where we both had a nice sandwich and salad. It was a nice meal, well presented, reasonably priced, and went down well. In my case, too well as I was to discover on the Sunday when the stomach cramps started, and it was only after multiple visits to the loo where at one point I thought that I was melting that things settled down and I began to feel better. Well that was day one goosed. After a probing analysis of what we had eaten on the Saturday it was established that I had coleslaw on my plate whereas E hadn't and so the culprit of my enforced stay on the porcelain was finally unearthed.

It's now Monday morning and I'm feeling like all the Marvel super hero's rolled into one as we got ready for our fairly long drive down to Barrowburn and the start of our walk for today. After a longish drive in on the type of roads that E detests - narrow and winding - we arrived at the well made car park at Wedder Leap that is supposedly named after a sheep rustler named Wedder who was chased whilst stealing a sheep and died as he leapt off the bridge that crosses over the River Coquet.

It promised to be a good weather day and it was dry, warm, but mostly cloudy with the odd patch of blue thrown in as we set off with a short walk north up the tarmac road to reach a light blue painted footbridge that allowed passage across the River Coquet.
2 - Barrow Law behind Barrowburn.JPG
Barrow Law behind Barrowburn.

As we crossed over the bridge we couldn't help but notice that we were surrounded by large, rounded, grass covered hills giving us a taste of what was to come. To get to this place the road had brought us between the large hills of Shillhope Law and Stotefield just to the south of arriving at the car park. East is Kyloe Shin, west is Barrow Law, and north just now we can see Ward Law, Little Ward Law, and Hazely Law.

Once over the footbridge we turned north again and walked on a decent path behind a fence and wall from where we had a good view over to the hamlet of Barrowburn soon arriving at a copse of trees, the old schoolhouse, and a large wooden house that is let out for hire.
5 - The old schoolhouse at Barrowburn.JPG
The old schoolhouse at Barrowburn.

We soon left all this behind as we climbed steadily along the side of Kyloe Shin but now on a good, wide track that meanders up the valley with Hepden Burn running between us and the opposite hill of Barrow Law.
6 - The view north towards Hepden Burn and Barrow Law left.JPG
The view north towards Hepden Burn and Barrow Law left.

8 - Looking back to Barrowburn.JPG
Looking back to Barrowburn.

The track remained good as we arrived at a gate and ladder stile that gave us access into the pine tree plantation after a nice steady climb up to this point. The forestry track is as good as what we had been on to arrive at this point and after a short while it descended in a north easterly direction towards a white house by the name of Fairhaugh. This is when I realised that we had somehow gone wrong and that we shouldn't be here.

Looking at the map we saw that we could continue on and sweep around to our left with a climb back up to our original route but we wanted to find out where we had gone wrong. We back tracked to the top of the slope and had a good look around. Peering through the pine trees on the west side of the track we eventually spotted a way marker post and heading towards it we came across a grass covered fire break forming a good green lane through the trees. After about ten minutes of walking we arrived at a gate and ladder stile that opened up onto a hill that is simply named 'The Middle' and instead of walking on the grassy path that skirts the east side of the hill we continued on the one that went over the top from where we had a great view to the east of Yarnspath Law, a massive green hill of some 543 metres in height.
13 - Yarnspath Law.JPG
Yarnspath Law.

From the top of 'The Middle' we can also see the wide stony track that would take us to Uswayford which we can just about see over to the northeast along with a small copse of trees.
14 - Hazely Law in front with Uswayford to the right.JPG
Hazely Law in front with Uswayford to the right.

Passing through another gate at the bottom of the hill we arrived at the long track…
15 - The road to Uswayford with Bloodybush Edge rising on the far right.JPG
The road to Uswayford with Bloodybush Edge rising on the far right.

to Uswayford that was in such a good condition that it didn't take us very long to arrive first at the large black house like structure that is the shooting lodge and then a farm that is set amongst the trees that would afford it most welcome and much needed shelter in winter.
16 - Uswayford.JPG
Uswayford.

The track swings around to give access to the farm but not to walkers who have to veer off to the left and cross over Hepden Burn by way of a footbridge from where a turn to the south east is made, climb a short bank of grass, cross over a fence with stile, and then look for the bridleway that is opposite the bank of solar panels and which drops down a bank on the right hand side. This bridleway is not in good condition and was a tad difficult to see initially but once picked up it was followed easily enough southeast along side Bill's Sike as it makes its way up through the rough upland pastures sometimes wet in places but on the whole it is decent experience from the bottom to where it simply runs out of steam at a marker post and just before another gate and stile that was to our left. At this point we are in the col midway between Yarnspath Law and Bloodybush Edge.

This gate and stile seemed like a good spot to have our first break where we sat on the stile on opposite sides of the fence which gave the illusion of two prisoners glaring at each other through the security fence of a high risk prison.

Break over we set off once again following quad bike tracks through the rough clumps of brown grass roughly following the fence that is on our right. Eventually we had to leave the quad track and then use a rough grass track that runs alongside the remains of the fence - posts only at this point - and in less than half an hour we were passing over the now wired fence by way of a stile to reach the OS trig point and summit of Bloodybush Edge.

There are a couple of planks of timber strewn about the base of the trig column which suggest that the ground may get rather wet around these parts on a bad day, but today thankfully it's dry. Over to the east we can see our next target, Cushat Law and it sure as hell looks a long way off and although it's only 5 metres higher than where we are just now it looks an awful lot bigger than that.
23 - Cushat Law from Bloodybush Edge summit.JPG
Cushat Law from Bloodybush Edge.

The views are far reaching from here and we can see The Cheviot, Comb Fell, and Hedgehope Hill to the north, hills that we climbed last October. To our west we can see our last objective that is Windy Gyle…
22 - Looking to Windy Gyle from Bloodybush Edge.JPG
Looking to Windy Gyle from Bloodybush Edge.

and northwest at just 9 metres lower is The Schil. There are so many hills around us both near and far and I'm afraid to say that I don't recognise many of them.

No point in looking at it as it won't get any smaller for that so off we set once again more or less following the fence downhill following another welcome quad bike track.
24 - Elizabeth on her way to Cushat Law from Bloodybush Edge.JPG
Elizabeth on her way to Cushat Law from Bloodybush Edge.

The gradient is easy, the ground is dry as we reached the damper area around the head of Ainsey Burn from where we began the gentle climb alongside the fence following it as it turned gently southeast around the tree plantation. The gradient was a tad steeper from here to the summit but apart from the rougher underfoot conditions we have done a lot worse. On our way here we met two separate walkers both doing the same as us but in an anti-clockwise direction. The first chap was retired and was on a mission to bag all of the 2,000 feet and over hills whilst the second was a Welshman who was also on a similar mission.

The top of Cushat Law was as expected from our view of it from Bloodybush Edge, big, rounded, and grassy with an enormous shelter cairn gracing the summit.
26 - Cushat Law summit shelter cairn.JPG
Cushat Law shelter cairn.

Although the sun is shining there was a cold wind so we took advantage of the shelter for a few minutes to partake of some fluid before setting off on our return journey back to Uswayford, the same way as we had got here. The views although once again far reaching are not much different to the ones from Bloodybush Edge so we didn't spend too much time on recording the views to an SD card.

Whilst travelling to and fro between these two hills we couldn't help but notice the state of the ground which today is dry and firm due to the lack of rain over the past few days. Okay, there are one or two soft areas just now, but looking at what there is here we could imagine that after a wet period that the whole of this ground would be like walking over a black, sticky, quagmire where a pair of waders would be more suitable attire than a pair of boots.

Leaving the head of Ainsey Burn behind once again the climb back up to the summit of Bloodybush Edge…
28 - Bloodybush Edge from the head of Ainsey Burn.JPG
Bloodybush Edge from the head of Ainsey Burn.

seemed an endless plod with the elusive summit never seeming to get any nearer. It's not a hard climb just a long grassy bank with the view uphill restricted to a few metres and so gives the impression that one is getting nowhere until just when you are giving up hope of ever reaching the summit the trig column comes into sight.

Now all we have to do is work our way back to the footbridge at Uswayford and have a welcome break before setting off on the final leg of our walk that would lead us to the Pennine Way and Windy Gyle.

The walk back to Uswayford was uneventful;
29 - The farm at Uswayford.JPG
The farm at Uswayford.

we crossed the footbridge and found our way back onto the main track to here where we left it to pass through a gate on our right that put us on a bridleway where we stopped for refreshments. Setting off once again we initially walked north for a few metres before the track faded out as it moved more steeply uphill in a north westerly direction to arrive at a gate leading into a plantation of pine trees. This in its turn allowed us to walk on a green, grassy break that climbed steadily up through the trees where now that we are sheltered from the cool wind it is hot and humid although the smell of the pine trees was so strong it was intoxicating.

The trees opened up occasionally giving us some welcome air and views into small side valleys one of which gave us a glimpse of Usway Burn winding its merry way down the shallow valley between the trees. Most of the journey is through the trees with the track improving from grass to a full blown dirt one as we arrived at the gate and stile that would allow freedom from the confines of the hot and humid tunnel of trees that has been our companion for the last 25 minutes. The track from the gate would now take us to the Pennine Way although the three fingered sign post only advertised access to Clennell Street, Salter's Road, High Bleakhope, Border Ridge, and a Restricted Byway.

Nevertheless, we continued on the good track as it made its way still in a north westerly direction and before too long we were at another gate and stile in the fence that runs alongside the Pennine Way having climbed around 250 metres from Uswayford to get here.
36 - We've arrived at the Pennine Way.JPG
We've arrived at the Pennine Way.

Another rest, and another drink whilst looking back at the two hills that not so long ago we had been on and have now left well behind.
35 - Looking back to where we've been.JPG
Looking back to where we've been.

Our way is now southwest along the familiar stone paving slabs that are so often used to beef up the bad ground conditions. The way is not fully paved but is replaced in places by a firm and well stoned up path as we followed the wire fence that leads the eye towards a large cairn with a currick lower down the fell on its north side. The cairn that is decorated with a large star on a long pole that is akin to a fairy wand could, from a distance, be mistaken for the summit of Windy Gyle, but it is just another ploy to excite one into a final energetic burst of activity when in fact the true summit lies about another half mile further up the ever steepening - or so it seems by this time - path.
40 - Large cairn with artillery range cairn protection star.JPG
Large cairn with artillery range cairn protection star.

41 - View north to The Cheviot, West Hill, and The Schil.JPG
View north to The Cheviot, West Hill, and The Schil.

As the path levels out somewhat we know that we are nearing the summit as the OS trig column is peeping over the top of the hill to our right. Knowing that we are now nearing our final target our pace quickened to an almost jogging speed with E well in the lead as she all but vaulted over the new gate in her haste to get to the massive cairn and OS trig column that is perched amongst its thousands of stones.
42 - Elizabeth nearly at Windy Gyle summit cairn.JPG
Elizabeth nearly at Windy Gyle summit cairn.

44 - Elizabeth at Windy Gyle OS trig column.JPG
Elizabeth at Windy Gyle OS trig column.

I believe that the cairn has the name of Russell's Cairn named after a Lord Francis Russell who was killed at this spot in 1585 by marauding Scots. Once again the views are fantastic with hills running one after the other far into the distance. These we survey whilst taking another drink of our sorely depleted stock of water.
43 - The view east from Windy Gyle summit.JPG
The view east from Windy Gyle summit.

E has a rush of blood as she declared that we would be back at the car within an hour. Such a shame that she can't be so positive when getting ready to go for a night out and I haven't the heart to tell her that we still have around 5 miles to go before she can get parked up in the car once again. All we have to do now is follow the decent track southeast back down to Scotchman's Ford,
45 - The way back to Barrowburn.JPG
The way back to Barrowburn.

around the bases of Little Ward Law and Ward Law…
46 - Little Ward Law and Ward Law.JPG
Little Ward Law and Ward Law.

from where the path turns to the south, down to Murder Cleugh. Around the side of Barrow Law from where Barrow Burn now comes into view. E is relieved as she is flagging a bit now due I think to the long drop off from Windy Gyle and to be honest with myself it isn't the most exciting path that I have encountered. Once Windy Gyle has been left behind the hills close in so there is not much of a view until well down when the view down the valley and River Coquet greet the eyes.
47 - Barrowburn from Barrow Law.JPG
Barrowburn from Barrow Law.

We did see a couple of horse riders from a distance as they were passing over Ward Law and two lady strollers near Murder Cleugh but apart from them and the two walkers that we met at Cushat Law we haven't seen anyone else all day.

As we walk into Barrow Burn the establishment that advertises that refreshments are available is, much to E's chagrin, closed. Ah well, back to the car for an energy drink I suggest as I try to console her disappointment at missing out on tea and buns. A few more strides down the tarmac road and we are back at the Wedder Leap car park and reflected on our long but satisfying walk through these large Cheviot hills as we stoked up on the remaining food from our bag and car stash of energy drink.

On our drive back to Wooler and fish and chips we reflected on the days walking. It's a long stretch to get to Bloodybush Edge, albeit easy walking especially to Uswayford, but even after leaving the farm behind; the tracks/paths are good enough and easy to follow along the well graded hillside to the summit. The way to Cushat Law is similar but after that there is the return journey to Uswayford and neither of us enjoy a walk out and then back along the same route.

From Uswayford to the Pennine Way is also easy going despite the 250 metre climb and that was done in short time although probably the hottest section of the whole walk. The Pennine Way is a joy to walk on at this time of year and in this weather and both being keen to reach our final top time went by quickly and the summit cairn and OS trig column soon came into view. The most tedious part of the walk was definitely dropping off from Windy Gyle to Barrow Burn but I suppose that could be put down to a hot day and already having done around 19 kilometres. All in all a decent days walking and topping out on all three of these Cheviot Hills in one day meant that there would be no need for a return journey at a later date and therefore leaving the rest of the week to get on with other things.

The weather was dry, mostly cloudy with some faint sunshine on occasions with most of the sun from mid-afternoon. There were hazy conditions and a cool breeze blowing for most of the day.
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trailmasher
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Re: A hazy day on the 3 southern Cheviot Hills.

Postby ChrisW » Tue Jun 07, 2016 5:39 am

Another great read TM, I have a Garmin 64 and haven't notice any large discrepancies in height gain though I have noticed some small ones but that can be down to route choice I guess. Anyway, the mental image of your good self and E facing each other through the wire fence like prisoners made me chuckle, a lovely way to enjoy lunch I'm sure :lol:
27 km is a good long wander on a hot day, I'd think twice before driving that far :lol: Great shots of our lovely open rolling countryside too mate :clap: :clap:

Did you put that bit about The Pennine Way being a joy to walk at this time of year in there just for me :lol:
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ChrisW
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Re: A hazy day on the 3 southern Cheviot Hills.

Postby johnkaysleftleg » Tue Jun 07, 2016 4:01 pm

BIt of an epic walk in some ways. It does look like you picked perfect conditions however, not sure that long out and back to Cushat Law would have been bearable in the wet. Still that's the Cheviots knocked off :D
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Re: A hazy day on the 3 southern Cheviot Hills.

Postby trailmasher » Wed Jun 08, 2016 8:09 pm

ChrisW wrote:Another great read TM,
Did you put that bit about The Pennine Way being a joy to walk at this time of year in there just for me :lol:


Thanks once again Chris :D I also have a Garmin Geko 201 and did not have a problem with that :) but sorted now with the Oregon 600 :) The Pennine Way comment was put in not to please your good self Chris :) but it is a lot better walking on the ridge than plodding 4 miles up from Garrigill on a wide stony track in similar weather as we had on this one :lol: It's like anywhere else on a long distance route mate, there are some bits that appear weary to the feet :roll: and others where you hardly notice how long you've been walking :D

Once again thanks for your welcome comments :D :D
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trailmasher
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Re: A hazy day on the 3 southern Cheviot Hills.

Postby trailmasher » Wed Jun 08, 2016 8:17 pm

johnkaysleftleg wrote:BIt of an epic walk in some ways. It does look like you picked perfect conditions however, not sure that long out and back to Cushat Law would have been bearable in the wet. Still that's the Cheviots knocked off :D


It was a bit of a long 'un JKLL :? but went OK for the whole walk :) Had it been wet we might still be struggling through the bogs :crazy: :roll: Thanks :D
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