Another Christmas has whizzed by and a New Year has begun. Inbetween the celebrations we visited Dave’s parents in Northumberland and scaled a hill I have wanted to climb since our first hike in the Cheviot Hills last December.
The Cheviot is the largest hill in the Cheviot Hills and is also the last accent on the Pennine Way. It stands 815m and provides an epic view of the Northumberland coast.
Our hike started 3 miles earlier than we initially planned. One thing I always bear in mind when planning is a route is the possibility it may need to be changed due to weather. The drive up the A1 was clear but after turning off towards Wooler, the snow-topped hills came into view and the roads grew icier as we travelled. The traditional route starts at a small gathering of houses called Langleeford at the bottom of the remote Harthope Valley. However, the icy roads and a daunting steep single-track road leading into the valley caused us to leave the car and tackle the road on foot.
Although there were many opportunities to climb out of the valley and onto the hill tops, we thought it would be wise to stick to the road to ensure we had plenty of time, before the daylight disappeared. And a wise decision it was: The snow became deeper, the path disappeared and the accent was hard.
Normally, I prefer walks free of people, but on this day I was thankful another couple, who we switched positions with along the way, took the same route. It even was more comforting when a man overtook us with his walking poles and ski goggles with a cheery yell of “only another 20 minutes ‘till you will be at the top. I’m meeting my son and his friend who are running up the other side of the hill”. My mouth dropped open as I followed his pointing finger has he gestured the route his son was taking up an equally steep hill at the other side of the valley then around to summit of where we were heading. I admire fell runners. I don’t know how it is physically possible to run in 2 feet of snow up a steep hill.
As the hill plateaus close to the summit, the path crosses a fence via style. The wind and ice had formed a stunning sculpture around the mesh of the fence.
The summit was truly bitter but the trig point provided enough shelter for us to much down our ham sandwiches and a mug of hot chocolate. The descent was more enjoyable as we could leap down with wide strides with the snow cushioning our landing; a change from the normal knee pain I suffer from on descents. The 3 mile walk back along the valley road seemed much longer than on the way!