The Cheviot

Close to the town of Wooler in Northumberland, lies the College Valley which rises from the north to a point NW of the summit of The Cheviot, the highest of the The Cheviots and the high point, but not the highlight of a walk a group of us recently enjoyed.

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We started at the top of the valley at Mounthooly following a path which took us through the narrow, cascading gorge called the Hen Hole, a spectacular place made more so by the high volume of water coming off the hills after the previous day and night’s rainfall. We were joined here by an RAF mountain rescue helicopter which seemed to be practicing hovering in one particular spot, prone to windy conditions, a couple of hundred feet above us. Impressive to watch but a bit deafening in the confines of the gorge and on numerous occasions after their departure it was a struggle to convince myself that it was not about to appear again as certain waterfalls made a similar pulsing drone to an approaching chopper.

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Once out the Hen Hole, we came to a more open corrie laden with bilberries which necessitated a hand and tongue dying stop, yum. Then it was a case of continuing to follow the College Burn up to a high point before branching off to join part of the Pennine Way. Here we came upon a bizarre scene of stacked pallets and a flagstone path snaking its way across a broad expanse of peat covered ground that is the plateau of the upper reaches of The Cheviot. This very heavy duty path is to combat erosion of the peat bog and must be undergoing either extension or maintenance. A branch line of the Pennine Way took us on to the summit trig point where we sheltered from cold winds briefly.

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From there it was mostly down hill with a couple of slight ascents along the way, first on to Scald Hill then Cold Law and unlike the summit of The Cheviot where views were limited by the extent of the plateau and lower cloud in the distance, the views on the descent across to Hedgehope Hill and Langlee Crags sitting in a lovely setting above Langlee were lovely and colourful. Towards the end of the walk we even had the Farne Isles and Bamburgh Castle out ahead of us as our view extended in to the North Sea.

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After staying dry all day we were refreshed by one heavy shower as we finished off our walk, arriving in to Wooler on a section of St Cuthbert’s Way, a walk a few of us would like to revisit some time in the future. Having just been made wet on the outside we wasted no time in getting refreshed on the inside with some local ale.

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