I’m doing a bit of blogpost catching-up here, being a couple of walking incidents behind.
This one is from 5 and 6 January and concerns “A Shivery Walk to the Border” The Border in question being the county boundary bgetween County Durham and Northumberland. This is a guided walk, initially done as part of Durham County Council’s guided walk programme (wot I’ve abandoned) and now done for the Wednesday Walkers Walking on Saturdays group, which is a kind of DCC splinter group, organised almost entirely by email by the redoubtable Eric Borley. Peeps can get on the list of email addresses by request. (Just ask)
So, me and LTD did the reccy on 5 January. This was a bit late because the walk took place on 6 January, but the weather was , frankly ‘orrible during the week before and I had Christmas whisky to drink anyway, so it all had to wait.
So me and LTD did the reccy, from Cowshill , adding the summit of Middlehope Moor for an additional thrill and it was all very cold and snowy and a bit icy and windy and, a bit on the ‘orrible side to be fair. We began with clear views and then the hill-fog came in and me beard froze, as did LTD’s tail and it was not specially very nice.
Overnight on 5/6 January, it snowed again and, at 07:30 am on the 6th, it was dark and cold and there was heavy hail hitting the parapets of knipetowers and so LTD declared a rest-day – having briefly looked outside and then headed back to his cosy stink-pit next to the radiator in #3 Barrel-Vaulted Tower, refusing to consider putting a harness and lead on and threatening extreme violence to anybody who might try toi disturb his cosy time, his favourite place. So I turned up with an empty lead, but , not unnacompanied, having collected Li Yang from her hilltop fortress on the way.
11 other people turned up.
The sky was blue and the cold was “noticeable” – partly from the fact that my beard froze and formed icicles where icicles are Not Required.
We heaved ourselves up into ever-depening snow to the Northumberland boudary, crossed it and entered an arctic landscape of pure white and blue, eventually achieving the summit of Middlehope Moor with it’s immpressive 18 inch frozen cairn. I suspect that most walkers were a bit underwhelmed after all that effort.
The things got worse. We headed for a small square blob on the near horizon – rumoured to be an old sheepfold where the burning sun and the shelter from the arctic nither would produce conditions suitable for a coffee-stop and, if too much time were to be spent here, a lovely suntan which would make holiday-makers in the tropics or Australia jealous with rage, and those wimpy doggies now abed curse themselves that they were not here..
This took some considerable effort, the drainage ditches and hags being hidden under deep and soft snow, letting in whomsoever might go first up to their nips, and having to be lifted out by whoever was behind them. I spent several episodes up to my chin in snow.
In the end the sheepfold was a bit warmer and just about OK for brief stop.
Then we had miles and miles of semi-frozen tussock and grass, whilst all the time being beaten by fierce and uncompromising blizzards of snow and bits of ice wot hurt on the face until we found shelter begind the complex walls of Race Yate where the blue and purple flourspar glints unnoticed in the weakened sun. [Thats enough of that sorta stuff by the way]
And so, we finshed more easily by roads and riverside paths back to Cowshill, 8 miles in total.
We might do this walk again next year. Please don’t try it in the summer, it’s much more fun when it’s a bit cold. and it’s much, much more beautiful.