Distance 17.25km Climb 550m
Thursday 24 August 2017
I have been interested in walking in this area for some time, my friend John was talking about it a few weeks ago. So today on the spur of the moment I just made a few jam sandwiches, packed a flask, some water and set off.
I left the car at the car park and picnic area. The footpath through the woods to Castle Hill was closed due to contractors harvesting the trees. So I followed the diversion signs along the road north on the eastern side of the wood. The road follows the edge of the wood as it turns west.
I continued along the road until it became a forest track heading west. When I realised that if I had taken the footpath heading north west I could collect a trig point, I turned round. I was still a little disappointed I had not found the trig point or at least the mark of the trig point on Meldon Hill a few weeks ago.
Returning back along the forest track to the track/footpath junction, I then turned down the footpath on my left. It would have been on my second right had I not walked down the forest track. There is a small sign on the gate showing it is a public footpath.
Following the footpath north east the map shows it crosses the course of a Roman Road. A sign on a gate advises caution bull in field. Looking to my right it looked like I was in a field of young bulls, or at least curious cattle so I was a little relieved when I crossed a style into what appeared to be an empty field.
As I walked up the field and rounded a corner I saw that the field was not empty, there were what looked like more cattle to my left, looking larger than in the previous field, which one was the bull? At the top of the field I was just across from Whittonlea Quarry which is now disused. I climbed a gate onto the footpath to my right, east. My map shows the footpath goes directly across the field north east, however I followed the edge of the field east. At the corner I had a look into the field where the trig point was shown on my map. It was full of crops.
I walked left, to the top north west corner of the field looking for a possible route across the crop. I did not want to walk on the crops, I could not see anyway across and decided I would come back another time to collect this trig point when the crop has been harvested.
Returning back to the field with the bull sign and large cattle, my map shows a path that led to the north side of Thrunton Woods. Walking to the left of the field to avoid the residents I reached the gate and was met with the sign below. I sat on the style, had a cup of hot chocolate, looked at my map and had a think about where I would go next. I could hear the noise of trees being felled down the track in the wood to my left and activity up the track in the wood to my right.
After my chocolate I decided to keep out of the woods, so rather than walk back across the field I continued westward along the fence line, skirting the field and crossed the fence onto the road. Walking the road south west I crossed a civil parish boundary line. Turning left away from the road, I walked a footpath up hill following the boundary line south east, up into the wood.
After a short steep climb the path levels a little. It was nice walking through here. As I climbed I was getting warmer, a combination of the nice weather and walking up hill.
Where a number of paths join I could see to my left another warning sign of the harvesting. I turned right and started the climb up to Castle Hill (231m). Part of this walk reminded me of our walks through the woods of Austria and Slovenia the way steps are made from stone and tree roots. The rich colours of nature, the browns of the earth and soils. The greens of the plants and trees. The smell of it all and the clean fresh air, all beautiful.
After another cup of hot chocolate and time looking at my map I decided to wander south. I saw on my map a feature called Macartney's Cave. It would have been a shame not to check it out.
As I moved south on the narrow path, dropping down, I could hear the cries of a couple of buzzards high to my right, as they were moving further over to the west. At the fence I heard a strange noise behind me, it sounded like a mountain bikes brakes on a steep descent. It must have been a couple of trees rubbing against each other in the gentle breeze.
From the style there were a couple of paths, I decided to take the one on the left. There is a short steep climb by some rocks and as I followed the path up I came across Macartney's Cave. Very interesting, on returning home I looked it up on the internet. One website shows a local monk from Callaly used the cave as a retreat, it is not very big.
From the cave I continued upwards along the worn paths, climbing all the way.
As the path levels I reached this small pond, where I took the track to my right, heading south west.
The trees were thinning out and the countryside was opening up. I saw a mother and son collecting bilberries, she said they were collecting them for a crumble.
I followed the path down to a gate in a fence at Hard Nab then continued along a gentle climb to a cairn (271m). A sign on the gate mentioned ponies, but unfortunately I did not see any. Butterflies skipped and danced along the path, bees buzzed as I disturbed them on my way through. Heather gave the whole area a beautiful colour purple, and I was reminded of a hymn from school. All things bright and beautiful....the purple headed mountain. To the south I could see Long Crag.
Looking north east, I could see The Cheviots, Hedgehope and The Cheviot itself, clear and bright.
I sat with a cup of hot chocolate and my jam sandwiches, enjoying the view. After my sandwiches I walked the footpath south east through the heather.
I followed the path next to the wood as it dropped down to the stream, Coe Burn (180m).
After crossing the burn and the steep bank on the other side the path turns right, south west. Crossing a fence I could see my path climbing the hill side. The path starts gentle then turns steep, in places there are large steps and boulders to step up and over. A turn left, south east and the path continues to climb, reaching a large cairn. In the distance I could see the Long Crag trig point.
It was a gentle climb north east, almost level up to the Long Crag trig point (319m).
I continued along the ridge eastwards to cross the civil parish boundary line again. I could have walked the path north down the boundary line but decided to continue along the ridge following my path north east again.
Passing along Coe Crags east, with the majestic Cheviots in the distance.
They are slight climbs and drops until I reached another cairn.
The path then heads east down back into part of Coe Crags Wood. The path drops and turns north west, steeply in places.
At a path junction I turned north and followed the path down to Coe Burn. My map shows a footbridge, but I did not see one. It was very steep and slippery, through mountain bike tracks, down to the burn. After crossing the burn it was a short climb up to the forest track. Where I turned right, east.
Following the forest track east then north I reached another track junction where I turned right, north east and followed the track to the road.
On the road I turned left, north and walked up hill returning back to the car park and picnic area.
It had been a good day walking the weather was perfect, once out of the trees the views were clear, overall another brilliant day. I had covered 17.25km with a climb of 550m.
More to follow