Bryness to Cheviot (14 Miles) Saturday 24th August 2002

We had always planned to camp or at least bivouac, on this final night. Without a long detour there is nowhere convenient to stop, so several weeks ago Keith had arranged to have my tent delivered to the hostel for collection en-route (why tote it when we didn’t need it?) Linda has brought along some supplies to augment it, sleeping mats, lightweight stove (we were originally going to eat cold food) additional food, so we have to do some re-packing. The missing walker turns up safely; though looking at his wet-through kit reminds us how miserable it could be if you tried to back-pack the whole journey. Once your tent gets sodden you don’t get much opportunity to dry it out again.

We climb the hill upon which the walker was stuck last night (very slippery can easily appreciate why he didn’t want to tackle it in the dark) and soon find ourselves skirting the artillery ranges of Otterburn. It’s Saturday, most of the army has the day off (note to foreigners, invade at the weekend, better still, a bank holiday weekend), so the flags are not flying and it should be safe, as long as we don’t touch suspicious objects (which according to the notices “May Explode and Kill”). The Roman Fort at Chew Green is evidence that the military have been here for a long while. Some military are still here today. We see several groups of youths being beasted around by warrant officers, and indulge in cheerful banter (with the officers, the youths look fed-up). “Outstanding! Outstanding!” was one response on hearing how close we were to finishing the PW in a single push. The Army approves of this sort of extreme exercise.

Up on Lamb Hill we find a large number of people taking part in some sort of event; a couple of land rovers appear to belong to the marshalls. Pushing on we start to think of finding a spot to bivvy for the night. But it is quite damp underfoot so we carry on. Windy Gyle isn’t windy at all, as we leapfrog a couple of pairs of other walkers also closing in on Kirk Yetholm. We have walked a lot further today than the nominal 14 miles, but it doesn’t feel like it. At the moment I feel I could walk forever.

Just below Cheviot we stop and decide “here”. First, we quickly ascend to the top of The Cheviot, in glorious evening sunshine, clear blue skies, not a breath of wind. It is, in short, Utterly Perfect.

There has clearly been quite a lot of walking-boot initiated erosion, and the trig point stands proud of the peat. Several areas are fenced off to allow the ground to recover. We take our time to enjoy the sun, the peace and the quiet. We know we’ve cracked it.

We descend, and find a dryish spot to pitch the tent near the Auchope Cairn. Dinner is cooked and consumed and we try and settle down for the night. The wind picks up. Fortunately I know what my tent can take, as the first time it was pitched in Langdale one November, it was subject to 80mph gusts and horizontal rain. The wind isn’t the problem, the cold is. Despite Linda having provided us with camping mats, and with K and I putting on all our spare clothing it is dammed cold. K takes to wearing his towel on his head (proving once and for all that Douglas Adams was right). I don’t know how we would have managed without the mats, and with only a cold meal the night before (which had been our original plan). Later I discover that the Auchope Cairn is reputed to be “the windiest spot on the Cheviot”.

~ by @mmonyte on August 24, 2006.

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