2017-09-13 Wooler from Ingram (Peter Bell)

Total Distance:-           26.0 Km           (16.2 ml)                                 

Ave Speed:-                3.70 Km/hr      (2.30 mph)       [10.07 am – 17.08 pm] 

Max Elevation             329 m              (1079 ft)

Total ascent:-              610 m              (2000 ft)

Peter led, 6 in group. Leaving the bus just short of Ingram, we crossed the bridge under which the R Breamish was flowing quite fast following the overnight rain.  It’s going to be pretty wet underfoot I thought.  Undaunted we proceeded along the road and just after the wood took a gravel track on the left to start climbing SW up the SE flank of Ewe Hill.  Ignoring the first grassy track forking to our right, we took the second grassy track when the gravel track started descending towards Middledean Burn. After passing through two gates we took the path heading west which gradually deteriorated as we approached Chesters Burn.  Dropping down to the burn we were able to cross without water coming over our boots!!  Climbing the other bank, we proceeded to Chesters where we had a coffee stop with the four older members making use of a wooden seat.  Despite the bad forecast of heavy rain showers and high wind we had only suffered drizzle at this point although the wind was increasing.  However, we did suffer 2 or 3 short heavy showers in the afternoon.  Leaving Chesters, we took the direct route to Alnhammoor, using the path which heads diagonally down towards the Breamish.  Although slightly muddy and slippery, the path was OK, giving great views of the Breamish valley and the Cheviots.  From Alnhammoor we took the road up to Hartside and then continued to Greensidehill.  From there, we took the RoW which heads NW before swinging NE towards the end of the ridge from Cunyan Crags.  With some difficulty we followed the RoW or should I say we followed indistinct paths/sheep tracks in the general direction through mainly high tufted grass and bracken.  Suffice to say, the downloaded GPS track shows we did not deviate too much from the RoW and, who is to say the map is correct, it often isn’t!   As we approached what should be the SE tip of Threestoneburn Wood, my worst fears were confirmed, it had been felled, obliterating the RoW.  Charles ventured forth about 20 m into the “wood” along the RoW before confirming that it would be very difficult to go that way.  Seeing an unmarked quad bike track heading E, I decided to follow that as it provided the best walking until we could hit one of the paths heading northwards.  As the GPS track shows, even though looking for it, we did not see the path heading directly to The Dod.  Finding another quad bike track heading back towards it, we came to a marker post showing the path heading N & S.  Was there anything to be seen on the ground – not a thing!!  I then decided to make for a S-N track further east which I had used before.  We found it, but even it had deteriorated significantly from about 3 years ago. Heading NNE we reached the gravel track running from Calder to The Dod.  A quandary, I had to decide between heading for The Dod and taking my original route northwards or heading on a longer route around the side of Heddon Hill where we could see a wide track.  Deciding to go for Heddon Hill, we set off on the bridleway only to be met by waist high bracken and a slippery path above a drop into Roddam Burn.  Charles once again ventured forth and after 20 – 30 m, suggested that it was not a good route.  After all our problems with overgrown paths, I then decided to proceed on the gravel track to Calder, then heading north by minor road and cycle ways.  With hindsight, this was the wrong decision – as well as forcing us into road walking which I don’t particularly enjoy, it added a significant increase in distance, more than I estimated at the time.  Suffice to say that our journey through Ilderton and N Middleton became a yomp of more than 7 miles, arriving in Wooler at 15.08 for a 5.30 departure.  The take-away from this “adventure” is, what is going to happen to walking in this area.  While appreciating that this is the worst time of the year for bracken, is Ingram to Wooler going to become a no-go area for walking if all the paths are overgrown.

Peter Bell

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