Sunday, 13 May 2012

May 2012 - The Cheviots

Although the title of this series of walks is called 'The Cheviots' the main purpose of this trip is a return to The George & Dragon in Dent for a walking holiday with Gina and our friends David & Wendy Boother.

The 6 Nuttals in The Cheviot Hills, Northumberland are Englands most northerly. They are also isolated from the other hilly areas in England and have therefore been ignored as they were not easy to incorporate into one of my earlier peak bagging trips up north. I had hoped to mop these tops up during my only visit to Northumberland at the end of my Pennine Way walk back in 2010 when I had intended to visit all 6. However this idea was quickly abandoned when I realised the enormity of The Pennine Way in its own right, visiting only Windy Gyle which is of course on the Pennine Way route.

With 5 remaining tops they are now the largest group of unclimbed Nuttalls outside of the Lake District left to climb, so rather than planning a special trip to Northumberland for what should only be 2 walking days it makes sense to incorporate them either at the beginning or end of this trip.

I have had to abandon the idea of going up a couple of days before the Dent trip and postponing it to tag on a few days at the end of the trip. This decision was made only on the Wednesday before my intended departure on the Thursday due mainly to commitments at home which have over run. However the weather forecast for the weekend is not brilliant, which on it's own should not be a reason to postpone, I cannot help thinking my resolve to complete the Nuttalls is wavering. Having said that the bonus may be that the weather will have improved for the following weekend but even if it has not I have booked the accommodation and am therefore committed to these dates.

At the same time I will take the opportunity to visit Cold Fell which is the most northerly Nuttall of the Northern Pennines and because of it's isolation was in danger of being left until last by default.This will involve an overnight stop at The Old School House, Hallbankgate  near Brampton on the way home back from Northumberland.

Leaving these walks to the end of the trip also takes away the pressure of an end stop to be finished by. With good weather I should be able to complete all 3 walks in 3 consecutive days making Tuesday as the return day to Suffolk. However with not having to be home until Thursday evening, 2 days contingency is more than enough to ensure I mop up these isolated tops.

Completion of Cold Fell, The Cheviots along with Water Crag & Rogan's seat on the Dent part of the trip will add 8 Nuttalls to the completed list leaving only 12 left to do; 9 in the Lake District, Meldon Hill near Middleton along withYes Tor and High Whillays on Dartmoor.

Yorkshire Dales - Northern Fells
With the visit to Lovely Seat completing the Yorkshire Dales - Southern Fells last March, Rogan's Seat & Water Crag are the last two Fells to climb in the Northern Fells which will therefore see the completion of all 33, 2000ft tops in the Yorkshire Dales.

For this walk I have provided 3 options and have given below the pro's and con's for each of these walks. So I will leave it to a joint decision as to which walk we do.

Any guesses which is most likely?

Option 1. On the basis we have 2 cars as well as the fact that one way walks are more interesting, this is actually my preferred walk. Also, although it is the most distance of the 3 walks it is only slightly more than the walk with the least ascent.
Option 2. Circular walk with start point at The Tan Hill Inn which at 1726ft is the highest pub in England. It is the shortest of the 3 walks and because the it has the highest start point has the least ascent. Finally with the start point being at the Tan Hill Inn  and it being a circular walk the end point is the Tan Hill Inn which all in all adds up to a good place to finish for a nice pint and even a meal.
Option 3. Once again this is a circular walk but with the most ascent and furthest distance of the 3 weeks. For these reasons this would make it the least favourable of the 3 walks, however if you wanted distance and ascent, this would be the walk for you. In addition it is the walk that covers the most of the Pennine Way and it possibly has the better views at the beginning and end f the walk down Swaledale. The final positive, if yu are so inclined, is that there is not a pub in Keld.

The Cheviots
Two good days walking of over 12 miles along with over 1200m of ascent on the first day and nearly 900m on the second day. I did consider planning a 2 day walk including an over night wild camp, however in view of the rotten weather we have had this year I have decided to forget this idea. Plenty of time to wild camp once all the Nuttalls are completed. However having wild camped now on a few occasions there desire and drive to do this within a walk plan seems to be diminishing. The promise of a hot bath/shower, cold pint and warm meal at the end of the day seems to over ride what was once and irresistible urge. Looks like the Youth Hostel at Wooler wins hands down

North Cheviots
On the basis Cheviots North has the most ascent I will make this the first walk of the two for this location. 12 miles is an easily achievable distance in good weather, however if it is not there is the option to miss out the two Deweys and return home after The Cheviot. Regardless of the weather, to ensure the focus remains on completing the 3 Nuttalls planned for this walk I will set off for Hedgehope Hill first which will get the steepest ascent out of the way early as well as leaving the option to visit the 2 Deweys if I still have the energy and/or inclination at the end of the walk.
South Cheviots
Once again this walk at 12 miles with less ascent is easily achievable in good weather. But once again the option is there to return home after completing the 2nd Nuttall. Most likely this will be Bloodybush Edge for the same reasons as above returning downhill due east, joining then following the River Beamish back to the car.

North Pennines - Western Fells
With the visit to Cold will see the completion of all but 1 (Meldon Hill) of the 33, 2000ft tops in the North Pennines. 20 of the 21 in the Western Fells and all 12 in the Eastern Fells.

Who knows maybe Meldon Hill will get pulled in on the Dent trip, but if not it makes sense to stop off at Middleton-in-Teesdale staying at our favourite B&B, Belvedere House or even the Teesdale Hotel.
Cold Fell has been on my radar to pull in on several trips to the North Pennines and the Lake District, but because it is on a bit of a limb just east of Carlisle it was always the first to be abandoned if both rest days had been used and remaining days lost to bad weather. Because of this Cold Fell was fast becoming, by default, the likely candidate to be the last Nuttall climbed. This did not sit well with me as I like a say in these matters and because most of the Nuttalls are in the Lake District, it feels only right the last one is there.

At the risk of repeating myself this is likely to be either Loadpot Hill or Wether Hill for the simple reason the ascent is not too arduous leaving the option for as many friend's to be able to join me on such an auspicious occasion!

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