41 Uswayford – Wooler

Uswayford to Wooler 17.9 miles (28.6Km.)

Hitting the Pennine Way & Scottish Border

Hitting the Pennine Way & Scottish Border

When I did the Inn Way to Northumberland the section was Wooler to Alwinton and before we set out I studied the map seeking to modify the route to take in The Cheviot. It was already a long section and I couldn’t meet my objective without adding more miles so the search was abandoned. The GEW has a far better route into Wooler avoiding the long section of road walking. This section of the GEW covers some of the same ground as the Inn Way. By diverting up to the Pennine Way from Uswayford then on along the tops passing The Cheviot I could rejoin the GEW and reduce the milage although adding to the climb and this is what I did. I’m therefore unable to report on the section of GEW from Uswayford to a mile after the crossing of Harthope Burn.

Pennine Way flagged path

Pennine Way flagged path

The bridleway through the forest was narrow but distinct. Emerging onto open moorland I’m surprised to rejoin Chennell Road, a Restricted Byway according to the waymarks, until it meets the Pennine Way and the Scottish border. Chennell Street heads off into Scotland where motor vehicles are permitted but I stay safely on the English side of the fence even though I’ve strayed from the GEW. I follow the Pennine Way across the quagmire of peat thankful of the stone flagged path while  ocassionally testing the ground beyond the path and wondering how long my jouney would take across the morass.

It’s a real pleasure to be able to look around me without needing to inspect every footfall. It’s also great to be looking down onto the tops of trees. I expect that at certain times of day sections of the Pennine Way might be busy as folk start out from the few overnight stops but as I walk ‘The Way’ it’s mine and mine alone, until in the distance I spy a small group and eventually catch them having a reviving bar of chocolate by the stile and point of decision. Should they make the detour up to the Cheviot, the answer is a resounding no thanks, so we part company and I’m alone again.

The Cheviot a disappointment

The Cheviot a disappointment

Well it’s done now and I’m instantly reminded of the Kinder palteau. This may be the highest point in Northumberland and the second highest in England but it’s a rubbish view point. It was clear visibility but there is no view as the trig stands on a plinth in a dip. I considered climbing up but did a risk assessment and stayed on the path and ate the last sandwich. The only way to go was down and the sooner the better, quickly the views opened up and I craved to be on the summit of a real hill and looked over to Hedgehope which although a hundred metres lower looked far more impressive.

A magical natural patchwork

A magical natural patchwork

I dropped down passing a few folk heading to the summit which was now lost in cloud, no graet loss I tell them. Passing Scald on the well worn permissive path then towards Broadhope hill but ignoring the summit I drop down into the valley to rejoin the GEW. As I walked down the permissive path the hillside opposite was a patchwork of wonderful greens and browns.

Luckenarks and Carey Burn

Luckenarks and Carey Burn

Back on track I pass a well maintained cottage and get confused with mention in the guide of a former Inn which became a youth hostel then bothy and finally ruin. This is not the place but it could well have been as six public paths meet here and the only access was by means of a long rough track. The countryside has improved with well defined paths through a mix of trees, grass and bracken and fresh running streams crossed by substantial wooden bridges.

Joining the St. Cuthbert’s Way even the woodland path have grass like carpet as Wooler draws ever closer. What is this here hidden in the trees and bushes? A war time pill box, but guarding what I wonder?

Wooler Youth Hostel - Glendale Gateway Trust

Wooler Youth Hostel - Glendale Gateway Trust

I like the town of Wooler, it has everything one needs – an excellent walking centre but not yet filled with the red sock shops. In fact as I’d thought it might be a good idea to give my boots a bit of attention I looked for a walking shop but there were none. The well stocked hardware shop was able to supply a tin of Cherry  Blossom Traditional Dubbin which did the job, some say it will rot the stitching but it made a good job of repelling the rain next day.

I had been apprehensive about this leg of the walk because I needed to arrive and catch the last bus of the day for Alwick to collect first the car then bike but all worked well and I finally arrived at the Youth Hostel and a welcome second to none. The YHA abandoned Wooler hostel in 2006 but fortunately local opposition to the closure resulted in it’s purchase by the Glendale Gateway Trust which now proudly provides a welcome service to individuals and groups.

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Great English Walk map of section 41

Great English Walk map of section 41

 

Great English Walk hills and dales of section 41 The Cheviot

Great English Walk hills and dales of section 41 The Cheviot

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