The College Valley

Wednesday 14 August. Today’s 5.8 mile walk with 1,500ft of ascent started at the end of the College Valley. This can only be accessed on a private road and a permit costing £10 had to be purchased in Wooler before we could start the walk. I met Bea & Josephine earlier than planned in Wooler so we had to go for tea/coffee before the walk. The drive down the College Valley was both interesting and scenic but at least there was no other traffic on the single lane road. We parked just before Mounthooley, a YHA bunkhouse, and then made our way to the end of the valley. A steady climb of 700ft took us up into the hills and to a mountain refuge hut (bothy) on the Pennine Way. It was here where we came across a guy who was resting before tackling the last 6 miles of the Pennine Way to its end in Kirk Yetholm. I’ve met some odd people on the hills but this guy had to take the biscuit. He was completing the Pennine Way and appeared to have be sleeping rough along the way. He asked if we knew the bus times from Kirk Yetholm and how long it might take him to get there. He had maps and seemed self-sufficient; perhaps he hadn’t had a conversation in quite some time. I certainly wouldn’t have spoken to him had I met him in the street and Bea & Josephine were glad that they hadn’t bumped into him whilst on their own.

I made an entry in the bothy visitor’s book to record that Fenland Ramblers had been there. The walk route should have taken us on an out and back visit to Auchope Cairn but as this would have added an extra couple of miles and 900ft of ascent so we decided to give it a miss. Instead, we made our way north along the Pennine Way to The Schil which was the high point of our walk at 1,940ft. From here we had great views all around and out towards the sea in the direction of Lindisfarne. All we had to do now was to descend 1,000ft back to the car. Our route took us across open moorland where the heather was in full bloom and buzzing with bees.

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