September 16, 2008

It’s for you – hoo! Hill walk to the Kielder stane

By Donald Clegg

Image: the source of the North Tyne river, on the Scottish border by Clive Dalton, c1961

Phillip, wor youngest, thowt it wad be a good idee for the two of us, him and me, te hev worsells a weekend away, hillwalkin', somewhere in Scotland. Aa thowt hit was a good idee an'all, an' in nee time the Isle of Arran at the end of April was decided and the B.B and MacBrayne's ferry wor booked.

Now Aa hedn't done ony serious walkin' for a canny bit so Aa thowt Aa'd bettor git some practice in. So, a few weeks afore we were tekin' off, Aa set off wi' me flask, some chocolate, me camera and the mobile phone (just for fear) to 'Bundle and go' from Kieldor Castle to the Kieldor Stane by way of Deedwattor- , Mid- and Peel Fells.

Aa went oot the car park at the castle aboot nine i' the mornin' and was soon leggin' it alang the track for the bottom of Deedwattor Fell. At this bit the track torned itiv a bit clarty path and then just a stretch of oppen moor, aal hithor an' bent an' deed bracken an' gettin' steepor by the minute, gey rough gannin' Aa can tell ye!.

Aa was gannin' canny but, and hardly stopped at aal, apart from tekin' a keek at Peden's cave under an owerhangin' rock abune Light Pipe cotteege and to tek in the tormendeous view doon the valley and ower Kieldor Wattor. The last bit to the top was steepor yit an' it was a case of 'heed doon an' just keep tewin' on'. Aa got to the top just aboot an oor an' a half efter leavin' the car park, right on schedule!

It was gey hazy up here but Aa hed a grand aal roond view of hills, forest and lake, as far as the haze wad let us. It was bloomin' caad but, so Aa didn't hing aboot ower lang. Aa thowt Aa'd try me mobile and yiss, there was a signal, so Aa giv the hoose a ring just to let them knaa where Aa was.

The next bit was deed easy, a bit boggy, mind, but it took only thorty minutes to get to Mid Fell and another thorty saa us at the Bordor fence. Some fence! It wadn't hev stopped ony o' the Hott's aad yowes, Aa can tell ye! Time to get the flask oot, Aa thowt, an' Aa hed a quick moothfu' of tea and a couple of Twix's, sittin' in the sun, listenin' to the corlews and spyin' a couple of golden plovers porched on a bull snoot.

It was like bein' on the roof of Northumberland at var' nigh 2000 foot, surroondeed by acres of cotton grass, bent, moss and hethor. By! What a grand smell. Noo Aa hed to torn right and follow the rotten fence posts doon past the Kieldor Stane, just three quarters of a mile away. Nee bothor! But afore Aa left Aa called heame on the aad mobile to say where Aa was, where Aa was gann'n' and how lang afore Aa wad be back heor. Thor was nee guarantee the phone wad work doon in the Kieldor Stane cleugh.

It took us just twenty minutes to walk to the Stane, it was aal doon hill. It must be thorty yeors since Aa was last heor, but it hedn't changed a bit! Still the same geet massive chunk of weathored grey sandstone, as big as a fair-sized cuw byre with a heathor thatch, that Aa remembor.

As Aa walked roond aboot it in the sunshine, it was hard to think that this ootbye place was yince the meetin' place for the Wardens of the Marches. Ower fower hundred yeors past, this whole countryside was fair hotchin' wi' ootlaas, robbors, russlors an' mordorors, aal oot for what the' could git, an' neebody to stop them. Scots or English, it made nee difference, one was just as bad as the othor until the goverments got togithor an' appointeed Wardens to redd things oot a bit.

Ivvery yeor the Scots and English Wardens for the Middle March, that's Redesdale and North Tynedale maistly, met heor at the Kieldor Stane to thrash oot thor diffors and settle aad scores an'aal. Mony's the time thor was fightin' brok oot and mony a split heed to show for't. Warse as a Saturday night dance in the Toon haal at Bellingham!

Aa checked me mobile, just for daft, an by heck, thor was a signal! Right! Aa thowt. Aa'll ring haeme efter Aa've taen a photy o' the Stane. Aa hed to move back aboot thorty yards, so's Aa could get the Cartor Bar int' the back groond, then Aa come back to where Aa'd left me rucksack. The bloomin' phone wasn't theor!! Aa must hev spent twenty minutes scrafflin' aboot in the hithor an' tussocks an' checkin' inside me bag afore Aa hed to give up an' mek me way back up the hill to Peel Fell.

The retorn trip was a wonderful repeat of the journey in, but spoilt a bit by the thowt that Aa'd hev to come back again to sorch for me blessed phone. Aa was back haeme by half past two and telled me sorry tale. Aa hed meant to gan back next day until a freend said by then the mobile's battery could be flat, so ringin' it up on a second mobile could be a bit tricky. That settled it! Aa hed nee option but to set off there and then, armed with Sylvia, the wife's, mobile (let's call my phone mobile'A' and Sylvia's mobile 'B').

Another suggestion from the same freend was to take the car up a sartin forest track tiv a point weel past Kieldor Heed farm and walk up the bornside, then follow the Kieldor Stane Born up to the Stane itsell. This way meant three miles insteed o' six, nee contest!

Aal went accordin' to plan until Aa got to the end of the track afore-mentioned. The forst one and a half miles was easy enuff, followin' a rough road and then a deer track alang a forest ride. When this petered oot, Aa made me way doon to the born throw reshees, hithor and whin bushees, only to find the bank hed given way and Aa couldn't get ony farthor. So Aa hed to gan back on me tracks, fightin' me way throw the whins and hithor and reshees yit again, dodgin' hidden rocks and crevicees to try and skort roond the landslide to get to the born farther alang.

That done, Aa was faced with a blummin' greet muckle deer fence, ight foot hee, right across me path! Lucky for me, it was kind o' rotten and Aa was able to clambor ower where the posts hed given up the ghost. By this time, it was nearly siven o'clock, Aa'd been fightin' hithor for ower an hoor an' Aa still hed three quartors of a mile to go. Aa didn't fancy strugglin' on and gettin' catched be the dark see far from the road so, yince again, Aa hed to admit defeat!

It was gettin' to be a habit! Aa got heame this time at twenty past ight. That neet, Sylv suggested gettin' haad of Bornie, the Forestry Ranger at Kieldor. He was a good freend and might be able to help, somehow. "Nee bothor, son! Be at the castle at ten o'clock the morn an' Aa'll tek ye up to the top o' Deedwattor Fell in the Land Rovor. That'll save ye a canny hike."

Anothor grand, fine day an' Aa was up the top o' Deedwattor by ten thorty. It was gey warm by this time, so Aa was pleased Aa hadn't had to howk aal the way up from the castle on foot, like yisterday. Aa enjoyed the walk ower the tops to Peel Fell and went doon the Bordor fence croose as a linty. This time the corlews war borblin' away and Aa saa a couple of reed grouse int' the bargain.

As soon as Aa got to the muckle Kieldor Stane, Aa used mobile 'B' to ring mobile'A'. At forst, thor was nee soond an' Aa cud hear nowt but the wind. Aa thowt, "The battry's deed an' Aa'll hev nee chance noo to find me blowed phone". Then Aa hord eet. A faint ring...ring then a pause then ring...ring again. Aa heeded oot into the hithor and cast aboot tryin' to pin the soond doon. By! It took some deein', but eftor an age, Aa var' nigh stood on the dashed thing lyin' in a hoole amang the hithor rutts an' covered in bracken, but neen the warse for its night oot.

Aa was that chuffed, Aa rang haeme to tell them the good news and celebrateed with a cup of tea, two Twix's and two shortbreed biscuits, sittin' in the sunshine in the bield of the famous Kieldor Stane. When Aa reached Mid Fell, eftor an hoor's walk, Aa rang the castle an' good owld Bornie the Ranger come oot in the Land Rover to pick us up an' fetch us back to the castle car park. By the time Aa got haeme at last, me "get fit for Arran" walk had covered twenty five mile and ta'en var' nigh twelve hoors!

That's a helluva lang walk, just to tek a phone caal!

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