The Northumberland Hills are a great place to get distant views at any time of year but recent ventures out there have come with rather curtailed vistas with mist and blowing snow. The snow has come and gone this year with great rapidity, snow one day, clear again a few days later and the snow has barely been seen down at lower levels.
We expected our walk up Cheviot to be in snow but it was only a thin dusting on the top. Fortunately the deep frost had frozen the wet peaty paths making them less problematic. The top of the hill was in mist, a small cap of cloud that increased through the day. The flagstone path led us clearly to a top that is hard to find amongst the peaty pools and boggy ground. It’s not the most pleasant summit in the area but the highest point in the County. Little in the way of wildlife was stirring in the persistent wind despite some sun below the cloud covering.
The following week we were out again on a chunk of the Pennine Way leading north from Byrness, with its tiny church. The path climbed quickly from the soggy snow at the valley floor to the windswept conditions of the hilly ridge, past a little group of rowan trees huddled together between dramatic boulders. Glimpses could be had into the valley with its forestry and reservoir. The path itself follows the edge of the Otterburn ranges, with signs along the route reminding you of the chance of unexploded ordnance. Again the wildlife was keeping a low profile but the occasional breaks in the cloud provided rare dramatic views in a largely empty looking landscape.