With autumn patiently waiting in the wings I had a notion to visit the conical-shaped Hogdon Law for the second time in less than six months. Whilst the easiest way to reach the 548 metre high summit would have been from the narrow single track road serving the isolated farmstead of Ewartly Shank I had, on this occasion, mapped out a rather more interesting and circuitous route.
It was raining as I parked my car on the grass verge immediately prior to Hartside Farm in the Breamish Valley so, with time on my side, I sat for a few minutes hoping that the rain would abate. But patience is not one of my virtues and, eager as ever to be on my way, I slipped on my waterproofs and, with visibility little more than a hundred metres, I headed off. Once over the River Breamish the sun began to penetrate the rapidly thinning clouds as the arc of a perfect rainbow formed a guard of honour over the huddled together buildings of Alnhammoor.
Off came the waterproofs as I wound my way uphill to the barely-visible remains of the hillside cottage of Cobden with the back-over views to Dunmoor Hill and the cloud-topped Hedgehope Hill now close to their best. The long drag over the grass-covered moor to the ancient cross-border track of Salter’s Road passed without incident and soon I was turning towards the Shepherd’s Cairn Memorial Stone on the lower slopes of High Knowe. The large cairn on the top of Hogdon Law was now clearly visible in the middle distance but the sky looked ominously threatening beyond the distant Cushat Law.
I pressed on following a relatively clear quad track on a winding uphill course and, as I passed a wayside cone-shaped cairn, I wondered why such an impressive structure had not been named at some time in the dim and distant past when many a lesser a cairn had. Soon after that I was sitting, a tad uncomfortably, with my back against the huge and rambling summit cairn tucking into my energy-enhancing lunch and enjoying the fantastic views across huge swathes of beautiful Northumbrian countryside to the wild North Sea coast.
However, the weather was now becoming agitated so, with a distinctly cold draught sweeping in from the north, I left my lofty perch and retraced my steps downhill, detouring briefly to visit the tiny but panorama-endowed Hushie Cairn. From there I quietly slipped past Ewartly Shank, splashed across the Shank Burn and then, as I laboured uphill towards the flat top of Little Dod – once the site of a Roman Period (AD43-AD410) settlement, the rain returned.
So, it was back on with the waterproofs, a quick sip of my secret formula power-producing drink and away I went with a ‘tiger in my tank’. Now on a mainly downhill trajectory, I made light of the worsening conditions as I strode out towards Hartside Farm with thoughts of a change of clothing. As I followed the last few hundred metres of the pot-holed and puddle-strewn track back to my car the sun re-appeared. It had been that sort of day.
by Geoff Holland © 2012
Geoff Holland is the author of four books of self-guided walks, ‘The Cheviot Hills’, ‘Walks from Wooler’, ‘The Hills of Upper Coquetdale’ and ‘Walks on the Wild Side The Cheviot Hills’ , is a regular contributor to ‘TGO (The Great Outdoors)’, ‘Country Walking’ and ‘The Northumbrian’ magazines and is the operator of the highly acclaimed website www.cheviotwalks.co.uk. His books are available online from www.trailguides.co.uk or from all good bookshops and he can be heard reading a selection of his poems on www.listenupnorth.com. He has lived in Monkseaton for almost 40 years.