Border Ridge including Windy Gyle

Route Summary:

A walk along Border Ridge in the Cheviots, Northumberland. The route starts near Carlcroft Farm and follows streams up to Lamb Hill . Once on the hill summit, it follows Border Ridge as far as Windy Gyle then makes its way back to the start via the farmsteads of Trows and Rowhope.

Route Information

  • Start: Unnamed Road, Morpeth NE65 7BX, UK
  • Date:07-05-2018
  • GPX File: Download

Other POI: Buckham's Bridge, Buckham's Walls Burn, Rennies Burn, Mountain Refuge Hut, Beefstand Hill, Mozie Law, Mozielaw Flow, Plea Knowe, Foul Step, Windy Rig, Windy Gyle, Russel's Cairn, Trows Law, Trows, Rowhope, Stogie's Cleugh, Hindside Knowe, Carlcroft

Route Description:

This was the first walk of three that I managed to complete as part of a mini two day adventure in Northumberland – a county that I had never set foot in before. I’d been sent a copy of Cicerone’s ‘Walking in Northumberland’ book to review and so I selected a bigger walk in the Northumberland National Park for the first day, and two shorter walks in the hills around Rothbury for the second.

In terms of the journey… the A1 was as dull as always, but all changed at Newcastle when I turned onto the A696 towards Northumberland. Suddenly roads were quieter and I was surrounded by scenery that was actually worth looking at. The drive was actually enjoyable for the first time since setting off. I continued a fair way down this road as it eventually merged into the A68. Then, all of a sudden, my satnav informed me to turn right, which I did – only to be greeted by a sign saying ‘Private Road – Ministry of Defence’. I had a choice to make here… either find another way to get to my destination in an area of the country that I don’t know at all. Or risk being blown up by military debris. I decided to trust my satnav and proceeded down this little single lane track. And what a track it was! For the next four miles, it was utterly gorgeous. This little lane improbably wound its way around the hills, heading further and further towards the middle of nowhere. I felt like I might be the only person in a 50 mile radius – which is a great feeling when surrounded by such a beautiful landscape. It’s hard to describe how fantasic this road was, but luckily it just happens to be available to view on Google Streetmap. Enjoy!

The walk actually starts at a small car park that lies just past Buckham’s Bridge. The most obvious choice of line here to obtain the Border Ridge is to immediately ascend Yearning Law, however the route I was following had gone for a different variation. I headed west, following the line of Buckham’s Walls Burn as far as a an old sheepfold where the stream forked. So far the walk had been lovely with it’s surroundings of steep valley slopes. Unfortunately, there was also a horrid side to it due to the amount of dead sheep that I walked past. Not just the odd individual sheep but also clusters of them, five at a time. Together and rotting. I reckon that during the initial stretch as I followed the burn, I must have passed around 25 or more of them. The smell of death made an interesting contrast to the sweet fruity taste of the Starburst (I still call them Opal Fruits) that I was chewing at the time. I started to work my way through possible causes of their demise, such as a black panther on the loose, or maybe an airborne killer virus. This made me feel a little anxious. I won’t post the picture of the sheep here, but if you’re morbidly interested then they’re in my Flickr album linked at the foot of the post.

Buckhams Walls Burn
The start of the route
Buckhams Walls Burn
Following Buckham’s Walls Burn

Anyhow, back to the route description! At the sheepfold, I took the right-hand fork onto Rennies Burn and headed in a more northerly direction. The Ordnance Survey map shows a path but in reality there’s none visible but it’s fairly easy to pick your own way. Eventually the stream forks yet again at another sheepfold, and again it’s the right fork that’s taken with the easiest walking on the left-hand side of the stream. It’s not far after this that the route eventually leaves the stream up the right-hand slope. It’s best to look out for a small stream running down the hill on the right-hand side as it’s just after this that the route makes it’s way up the slope.

A sheepfold
Rennies Burn
Following Rennies Burn

Once up, the path is a little more visible and is followed until a junction of footpaths is reached. The right hand path (south) heads back to Yearning Law so it’s the left hand path that’s required that heads north before curving round to the west and to the mountain refuge hut. From here it was a sharp left onto the Pennine Way, which I would follow all the way along the ridge to Windy Gyle. The first stop was Lamb Hill, which has a trig point located on the other side of the fence and so I assume that the trig point is technically in Scotland. The terrain up here was much more familiar to me as a regular visitor to the Dark Peak with its heather covered slopes and patches of exposed peat. The path along the ridge is paved for much of the way, like many sections of the Pennine Way.

Yearning Saddle Mountain Refuge Hut
Mountain refuge hut
Lamb Hill trig pillar
Lamb Hill trig pillar

The scenery up in the Cheviot Hills is beautiful all around, and the rolling hills stretch as far as the eye can see. To the right was the expanse of Northumberland National Park, and to the left, Scotland. Next up on the ridge was Beefstand Hill followed shortly by the summit of Mozie Law. At various points, spectacular views were on offer to the right looking down into some of the large cloughs (I’m not sure if they still call them cloughs up here).

Pennine Way Border Ridge
The paved Pennine Way
An old bunker
Crossing Border Ridge

The final section of ridge wrapped around the clough that houses Rowhope Burn and led up to the final and biggest summit of the day, Windy Gyle at 619 metres above sea level. This hill also features a trig point that sits inside a large cairn named Russel’s Cairn which apparently dates back to the bronze age. It was the perfect place to stop to rest the legs and get some fluids down me. What had started as a fairly cloudy day had transformed into a red hot summers day, and I was suffering a little as I’d put no suntan cream on my arms. I could see them going red and could feel the heat radiating off them. They were going to be sore later.

Heading to Windy Gyle
Heading to Windy Gyle
Looking towards the Cheviot
Looking towards the Cheviot
Windy Gyle trig pillar and cairn
Windy Gyle trig pillar and cairn

From Windy Gyle, I descended south towards the ridge above Trows Law that runs high between Trows Burn and Wardlaw Burn. Galloway cows were out grazing on the ridge and, with me being such a coward with a fear of cows, I dropped down the slope a little so that I could safely skirt around them. The path eventually descends down to the Trows farmstead and continues on to the Rowhope farmstead where it forks off to the right up the slopes of Hindside Knowe. My legs were feeling very weary at this point thanks to the heat, but struggled on knowing that this was to be the final ascent of the day.

Trows Burn
Looking back up Trows Burn
Trows Farmstead
Heading down to the Trows farmstead

Once over and descending on the other side of the hill, I turned right and contoured around Stogie’s Cleugh before gradually heading downhill towards Carlcroft farm. Once back on the road which ran alongside the River Coquet, it was a simple case of following it back west to the car park. A spectacular day and so much more around here to explore. I was here for 2 days and already I was wishing it was 2 weeks.

The end is in sight!
River Coquet
River Coquet
Route Map
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