The Road goes ever on and on; Down from the door where it began;
Now far ahead the Road has gone; And I must follow, if I can;
Pursuing it with eager feet; Until it joins some larger way;
Where many paths and errands met; And whither then? I cannot say.

[JRR Tolkien, Lord of the Rings]

Thursday 25 April 2019

Tuesday 23 April - Sighty Crag (NY601809; 520m)

The first wiggling of my legs as I awoke this morning suggested that yesterday afternoon's hill had been a mistake. My quads were most definitely making their presence felt and it looked like yesterday's intended rest day was going to have to be moved to today, as there are no quick-and-easy Marilyns to be had from our current location.

Mick, fine husband that he is, volunteered to make me breakfast in bed and much lounging was done. When I finally emerged from under the duvet, it was to find that my legs weren't as sore as I'd thought. Were they up to a 14-mile bike ride and 3.5 miles of yomping over monster tussocks and through heather? By late morning, I decided that yes, they were.

Most people attack Sighty Crag from the west side. I was approaching from Kielder Water (to the NE), simply because I couldn't find anywhere suitable to park a Bertie-sized vehicle nearby on the west side. That gave me a longer outing, but as most of it looked cyclable, I decided it was the better option.

The ride in involved more coasting downhills than I would prefer (it doesn't take a genius to work out that coasting on the way in means pedalling on the way out), but was otherwise uneventful and a little over an hour after setting out I was chatting to a tree planting chap just before the end of the track. He's part of a team of four who are in the process of planting 10,000 broadleaf trees, which will take them around 3 weeks. It's a slow process, he explained, with the need to use a stake and protective tube for every tree. Their progress on the other side of the track, which is to be re-conifered, will be quicker.

A minute later I stopped again, this time to chat to a bird protection chap who was checking on the Peregrine Falcons nesting nearby, to see if they're sitting on eggs yet. He was full of helpful information, such as the advice that I would have been much better approaching the hill from the other side.

I had expected to walk from where he was parked, as my map said that was where the track ended. However, a couple of very rough tracks have been put in leading towards the forest edge, which was fortuitous as, with all of the felling, the fire breaks I'd intended to use to exit the trees have been obliterated. Those tracks turned out to be too tough going for me to ride, so the bike was soon abandoned in favour of my feet.
I was glad for the continuation track, even if it was too rough/steep for me to ride.

The walk turned out to be far easier than I'd expected. Only about 100m of forest detritus had to be negotiated between the track-end and the open hillside, where I picked up a vague animal trod that helped me along until I reached an indent in the landscape down which ran a stream. That indent was mainly grassy, with a few areas of quivering bog and a few more of monster tussocks, but there wasn't much heather down there, so it was comparatively easy.
Comparatively easy walking in a dip in the landscape. I seem to have photographed a section with more heather than was typical alongside the stream.

Reaching the top of that stream, the going was right up there with the hardest sort of wading through tussocks and heather, but only for a third of a mile. As I reached spot height 508m I could see that I was only a short distance from a fence that leads all the way to Sighty Crag's summit, and where there's a fence there's generally some sort of a trodden line next to it.

So it proved to be, punctuated here and there with some deep peat hags, although I imagine the going for the entirety of this section would have been rather more challenging if it hadn't been so dry lately.
Standing on the high point, with the trig behind me
Lunch was had on the summit before steps were retraced. My descent route can't have been far removed from that of my ascent, but I seemed to find easier terrain sooner on the way back, reducing the amount of heather-tussock-wading still further.

The return bike leg was slowed not just by those pesky undulations, but also by a headwind, but even so, I arrived back at Bertie almost three hours ahead of the 'panic if I'm not back by' time I had agreed with Mick (no mobile phone signal where Bertie is currently parked, so I couldn't update him on progress).

The stats for this one came in at 14 miles exactly for the bike ride with around 310m ascent and 3.4 miles for the walk with around 150m ascent.

No comments:

Post a Comment