The sun was shining, the breeze light. So off to the hills on such a lovely Spring day
Well that was the plan. There was a change in the weather, for the better, and it was mid week so I knew there would be very few people out on the hills today.
With rucksack packed with everything I needed for myself and little Tess I headed over to Harthope Valley. Its a nice easy drive through glorious countryside and takes about an hour 40 minutes from Warkworth. Its a place I often go as there are some really stunning walks with amazing views.
At this time of year only the hardy venture there and It had been a few weeks since I was last there. I was hoping that there might be some snow still left up on the tops, which would make for some good photography.
The road through the valley is at best mostly single track, which is not a problem. You get used to them living up here as I do.
What I hadn't bargained for was the amount of damage that had been caused by the snow and rain coming of the tops. The road was full of potholes. Some so deep it was hard to keep the car straight. I took it very very easy knowing that out here there would be no help should I get stuck.
At best there are just one or two hill farms and no mobile signal. I pressed on feeling a few bumps as I hit bad road, and eventually reached the tiny car park near the end of the valley.
I was eager to get walking as too was Tess. I grabbed my pack, locked the car and headed off in the direction of Housey Crags. The plan was to walk up on to Hedgehope hill via Long crags , but seeing as there was still snow on the tops and as I did not have crampons and ice axe with me, decided on a slight detour taking a low level walk away from the high tops.
It was a fabulous climb up from the valley floor. The wind was fairly light and the sun was shining as I climbed. The odd grouse fluttered in front of me and Tess, had she been off lead would have had one for dinner. Something I never do when there are sheep about, which there inevitably is up here, is let her off lead. Something I wish more people would think about.
It was just a perfect March morning. Nothing could spoil such a day, I thought. Occasionally I stopped to admire the view and take in the day. No need to hurry up here.
For a while I stopped at Housey crags to take some photos and play around with Tess who was having a great time bouncing across the rocks and playing at being a Sherpa.
Then off I set again following the ridge along and up. As I started the climb from Long crags I could not believe how strong the wind was. So much so that I could hardly stand. I guess I picked the wrong day to introduce Tess to high route walking.
There was nothing else for it but to retrace my route and head back to the valley floor. A wasted walk? Well I didn't think so. It was just great to be out in the fresh air enjoying life.
I was in no hurry to get back down.
Once I got off the ridge the wind was not as bad so a leisurely stroll and a spot of dog training on the way down was just fine. From Housey crags you can see down in to the valley and the car park and way down in the distance was my car, and right next to it another. I thought nothing of the second car.
There as far as I was concerned was another adventurer, probably doing the Cheviot route. So on I plodded, stopping to take in the fabulous view and admire a small pool which was full of frog spawn. A sure sign that Spring was here.
As I say I was in no hurry so It took me the best part of an hour or more to get back down off the tops.
My eyes just about popped when I got to my car. Oil was everywhere. No guesses what had happened here. I had obviously hit one of the potholes on my drive up the valley and it had smashed the sump. I was going no where fast.
As I neared the car the guy in the pickup parked next to me got out and said he saw me coming down off the tops and decided to wait for me to see if he could help knowing that the car was obviously mine as there was no one else around.
He offered to take me back to Wooler or if I wanted to give him details so he could phone from the local farm, where he was headed and get some help.
Luckily I am a member of the RAC (It does pay to have breakdown cover as you never know when you might need it, and this was one of those times I was glad I had cover).
He said he would come back and let me know what the RAC said once he had phoned. I could not believe that this guy had taken the time to wait for me just to see if he could help. I must have done something to deserve such favour from the man upstairs.
Half an hour later it was the farmer who came to tell me that it would be an hour and half until the rescue vehicle came. It was in fact over 3 hours. Not that I was going anywhere and I had food to keep me going and Tess was happy to doze in the front seat of the car while we waited.
I did eventually get back home after being taken to the garage I use in Amble feeling tired and hungry. I am now waiting to get my car back on Monday, with no doubt a hefty bill for a new sump etc.
It had been quite an eventful day but a day of both enjoyment and frustration. But it was also a day that showed how kind people can be and how some are willing to go that extra mile to help a stranger in distress. It showed me too that there is still hope for human kind and the milk of human kindness is still there in some people.