Saturday, 14 April 2012

Newton Tors and Yeavering Bell

No matter where you walk in the Cheviots or the boundaries of Northumberland you can guarantee breathtaking views, whether it is the moody and dramatic hills or the lush green valleys with spider webs of rivers and tributaries.  One place which constantly draws me back is Newton Tors within College Valley.  The Valley can be accessed at Kirk Newton which is situated approximately 6 miles west of Wooler.

The Valley is ringed with remnants of Bronze Age forts and steeped in ‘bloody’ history.  Across the years the English armies have fought the Scottish armies and the Border Revivers have raped and pillaged on both sides with respect only for the ‘family name’. 

This walk begins at ‘Ad Gefrin’ which I have referred to in a previous blog.  As you approach the start you cannot help but feel dwarfed by the towering bulk of Yeavering Bell.  Yeavering Bell is 361m above sea level and there are two paths which will take you to the remains of the hill fort situated on the top.  There is access from the south which is a relatively easy climb or the north which is practically a 1:1 climb (steeper in some parts).  I have climbed both and can tell you that the south path is strenuous but north requires a good supply of oxygen and has the potential for a heart attack. 

As you leave Ad Gefrin you head towards Old Yeavering and a path which leads you upwards and onwards.  The path circumvents Yeavering bell, for now, and heads towards Easter and Wester Tors with heights of 438m and 518m respectively.  As you progress along the path there is a point where is becomes St Cuthbert’s Way.  There are two options either to carry on walking in the same direction along St Cuthbert’s Way and all points west or take a sharp left and follow the path to the east.  I decided to go east and upwards between Easter Tor and Yeavering Bell.  After a short while there another path intersects your route which takes you to Wester Tor and gives you the opportunity to divert to Easter Tor.  Both Tors give breathtaking views of the surrounding countryside.  The landscape is rugged and moody with a continuous wind sweeping across the hills.  As you contemplate the views you can easily fall back in time to another age when life was harsher, bloodier but simpler. 

After leaving Wester Tor you can divert to Easter Tor then continue back to Yeavering Bell.  A brisk climb up the south access route brings you to the remains of the fort situated across the twin peaks of the hill.  This is an ideal place to light your camping stove and settle back with a hot cup of tea to raise your sugar levels before ‘free falling’ down the north access route. 

Overall the walk is approximately 8 miles – hard going in places but definitely worth the effort.

Ready for the Off !!

    Dramatic skys from Easter Tor

        Wester Tor in the distance

View from Wester Tor

Wester Tor to Coldburn Hill

Northerly view from Wester Tor