> Second Kielder Borderer NFR champ race recce - Scott Gibson (photos: Scott)

Sat 21st Feb 2009

At very short notice three web footed explorers tackled the second Kielder Borderer recce. Having missed the first one, we were keen to find the magic trods and see just how deep the heather really was! Paul Appleby, Jamie Wilkinson and myself set off from Kielder Castle at 10am to find the checkpoints and battle with the wet ground and trackless oceans of heather. We soon realised we were over dressed and hats, gloves and other layers were peeled off in the ascent of Greys Pike. On the top we swiftly put all the layers back on and began eating the seemingly endless supply of food in Paul’s rucksack. The wind was cold and damp and worryingly at our backs which meant the return journey over the fells would be much harder. Top tip for anyone who does not want to share their hill food – bring something that no-one else likes i.e. prunes, despite being told how healthy they were both Jamie and I declined Paul’s kind offer!

At the bottom of the fire break on Greys Pike

Paul and Jamie heading up Greys Pike

Heading up into the mist, Paul leading the way

Onwards to Three Pikes and the first navigational error, after much leaping through heather we located the descent to the Ridge End Burn and crossed the bridge. The descent would have been much faster were it not covered in slippery roots and sticks.

Hurry up lads that squirrel looks angry!

A slight detour round East Kielder Farm led to three river crossings, only one of which was needed!
Next problem, how to find the way up through the forest to Grey Mares Knowe, eventually it was found after a major detour through the forest.

Which way?

A bearing through the sea of heather and cloud found us on the path along the edge of the plateau to the Carry Burn and onto the Knox Knowe cairn.

Bogs, snow and heather – brilliant!

The remotest checkpoint in England / Scotland? Jamie approaching the Knox Knowe cairn.

Scott with Knox Knowe in the background – nice camouflage!

Next stop the Kielder Stone. On the way Jamie and I established that long legs are distinct advantage when running through thigh deep heather! We finally picked up the trod over Haggie Knowe (after we passed it!) and found our way to what must be second largest boulder in Northumberland (after the Drake Stone). A quick history lesson from Scott (the Kielder Stone was a post office during the Border Reivers wars) and few photos and it was off up Peel Fell.

Scott and Jamie at the Kielder Stone

The summit of Peel Fell allowed a last chance to picnic and offered hope of some faster running ahead.

Paul, if you don’t like the prunes, don’t eat them!

After some cramp attacks we reached the eerie Deadwater Fell with the wind whistling through the pylons but with the promise of a long descent. We went wrong again and ran down the red mountain bike trail.

Nearly down

Arrived back at the Castle safe but tired and glad we had found our way round. A tough day out, can’t wait to do it again in 2 weeks! It’s all about suffering!

Scott Gibson

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