The weather forecast for several days previously had predicted fine weather, so it was in eager anticipation that we awoke on Wednesday morning to discover ….. the sun clearing the thinning mist; and by the time we set off, the sky was a pure azure blue.
We met up at the small car park at Chew Green, and took the other car down to Barrow Burn to commence the walk, disdaining a stimulatory coffee for the prospect of coffee and cake later. Our route for the most part lay close by the river, along the winding narrow road, as we climbed steadily towards our destination – the source !
Not long after setting off, we debated about following a track leading off to the right, which would have by-passed Carshope Farm, before re-joining the road at Carlscroft. Looking at the map though, the contours looked very close together, so we decided that it might take too long to climb to Hindside Knowe and thus seriously delay our return to Barrow Burn and the coffee/cake celebration. We continued to follow the river as it wound its way around the Carshope Plantation on Bell Hill, and then past the confluence with Gable Burn towards Blindburn Farm, the start of the walk of one for our members the previous week ! The air temperature was steadily climbing as the sun continued to shine, but it was noticeable, on this shady stretch of road in the lee of the forested hillside to our south, that the early morning autumnal chill would take some time to clear. The grassy tussocks alongside the road were richly decorated with the spangled webs of the numerous spiders that inhabited the vegetation.
There was little in the way of fauna in the area so it seemed, though the presence of groups of army personnel carrying packs (Bergens) and rifles may have been responsible. We did spot a solitary buzzard seeking the thermals with which to ascend into the clear, cloudless sky, but apart from that, nothing revealed itself.
The Border County Ride path took off on our right hand side just to the west of the farm steading, climbing steeply to Deel’s Hill before heading north west to the England/Scotland border at Black Halls. Perhaps another day ?
Fulhope was the next farm that we passed, with an enticing track leading off towards Saddlers Knowe to the south west, but time was marching on, so we stopped for lunch on a grassy bank overlooking the river, with the sun on our backs and a lovely view of the Cheviot Hills to the north. A pause for the group photograph, and then off again along the road to Makendon farm, used, as so many previously occupied buildings in the area, by the Army during their troop training.
We came to the steepest part of the road just beyond the farm, but then it was downhill to the car park at Chew Green. We headed off from here along a track, chatted to a lone walker taking a breather from his ‘Walking the Courses’ charity challenge (http://www.walkingthecourses.com/ ), by-passed the southern edge of the Chew Green Roman Camps, crossed the border fence into Scotland, and continued to walk parallel to the infant river. The going underfoot became very tussocky and damp, so while Clive and Steve turned off towards firmer ground, Geoffrey and I struggled on for a little while, finally attaining a spot where we sensed the river began its 40 mile journey to the sea.