On a really lovely morning, three of us set off to walk the Simonside ridge, something none of us had done previously. We parked the car at Lordenshaws and set off up the track opposite, climbing to the point where the St. Oswald’s Way route continues south westerly. We turned off right at the fork and continued to climb up towards The Beacon Cairn. The path had been improved on this stretch to lessen the effect of erosion by hundreds of walking boots, so the surface underfoot was dry and firm as we followed the stone steps. We stopped briefly to catch our breath and have a chat with the two guys who were doing the paving – a good long term job !
The path flattened out somewhat as we approached the Dove Crag Cairn, and we were rewarded with magnificent views both to the north and the south from this ridge. The track towards Old Stell Crag across typical moorland had the appearance of being covered in snow there was so much cotton grass in flower – what a successful plant this is hereabouts. We climbed from the Crag along the ridge, past the cairn at about 410 metres and finally made Simonside summit at 430 metres. The views were stunning all round, and we had a chat with a couple of young ladies who were also enjoying a days walking. They kindly took our group photo.
Dropping down from the summit, we past the rock strangely called Bob Pyle’s Studdie (A ‘studdie’ was a local word for an anvil, and Bob Pyle allegedly a blacksmith who lived in Rothbury in the 19th century – certainly the Pyles were the blacksmithing family at one time).
We joined a forestry road as it looped westwards, but quickly headed off south trying to follow the correct footpath through some cleared woodland. This proved extremely arduous, and although we found a way marker, the path was non existent on the ground. Consequently we turned back towards a forest track which was leading in the right direction. We followed this track through the forest past Weather Head and Fernybed Hill before stopping for our sandwiches on a sunny bank, with lovely views to the east.
The forest road continued for a while, and at a junction, we turned south east to pass Greymare Crag, zig-zagged past Blackcock Cairn, crossed the path we should have taken from Selby’s Cove and eventually joined St Oswald’s Way at the Coquet Cairn.
It was déjà vu from this point – we crossed Cove/Ousen Sike at Whelps Law, climbed past Spylaw, crossed Caudhole Moss and then dropped down the Currick back to the car. A beautiful day had been enjoyed, despite the enforced diversion through the forest, and another hill ticked off.