Yesterday I walked to the 815m summit of the The Cheviot. The summit is just inside England (it’s the highest summit in England outside Cumbria), but I started the walk from Sourhope, to the west over the border in Scotland. It made for an interesting route, crossing the border high up on a ridge. The walk was about 17km in total. You can see photos from the walk on my website here.
The border at this point is also the route of the Pennine Way and is unmarked except for a simple fence. A small mountain rescue hut is also located at this point of the route and was a handy escape from the cold wind on my walk yesterday. Going for walks in England has become a bit of a habit for me this year – see my previous postings ‘Kinder Scout‘ & ‘Ancient and modern sites in England‘.
The route also goes past Hen Hole which is a precipitous gorge with sides that are rocky crags – quite unlike the rest of the hills in this area which are gentle grassy mounds.
The summit plateau of The Cheviot used to have a reputation as a difficult area to walk in as it is a large undulating boggy expanse, but in recent years wooden duckboards and large rock flagstones have been laid down on the path. This makes the walk much easier than it would be otherwise, but does make it feel as if you are cheating a bit! It’s an impressive bit of high-elevation pathmaking and is the most extensive example of this sort of thing I’ve seen on any hill. The peat bog itself sits incongruously on the summit of The Cheviot like a big brown toupee.
The summit is a godforsaken location, surrounded by unwelcoming pools of cold boggy water, and yesterday the first snow flurries of the winter and a harsh wind made it even more of an unwelcoming place so I didn’t stay very long. The views from the summit were extensive, from the Lammermuir and Pentland hills to the north, the North Sea to the east and as far as the Lake District to the south-west.
Walking back down from the summit, I saw something a little way from the path that looked out of place and on closer inspection it turned out to be a large piece of aircraft wreckage. This was an unusual surprise during the walk – it seems that even when I am not looking for aircraft wrecks I find them anyway! There were many other pieces of wreckage hidden away amongst the peat mounds including a couple of engines. I didn’t know anything about this crash site before the walk, but I believe this is a Vickers Warwick that crashed in 1946. The fact that this walk was on Remembrance Sunday was apt too.
The site is only a few hundred metres from the border between Scotland and England, at an altitude of about 750m near Cairn Hill, so I think it makes sense to include the site on any list of similar such sites in Scotland, even though technically it’s actually in England. You can see photos of the site on my website here.
Just noticed that you can actually see the wreckage on this site on the updated Google Maps mapping data – this is a first!
Only certain parts of the UK have this high resolution on Google Maps, but the area around the summit of the Cheviot is included.
I received a personal communication about this wreck from Bob Pitts. Bob lives in New Zealand now, but he was in a party of 3 teenagers who discovered this crash on the Cheviot on the afternoon of 30th July 1946. The Warwick had been reported missing for a week, and they were the first to come across the wreckage, and find the bodies of three airmen.
I’m sure when first went up the Cheviot, which was with a guide on an outward bound course, we visited the wreckage and there was a propeller lodged onto a nearby rock!
I was only in my early 20s so it’s about 35 yr ago, but it never left my mind.