A Wintery Weekend in Northumberland
Our Fort William Manager, Ben, is no stranger to the hills of Scotland. He spends much of his free time camping, climbing, ice climbing and walking but on this particular weekend England seemed to offer the better conditions for a ski tour in Northumberland:
The weather forecast for the west of Scotland was pretty grim for the weekend so heading south seemed a better option. There had been plenty of snow over the preceding week so a ski tour over The Cheviot and down to the little hut on the saddle looked promising. We planned to stay overnight so our packs contained winter bivi gear, food and fuel and a bottle of wine in case we got snowed-in. We managed to negotiate the narrow snow-covered road in to Langleeford and walked to the start of the tour in bright sunshine and a stiff breeze. Conditions under-ski were perfect and we made good progress toward the summit.
However, the breeze had been strengthening steadily and had increased to a gale by the time the summit was reached. We sheltered as best we could in the bothy bag, forcing down some nourishment, before making a judgement call that we would never make it down to the hut in these conditions. At least the wind was behind us as we battled to stay on skis and made our way back down to the road on snow that would have given ideal skiing had it been not been blowing a gale. Even the valley gave us little protection as we were blown along the road back to the car. Only on Cairngorm have I felt such strong winds - and these weren't even forecast!