Tuesday, 28 April 2009

DereStreet; A border crossing


I prepped the Surly Pugsley sat evening for a days riding which basically meant oil the chain and with the tools,spare tube etc.. under the seat i fitted the cheap frame bag i got crammed with more than enough food for a big day out and it was early to bed and up 6am Sunday morning to clear sky's and a glorious sunrise,and soon headed off with the pug on the back of the car for Jedburgh an hours drive south in the borders.
I was cycling by 7.30am,a 12 mile ride on hedged country roads which took me into the cheviot hills which the border follows peak to peak and round the humped 2767ft summit of the highest hill-cheviot itself...



These hills are famous for the cheviot sheep and its wool and lambing is ongoing this now so care was taken...


Four old routes cross the Cheviot's roughly north/south,the route of the present road the A68,the near straight Roman road `Dere street` which originally would of connected Hadrian's wall in Northumberland the Roman border with the Scots and the Antoine wall which ran west to east from the Clyde near Glasgow to the firth of forth near Edinburgh,the Romans didn't bother heading up much further into the highlands,maybe because the Pict's were so wild or maybe the midges!,


The other two routes are `The Street`, and `Clennel street` both also used by drovers to drive cattle and sheep to market,which probably included many not by there owners...






I rode up a long hard climb to the border gate on `Clennel Street` from Cocklawfoot farm...




At the border gate the land around here is known as the white lands from the grass which bleaches white in dry weather during late summer, the Pennine Way long distance footpath crosses west to east here and climbs up to the Cheviot hill itself...


Climbing around 1100ft in 2 miles on stone slabbed pathway which actually floats on the peat on heather bales.
The summit of the hump backed Cheviot is a rock saucer shape full of deep peat,several ordnance survey trig points were lost in the peat until a deep concrete plinth was made to support the currant trig point...




The peat up here rises and drops as it swells in wet weather,which is how in extreme dry spells crashed aircraft rise Phoenix like out the ground and i wanted to see two wrecks that crashed in bad weather during WW2,a wellington bomber NW of the trig point and a B17 flying fortress half a mile further north.
I got out to both though had to walk leaving pugsley beside the path and was a bit disappointed to find lots of the wreckage has been removed since i last came up in 1996/97,the propeller made into a war grave at the B17 is gone which is pretty bad as is is a war grave as one of the gunners was killed.also the B17 wing struts were broken up and i couldn't find one of the landing gear dunno how someone could move it as its huge and no machines could cross the peat,even an Argo cat wouldn't get up and down the ledges.

Nearer the Trig Point is the wreck of a Vickers Warick that crashed in 1946.
The engines are about 7 feet diameter...




Some of the bomber wreckage surrounding the two engines...






Its a treacherous place in wet weather and walkers are advised to not leave the flagstone and wooden paths...







Back down onto Clennel Street i rode around the military ranges and returned over the grassy track of the roman road dere street...





Classic army range sign...


Leaving the army range at Chew Green Roman camp...






Heading for the point of the hill-Windy Gyle and the border fence where dere street crosses back into Scotland...



I used to ride this all the time on my motorcycles for years(road legal Honda XR`s), now the English south part is closed to motor vehicles due to it being classed an ancient monument and was damaged from irresponsible riders cutting unnecessary ruts through wet areas...




Its part of a widespread problem in England now,and will miss ever riding it again on a motorbike,i love this trail,its the longest continuous trail here at around 18miles but it is hard work,as it was extremely dry i was going to take the karate monkey but love riding the pug and didn't know if it would be dry up top,in normal weather most of the year the pug would rule here.
The descent from Windy Gyle down to the tarmac road section at Towford is a cracker...



From Towford Dere Street undulates along to the walled section to Pennymuir...





Unusually dry conditions...





After a short tarmac section the last 5 miles off road is arrow straight to Jedburgh...




The last half mile descent to Jedfoot is a blast,good thing too as my legs were shot...



So out for 10 hours,8 hours riding time that does include a bit hike-a-bike and a massive 56miles considering the terrain i was amazed at this amount. I usually  ride 35-45 miles max before feeling it, having more than enough food deft helps and that float of the Pugsley`s low pressure 4" tyres combined with the 29er effect and the big grin factor keeps you rolling!,  not also that but the eco friendly very low impact footprint - less than a human foot print really makes these fatbikes shine in enviroments like here where as little erosion as possible is a good thing.
I hope the new bottom bracket arrives this week as the cranks getting quite bad now!.
Here's the film i made...

4 comments:

  1. What an amazing ride! Your country sure is beautiful. And steeped in history. I was especially entrigued by the stone path floating on the peat. Don't see that kinda stuff in the states too often. Great stuff coastkid! Thank You for sharing it with us.

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  2. the flagstones were brought in packs using chinook helecopters and then hand layed on the heather wrapped bales,there firm to walk(or ride on),the pugsley was very comfy over them with the big tyres and suspension post,arms and wrists a bit sore next day though!,thanks

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  3. Thanks for taking the time to video your ride. Magnificent countryside but those flagstones look like hard work even on a pug.

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  4. i admit they were but as i climbed and i got warmer the temperture dropped as the hieght increased,the cheviot has a wild desolate barren atmosphere when your up there,often its in cloud/mist/drizzle when the lower hills have sunshine,i only met 3 single walkers on the pennine way in the 2 hours up on the cheviot(took an hour to walk to both plane wrecks)which adds to the atmosphere of the cheviot

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