Winter Camp & Chesters Cottage

Written by Victoria Ross

It’s less than two weeks until we kick off our annual week of Duke of Edinburgh’s Award Expeditions, Powburn 2017 that will see over 90 young people complete their Bronze, Silver or Gold Duke of Edinburgh’s expeditions.

We’re really looking forward to getting back out on the hill, so much so we thought we’d share this account of our Winter Camp which was held at Chesters Cottage at the end of last year…we hope you enjoy the read!

We met at the end of the road in the Breamish Valley close to Hartside Farm at 9.30am on Saturday morning. We proceeded to walk up to Chesters Cottage passing the man-made lake on the left at Alnhammoor, which was built as a reserve of water that could be used to fight forest fires using a helicopter and a large bucket. Passing the farm buildings on the right we continued along the valley bottom following the river until we arrived at Cobden Wood. The path then cuts through the wood and climbs steeply for a short period of 80 metres – it can still be quite exhausting when you’re carrying rucksacks filled with camping gear though! At the top of the hill we descended slightly to pass through an iron age settlement and head to the cottage.

On arrival at the cottage we are allocated bedrooms and those Explorer Scouts who had not been before were given a tour of the house. Before lunch the group headed off to the Chesters Burn looking for signs of wildlife. Under the guidance of Cain Scrimgeour we identified fresh tracks made by an otter and set up a camera trap to try to get some photographs of this elusive mammal. However, when we returned 30 hours later we only had a short 30 second film of a bright speck which possibly could be an eye of a rat!

After lunch we started looking for signs of the settlement at Cobden to try to identify the site of the old farm.  Some of the team carry out some maintenance on the main track trying to reduce the size and depth of a large puddle that can cause problems for walkers and vehicles.

After a superb evening meal we all headed outside to gaze at the magical night sky, which was absolutely fabulous. The billions of stars you can see in our vast skies offer another compelling reason to love the Breamish Valley. The Milky Way arches majestically across the sky on clear autumn evenings and star clusters sparkle brightly. It’s a breathtaking scene that adds so much to the unspoilt character of our region. We spent a lot of time trying to photograph the stars and eventually succeeded.

Northumberland night sky

Sunday morning was a slow start after a late cold evening of star gazing, however Paul was fortunate to see a stoat climbing along the dry-stone wall that surrounds the cottage garden. Unfortunately, no camera was available to photograph this fact.

After breakfast and a short wide game we cleaned our bedrooms packed our kit ate a quick lunch and headed back to Hartside farm to be collected by our parents.

About the author

Victoria Ross

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