Six Successfully Summit Simonside

On one of the hottest days in August six of us set off for Simonside from the
Lordenshaws car park. We knew it would be challenging even without the heat, but
we all lived to tell the tale! Some were even wondering if we could manage Cheviot
next year!
The Northumberland National Park have re-cycled old unwanted flagstones from
mills on the path. This is to reduce soil and peat erosion in this fragile environment.
It must have been quite a sight to see the stones being helicoptered onto the hillside.
Certainly the work of the volunteers who helped lay the path is much appreciated by
walkers today.
Madeline encouraged everyone to walk at their own ‘happy speed’ and we had
plenty of stops, enjoying the 360 panoramic views: from the sea to Cheviot, south
east past the wind turbines at Blyth, and west to above Alwinton and Clennel where
we were last month. The heather was at its best, and we were surrounded by its
honeyed scent, the buzz of bumble bees, including the special mountain bumble,
and house martins darting everywhere.
We eventually reached the final cairn, where we happily collapsed onto the flat
sandstone rocks and were more than ready for our lunch. Jasmin had already
enjoyed exploring some of the craggy rocks and caves, and was soon back on her
feet, especially once she discovered the bilberries!
Little did we know that the hardest part lay ahead of us! Our path laying friends had
provided a direct descent from the top to the Forestry road below – a path made up
of steps zigzagging steeply down the hill, and challenging those with older knees and
hips! After a short distance 3 benches provided a welcome seat for us to rest and
admire Thropton and the winding River Coquet, before we continued on our way.

The road then went on into the trees of Simonside. Fortunately we saw the post
marking our path down to the carpark and ignored the sign that said it was closed
…… And so began the fun as we tackled a Storm Arwen Obstacle Course. The
path was always visible, but not always viable. Jasmin was brilliant at encouraging
the front walkers over, round and under the fallen trees, while Madeline brought up
the rear. Then quite suddenly we were in an open space with no more fallen trees
and a delightful path winding downhill. A great relief to all of us!
Eventually we reached the carpark, but our cars were a good mile and a bit away at
Lordenshaws! Leaving the group to come on when they were ready, Madeline went
on and collected her car and came back for everyone – 3 in the front and 3 in the
back for the last uphill road section back to the cars.
A great day and one none of us will forget in a hurry!

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