A short but hugely enjoyable walk in the snow from Carter Bar to the top of Carter Fell and returning via Carter Pike.
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This was my third and final walk during a three-day stay at the Forest View Inn at Byrness on a Dewey bagging trip up to Redesdale.
After some light snow towards the end of Saturday's gruelling walk up to Girdle Fell and Wool Meath it was no surprise when I looked out the window on the Sunday morning to see that there had been more snow overnight and that this time it had laid on the higher ground.
"While there was not much depth to the summit view the long distance vistas were excellent and with the snow on the ground and deep blue sky overhead it was a superb place to be."
The forecast was for rain from midday onwards and as there were patches of sunshine outside I hurriedly ate my breakfast (it was already nearly 9am by this point), checked out and drove up to Carter Bar, the summit of the A68 as it crosses the border over into Scotland. As I began driving towards my destination I could see cloud was still covering the top of the fell but within minutes of me parking at Carter Bar the cloud lifted from the hill and the sun began to shine down on me.
From the parking area it was a straightforward but steep pull up Catcleugh Shin. Almost immediately my legs, already aching after my exertions of the previous two days, began to complain. Though my legs were fairly non-plussed my eyes were drinking in the snow enhanced views of this part of the Borders. Still it was with some relief when the gradient eased and I could then begin a relatively easy walk along the border fence towards the top of Carter Fell whilst still being mindful of any bogs hiding beneath the snow.
Carter Fell is a long hill and its trig topped summit is very broad. While there was not much depth to the summit view the long distance vistas were excellent and with the snow on the ground and deep blue sky overhead it was a superb place to be. Eventually though I had to tear myself away and decide what to do next. My original plan had been to carry on westwards from the trig point and walk the length of the fell before descending to an old mine and following the remains of a mine track back to the start.
Keeping in mind the forecast and that the sky was already filling with cloud to the west and that I was also just plain tired I decided on a shorter route which meant heading south-east from the trig point to the large cairn on Carter Pike from where I could then access the mine track. Getting to Carter Pike proved to be harder than it looked, not just because of the snow underfoot but because, on closer inspection, it turned out to be well defended by a maze of peat hags and groughs.
The views from the cairn though were superb, especially east towards the main mass of the Cheviot hills and south along upper Redesdale towards Catcleugh Reservoir. The cairn itself contained a few small memorial plaques to someone called Daniel. From Carter Pike I dropped down to the mine track which proved to be very wet and reedy in places for a soggy walk back to the car, all the while still enjoying good views.
This walk, though shorter than I had intended, was a brilliant way to end my weekend in Redesdale. The fact that it started raining within five minutes of me setting off back down the A68 made me feel fully justified in my decision to shorten my route. After all I'd achieved my main goal of bagging the summit and I'd timed my visit perfectly with the clearer skies. I can always go back and explore the western end of the fell another time.