Wednesday, 14 February 2018

Half term 1

January sped by, and suddenly it was half term.

We celebrated by immediately taking off to a youth hostel in the North Pennines. It was bitterly cold and when we diverted off the road on the way to check out Cauldron Snout we saw our first proper snow. It was wonderful - a hill-top reservoir with the wind whipping up white horses on the grey water. Cold simply doesn't cover it.

It was about a mile and a half walk to Cauldron Snout, and at times I wondered if we were going to make it or whether we were going to have to carry a child back with a broken leg, such good fun they were having sliding on the ice that covered the track.

But we made it (thanks to a pocketful of chocolate) and found a rushing waterfall behind a most James Bond-esque damn.

We had hoped to go further down the waterfall to admire the Whin Sill cliffs, but the rocks were very icy, and anything that wasn't slippery was sodden peat. Wonderfully treacherous.

We set off onto the youth hostel at Ninebanks later than we had intended, as as the snow came down, we found ourselves driving across the top of the Pennines on a tiny road, half covered with snow, in the pitch black. Never before have I actually used those poles that they put up at the side of the road to mark it in the snow. It was amazing.

But we got there, and found it was just us and our friends in the hostel. So we filled up the log burned, cracked open the whiskey, the children started a mammoth game of Exploding Kittens, and we made ourselves at home.

Next morning we woke to discover that the snow had covered everything and we were living in a proper winter wonderland! We planned to go to Hadrian's Wall, but the Hill's car wouldn't start, so we had a happy morning rolling down hills.

In the afternoon, the lovely youth hostel people found us a sledge and we sledged until it was dark.

We dined on haggis and neaps and tatties and ate like kings.

The next day (after an amazing cooked breakfast of scrambled eggs, mushrooms, tomatoes, bacon, beans and leftover haggis (seriously, it's good!)), the Hill's departed on an AA truck, and we headed off to Hadrian's Wall.

To our surprise, the snow disappeared as we left our valley and we reached the wall with no snow on the ground. But our walk along the walk was accompanied by lots of ice and intermittant snow flurries, so we were able to have lots of fun pretending that we were soft southern roman soldiers posted to the farthest frontier.

In preparation for world book day, we took a photo of the children reading The Eagle of the Ninth in milecastle 39 (in the snow).

And we visited that tree. You know, the sycamore that you visit on your way from Dover to Sherwood Forest by horse:

There were a surpising number of people around. We decided that a Monday in February in the snow was the right time to visit, and that we wouldn't return during the summer holidays (except possibly at sunrise).

And then we drove home across the North Pennines in the snow (which we could see this time) and vowed to come back again soon.

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