88. The Kielder Stone
start: Note o' the Gate
The Kielder Stone is a prominent rock outdrop that sits right on the Scotland/England border in a remote - and sometimes seriously bleak - spot midway between Carter Bar and Kielder. It's not easy to get to and this route - mixed cycling and walking - is probably the easiest approach...
There's a small parking/picnic area at Note o' the Gate on the road between Bonchester Bridge and Newcastleton and this is a convenient place to start. Just a little way south, a track heads into the forested area. We're fairly high up and so the height gain is only moderate.
About 5km along the track, it kinks slightly to the right and starts to head downhill a little. Ahead you'll see a fence line heading uphill and this is where to leave your bike. There is no point in trying to cycle any further.
If you're lucky, it might even be dry but you really need to be prepared to get wet feet. This is a Road Less Travelled and so the path - to put it charitably - is simply a line following the fence. The good news is that the gradient is fairly amenable and you'll emerge onto the summit of Hartshorn Pike after a while. You're out of the trees now so the views are extensive.
Our route took us south from here and we hoped to contour around and down the valley. I'd have to suggest that this isn't the best option. The landscape is trackless and we were just ploughing through the heather. It was also raining and this became really hard work.
A better plan is to follow the fence east to Haggie Knowe and then kink right to pick up the fence line along the actual border. This means dropping down and then climbing up again to reach the Kielder Stone, but I reckon it's easier than heather hopping...
So here it is. The Kielder Stone. Was it worth the effort? Well you're unlikely to see anyone else and the remoteness of the place does impart a certain aura to it - must try to come again when it's not raining...
john b, galashiels
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