Hard Rigg (February)

A strenuous walk on a rather damp day over rather boggy terrain much enjoyed by those who participated.

This walk to one of the high spots overlooking Alston offers a mixture of high moorland together with pleasant riverside walking.  Starting from anywhere at the bottom end of Alston the walk  heads out of Alston in a Northerly direction first along the main A686 Hexham road then up the rather steep North Loaning.  Once on the B6294 there are extensive views across the South Tyne valley to the Roman Fort of Epiacum and the high Pennine hills beyond.  After crossing the main road the route is joined by Isaac’s Tea Trail near Clarghyll Hall.  For those wanting to experience more of Isaac’s Tea Trail an alternative (but somewhat longer) route via Randalholm and Ayle is an option.

Following Isaac’s Tea Trail the route passes the former Pottery.  Not long ago this was surrounded by woods much of this is now gone which means that the views are now more extensive.  Leaving Isaac’s Tea Trail the route now crosses open moorland.  Not only has one left Isaac’s Tea Trail one has also left Cumbria as the fence/wall on the right which one follows to the summit of Hard Rigg and beyond is the county boundary and one is now in Northumberland.  In wet weather (and probably in dry weather as well) this particular section of moorland can be exceptionally boggy and care should be taken crossing it.  

The route is simple to follow as it goes alongside the wall/fence all the way to the summit which is adorned by a trig point.  From here, the highest point on the route there are extensive views in all directions.  To the West there is the North Pennine ridge from Cross Fell  to Cold Fell, to the North is Whitfield Moor, to the East is Allendale and, on a clear day, the distant Cheviot Hills.

Heading downhill from the summit of Hard Rigg one soon reaches Blacklaw Cross and the second named path of the day, the Carriers’ Way.  Turning right and following this path one is now back in Cumbria and it is downhill all the way back to Alston through Blagill and then Gossipgate where one can stop to admire the Seven Sisters waterfall from the bridge over the river Nent.

(Map and route details)