Stage Five - Yetholm to Wooler
(13 miles / 21 kms, Max Ascent 1900 ft / 600 metres)
The Gypsy Palace
The start of the route out of Kirk Yetholm, up the road to Halterburn, is on part of the Pennine Way.
Just up the road, on the right hand side is 'The Gypsy Palace', formerly the home of the King of the Gypsies. The house, unfortunately, has been upgraded and is now a holiday home. If only someone had been able to turn it, as it was, into a museum dedicated to the Yetholm Gypsies.
Off the road and up to the Border where there are the 'Welcome to' signs. Over the border into Northumberland.
I wonder how many walking this path realise that on most of the land up here was once the main source of income for Melrose Abbey, sheep. All of the Border abbeys owned huge areas of the hill land - granges - which, while no doubt providing some meat, when that was allowed, provided the fleeces which, sold to Flanders, gave a huge annual income.
St. Cuthbert's Way meets the Pennine Way
The path now leads down the College Valley to Hethpool.
College Valley is the home to quite a large group of the feral goats which roam the Cheviots. Groups can be found along the entire length of the Cheviot range, and if you are lucky enough to see them, they are a spectacular sight, especially the males with their huge curved horns. They are the descendants of goats which found freedom during the Middle Ages.
Also on exposed parts of the hillsides, especially in early Spring, you may come across adders sunning themselves - warming up after the long winter hibernation. If you don't bother them, they won't bother you. If, like me, you are a bit heavy-footed, they'll be long gone before you get near them.
Hethpool Linn, a waterfall, is a very pleasant spot to take a break, and have a snack, before continuing on your way, as the next stage can be a bit of a long slog, particularly in 'inclement' weather.
For those interested in history, you will pass Yeavering Bell and Humbleton Hill, the sites of major importance.
Yeavering Bell is thought to have been one of the major bases of the Votadini, the tribe which occupied most of the coastal land between Newcastle and Edinburgh at the time the Romans arrived.
At the foot of Yeavering Bell is the site of probably the most important Anglian palaces dating from the seventh century. The palace, Ad Gefrin, (the place of the goats) was one of the homes of King Edwin of Northumbria, whose name was given to another town - 'Edwin's Burgh', now known as Edinburgh.
It was at Ad Gefrin that St Paulinus baptised 3000 Northumbrians in 627 AD, just about twenty-five years prior to St Cuthbert's entry into Melrose Abbey.
Humbleton Hill is crowned by a major Iron Age hill fort. It was also the site of the Battle of Homildon, fought in 1402 between the English and the Scots, with Harry Percy, known as Hotspur, leading the English, and the Earl of Douglas leading the Scots. The Scots having been raiding in Northumberland were set upon by the English and were routed.
Cross over to join the bridleway from Wooler Common Farm to Wooler. Further down, there is the track leading to the Pin Well, into which, on Fair Days, single ladies used to throw bent pins in the hope of 'catching' a man.
This road leads to Wooler Market Place.