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Cheviots Summits

Windy Gyle

Windy Gyle is one of only six recognised summits in the Cheviots that top the magic 2000ft mark. Of the six it is the only one which properly straddles the Anglo-Scottish border.

Height (m) 619
Height (ft) 2031
Grid Ref: NT855152
Classification: Nuttall, Hewitt
Trig Point: Yes
No. of Visits 1

Windy Gyle Gallery: Click on the photos below to enlarge.

Russell's Cairn on the summit of Windy Gyle
Standing in Russell's Cairn with Scotland behind me
Looking north from Windy Gyle to The Schil and The Curr
Windy Gyle as seen from the southern slopes of Yarnspath Law
Looking along Rowhope Burn with Windy Gyle in the centre distance
Windy Gyle as seen from Comb Fell to the north east
Like many of the nearby hills the top of Windy Gyle is covered in cotton gras

More about Windy Gyle: While the Anglo-Scottish border attains its highest point on the western shoulder of The Cheviot the summit of the latter is some way to the east. Therefore the Windy Gyle is the highest summit on the border.

The summit is crowned by a large bronze age burial cairn which in turn has been surmounted by an Ordnance Survey trig point. The cairn is one of the largest in The Cheviots and is visible from many of the surrounding hills. At some point over the last few centuries the cairn acquired the name 'Russell's Cairn'. It is named in memory of Lord Francis Russell who was murdered at a March Wardens meeting in 1585 a short distance to the north of Windy Gyle.

Other than the cairn the most striking aspect of the summit is the view. You have to travel some distance to the south to reach a higher spot (Cold Fell in the North Pennines) while The Cheviot is just far away enough to the north not to dominate proceedings. It is certainly the best viewpoint I have yet come across in The Cheviots beating Hedgehope Hill by virtue of being right on the border.

Looking south and south-west it is possible to see at least as far as Mickle Fell and Cross Fell in the North Pennines as well as the Northern Fells of the Lake District. With the exception of a small portion which is hidden by The Cheviot nearly all the Cheviot hills can be seen including the numerous foothills on the Scottish side of the border. In the distance behind the Scottish Cheviots can be seen the outline of the Southern Uplands.

Numerous small burns begin life on the slopes of Windy Gyle. Those to the north including the namesake Gyle Burn feed Bowmont Water which in turn feeds the River Tweed via the River Glen and River Till. The southern burns, including Trows Burn and Rowhope Burn have a fairly short journey to the beautiful River Coquet.

This particular area of the Cheviots is criss-crossed with bridleways and ancient drove roads. Just to the north of Windy Gyle the old drove road of Clennell Street crosses the Border Ridge at Hexpathgate. It was here that Lord Russell met his unfortunate end. Not far to the south is The Street another ancient way which is said to pre-date the Romans and was once named Clattering Path on older maps. At their high point in the 18th and 19th Centuries these drove roads would see tens of thousands of cattle cross them each year.

Today the area is much quieter which is probably a good thing for my occasional bouts of bovinophobia. The most commonly trod path over Windy Gyle today is the Pennine Way which is in its final stages as it approaches Kirk Yetholm. Other than Pennine wayfarers the hill is most commonly climbed from Coquetdale. The approaches from the Scottish side look appealing but are even more remote than Coquetdale.

While The Cheviot is a summit that has to be visited it is Windy Gyle that has a summit that deserves to be visited more than once. It certainly made a big impression on me and although it might not be for a while I certainly intend to go there again.

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