Date: 17th July 2005
Distance: 4.7 miles
Ascent: 831 feet
Time: 2 hour 45 minutes
Start Grid Ref: NY627929
An easy walk to the viewpoint of Cat Cairn via Skyspace before an awkward climb to the trig point on Purdom Pikes and an even more difficult return through the plantations.
Route Summary: Skyspace Car Park - Cat Cairn - Skyspace - Purdom Pikes - Cat Cairn - Skyspace Car Park
Photos: Click on the photos below to enlarge.
Walk Detail: Hall's Kielder walking guide gave the impression that this would be a simple walk to a grand Kielder viewpoint and back again using a number of wide forest paths. It is amazing how a book written just 10 years ago can now be so badly out of date.
The initial track Cat Cairn was as easy as it was promised to be. The modern architecture of Sky Space was certainly interesting but far more arresting was the view from Cat Cairn. Supposedly the last refuge of the local wildcat population before it succumbed to extinction Cat Cairn has a superb view of Kielder Water. Unfortunately the views of the surrounding hills such as Deadwater Fell were obscured by low cloud.
At the beginning of what should have been the final ascent, the path disappeared into a morass of long weeds, bog, dead trees and eventually thick heather. It was very tough going especially for Lisa who was also being pestered by the local insect population. Eventually we got in sight of the lonely pine tree that from the valley looks like it marks the summit.
A trudge through the heather took me to the trig point which as it is set fairly centrally on a flat top the views were not particularly impressive. The main interest was a view of the Larriston Fells further west as well as Glendu Hill to the southwest.
Lisa had sensibly waited for me by the pine where the views were much better. In the absence of the metre wide path that should have cut across the summit we headed in the direction indicated by the walking guide. To our dismay though we found that a whole swathe of plantation had effectively been culled and so we had to make our way down through an even greater wasteland than the ascent.
At this point the sun, which had been hiding for most of the walk, came out and really started to beat down on us. Thankfully my sense of direction prevailed and we finally got back on to a forest track a few hundred metres south of Cat Cairn. From there we followed the track that we had initially climbed.
While Peel Fell the day before had been one of the best walks of the year this was somewhat the opposite.