Over the last 3 or 4 years National Park Rangers and Voluntary Rangers have been recreating a new path up the College Valley,from Hethpool Mill to Southernknowe running parallel with the main valley road.
As Tuesday was a fine Spring Day I decided it was a priority to head to the Valley and check out how the new path was bedding in!
Leaving the car in the Hethpool Car Park where Siskin were calling in the trees,I could hear a distant Mistle Thrush singing its welcome Spring song whilst at the same time an Oyster Catcher announced its noisy flight down the burn.
I then headed back down the road past the cottages ,following the St Cuthbert's Way over the College Burn then heading off up the valley past Hethpool Mill.Passing the Mill I stopped to photograph a Roe deer, in the trees which was unexpectedly obliging.A Heron took flight from the river bank as I moved on,passing the ancient protected natural woodland of Harrowbog on my left.
My next photo stop was a stunning view of a Stoat ,standing out like a sore thumb,wearing its winter ermine and which again obliged by standing motionless watching me with interest.
Just before reaching valley road once more I spotted a Buzzard I have noticed a few times in the Harthope Valley with a damaged right wing and apparently broken leg-a short flight across the hills in Buzzard time!
Unwilling to turn back just yet I then headed up the Lambden Burn towards Dunsdale Farm stopping to watch about two dozen Fieldfare feeding on the fields by the burn.A short lunch break then I decided to retrace my steps in case the Stoat was still around.Unfortunately,there was no sign of it but there was a large flock of Coal Tits feeding among the Alders and a Wren was also spotted.
This walk is to be publicised this year by the National Park so now is a great time to steal a march on the general public by checking out the path!
If you do decide to walk it don't be too put off by the 'Danger' signs at each end of the path!Considerable improvements have been made since then but it does still need care it places.Two burns can normally be crossed with a stride but if there has been a lot of rain a walking pole would be handy!There are also some short steepish inclines but anyone of average fitness can manage these with care.Further work is proposed to improve the footpath throughout the year.