Finally, an update – plans for the next volcano in my #40by40 are coming together.
This will tick off volcano number nine (if I include my accidental volcano as number eight). Hurrah!
It’s not a volcano on my original list. It’s not a volcano that’s spectacularly tall and grand. It’s not a volcano that breathes fire, gurgles lava or puffs smoke. It doesn’t even silently steam. It’s not a volcano capped with snow or one that needs a skilled guide. And it’s not a volcano in the depths of some exotic tropical country, involving laborious treks through empty desert or humid jungle.
In fact, some people wouldn’t think it’s a volcano. Indeed, most people probably don’t even realise it’s a volcano.
Or rather, that it was.
That’s because it’s an ancient volcano – and it’s right on my doorstep in England.
Let me introduce you to the Cheviot Hills; the rolling hills that essentially mark the border between Scotland and England.
Some 350-400 million years ago two continents (what is now Scotland and what is now England) collided, resulting in volcanic activity that gave birth to the Cheviot Hills. By all geologic accounts it was very violent and explosive, with ash-laden, super-heated pyroclastic flows and masses of viscous lava some 2km deep. But pinpointing the actual vents has been relatively inconclusive.
As such, my volcano number nine encompasses a two day walk over the Cheviot Hills, taking in several summits that resulted from the volcanic activity, including The Cheviot (the highest peak), Windy Gyle, Bloodybush Edge, Comb Fell and Hedgehope Hill. The whole walk will be around 37km – many intrepid adventurers try to do the loop walk from Wooler in a day but as I have the boyfriend in tow (who is not an early riser) this really isn’t feasible (also I need to make sure the old legs are up to it!).
So, why am I climbing an ancient volcano (what some people say is not a proper volcano) and in England?
Well part of it is because everything with this quest has gone a bit Pete Tong and my head has been a muddle, with the original plan (albeit tentative) kicked into touch not long after ticking off volcano number one. Then, recently, I sort of went and made things worse by deciding to apply for British citizenship, which basically means I haven’t been able to plan to travel overseas until that has been sorted (which may be as late as March next year).
But also, I wanted bit more of an extended adventure – not just a hop, skip and a jump up a volcano, celebratory photo at the summit and back home in time for tea. The Cheviot Hills give me two great days of walking in the English wilderness, and in a part of Britain I haven’t visited before. Plus, I’m tagging on a walk of Hadrian’s Wall afterwards – something I’ve been wanting to do for years.
Bring on September.