New route revealed for annual fell race

Snow-capped Cheviot. Picture by Jane Coltman
Snow-capped Cheviot. Picture by Jane Coltman

Organisers behind an annual fund-raising hill race have upped this year’s challenge in a bid to support the vital mountain rescue service.

For the last eight years hardy runners have tackled one of the two highest peaks in Northumberland in an event which raises money for the Northumberland National Park Mountain Rescue Team.

And after a busy start to 2015 for the mountain rescue volunteers, who conducted a large-scale search in January for a man believed to be missing in the Cheviots, organisers wanted to push the event.

It ultimately transpired that the ‘missing’ man had given hotel staff a false information to avoid paying his bill, and had never actually been in the Cheviots. But the response of the teams that came together in Wooler was noted in the village.

“Wooler was awash with mountain rescue volunteers, as well as police,” said Cheviot Fell Runner Glen McWilliams, who runs The Chocolate Box on Wooler’s High Street. “We have done it each year and we have raised quite a bit, but that incident gave us the impetus to really push it this year.

“We have witnessed first-hand what these volunteers do. The mountain rescue do a wonderful job and we want to get as much sponsorship for them as possible.”

The route, which usually goes up the Cheviot, was alternated last year to go up the county’s second largest hill, Hedgehope. This year’s event on Sunday, April 12, will take in both.

The stunning 10-mile Cheviot Horseshoe is the most challenging – and rewarding – route to date. A real showcase of what Northumberland has to offer, the route begins at the Harthope Valley.

Runners will start by tackling The Cheviot. From the summit they will follow the Pennine Way to Cairn Hill and onto Comb Fell. Then it’s through the peat bogs and a climb up Hedgehope, before a steep decent and a sprint into the finish via Housey Crags.

“It’s a testing run and the weather can change very quickly,” Glen added. “We really could not operate it safely without the presence of the mountain rescue who marshal it and volunteer their time.”

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