Northumberland farmers wives complete Cheviot 99 hill-walking challenge

Farmers wives who started hill-walking as a way of getting some exercise and fresh air during the Covid pandemic have completed the Cheviot 99 challenge.

By Ian Smith
Thursday, 24th June 2021, 12:28 pm

Yvonne Shell, 61, and Janet Dodds, 64, have reached the summit of the 99 peaks that exceed 300 metres in height and are publicly accessible.

“We completed it last weekend with our last walk up Cheviot,” said Yvonne. “It was hard but the views from the top make it worth it. We could even see Bamburgh Castle!”

The friends, from Branton, started walking together last August following the first lockdown.

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Yvonne Shell and Janet Dodds at the top of Cheviot.

"A friend told us about a Wanney book which lists the 99 peaks in the Cheviot hills above 300 metres and it seemed like a fun thing to try and do,” said Yvonne.

"Our first peak was Old Fawdon Hill and then we went on to climb all the others in the Ingram/Breamish, Coquet, Harthope, Redesdale and College valleys.”

There are a dozen 300 metre-plus hills in the Breamish valley, 39 in Coquet, 13 in Harthope, 13 in Redesdale and 22 in College.

"Some were very hard, some quite challenging and some were amazing with the views you get along the way,” said Yvonne. “It’s been an enjoyable challenge.”

They did not set out with a plan to raise funds but they later decided to donate £99 each to good causes.

Yvonne’s has gone to Cleaswell Hill School in Morpeth where her autistic grandson is a pupil, while Janet is supporting the Great North Air Ambulance and a mental health charity.

“Getting out in the fresh air of the Cheviots has been really good for us,” said Yvonne. “We’re no spring chickens and I’d never really done any walking before so it was good for me to get out and about after that first lockdown. I think it’s also been really good for our mental health.

"I’m totally hooked now,” she admitted. “We now plan to do the 161 trig (Ordnance Survey triangulation) points in Northumberland

Cheviot 99: A Northumberland Hills Challenge is published by Alnwick-based Wanney Books.

Divided into five chapters, based on the main river systems that flow within the hills, each peak is listed, with its location and height, along with background information to help those less familiar with the Cheviots.

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