Shepherds Cairn, from Alnham – 2023
It was a bit of a damp Saturday in April, but as we met at Alnham church it did not dampen the spirits of the group.
The walk was going to be a special one as we walked out to Shepherds Cairn.
A cairn has been built to mark the loss of two farmers whose deaths resulted in the establishment of the Northumberland National Park Mountain Rescue Team.
In November 1962, Jock Scott and Willie Middlemas were making their way home from Rothbury market. A blizzard was sweeping the fells as they dropped off their colleague, Willie Bulloch, at Castle Hill Farm. They tried to reach home across the moors by tractor towards the remote farmstead of Ewartly Shank. At that time, the road from Alnham was just a track and there was no telephone line at the farm.
Two days later, Willie Bulloch was out tending his flock and Jock’s wife asked him when she should be expecting her husband. Knowing they’d set out on Saturday, he raised the alarm.
Rescue parties including the police, RAF, shepherds and farm workers began the search. The tractor was found abandoned and Jock’s body was discovered buried under drifting snow near High Knowes late on the Tuesday. He was only half a mile from home.
The following day, Willie’s body was found only 100 yards away from where Jock had perished.
With the mist lying low on our guided walk it was a little difficult to find the Cairn, but with a little bit of help from a GPS unit we soon tracked it down and it made for a welcome break for lunch.
We then headed down the road before skirting off to Old Hazeltonrig and then Hazeltonrig. From here we climbed back up before dropping back to Alnham.
As promised to the walkers the exact spot I recorded the video showing you the stunning view we sadly did not see on the walk, you can watch that here.