Scald Hill – The Cheviot – Cairn Hill – Upper Harthope Valley

The main purpose of this expedition is to confirm the presence of a distinct type of plutonic rock on the upper reaches of the Cheviot itself. This is what we have called the ‘Evolved’ type, and which Al-Hafdh called the ‘Woolhope’ type. Chemical analysis done by Al-Hafdh, and our own thin section work suggests that this rock has a lower mafic, higher alkali feldspar and higher quartz content than the other plutonic rocks of the Cheviot pluton. Chemically and mieralogically it appears to be a true granite but with its finer grain size (often under 0.25mm) it is nearer to an intermediate rock such as a felsite. The consensus is that this sort of rock being a more acid type, is a later differentiation and intrusion. It lies at the current top of the pluton, and may have almost broken through the andesite covering. This would account for its fine grain size which must be the result of more rapid cooling.
We start from the foot of the Hawsen Burn and ascend the footpath via Scald Hill. On the traverse of Scald Hill we find a mixture of pink porphyritic ‘granite’ as well as the Evolved type. This mixture continues on the ascent of the Cheviot itself, but the Evolved type rapidly begins to predominate. There is no discernible clear boundary between the types. At NT 92103 21115 we find plenty of quartz and hematite veining.

Quartz and haematite veining

Quartz and haematite veining

At NT 91826 20984 the rock looks brecciated. The situation is confused at NT 92020 21066 and NT 91789 20966 by the appearance of a much more mafic fine-grained rock with the Evolved type. We are uncertain whether these represent a more mafic differentiation within the Evolved type or are xenoliths of andesite which have collapsed into the roof of the pluton. Thin section analysis should answer this problem.

Andesite xenolith or fine-grained plutonic rock

Andesite xenolith or fine-grained plutonic rock?

The summit plateau of Cheviot is magnificent with a large extents of blanket bog containing cotton-grass, clubmosses and cloudberry some of which was fruiting quite prolifically. We abandon any plans to cross over the bog to Bellyside Crag because there is no path and we do not wish to damage the fragile ecology. We continue along the paved footpath to Cairn Hill and descend to the head of the Harthope Burn. What exposures exist indicate that the rock type is Evolved over this whole area.
We begin to see a change back to the typical coarser pink porphyritic ‘granite’ in the upper reaches of the Harthope Burn at NT 90671 19035. From then onwards down to Harthope Linn there are some exposures of very weathered rock. We lacked time to make a detailed examination of this, and plan another expedition specifically to this area.