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Tue 28th April 2015

Private group - Pilgrim's Route to Holy Island

Private group - Pilgrim's Route to Holy Island

Lindisfarne   The Pilgrims Way or A walk across the sands, clarts and water.

The group meet at the car park on the Island.  The first problem was that the the mini bus was missing after a couple of phone call we were told the bus was waiting in the coach park. So after a quick walk to the coach park we piled on to the mini bus and we were off back to the mainland

The first part of the Way is some 10 to 15 meters from the road and runs parallel to the road for a while before heading directly to the main part of the Island.  We waited for a while as Mike started whittering about the tank blocks! Which allowed several groups of walkers to get a head of us and out the way.

We walked along the road until we reach a bridge that crosses the stream South Low, here Mike pointed out another good reason for following the road the stream being in the region of 3 or 4 feet deep.  Having crossed the bridge we left the road and started to follow the poles that mark the route across the sands.

The sand quickly gave way to a very thin layer of mud which was very slippy, it was like walking on an icey pavement.  The going under foot now regularly changed for mud to sand to large areas of sand under shallow water.  Mike regularly stopped  to chunter about some geology or changes in the flora as we slithered along.

By now the sense of isolation is quite strong even though way in the distance cars could be seen using the road to get to the island.  Somewhere in the middle of nowhere, actually more like a third of the way across we came across the first of two shelters for those caught out by rising tides.  I use the word shelter loosely as it is four poles sticking upright with a stout open wooden box like structure on the top with a rough vertical ladder to help you get to the box.

The next issue to impede our progress was an area of mud flats with lots of deep holes filled with black water.  The final hazard was just a few hundred meters from reaching dry land this was a fast flowing stream, fortunately it was not too deep and failed to fill any ones wellies.

At last we had made it we had reached Holy Island, to be met by lots of cars and then crowds of people.  After such an inspiring and sense of space it was surreal to be hemmed in by some many people.  Eventually we arrived back at the cars and changed footwear and then went to a Hotel for a buffy lunch before being taken for a guided tour of the Priory by one of the English Heritage people.

Sun 26th April 2015

Nordic Walk - Druridge Bay Country Park

Nordic Walk - Druridge Bay Country Park

After watching the weather forecast all week, which changed from raining all day to not raining until 12 noon.  i had arranged the weather to stay sunny, bright and dry (with a chill to keep us from overheating) until we had finished our walk.

My day started with picking up a couple of new Nordic walkers who wanted to join us on this walk to drive up to Druridge Bay Country Park for a quick teaching session before the walk.
We had a lovely surprise as since the 1st April 2015 there is no charge to park at Druridge Bay Country Park - result!  

I taught Laura E and Glynis the basic Nordic walking technique and they picked it up very quickly.  We waited for the rest of our group to join us

Everyone was ready by 10 am and we began with introductions and a warm up.  We started with a 1.5 mile walk around the lake at Druridge Bay Country Park which is excellent to Nordic walk on.  Some members of the groups had never been to the Country Park before and were amazed at the beauty, even those of us who had been regularly drank in the beauty and tranquility.  We missed out the stepping stones (mainly because I would probably fall in) and took the safer route.  The group soon settled into little chatty groups and got to know each other or caught up with each other.  Once we completed the lap of the lake we came out of the Country Park and headed to the beach.

My first job was a group shot.  It takes some organising making sure everyone could be seen on the photograph.  A few of the ladies (as usual) tried to hide behind other people!  Unfortunately for them everyone was around the same height and I'm very tenacious.

Once on the beach we moved to the slightly firmer sand as this is the best place to really put Nordic walking to the test.  I explained that they would be able to stop and look at the holes which their poles made and we could work on techniques (if needed).  

We watched some little birds (we think are Dunlins) at the waters edge for a few seconds as when a wave comes close to them they run away.

The group soon stretched out as everyone walked at their own pace. We stopped to look at the holes in the sand and I corrected (very small) parts of techniques.  

We walked 2 miles along the sand towards Cresswell just before we turned back towards Druridge Bay Country Park a conversation started up  about the "proposed" open cast mine which is busy going through the system.  I mentioned that the Drift Cafe (where we were stopping at on the way home) have a petition to try and stop this if anyone wanted to sign.  Everyone was very keen to do this as the Druridge Bay area is stunning.

We got to the cars and had a cool down/stretch and jumped in our cars and headed to the Drift Cafe.  I had rang them and asked if they could make carrot cake (especially for Sharon) and their chocolate orange cake (for me) and they were delighted to do so and didn't actually put the chocolate orange cake out until we had arrived.

We all (except for Laura F) tucked into their delicious hot melt wraps and a hot drink before Sharon, Ruth and me ate our pieces of cake.  Glynis and Laura E took theirs home and Mary didn't have any cake (I promised I would mention this) although she did take some home with her.

Everyone said goodbye and promised to meet up at the next Nordic walk on 23rd May in Alnwick.

Thank you everyone for a fab day.  See you all in May

Julie xx

Thu 23rd April 2015

Coastal Challenge Training Walk part 2 - 2015

Coastal Challenge Training Walk part 2 - 2015

Today’s training walk in preparation for the Shepherds Walks Coastal Challenge took the second part of the route along the Northumberland Coastal path from Beadnell to Alnmouth.

This route passes through caravan sites, golf courses, pretty villages, along coastal paths and beaches. The sun was shining and the wind was gentle and from the east which meant that the sea was calm. The sun shining off the benign sea made for a wonderful spectacle.

The names of places and features along this stretch of the coastline are fascinating. We walked by Beadnell Bay which has Robin Wood’s Rock at the mid point and ends at Snook Point before entering the next bay called Football Hole. This leads to Newton Haven and a set of rocks called Jenny Bells Carr before arriving at Embleton Bay.

Embleton Bay ends at Castle Point which is the site of the enigmatic Dunstanburgh Castle.  From here the walk takes you to Craster via Scrogg Hill and the Heughs.

Leaving Craster the walk takes you past Black Hole to Cullernose Point and through to Rumbling Kern, past Sugar Sands and Howdiemont Sands to Boulmer and on to Seaton Point. The final part of the walk is along the beach (or in our case the pebbles) of Alnmouth Bay for the final few miles through Alnmouth.

We covered 15.4 miles in 6 hours and 20 minutes (including breaks) which works out at around 2.5 miles per hour.

Thank you to my fellow walkers for a great day out.

Chris Constable