Staward Gorge and Allenbanks
Staward Gorge and Allenbanks Guided Walk – Sunday 16th April
Our party of 13 walkers and two dogs met at Haydon Bridge and set off just after 10am in a light drizzle. Fortunately visibility was reasonably good and as we climbed steadily upwards towards the head of Staward Gorge, lovely views of the Tyne valley were enjoyed and the rain soon stopped. Two deer were also spotted grazing in woodland and the sight and sound of skylarks and other birds was enchanting.
Up to the point where we entered the gorge the going had been very dry, but parts of the track down to Allenbanks were very muddy. When we reached the ruined Staward Peel, Mark gave a quick talk on its history over the centuries before we proceeded down the gorge to Plankey Mill. This is always a delightful walk and today was no different with everyone experiencing the tranquil setting and the wonderful views of the Allen valley. Just as we reached our lunch stop at Plankey Mill it started to rain again. After a brief stop we continued to Allenbanks car park and saw at first hand the damage caused to the river banks by storm Desmond in December 2015. Mark again gave a brief summary of this National Trust site and the nearby Ridley Hall.
Although the rain became more persistent and low cloud descended we all enjoyed the trail back to Haydon Bridge on the other side of the valley via well defined paths and farm tracks. Despite the poor weather everyone enjoyed the walk and remained in good spirits.
Stanleyburn Wood Nordic Walk
Another woodland Nordic walk on a fabulous sunny, warm Spring day with the Nordic Nuts.
As we all met up in the pub car park (permission had been gained), Kate (soon to be volunteer and also a qualified Nordic walking instructor) took Bob (our newest walker) to one side to teach him the technique. Just as they finished I ran over to get a photograph.
This walk had a lot of the usual suspects as well as newbie, Bob and returning walker, Lorraine.
Hugs and poles given out by the whole group we had our usual warm up when I introduced Martin and Ruth as my ever helpful volunteers and I also explained that Kate is also an instructor so if anyone wanted any help with technique we were both available.
We headed off down the bank to the actual start of the walk, group photo shot taken, and off we went.
Kate asked “what is the river/stream called?”. The Stanley Burn was the response to which Kate said “of course it is, you can put that in the blog if you want”. Of course it was going in the blog.
Underfoot there was quite a lot of clarts but the scenery was beautiful. A good pace was set by Martin whilst Ruth kept a check on the walkers at the back. Lots of chatter meant we had no chance of seeing the deer which are in the woods. There was a squeal from Debbie as she slipped on some of the clarts, but the ever helpful Russell saved her – what a gentleman!
We got to an area of the burn where it was easy to get to and of course someone always has to have a plodge, cue Steve who sat on a rock whilst the rest of the group caught up.
The route was varied with some inclines, steps and lots of bridges, 7 in total and a few small waterfalls. The smell of the wild garlic was pungent in places and Lesley was very excited by this and said she was going to pick some on her way back.
At a field boundary Martin decided to worry everyone by asking me which path we had taken when we did the recce, heading off across the field it was an opportunity to really open up and pick the pace up.
Next up was an extremely muddy and slippery path which took us to a small road down to the second part of the walk.
Some of the group spotted some squirrels on the return leg.
Back to the cars for a cool down stretch before most of us headed to the pub for refreshments. Not great service but the sun was out so we enjoyed the company.
Thanks to Ruth, Martin and Kate for their help on Saturday.
Our next walk is the Nordic Challenge Walk, Belford to Holy Island on 22nd April. It is a 12 mile walk along St Oswalds/St Cuthberts Way.
Hope to see you soon.
Bardon Mill - Vindolanda - Housesteads
Our party of 21 walkers (and three dogs) plus Mark and Moira gathered at Bardon Mill on a surprisingly mild and clear day for the first Shepherds walk of the year.
Mark had forewarned everyone that the first section - following the picturesque Chainley Burn to Vindolanda - may be a little muddy. He was not wrong and by the time we reached the fort for a coffee break and a brief history of Roman life in the first century, everyone’s boots and trousers had been christened!
On the road to Housesteads wonderful views of the Whin Sill accompanied by bright sunshine were seen and everyone enjoyed a second break at the second fort of the day. Mark provided more details of the fort and its history before setting off following “the wall” on this most popular of sections to Steelrig. Yet again the paths were extremely wet and muddy. Lunch was enjoyed with fine views of Crag Lough and the surrounding countryside. The iconic Sycamore Gap (with probably the most photographed tree in the North of England) was reached soon afterwards.
The Twice Brewed Inn was ideally placed for a comfort break! Quiet country lanes were followed to take us back to Vindolanda before the final muddy return to our starting point. The tea room at Bardon Mill remained open for many of us to sample their refreshments which were most welcome.
A lovely walk with the added bonus of fine weather. My thanks to Moira for acting as back marker and helping to make the day so enjoyable for all.