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Tue 21st June 2011

Drove Roads of Coquetdale - Rothbury Walking Festival

Drove Roads of Coquetdale - Rothbury Walking Festival

Drove Roads of Coquetdale

Flaming June! 

The following anonymous poem neatly sums-up the “atmospheric” conditions in more ways than one.  I first came across it on a postcard during a wet stay on Mull but it seems completely appropriate to our collective experience above and on the Salters Way. 


It rained and rained and rained

The average fall was well maintained

And when the tracks were merely bogs

It started raining cats and dogs


After a drought of half an hour

We had a most refreshing shower

And then the most curious thing of all

A gentle rain began to fall


Next day was also fairly dry

Save for the deluge form the sky

Which wetted the party to the skin

And after which the rain set in



On a positive note a lot of people visited places they never thought they would such as Hogdon Law, Black Butt, Sting Head above the Kidland Forest (now being heavily deforested), Cushat Law, Low Bleakhope.  Finally onto the Salters Road we crossed the col below Shill Moor for splashing down to the Shank Burn where the water level had risen significantly due to unceasing precipitation (see photographs).  The slog up to Ewartly Shank was character building and because of the boggy ground where we had parked we decided not to have a grand prix start for the race to Alnham, the world and a hot bath.   Neither did we get the “drought of half an hour” by the way.  This was a new, unique and different experience for most of the participants!  Once you got used to the “water” it was fine.  Thank you to everyone for your good humour.  Flaming June.


Mon 20th June 2011

Nordic Walk - Holy Island

Nordic Walk - Holy Island

What a day of contrast!

I’m sure there were many folk in

Northumberland who thought that it was a shame that it would be raining on our Nordic walk on Holy Island.

How wrong they would be. It was the most perfect day, lovely and sunny with a light breeze.

We set off on broad grassy tracks before picking up pathways through the dunes that hosted an array of beautiful wild flowers including marsh orchids, birdsfoot trefoil, wild thyme, eye bright and the stunning blue spikes of the viper’s blugloss complete with the burnet moth with its distinctive black wings and red spots.

We had beaches to ourselves which echoed with the haunting call of the grey seals, known as the sirens of the sea, basking on rocks just off the shoreline.After passing Emmanual head, a beacon located on the north of the Island, we again picked up grassy tracks and Nordic walked towards the iconic silhouette of the romantic 16C Lindisfarne Castle.

Skirting off to the right we made a slight detour to avoid the crowds and passed the quaint little garden that had been created for the castle by Gertrude Jekyll between 1906 and 1912.

We then headed inland and stopped at the Pilgrim Coffee Shop where we indulged ourselves with the most fantastic fresh crab sandwiches and fresh coffee.

This truly was the most perfect end to the most perfect day. Even more so because it started to tip it down in bucket loads just as we reached our cars which was great timing.
Thank you for everyone who came along, you were an absolute pleasure to Nordic walk with and I’m really looking forward to seeing you all again next time.

Nordic walking is sociable and fun, so if you haven’t tried it before, why not give it a go. You never know you may surprise yourself and enjoy it!

Go on, you know you want to ......

Sun 12th June 2011

Pennine Way Part 2 Greenhead to Steel Rigg

Pennine Way Part 2 Greenhead to Steel Rigg

Sundance definitely blew it this time. After a lot of soft shoe shuffling the sun shone temperatures rose sky high BUT it happened two days too soon.

Sunday morning grey overcast sky an easterly breeze and cold. As we approached Steel Rigg it started to spit on to rain. At Steel Rigg extra clothing was immediately put on top, plus hat and gloves. As the rest of the group arrived Mike directed everyone to the car park at Once Brewed including the bus.

By 10.00 every one was on the bus although Mike’s counting skills only just managed a head count to make sure every one was on. A quick blast along the military road to Greenhead and we were off into a head wind.

The first bit of excitement was having just crossed over the railway line a train came along. Then we had a quick look at Thirwall Castle, from a distance, and then it was off up the first hill of the day, at the top a short level section took us to Wall Town Quarry and a rush for the loos.

By now it had started to rain with a bit more enthusiasm but this only lasted for a short while before it was back to spits and spots. A quick walk round the quarry brought us back on the Wall path and surprise, surprise another uphill section that lead on to a reinstated section of the wall proper and our first open views of the surrounding country side.

These were rather disappointing as the low cloud made the distant hills somewhat grey and vague, but we could just see the hills above Alston and some of the route of the previous two walks. From here on it was down and up and down again before once more going up to go down.

Then up before a long descent to a wood which afforded some shelter from the wind and so we had lunch in the rain with midges (Mike’s first of the year). The rain eased to just spits and spots as we finished lunch and a very gradual descent brought us to the next loo stop a Cawfields Quarry.

Leaving the quarry we once more went up to come down again to the road at Shield on the Wall. A steep ascent passed mile castle 41, a little bit of levelling off before the last up hill section and we had reached the trig point at 345m the highest point on the Roman Wall. From here we make out the distant hills of the Cheviots all be it briefly before once more lost in cloud. By now even the spits and spots had ceased and with our clothing drying out (except for Mike, his boots still leak and he had wet feet) we reached Steel Rigg car park.

It was now down the road to Once Brewed and in to the cars and away, although some became waylaid by a Coffee in the pub at Twice Brewed.

Max height gained was 1,112Ft and we climbed in total 1,352Ft. For the anoraks, below is the route profile.