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Tue 15th February 2011

Nordic Walk, Hepburn Woods

Nordic Walk, Hepburn Woods

Guided Walk Date - Sunday 13th Feb 2011

The morning was damp with a slight chill in the air and with poles at the ready the group gathered in the car park. After a brief introduction into Nordic walking and instruction on the basic technique, we set off along the forest tracks ready to burn some calories and create some heat. Everyone got on really well and soon got hang of the technique, quickening the pace as confidence grew.

The group were chattering away as they motored along (Nordic walking is extremely  sociable and allows you to talk and walk which has to be a bonus hasn’t it girls?) and were amazed at how much ground they were covering without feeling the effort, especially when negotiating a long, steady incline.

After a couple of miles of Nordic walking we paused for a little snacket.  It had started to rain quite hard at this point and we took shelter amongst the trees for a little respite.  Not wanting to get too cold it wasn’t long before we were off again, completing the previous route in reverse so that we took in a steeper incline.

Everyone thoroughly enjoyed the day even the cold and wet didn’t dampen our spirits. I can’t wait for the next walk around Humbleton Hill from Wooler Common on Sunday 13 March. Why don’t you join me?

Mon 14th February 2011

Out and about in Elsdon

Out and about in Elsdon

Guided Walk date - 29th January 2011

Elsdon is regarded as the most complete example of a medieval settlement in Northumberland National Park. This long history was certainly evident during a recent walk on a frosty and sunny day.

The name Elsdon comes from the Old English for Elli’s Valley and the location of Elsdon in a valley or bowl was certainly apparent during the walk, which was initially along the southern ‘rim’ of the bowl, before returning along the northern ‘rim’. Elsdon3

After introductions we walked through the village, noting the 11th Century Motte and Bailey castle (considered to be the best preserved example in the county), the 12th Century parish church, the 15th Century pele tower (a fortified house reflecting that the medieval period was one of the Border Reivers and England/Scotland warfare) and of course the lovely village green.

The 18th Century was more peaceful – the Jedburgh to Newcastle turnpike opened in 1776 and a number of inns were built in Elsdon to serve the needs of travellers – although only one remains, the buildings in which others were situated can still be identified around the village green – while in the countryside farming developed and farmsteads were built.

After crossing Elsdon Bridge we followed the Elsdon Burn to one of these farmsteads – The Haining. This has recently been refurbished and is now a very attractive house. We then started to climb up through some recently planted trees to Castle Hill and Gallow Hill (further evidence of the Border Reivers!), where a coffee break was taken to enjoy the lovely views over Elsdon to the snow-covered Cheviot Hills in the distance. Elsdon19

Continuing along the southern rim of the bowl we passed by Hillhead Cottage, where we briefly stopped to admire the owner working hard to put in some fence posts. In the distance from this point could be seen Winter’s Gibbet at Steng Cross, which is where William Winter was suspended in chains in 1791 after being hung in Newcastle following the robbery and murder of a local resident.

We continued downhill and then past West and East Todholes, but did not see any foxes – tod is a local name for a fox. After this we entered Harwood Forest, which was planted during the 1950s with spruce and pine trees. The Forest is very dense and so the path was very muddy, but we reached an opening where the path crosses the Mill Burn. Here the sun was able to reach the ground – melting the frost on the grass and creating a cloud of steam – and we stopped here for lunch, enjoying the sun and the sound of the bubbling stream.

The Mill Burn is part of a small nature reserve - as the stream flows through limestone it is very clear, and there are a number of rare plants. Elsdon6

The name Mill Burn is further evidence of the more peaceful life during the 18th Century – the development of industries. In the case of Elsdon this was millstone quarrying, lime quarrying and burning and corn milling. The next farm that we passed, Whiskershiel Farm, was a centre for corn milling in the 18th Century, although it is now a sheep farm.

After passing Penman’s Leap, we walked uphill across sometimes boggy ground to the northern rim of the walk and started the journey back to Elsdon. This gave the group good views of the route taken earlier in the day.

Walking across the lower slopes of Landshot Hill, we had to cross a number of stiles, which gave the group the time to take a breather and enjoy the view. It also gave the two dogs on the walk, the opportunity to entertain the group with a game of ‘chase’ – as the larger dog was losing he decided to sit on the smaller dog, which was a very effective way of bringing the ‘hostilities’ to an end!

We then descended to Landshot and followed the road back to Elsdon. A number of the group took the opportunity to relax over a ‘cuppa’ and a piece of cake at one of the cafes in the village, before the journey home, which was a great way to end the day.

Overall, a lovely walk on a lovely day, with some superb views and a great group – a good time was had by all!

Martin Laidler - 6th February 2011

Sun 6th February 2011

Goats on the Roof, Fontburn

Goats on the Roof, Fontburn

Guided Walk Date - 5th February 2011

After several days of high winds and occasional periods of rain the soft shoe shuffle went into overdrive had Sundance done enough for Saturday to be a dry day?  YES. 

Although overcast and grey it was not raining and the strong winds had died down to a steady breeze.  We arrived at the café at Goats on the Roof and availed ourselves to the facilities before setting off to walk back to the entrance gate to Fontburn Reservoir on the way crossing the Scots Gap to Rothbury railway line and the farm Roughlees which is set up as a rare breeds farm. 

At the gate the footpath left the track and headed west along side a wood.  After a short distance we once more crossed the line of the railway.  The footpath then turned south through the wood before we once more continued to head west over rough pasture land.  A steady gentle climb lead us past a number of sink holes (allowing Mike to witter on about how sink holes were formed) this eventually brought us to the top of Greenleighton Hill. 

Here we looked down into Greenleighton Quarry (and once more Mike went in to raptures because he was able to talk about ‘rocks’ in this case that this quarry had given its name to a species of brachiopod Pleuropugnoides greenleightonensis and this was junction between the Lower and Upper Carboniferous period, the Visean – Namurian junction, lies in the vicinity of the Great Limestone. 

From here it was a short walk to Greenleighton farm (Jon’s old stomping ground) leaving the farm we entered another woodland this sheltered us from the wind so Mike condescended to stop for lunch having been threatened with a rebellion if he didn’t.  After lunch we left the woodland to walk North West through some rough pasture until we reached the Fallowlees burn.  As this was the furthest west we were going we turned east heading back to the top end of the Fontburn reservoir roughly following the route of the burn.

Our route now followed the southern boundary fence of the reservoir this is a permissive path.  The path eventually enters into the land adjacent to the reservoir and follows a well maintained path back to the overflow dam which is just in front of Goats on the Roof.  Mike as usual made a long detour along to the Dam proper so we could see the over flow pipe (it looked like a big plug hole), then to look at the water treatment plant and in the background the old railway viaduct. 

At long last we headed for the restaurant for a well deserved cup of coffee and some chocolate cake.