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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

Thu 23rd April 2015

St Cuthbert's Way - Berwick Walking Festival

St Cuthbert's Way - Berwick Walking Festival

It was a pleasure to lead (most) of St Cuthbert’s Way for Shepherds Walks during the Berwick Walking Festival in April 2015.

The 100 km or 62 mile route took 6 days from Saturday 11th April to Thursday 16th April. The route begins in Melrose and ends on Holy Island and winds its way through the best scenery of the Borders of Scotland and Northumberland. The great attraction of the route if the variety of terrain and scenery from rolling countryside to dramatic mountains and beautiful coastal views.

Day 1.  Melrose to St Boswells

The feature of today was the Eildon Hills which are an obvious feature as they dominate the skyline above Melrose. A sharp climb from the Abbey in Melrose took us to the saddle between the the North and Middle Hills, followed by a gentle walk through the forest to Bowden then through Newtown St Boswells to the banks of the beautiful River Tweed at Dryburgh where there is a glimpse of the Abbey though the trees. The end of the day came quickly as we walked into St Boswells for the bus back to Berwick. 7 miles completed today.

Day 2. St Boswells to Jedfoot Bridge.

Today was a rest day for me. Jon led this day which unfortunately was rainy for most of the morning although the sun came out for the afternoon. The main feature of todays route is the walk along Dere Street, the old Roman road. Today 12 miles were covered.

Day 3. Jedfoot Bridge to Kirk Yetholm.

This was the longest day of the journey which starts along Dere Street but soon turns off the zigzag across fields and by forests to Morebattle. Leaving the village having already covered 8 – 9 miles the challenge of Grubbit Law (326m) and Wideopen Hill (369m), the highest point of St Cuthbert’s Way, present them selves. This steep and more rugged terrain is a test of resolve especially as the weather was threatening again. After coming off the hills the 3 mile trek to Kirk Yetholm saw some weary folk gratefully climb on to the bus. 16 miles and 8 hours of walking today.

Day 4. Kirk Yetholm to Wooler.

Today is not the longest but it is the most arduous because it contains two long climbs into the remote hills of the Cheviots. We had a strong wind all day but it was behind us and helped to push us up the hills. The first stage of today took us from Kirk Yetholm up Green Humbleton to the border ridge and then the long descent to Hethpool at the base of College Valley. Stage 2 took us up the side of Yeavering Bell with its Iron Age Hill Forts atop past Tom Tallon’s Crag to Gains Law and then the long but gentle descent to Wooler Common. We made good time so completed the day by walking through Wooler to pick up the bus on the edge of the town. 13.5 miles and 7.5 hours of walking today.

Day 5. Wooler to Fenwick.

A spectacular day.

The route starts by climbing over Weetwood Moor east of Wooler before a steep descent to Weetwood Bridge and a bit of road walking through the Horton villages. From this point on the terrain is gentler and bright sunshine helped to bring the fields alive with colour as we made our way towards St Cuthbert’s Cave. This impressive rock feature is the highlight of St Cuthbert’s Way for many walkers. The walk into Fenwick through the woodland provides glimpses of the coast and the end of the route on Holy Island. 12.4 miles and 6.5 hours of walking today.

Day 6. Fenwick to Holy Island.

The main concern of this final section is the tide times. Today the crossing to Holy Island was safe between 4.30 and 11.25am. So we had an early start leaving Berwick at 6am. The walking was easy across the fields and onto the causeway to Holy Island. The air temperature was close of freezing but there was no wind or clouds so the sun shone and provided a wonderful spectacle as Holy Island drew closer. A great end to a great walk. 6 .4 miles walked today.

The entire route measured 67.3 miles.

Chris Constable