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Sat 17th June 2017

Craster and Howick Nordic Walk

Craster and Howick Nordic Walk

Fantastic weather forecast for todayís Nordic walk.  We all met at Craster Quarry Car Park, we were one member of the group short, Chris, unfortunately there is no mobile phone signal so we left it for 15 minutes and headed off.

Garnett and Maggi were new walkers with us so the rest of the group started whilst I gave them a quick tutorial they picked it up really quickly.

The group had followed the path and when it split into two took the right hand path they stopped at the gate which lead to the road, as I caught them up with Garnett and Maggi I said we had to go back to the other pathway as we needed to walk over the hill.  The pace was decent and we walked through a wheat field and through a field of cows, calves and sheep, we kept a good distance from the cows who didnít actually take any notice of us. 

Next up was the road past Howick Hall and Gardens before walking up the road to Sea Houses Farm before heading to the footbridge on the Northumberland Coastal Route, we sat in the shade to cool down and have a snack whilst a few of the group walked down to the shoreline.

Back along the Coastal Route and we passed the Bath House and continued all the way to Craster.  Everyone walked at their own pace and Martyn very kindly stayed at the back with the slower walkers.

We all got to The Jolly Fisherman pub where we got drinks and some of the group left first and the rest of us had food, which was very nice.

Thank you Martyn for staying at the back, I do appreciate it.  I didnít take many photographs but luckily Zeenat took lots and I am grateful to her for sending them to me.

Thank you everyone for coming along, I hope you enjoyed the walk and that I see you soon.

The next walk is Corbridge and Dilston which is around woodland on 2nd July 2017.

Again I have put some information on the history of parts of the walk.

Howick Hall
Howick was the home of the Grey family from 1319 and Charles 2nd Earl Grey is the most distinguished member. 

As leader of the Whig party he was Prime Minister from 1830 to 1834, during which time the Great Reform Bill of 1832 was passed in the teeth of opposition from the Duke of Wellington; this started the process of parliamentary reform which eventually led to our modern democracy.  He married Mary Elizabeth Ponsonby in 1794; the marriage was happy and fruitful and the couple had 15 children.

Howick is also the home of Earl Grey tea!  The tea was specially blended by a Chinese mandarin for Charles, 2nd Earl Grey, to suit the water from the well at Howick, using bergamot in particular to offset the taste of the lime in it.  Lady Grey used it in London when entertaining as a political hostess, and it proved so popular that she was asked if it could be sold to others, which is how Twinings came to market it and it is now sold worldwide.  Sadly the Greys, being unbusinesslike, failed to register the trade mark and as a result they have never received a penny in royalties.

Howick Hillfort
The site at Howick was discovered when amateur archaeologists found flint tools eroding from a cliff edge 3km south of Craster on the Northumberland coast.

The main feature on the site was one of the best-preserved Mesolithic huts so far discovered in Britain. The radiocarbon dates from the hearths inside the hut have shown that it was constructed around 7800 BC (cal.), making Howick the earliest occupation site in Northumberland, and also a key site for our understanding of Stone Age settlement across Britain. In addition to the Mesolithic hut, a cemetery consisting of five Bronze Age cists was found on the site.

The site was subjected to detailed and meticulous excavation involving geophysical survey, fieldwalking, and environmental analysis to provide a landscape perspective. All archaeological deposits were passed through a sieve and flotation tank. This detailed approach to recording means that Howick now represents one of the most fully understood Mesolithic sites in Europe.

Greys Bathing House
The old Greys Bathing House is now a charming Grade II listed cottage standing on a cliff edge position with a sandy cove below. It was built in the early 19th century by the 2nd Earl Grey who was the Prime Minister responsible for the passing of the Great Reform Bill of 1832 and whose monument stands at the top of Grey Street in Newcastle upon Tyne. He had 16 children and the house was built specifically for the family to go bathing. This was a fabulous spot especially when the tide is at its highest.

Tue 13th June 2017

Hartside to High Cantle

Hartside to High Cantle

June 11th 2017

Our walkers for the day met at Hartside at the head of the Breamish valley and on a bright but blustery morning at 10.30ish set off on the road to Alnhammoor.  In a relatively sheltered spot Mark outlined the dayís walk before taking the path initially following the Shank burn and then branching off to begin the long but gentle climb to Little Dod and the junction with Salters Road. It was on this stretch and walking into a stiff breeze that the first shower of the day was encountered.

Fortunately the rain did not last too long – just enough to test our waterproofs – and at our first coffee break on Salters Road, Mark gave a brief history of this ancient route for drovers, salt traders and Border Reivers. There was also a brief discussion about ďnaturismĒ on the Northumberland beaches!

The well defined track took us to our planned lunch spot at the foot of High Cantle via the farms at Low and High Bleakehope.  Here the valley provided shelter from the wind and we encountered our only other outdoor enthusiasts – two cyclists struggling in the opposite direction to ourselves up a significant incline. During lunch Mark talked about the Battle of Otterburn amongst other topics including litter in the countryside, sheep farming, the M.O.D. range at Otterburn and future planned Shepherds Walks.

As we began our steep ascent to the High Cantle plateau the next rain shower arrived. Heartís pumping after the short but steep climb, our route took us over the fell to Rig Cairn and on towards Linhope. Underfoot the going was extremely wet (much to Markís surprise when the fells had been so dry just two weeks before) but again the shower did not last. We could see further rain clouds approaching and decided to press on without further stops, but to include Linhope Spout in the walk.  As we approached this well known waterfall and beauty spot we were surprised at the number of picnickers and visitors.  Several photos were taken and then we began the final stretch to the hamlet of Linhope and from there back to the cars at Hartside.  At this point the rain became heavy and persistent and by the time we returned to our starting point everyone was rather wet!

Despite the wind and periods of rain everyone thoroughly enjoyed the walk, the scenery, the company and their conversation.

My thanks to the walkers for making this such an enjoyable day.


Sat 10th June 2017

Morpeth and Bothal Nordic Walk

Morpeth and Bothal Nordic Walk

Not a great weather forecast for most of the day but it didnít put us off, Cath was our new walker so a teaching session was in order while we waited for Zeenat to arrive.  Val and Donna decided to have a refresher at the same time whilst I left Martin to chat to the others in the group.

A quick warm up and we were off.  Martin was at the front and I was backmarker keeping an eye on everyone.

First we went through Bluebell Wood, unfortunately too late for bluebells but the wild garlic was out in force.

Down to the A197 we all crossed to the woodland running alongside the River Wansbeck, under the viaduct, along past the Jubilee Well 1887, Lady Chapel ruins where there is a stone heraldic shield which would have been present on the chapel in 1774.  We walked past the Bothal Weir which has a Salmon ladder before reaching where we decided to stop to eat our lunch. 

Next up was the walk down to Bothal.  As we walked along the roadside we could see Bothal Castle.
We got to the village of Bothal which has a castle, a church, a vicarage opposite the church gates, some stepping stones over the River Wansbeck, and a few houses.

Just upstream there are some stepping stones.  Most of the group went for a wander, walked over them (luckily no one fell in).

After a few minutes we decided to head back the way we had come, this time we stopped off at the weir for more photo opportunities.

As everyone knows it wouldnít be a Nordic walk with without a ďdetourĒ however this time it wasnít a detour for everyone.  Bob was going at quite a pace and the path split into two Zeenat thought Bob had gone along the wrong path whilst Sue thought he had gone along the right path.  I left the group in Martinís hands on the correct route whilst I went along the other route just in case Bob had gone the wrong way.  My path was uphill and I lost sight of the group but met them at the end of the woodland where we crossed the road to Bluebell Wood and back to the cars.

Once back in Morpeth most of the group went for tea and cake.  Martyn suggested Café des Amis.  What an excellent tea room, great staff and service.  Lots of sandwiches, scones and cake were eaten in their covered courtyard.  The 6 of us that were left were surprised by the staff giving us cheese and thyme scones to take home (as they were going to throw them away) what a lovely gesture.

Goodbyes were said and we all headed back to the cars and home.

Thank you everyone for coming along on the rather soggy walk, you made the walk very enjoyable.

Thank you also to everyone who has taken photos and sent them to me.  I will put them all on the Nordic Nuts facebook page and some attached to this blog.

Our next Nordic walk is next weekend the 17th June in Craster and I hope to see you then or very soon.

I hope you had fun and thank you again.

As I didnít want to bore everyone on the walk by telling you about the area (and I canít remember it LOL) here is some information of parts of the walk that we pointed out during the day.

Lady Chapel Ruins and Jubilee Well. 
There is a stone heraldic shield carved into the rock (which would have been present on the chapel) is the arms of the Mulcaster family. Also inscribed into the rock are the words RM fecit, AD1857 and Fidelis Servus, which translates as faithful servant, although weathering of the rock has made this slightly illegible so it may not be accurate.

Bothal Castle (not open to the public) shows the huge crenellated gatehouse decorated with heraldic crests. The 14th-century castle is perched on a sharp spur, giving it a position of extra strength. It was built by Robert Bertram, who obtained his licence to crenellate in 1343. The gateway is shouldered by two polygonal towers. On the roof there is an embattled parapet where two stone figures stand to frighten off attackers.

Bothal is just one street with attractive estate cottages and was the headquarters of the extensive Welbeck Estates in Northumberland.  The village has a private footbridge at the end of a track leading from the 13th century church. It stands high over the steeply banked river. It is a suspension bridge which was built for the rector of Bothal church for ease of reaching the church from the Rectory on the south bank.