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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 day’s 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 “naturism” 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. Heart’s 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 Mark’s 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 didn’t 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 wouldn’t be a Nordic walk with without a “detour” however this time it wasn’t 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 Martin’s 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 didn’t want to bore everyone on the walk by telling you about the area (and I can’t 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.

Wed 31st May 2017

The Cheviot 2017

The Cheviot 2017

The Cheviot – Sunday 28th May

It was a glorious morning as our group of walkers for the day met at the head of the Harthope valley. The heat of the previous days had been replaced with a fresh breeze and bright sunshine although the high hills were covered in cloud.

Mark welcomed everyone and gave a brief outline of the walk and ensured everyone had sufficient refreshment before we started the ascent of our first hill of the day – Cold Law. Hearts were quickly pumping as we made our way to the summit and the higher we went, the stronger the breeze. Our first coffee stop of the day was just below the trig point at the summit and as anticipated fabulous views of the Cheviots in all directions were enjoyed. Mark was able to point out various landmarks and also explained that we would be celebrating the inaugural “Northumbria Day” by unfurling the Northumberland flag at the top of Cheviot. However as Cheviot was still covered in cloud, we took the opportunity of flying the flag and taking some photos here despite the windy conditions.

The well defined path took us down from Cold Law to the foot of Broadhope hill and we then began to gradually climb. Mark decided to head diagonally across the heather towards Scald Hill. Underfoot the normally boggy peat hags were exceptionally dry and steady progress was made to the foot of the Cheviot. Our lunch stop was in a secluded and dry and sheltered stream bed just off the beaten track and with cloud still on the top, the flag was displayed once more. Suitably fortified we began the steep climb up to the summit plateau – fortunately we were a fit group and made good time and by the time we reached the summit the wind had abated and the cloud had disappeared.

After more refreshment and photos at the Cheviot summit, we followed the path to the head of the Harthope burn and began the slow but delightful descent back to the valley bottom. The sun was shining and it was by now quite warm and the views of Hedgehope, the surrounding hills and the valley were quite stunning. The burn had to be cris crossed many times but we all arrived safely and without incident at the sheep pens where the valley became much wider and then followed  the track back to our starting point.

This had been a wonderful days walking  thoroughly enjoyed by all and Mark thanked everyone for their company and for the variety of sweets that were handed out at each stop!