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Tue 25th April 2017

Pilgrims Way Easter 2017

Pilgrims Way Easter 2017

A bright but windy morning greeted the group as we assembled at the Barn at Beal.  After a short safety brief about walking along the causeway road.  We were off following a cycle track down to the start of the causeway.  Being a bank holiday weekend a constant stream of traffic was heading for the Island making the crossing of the single track road bridge interesting.

Once across we stepped down on to the sand/slime and started to head for the first of many poles showing the way across the sands.  Within yards we had splodged through the first of many pools and streamlets.  With the wind on our backs the going was reasonable and made even better by the fact Mike found it difficult to witter above the sound of the wind.  

Some were Mike directed us away from the poles which lead you through a very slimy boggy marshy stretch.  After a while mike redirected us back to the poles and eventually as we neared the Island we had to cross two stretches of fairly fast running water.  On reaching the Holy Island the next priority was shelter from the wind so we could have lunch.  Some braved the crowds to find a coffee and comfort stop.  A couple of us found some shelter behind the carpark wall (we saw a swallow).

After about 30min or so a couple decided to head back along the pilgrims way, a short time later another couple decided to head back, then some others decided to head back.  Eventually Mike started back with the last of the group.  The walk back was straight into the cold wind and it became a head down and just plod on.

Once back on the mainland some shelter from the wind was given by the hedges but it was up hill all the way back to Beal.  A coffee and cake plus a rest room proved to be was need before heading home.

Sun 23rd April 2017

Nordic Challenge Walk - Belford to Holy Island

Nordic Challenge Walk - Belford to Holy Island

A large group of 22 Nordic Nuts met in Belford to complete the Nordic Challenge Walk from Belford to Holy Island. 

The forecast was for about 9° with 10% chance of rain.

We had one newbie whilst the rest were all regulars with me.

Martin was in the front to take us at a good pace, whilst I was dotting around the rest of the group to make sure everyone was okay and keeping them in line.

We walked up to Belford Community Centre where we did our warm up and I explained that we couldnít cross the causeway until 2.45 pm.

We headed off at a good pace with Martin in the lead following the route that Jon had given us, time for the customary detour but passed the castle, as when we got to the gate it was locked so we had to turn around and go back to pick up the correct route which passed by a lovely little stream. 

The group spread out and caught up every time there was a gate or stile of which there were many.

We passed Swinhoe before walking through Detchant Woods, people who had been on the St Cuthbertís Cave Nordic Walk in the previous summer recognised Swinhoe Lake where we had stopped for lunch.  A few snacks were eaten before we headed off again.

Martin was still at the front with a little posse of ladies who were going at a canny pace, Angela (Mrs Elbows) loves walking with Martin.  He has his own fan club.

Next up was Sheilow Wood where we came across 2 gates which Anne duly gate vaulted over.
Kyloe Wood was next on the agenda and we had begun to think Martin had forgotten to stop for lunch, he found an amazing spot with a big tree lying down and a view of Holy Island, our destination.  Lots of food was eaten especially the triple chocolate brownies that Martin had very kindly made. 

Walking towards the A1 we came across a telephone box which had Russell mesmerised.  It didnít take coins and he couldnít grasp how you paid for calls.

We then had to cross the A1 and it was onwards towards the causeway. 

We had to cross a high speed train line, cue Martinís favourite part of the walk.  He had to call the signalman to let him know we were crossing the track so they could change the signals and of course confirming we had all crossed safely.

The people at the front saw a deer just popping its head over a hedge this was definitely Angelaís highlight.

When we got to the start of the causeway we were greeted by Sharon who often joins us (since her injury) for the post cake and tea. 

Martin told me that a couple of the ladies didnít want to walk over the sands so I walked along the causeway with them with Martin and the rest of the group heading over the sands in bare feet.

Luckily for me Russell had taken lots of photos (yes for a change) and also some videos so I didnít miss out on the fun. There is an area of black stuff (never know what it is) which is always tricky to cross, usually someone falls in.  However this time there were just shoes/flip flops stuck in it.  First it was Steveís seal skin shoe and then it was Zeenatís flip flop.  Not to worry Martin was straight in to the black stuff to rescue them.  Mary crossed and one of her feet went a lot deeper than she expected.

The walkers from the road got to the end of the causeway literally seconds before the others and whilst most people were drying their feet and putting their shoes on I headed onto the sands to walk the last little bit with Kim, Claire and Glynis.

We all headed to cafés on the island and Russell, Steve, Glynis, Frankie and Lynn went on a wander into one of the churches.

The mini bus was picking us up at 6 pm to take us back to our cars in Belford and everyone met in good time.

Whilst in the bus Mary mentioned the hill near the end and I hadnít noticed it.  I was not popular at that point.

We checked GPS (13½ miles), mobile phone apps (11½ miles) for the mileage.  We agreed to go for the 13½ miles.

I think you will agree that the scenery throughout this walk was stunning and enjoyed the variety between woodlands, fields and the causeway.

Well done to everyone, you did great.  I hope the big smiles meant you all enjoyed it and you liked your goody bags with the little chocolate treat in them.

Thank you to Martin for baking the chocolate brownies and leading the walk.

I hope you enjoyed the Challenge Walk.

The next Nordic Walks are 7th May at Thrunton Woods led by Jane and Happy Valley, Wooler on 20th May.

I hope to see you soon.

Wed 19th April 2017

Staward Gorge and Allenbanks

Staward Gorge and Allenbanks

Staward Gorge and Allenbanks Guided Walk – Sunday 16th April

Our party of 13 walkers and two dogs met at Haydon Bridge and set off just after 10am in a light drizzle. Fortunately visibility was reasonably good and as we climbed steadily upwards towards the head of Staward Gorge, lovely views of the Tyne valley were enjoyed and the rain soon stopped. Two deer were also spotted grazing in woodland and the sight and sound of skylarks and other birds was enchanting.

Up to the point where we entered the gorge the going had been very dry, but parts of the track down to Allenbanks were very muddy. When we reached the ruined Staward Peel, Mark gave a quick talk on its history over the centuries before we proceeded down the gorge to Plankey Mill. This is always a delightful walk and today was no different with everyone experiencing the tranquil setting and the wonderful views of the Allen valley. Just as we reached our lunch stop at Plankey Mill it started to rain again. After a brief stop we continued to Allenbanks car park and saw at first hand the damage caused to the river banks by storm Desmond in December 2015. Mark again gave a brief summary of this National Trust site and the nearby Ridley Hall.

Although the rain became more persistent and low cloud descended we all enjoyed the trail back to Haydon Bridge on the other side of the valley via well defined paths and farm tracks. Despite the poor weather everyone enjoyed the walk and remained in good spirits.

Mark Nordmann