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Tue 7th July 2015

Cragside Challenge Walk - guided group

Cragside Challenge Walk - guided group

The day started sunny and everyone met near the start and I checked them off the register.  Everyone started chatting to each other, some people knew each other and were regular walkers with Shepherds Walks whereas some were new walkers and had travelled from the Wigan and Warrington.

We headed off following the route through Cragside, this is relatively challenging as Cragside Estate isn’t flat and the terrain was varied.  The route through Cragside is around 2 miles and is different every year.

We followed the Whitton Hillhead route (which is one of my favourites) passing Sharp’s Folly where we stopped for everyone to catch up and take layers off if they needed to.  The next part of the Challenge is relatively flat before the hill heading towards Lordenshaws cup and ring.  Some members of the group kept up their fast pace and made the hill in one go, which is quite an achievement, whereas some members “stopped to admire the view”.  At the top of the hill we waited for everyone to catch up before we headed to Checkpoint 1.  A few people were Nordic walking and one of the ladies (Laura) was amazed at herself as she didn’t stop.

Next stop was checkpoint 1 where we were checked off by Sharon and Moira and had the opportunity to top up our water and Edith very kindly handed around chocolates.

Once everyone was sorted I pointed out the next part of the route up to Dove Crag part of the Simonside range.   This part of the route is like a set of stairs but very challenging.  We met at the top and some members took the opportunity to have a sit down, Ruth had her picture taken to prove she had made it that far.

Next we headed down towards the Firebreak road where one of our group was struggling and decided to withdraw from the walk, along with her companion for the day.  I asked everyone to make their way to the top where there was a viewpoint and I would catch them up once I had summoned Jon in the support vehicle.  Once the ladies were picked up I ran up the hill to rejoin the group.  A lot of the group had taken the opportunity to have a sandwich.  Everyone packed up and we headed towards the Forest and down the path heading to checkpoint 2 at Tosson Lime Kiln where we would stop for lunch.  Funnily enough the pace picked up at the mention of lunch.

At checkpoint 2 we were welcomed by Bev, Lois and Paul.  We all sat down with cups of tea/coffee and our lunch in the sun and chilled out.

We were heading off towards Thropton when we heard Harry over the radio worried about the drone.  Everyone was listening intently and laughing as Harry was very concerned that the drone was coming down and he had no control and he was worried about the hedge.  Panic over the drone landed safe and sound.

We were just coming up to Thropton Bridge when one of the group had an issue with his shoe, the sole had come away and he was unable to continue on.  Again Jon in the support vehicle was summoned and we left Chris (the sweep) and the member of the group waited to be picked up as the rest of us carried on.

Everyone was still in great spirits and when we got into Cragside Estate we waited at the little bridge so we could wait for Martyn and Chris, who were both raising money, the RVS (Royal Voluntary Society) and RDA (Riding for the Disabled Association) respectively and we could finish together and the drone would be ready to get live shots of us finishing.  Once the finish was in sight I did my usual sprint to the end so that I could cheer everyone over the line.  

Well done everyone on completing the Challenge.  I hope you all had a fabulous time and hope to see you all again.

Julie 

Tue 30th June 2015

Cragside Challenge Walk 2015

Cragside Challenge Walk 2015

On Saturday we had superb weather for the 2015 Cragside Challenge Walk.

Just under 100 walkers completed the 13 mile walk from Cragside. They first followed the River Coquet to Rothbury before climbing up to and over Simonside before dropping down to Tosson.

They then walked along the valley bottom to Thropton before climbing up to the North of Rothbury before dropping back into Cragside.

A good day was had by all.

Wed 24th June 2015

Copper Snout and Clennel Street Nordic Walk

Copper Snout and Clennel Street Nordic Walk

Sunday 21st June 2015

The forecast wasn’t great for the day ahead but we all met up ready and raring to go.  Discussions took place over how many and which layers we were going to wear as can be seen from the group photograph most of us looked as if we were dressed for the middle of winter (not the middle of June) as woolly hats, waterproofs and gloves were donned.  There were lots of familiar faces and a few new ones in the group. 

Introductions, a warm up and a description of the beginning of the walk was done and we set off.Martin, Kirsten and Paul set off at a cracking pace, mainly to get off the road and we walked in a neat single file to the first gate and hill.  I spotted a squashed adder on the road.  On reaching the gate a few layers were shed and the first complaint at the sign of a hill, I reminded the group of the Nordic walking technique for walking up a hill and off we went pass peth path.  I explained the route we were going to take from here and also the Nordic walking technique to use when walking downhill.  Everyone was happy at this time.

Then came the path and hill to Copper Snout (once a branch of the drove road Clennell Street). On the way up some of the group took the opportunity to admire the view (aka getting their breath back) which is outstanding and all the while we were serenaded by the guns at Otterburn as the army was live firing.  When I was asked if we were nearly at the lunch stop I told people “its just at the top of this hill”, what they didn’t realise was that there were lots of false tops on this route and just as they thought they were getting near the top there was another hill behind it.  I was getting less popular by the minute.

Once people could see the lunch stop spot they walked a lot quicker, we all ate our lunch.  I handed around shortbread which Martin and Debbie’s mam had very kindly made us, and this went down a treat. 

I took this opportunity of telling everyone of upcoming walks and I also explained that I was looking at dates for the rest of the year for our Nordic walks and asked if anyone would be interested in a December/Christmas walk with mulled wine and mince pies and this was decided would be a good idea.

With the rain still light we all stood up ready to set off. The people at the front decided they would like to head down the hill but we turned them around and we went up another hill, which was not as steep as Copper Snout.

The next section was uneven and boggy and not easy to Nordic walk on but we carried on, the rain got very heavy and we were all soaked but spirits were high and everyone was still smiling (just).

Walking past Kidland Forest was a much nicer, flatter path and lovely to Nordic walk on. At the end of this path there were two routes, as a few people had reached this point before I had they had a decision to make, the left path, straight on or wait for us.  Most waited but Paul and Kirsten had steamed ahead on the left path – oops that wasn’t the way.  I shouted for them and they came back to join the group, Kirsten blaming Paul who had followed a green arrow on the ground.

The rain had now turned into hailstones.  We were laughing because we had now witnessed 4 different types of weather, of wind, sun, rain and hail.  You have to love the weather in Northumberland. 

As we got back to Alwinton as we were still soaking wet most people jumped into their cars to go home, saying they had enjoyed it and would see us soon.

A few of us headed to the Rose and Thistle for light refreshment and to dry off.Thank you everyone for coming along on this walk, I hope you enjoyed it.  Thank you also to Martin for being the volunteer on the day. 

John told me of all of the plants and birds he saw on this walk.  Some of these included crisswort, Yorkshire fog, purple moor grass, wild thyme and bilberry, juvenile robins, newly feldged pied wagtails, skylark, meadow pipit, curlew and oystercatcher.

See you soon
Julie x