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Mon 19th September 2016

Happy Valley Nordic Walk

Happy Valley Nordic Walk

Happy Valley

The forecast was good.  Most of the group met in Wooler and Martin and Claire took everyone to the start where we met our latest newbie,  Zeenat.  The customary group photo was taken and I explained that the beginning of the route could be a bit slippy and that everyone should take extra care.

We crossed the bridge and passed the area I had mentioned. 

We got to the bottom of the hill and everyone took this opportunity to take off their jackets/fleeces as it was warm.  As always I told everyone to walk at their own pace, stop if they needed to and enjoy.

We got to the top and we took the opportunity for a coffee break.  Russell opened his rucksack and took out nearly a whole corner shop worth of food and offered it around.  Marilyn disappointed us by slumming it using her fingers instead of a knife and fork!  Zeenat asked about GPS and map reading, cue Martin's expertise.

After the ascent everyone was pleased to hear that the rest of the walk was relatively flat. 
We passed Middleton Old Town, where there are 2 rundown houses, a sheep popped her head through the window and Russell decided to pretend to write a quotation to fix them up.

We headed down towards Colgate Mill and the ford, we crossed the bridge rather than plodge through the ford when Claire suggested Russell went back to beside the ford to take a group shot on the bridge, Russell duly obliged, Claire felt guilty for about 2 seconds.

We walked through the short stretch of wood when we came across some blackberry bushes which were laden with berries, some of us took the chance to snack on them, playing roulette as to whether they were going to be bitter or sweet. 

Lesley asked if we were in Happy Valley yet as she didn't want to miss it.  LOL

Drama of the day was still to come, when we were just about finished, a large black cow and her calf started running towards us, we walked to the side and well out of the way to let them pass, we ended up standing out of the way for quite a while as there were a large number of cows and calves walking past us.  They paid no attention to us as they were obviously on a mission to get somewhere. Russell named 2 calves and a limping cow G, D and Steve.  Nordic Nuts joke.

We got back to the cars and drove back to Wooler to the Terrace Cafe, where we bumped into Paul, Shepherds Walks' map and compass guide.

Thank you to everyone who came along, I hope you enjoyed this walk.  Russell your photos are fab as always and thank you to Martin for his help as volunteer.

The next Nordic walk is on Sunday 25th September and is the Rothbury Railway Walk to Pauperhaugh, this is a beautiful and flat walk with a picturesque picnic spot for lunch. I hope to see you then.

Mon 12th September 2016

Four Hill Forts of the Valley

Four Hill Forts of the Valley

After meeting in Rothbury we set off heading North of Rothbury to the first hillfort, Old Rothbury Hillfort.

Old Rothbury Hillfort is situated west of Rothbury on the northside of the valley and sits close to West Hills camp.

It has a double ring fortification though in places only a single ring is visible and there are traces of hut circles inside the enclosure.

It always seems a bit odd to find a hillfort half-way up a hill. You'd think it would have been too easy for attackers to lob missiles down from above.

But, the inhabitants of Rothbury must have had their reasons I suppose. The fort is on a nicely situated plateau, and there are traces of hut circles. They went to a bit of effort to build the double ditch and rampart system, though in some places there's just a single bank and ditch, as the natural slope is pretty steep.

After visiting this the first hillforts we headed off down Physic Lane and then made a quick detour off the lane to the second hillfort, West Hills Camp.

The site of West Hills Camp covers about 3 acres. This Iron Age hillfort is located on a spur overlooking a valley located to the south. The earthworks are well-preserved in their eastern and northern part where three lines of ramparts can be distinguished. There is a wide berm between two innermost ramparts.

It has never been excavated, although earlier field reports mention remains of hut circles, nowadays difficult to distinguish. East of the hillfort there are bedrock outcrops with Neolithic/Bronze Age rock art.

We then continued down Physic Lane to Thropton, after passing through the village before crossing the River Coquet. After passing across the valley bottom we continued up past Tosson Lime Kilm to Tosson Burgh Hillfort.

Tosson Burgh Hillfort occupies a very dramatic location, it is visible from miles away (even from Rothbury). It occupies a carefully chosen naturally defended site overlooking the Coquet valley to the north, west and east. Though there are no traces of habitation within the ramparts, the fort is unexcavated, and such features may survive below ground level.

The strong situation of Tosson Burgh hillfort suggests that it was intended for use as a fortification, though a public display of power and status may have been equally important.

Though evidence of habitation may yet be found inside the rampart, the fort is not large in area, in common with many other hillforts in Northumberland, and is unlikely to have supported any sizeable population. Smaller hillforts may have served as defended farmsteads established by autonomous small groups, rather than proto-urban centres.

After vising this hill fort we continued to climb up to and over the Simonside Hills before dropping down to Lordenshaws Iron Age Hillfort.

Lordenshaw Hillfort comprises 3 ramparts separated by ditches and a counterscarp bank with a 2 metres high inner bank. Within the hillfort there are the remains of Iron Age hut circles. There are two entrances to the site, one to the east and one to the west. There are many rock art sites close by the hillfort.

It is a truly striking Iron Age hillfort.

From here we then dropped back down to Rothbury, a great walk with great company.

Tue 6th September 2016

Kielder Challenge Walk 2016

Kielder Challenge Walk 2016

On Saturday just under 100 walkers undertook the stunning Kielder Challenge Walk.

After registering the walkers set off along the North Shore to Checkpoint 1 before skirting around the top of the reservoir before heading down to Checkpoint 2.

A few showers kept everybody refreshed as they headed onto Checkpoint 3 and 4.

A good day was had by all.