Ingram to Biddlestone
After varying degrees of navigational difficulty every one arrived at Biddlestone Chapel climbed on the bus and we set off for Ingram. At Ingram Mike took a quick detour to see how the Tea Shop was doing and then we set off on the walk proper.
From Ingram we followed a good farm track up over Wether Cairn and passing by Cochrane Pike. After lunch stop 1 the path descended down to Prendwick passing some wonderful named locations Gingling Cleugh and Bowl Holes. As we descended the track we were met by two horse riders coming up, one of the horses was very skittish and took a lot of urging to pass us by (Yes it was the horse and not the sight of us making it skittish, honest).
From Prendwick we continued along another farm track to Northfieldhead. Here we started the second of the days climbs. The effort of going uphill was distracted by a tractor driving backwards and cutting silage leaving strips of uncut grass between strips of cut grass. When he started to cut the uncut stips it was amazing that they were the exact width of the cutters to the inch (or 25.4mm). After this we joined Salters Road climbed Northfieldhead Hill. On the way Mike decided to take another little detour but only after lunch stop 2.
After crossing the road to Ewartly Shank, we continued along a grass track to Old Hizeltonrigg. The last climb of the day took us on a path heading for Singmoor on a ridge between Hazeltonrig Burn and Harden Burn. Eventually the path swung round to the head of the Harden Burn and as we Crested Bleakmoor Hill we could look across mid Coquetdale to the Simonsides.
A difficult descent down to Biddlestone (the track surface had suffered from recent rains and washed out of the track). From Biddlestone a short walk UPHILL took us back to Biddlestone Chapel and the end of the walk but not the day. Mike had the Keys to the chapel and opened up so we could see the inside of the chapel. Much to everyone’s amazement it was a totally unexpected delight to the eye.
Once more we met at Shepherds Walks Shop in Rothbury and then staggered down to the bus stop to get the Spiritbus to the start of the walk. The bus driver was not sure whether we/ he could get up to the start of the walk as there were rolling road works from Hepple to Elsdon, fortunately we were able to get to the start of the walk without any problems.
A short walk downhill took us across the Grasslees Burn and then it was uphill all the way to Darden Pike. Mike took every opportunity to stop for a breather to look at the scenery the trees, the flowers (Cotton Grass at Millers Moss) and a lone Sand Lizard, as well as stopping to give the little dog a breather.
Eventually Darden Lough came it to view and we were greeted by a family of Canadian Geese. The last stretch uphill brought us to the trig point and cairn on Darden Pike. Just as mike was picking the best spot to have lunch on of the ladies fell over and cut her elbow. Mike immediately dived into action (well he decided he better do something to help before eating his lunch) treating the injury with care and sympathy. By time lunch was over the patient was feeling fine.
Leaving Darden Pike behind we now had a long steady decent with grand views all the way round. Eventually Mike stopped to show us the Frog this was a small outcrop of rock and when viewed from a certain angle look a bit frog like! The gentle decent continued until we crossed the Grasslees Burn once more and reached the bus stop in time to see the bus going to elsdon. So we jumped on the bus and went to Elsdon and immediately turned round to head back to Rothbury.
A good walk, that fits in very well with the Spiritbus timetable. Well worth thinking about.
Netherton to Alwinton
The group all met up At Shepherds Walk’s Shop and walked down to the bus stop to catch the local Spirit Bus that goes to Alwinton on a Tuesday. This is a circular route going through Thropton, Snitter, Netherton (where we got off the bus) before arriving at Alwinton.
We set off westwards through the village of Netherton and at the junction next to the First School we took the road to our right and after a hundred meters or so turned left on to a farm track. This farm track runs all the way to Biddlestone the going under foot was quite good.
Passing Biddlestone we then took another track that lead to Biddlestone Chapel and passes the “Biddle Stones”. Once at the Chapel Mike dived into his rucksack for the chapel keys so we could have a look inside and somewhere comfortable to have lunch.
After lunch we had a quick tour of the outside and then set off into a wood where the path was lost in plants growing to waist height. But this lasted only for 100m or so before we back on a farm track and then a road.
When the road did a hard left turn we kept straight on following another farm track. By now the sun was peeping through the clouds and it had really warmed up. The first views of the Army Range came into view and in the foreground Clennel Street. A very pleasant and easy walk downhill took us to Clennel Hall. Having walk round the Hall and Clennel Farm we crossed the Alwin River by a foot bridge and did the hardest climb of the day (all of 20ft).
Having crossed a couple of field we reached Clennel Street and a short walk downhill we reached Alwinton and somehow we all ended Sitting in the pub with a very welcome shandy. On time the Spirit Bus arrived to ferry us back to Rothbury.