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Sat 16th July 2016

Nordic Walk Pilgrims Causeway to Holy Island

Nordic Walk  Pilgrims Causeway to Holy Island

The Barn at Beal had very kindly allowed us to park in their car park for the day and asked that we buy something from their café!  Do the Nordic Nuts need an excuse for tea, cake or scones?  No we donít!

The weather started dry and not too cold so we took the opportunity to have our coffee outside, Ruth and Debbie were waiting (im)patiently for the cheese scones to come out of the oven.  The speed they moved at when they were ready was unprecedented!

Once everyone had arrived, finished their refreshments I handed poles out to those who needed to borrow them.

I introduced myself and volunteers to the group.  Most of the group were regular Nordic Nuts but we welcomed a new member, Gordon, to our happy group.

We headed off towards the Causeway with Martin at the front.  As always with this group there was a lot of chat, laughter and mickey taking.

At the start of the causeway the group split, one group went over the bridge to avoid the water, meanwhile Gordon, Anne and me decided to go plodging.  Anne waited for me and Gordon to check the depth of the water, she watched us go to knee deep and decided to move further up. Gordon crossed and we watched his boots bobbing behind him.

Once we were in bare feet we could see the richness of the mudflats. The surface was covered in tiny dark specks.  Looking closely these were a minute sea snail called Hydrobia, a very important food item for the large flocks of ducks and wading birds that arrive in autumn.  As well as the fine green strands of filamentous algae we could see another plant which looked like a broad leafed grass, just a few inches long.  This is a vital part of the ecosystem and is called Zostera, otherwise known as sea grass.  It is an important food for birds and also provides shelter for young fish when the tide is in. It is not an algae like seaweed, but a flowering plant.  There are two species here, one reproducing by underground stems (rhizomes) and the other by seed and is an annual.  Lugworm casts were everywhere and there were large quantities of cockle shells. Some of the shells had a small hole in them made by dog whelks which predate them. Occasional small shore crabs scuttled along and there were a few winkles for those who like to eat sea snails.

Once the group came back together everyone went at their own pace.

There was a constant background noise that sounded like wind howling in a boatís rigging. As we got closer to Lindisfarne we could see the ďmermaidsĒ singing.  There was a large rookery of several hundred seals.  These were mostly the larger Grey seal which give birth around November on the Farnes. 

The sand quickly gave way to a very thin layer of mud which was very slippy, it was like walking on an icy pavement.  The going underfoot now regularly changed from mud to sand to large areas of sand under shallow water.  Anne was the first to slip over fortunately it was only her knee which ended up on the ground. 

The next issue to impede our progress was an area of mud flats with lots of deep holes filled with black water.  Step forward Jean to slip spectacularly in the black muddy water, she was laughing so hard she couldnít get up.  Russell tried to be a gentleman and help her up but Steve was shouting ďget out of the way Iím trying to take a photoĒ worse for Jean they were videoing her misfortune.

Thankfully we reached the end of the causeway without any further incidents.

We reached Holy Island and most of us headed to Pilgrimís Café for lunch.  We had 1½ hours on the island to have lunch/explore and visit the mead shop.

We had been lucky with the weather up to this point but as we all expected the weather changed and it started raining, waterproofs donned we headed back along the causeway. As we joined the causeway a heron watched us from the other side of the road: perhaps was an immature bird but it was probably just that it didnít recognise our group as human.

Martyn got back first as he was hoping for a cheese scone – he was lucky on his third attempt of the day.

We didnít hang around at the end of the walk as we were soaking but some of the group headed to the Lindisfarne Inn for a drink.

I really hope you enjoyed this unusual walk.  For clarification the distance measured 8.97miles.

Our next walk is Warkworth to Amble (and back) on 24th July and is around 5 miles.

Thank you for coming along on this walk and thank you to Ruth and Martin for your help and hard work in making this a great day.

See you soon


Mon 4th July 2016

Weather Cairn and St. Davids Cairn

Weather Cairn and St. Davids Cairn

A rather dull day with low cloud that on the journey up to Biddlestone seemed to be lifting!

A rather select group set off from Biddlestone Chapel up the track to Singmoor and just as we reached Singmoor we walked into the cloud.  After a short time visibility was down to 50m or so.  Fortunately for Mike the route up to St. Davidís Cairn followed a fence line which was just as well as visibility drooped down to 20m at times.  After many false mist induced illusions we reached St. Davidís Cairn and lunch.  

After lunch we followed yet another fence and several lumps that Mike tried to convince everyone was Weather Cairn.  As usual we did not believe him particularly one or two of us who had been to Weather Cairn .before.  We finally arrived at Weather Cairn and Mike pointed out all the points of interest we could see a muddy hole some 5m away, a clump of heather at least 20m away.

The lack of interest registered with Mike so he led us back a short way before following another fence and then another fence.  Suddenly we were out of the cloud and could see Biddlestone Chapel about a mile away or 1.5k or so.  A steady walk across open moor brought us to the track leading to the Chapel and the end of a interesting walk.

Tue 28th June 2016

Coquet Valley Challenge Walk 2016

Coquet Valley Challenge Walk 2016

On Saturday just under 100 participants took place on the first ever Coquet Valley Challenge Walk.

After registering in Rothbury everybody headed North onto the Carriageway Drive before dropping down and crossing the River Coquet at Thropton.

After passing through checkpoint 1 (Tosson Lime Kiln) everybody climbed up and passed over the summit of Simonside and then followed the ridge over Dove Crag and then down to Lordenshaws (checkpoint 2).

After continuing the decend on St Oswald's Way everybody came back to Rothbury via Whitton Hillhead before following the River Coquet back to the village.

A stunning 13 miles with the odd shower on the way.

Well done to everybody who completed the 2016 Coquet Valley Challenge Walk.