Cragside Challenge Walk 2014
Blog - from guided walk group
Waking up to rain, wind and a cool, if not, a cold easterly wind was a bit of a shock after a week of sunny, warm weather. I had planned to carry less gear but put in an extra fleece at the last moment. The weather forecast even said there was a chance of thunder and heavy rain!
Arriving at Cragside which is in such a beautiful setting dispells any concerns about getting wet and sure enough as we set off on the walk through the grounds the first glipses of the route over the Simonside Hills is seen through the trees. The clouds were parting and there were patches of sunshine. It was going to be a good day.
And so it proved to be.
This walk is varied and continually interesting. Walking along the Thrum in Rothbury and then crossing the new bridge is as attractive as it is gentle. Walking past Witton Tower the countryside opens up and we begin to prepare for the ascent to the wilder Garleigh Moor above Lordenshaw. The descent to the car park is a temporary restbite as we take on the rocky route to the Simonside ridge before turning away at Dove Crag to the forest track that leads into the forest down a steep and tricky descent to Tosson Farm and the checkpoint at the lime kiln. From here the Coquet Valley opens up and the meandering river can be seen like a geography lesson layed out in front of you.
After a welcome lunch the gentle walk across the river and through to Thropton is followed by a long climb to the moorland above Rothbury. It was a welcome relief to turn left at the gateway to the moors and to walk on level ground. This is the last stage of the walk: a bit of flat ,a bit of down hill through the forest, a bit of a twist on the roadway until the crossing of the road into the grounds of Cragside and the finish.
Well done to the guided group who made the day memorable and a pleasure for me. Thank you for your company. Thank you to Andrea for helping out.
So the day ended with sunshine and it even warmed up a bit. As it turned out it was near perfect weather for a walk.
As for the thunder and rain storm – that hit during the drive home. What timing!
See you again next year or at the next Shepherds Walks challenge in August over the border into Scotland – the St Cuthbert’s Way Challenge – another great walk. For details and how to sign up for the the training walk see www.shepherdswalks.co.uk
Harbottle and the Drake Stone
Everyone was in good time for the start of the walk so after explaining the route and looking at the map we set off bright and early. We had parked in West Wood and talked a little about the forestry commission and squirrels, and then we walked up through the wood and into the nature reserve.
After a short distance we were able to have excellent views of Harbottle village and Harbottle crags. As we walked up the single track, the splendid views opened up before us, and stopping at the cairn, we looked up to the Drake stone and talked about Gallow Law, at this point the cameras were out and everyone was clicking away at the views of Harbottle and the nature reserve in front of us.
Then following the track upwards we diverted left past the seat and up to the Drakes stone. It was photograph time again and a short history lesson about the stone and all its folklore, with everyone touching the stone to get its ‘healing properties’. From there it was a short walk to Harbottle Lake and reference to the boat house and ‘coldness’ of the water was made. Then after an examination of a couple of damaged millstones we headed up the fence line and then back through the wood following the concrete posts of an old fence line. As we exited the wood we talked about dry stone walling and the unique wall running down the side of ‘Gregory Nick’. Then we were greeted with tremendous views of upper Coquet dale, Alwinton and especially the Church.
Lunch stop was getting close, so after a short walk on the road, we stopped at the bridge to look at the River Coquet and River Alwin coming together. Then turning right at lower Alwinton we headed along the side of the river Coquet on the Border County ride towards the Lime kiln, where a lunch stop was awaiting and it was there we had company in the form of a horse which attempted to eat our sandwiches (not mine!)
After lunch it was a gentle walk across the fields with views of the Drake Stone in the distance. After crossing the Coquet we walked up to the village, where there was lots to discuss like the second Castle, water trough, memorial fountain all found in the one main road through Harbottle. We then had a visit to the Castle, read the sad poem, and tried to work out the Roman numerals for the date it was written? and then headed to the car park.
Just before the car park there was a tree covered in a silk web, all its branches and leaves were covered and the only other people we had seen all day suggested it was some kind of moth (open for suggestions). Then back to the car park and everyone expressed how good of a day it had been.
Nordic Walk - Druridge Bay and Cresswell
Julie and Jane arrived early as there were a couple of people who hadn’t Nordic walked before so had a quick lesson with Julie before everyone arrived. Jane welcomed the rest of the group and handed out poles to those who needed it before meeting Julie and the others on the beach.
Introductions were made and a warm up took place on the beach and Julie pointed out how far we would be walking and telling everyone that that was where Cresswell Ices was, at which point lots of ears perked up, especially the youngest of our group, Adam.
Julie said she would be walking at the front at a good pace and Jane would be at the back for those who didn’t want to go quickly. Also if anyone wanted/needed any advice with their technique we were around to help out. As it was a very long clear stretch of sand everyone was encouraged to go at their own pace and find the sand that suited them the most. Everyone was soon in their stride and the group stretched out.
The scenery was stunning, the temperature warm and the company fabulous (as always).
We arrived at Cresswell Ices at which point everyone descended into the shop and tried various different flavours and it was time to move on back to the cars.
We headed back to the starting point, did a cool down and reminded everyone of the next Nordic walk with Jane (no Julie) on 5th July.
Thanks everyone for a fab walk and we look forward to seeing you soon.
Julie & Jane x