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Tue 15th March 2016

Nordic Walk - Kielder

Nordic Walk - Kielder

The forecast said it should be a great day for this nordic walk covering part of the Shepherds Walk Kielder Challenge route. 

After the recce of the walk on Monday it became a linear rather than a circular route, due to the Bull Crag Peninsular shortcut being closed for forestry work.

As always the Nordic Nuts were early and raring to go. 

First up a group photograph with Kielder Water in the background.

I introduced myself, Laura (my trusty volunteer) and Jon (the shepherd of Shepherds Walks), who warned everyone he had brought the Go Pro camera with him so he could take video shots during the walk.

As always we started with a warm up and set off, everyone at their own pace.  Kirsten, Paul, Angela, Geoff and me were at the front with the rest behind us.  The peace of Kielder was shattered as lots of chatter was heard along the way. 

We passed 3 groups of teenagers who were walking the 25.3 miles around Kielder, they were extremely friendly shouting "good morning" to us as we passed.

We stopped where checkpoint 4 is situated at the Kielder Challenge for lunch.  This point will now be known as the battlefield of the flapjacks.  Laura had brought her homemade flapjacks (which were delicious) and Steve had brought shop bought flapjacks (which were very nice).  Laura won this one, sorry Steve.

We continued onto Tower Knowe, where we had a quick comfort break, before continuing to the dam wall, this is a well known point on the Kielder Challenge for everyone saying "oh no the dam wall".
A return to Tower Knowe where Jon and Steve transported everyone back to Leaplish for the customary tea, coffee and cake (for a couple of us).

I told everyone of the next Nordic walks coming up, especially the Nordic Challenge Walk on 16th April.  I was asked if we could do another walk before that and I will be looking at adding a beach walk before then.

Thank you as always to Laura and thank you to Jon for their help during this day.

I hope to see you all very soon.


Mon 29th February 2016

Howick and Craster

Howick and Craster

What weather and it is still February.

This walk was everything you could have hoped for, when you are planning guided walks for February on the coast you dream of blue skies and sunshine and when this is what you experience who could ask for anything else.

We all met at Sea Houses, near to Howick and it was great everybody arrived in good time.

After a quick introduction we headed off South to the coast. Before we arrived at the coastline we were treated to stunning views of Sugar Sands before we dropped down to the North Sea and we joined the North Sea Trail.

We then headed North up the coast and soon came across the Bath House. This truly unique and most charming Grade II listed cottage stands in possibly the most idyllic and desirable location on the Northumberland coast. Set in a superb and secluded position on the cliff edge with a sandy cove below, it commands panoramic coastal views from every window. The majestic ruins of Dunstanburgh Castle can be seen in the north, whilst to the south there are distant views of Coquet Island.

We then continue North up the coast path and soon reached Craster.

Craster is a small fishing village on the Northumbrian coast of England. It has a small harbour and offers a view northwards along the rocky shore to the ruins of Dunstanburgh Castle.

For many years, the village has had a herring-curing business: Craster kippers are well known in England. The local herrings are smoked in a traditional manner by the Robson family.

The remains of a tower on the end of the harbour are all that can be seen now of the much taller building which was part of the overhead equipment which used to convey the local stone from where it was quarried to boats in the harbour. The disused quarry is now a car park. A small distance inland lies Craster Tower, the home of the Craster family who owned the quarry and had the harbour improved for its benefit.

Our lunch stop was Craster Tourist Information centre and Piper's Pitch, the food van that is rated as the No1 place to eat at Craster. It was very civilised to be sat on chairs for lunch!

After lunch we headed inland through some great farmland before reaching Howick Hall.

Howick was the home of the Grey family from 1319 and Charles 2nd Earl Grey is the most distinguished member.

As leader of the Whig party he was Prime Minister from 1830 to 1834, during which time the Great Reform Bill of 1832 was passed in the teeth of opposition from the Duke of Wellington; this started the process of parliamentary reform which eventually led to our modern democracy.  He married Mary Elizabeth Ponsonby in 1794; the marriage was happy and fruitfut and the couple had 15 children.

Howick is also the home of Earl Grey tea!  The tea was specially blended by a Chinese mandarin for Charles, 2nd Earl Grey, to suit the water from the well at Howick, using bergamot in particular to offset the taste of the lime in it.  Lady Grey used it in London when entertaining as a political hostess, and it proved so popular that she was asked if it could be sold to others, which is how Twinings came to market it and it is now sold worldwide.  Sadly the Greys, being un-business like, failed to register the trade mark and as a result they have never received a penny in royalties.

We then had a short walk back down the road back to the cars.

A lovely walk complimented by some great company!

Mon 15th February 2016

Northumberlandia Nordic Walk - 14 February 2016

Northumberlandia Nordic Walk - 14 February 2016

Weather conditions in Alnwick meant we had a couple of cancellations first thing but everyone else met bright and early at the car park at Northumberlandia.

We had a couple of new people to our group (Val and Sonia) and they soon fit right in.

I introduced my volunteers, Ruth (first time officially as a volunteer) and Sharon to the group and we headed off.The route was once around the perimeter of the Lady of the North, the group soon found their pace and the path meant we could spread out.  At one point I asked the group at the front to add an extra incline into the walk to let the rest catch up, everyone followed - ha ha.

We then headed up each of the different areas of the Lady of the North's body. At the top of the face, Steve offered everyone a huge box of biscuits, this ended up being the catchphrase of the walk.

John went on a mission and, we think, walked around the whole sculpture at least twice, everyone else was happy just going around once.  The weather was clear so we could see Simonside and Lindisfarne. John pointed out some Meadow Pipits to me.

Ruth checked her pedometer because as usual no one believed that the distance I had said was the distance we had walked.  I was right, of course.

Once we had completed the whole of the sculpture there was one last turn around the perimeter before cake.

Next stop The Parlour at Blagdon for tea and cakes.  Orders taken, now the wait for the food and drinks which came out very sporadically, if they came out at all.  The chatter was very loud around the table.

I went through the walks up to August.  A request was made for the Pilgrims Causeway to be added again.  I promise I will look at this.

Thank you to Ruth and Sharon for your help today.  It was invaluable as always.

Thank you to you all for coming along I hope you enjoyed the walk, even though tea and cake was a bit disjointed, and we hope to see you all again soon.