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Tue 7th July 2015

Netherton to Alwinton

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.

Tue 7th July 2015

Fontbury to Rothbury

Fontbury to Rothbury

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 Wallington on a Monday.  

We got off the bus at the entrance to Fontburn Reservoir as the starting point of our walk.  We had to wait a short while Mike got himself sorted with waterproofs switching on GPS, eventually we were off.  

The walk to the reservoir was a long a single width tarmac road, the dam for the reservoir has a massive overflow hole.  We continued over the dam admiring the railway viaduct and followed the road towards Newbiggin Farm.  After pointing out some landmarks which could be vaguely seen the rain and mist Mike decided we will start walking over the open fields heading approximately to Blueburn Farm.

All was going well until we hit the first bit of boggy ground and a couple of us got a wet foot each.  Much to mikes delight as by now he had two wet feet due to his leaky boots.  By now the rain was fairly steady and being driven into our faces by the wind.  We had a bit of a respite from the wind as we walked around Blueburn but decided to walk on to see to Spylaw burn and see if we find a sheltered spot for lunch, we did just.

After lunch we headed off in rough the direction of the path (or a least that’s what Mike claimed).  
Although after a mile or so of what seemed aimlessly walking along we did come to a style with a footpath sign.  After another encounter with a herd of beasts we reach Lordenshaw road end and a stretch of road walking.  By now the rain had eased and occasionally the hoods came down. Mike then took us round Lordenshaw Hillfort on another non-existing footpath that eventually joined a more well-trodden path.  That led us to Sharps Folly and then down into Rothbury.

Tue 7th July 2015

Cragside Challenge Walk - guided group

Cragside Challenge Walk - guided group

The day started sunny and everyone met near the start and I checked them off the register.  Everyone started chatting to each other, some people knew each other and were regular walkers with Shepherds Walks whereas some were new walkers and had travelled from the Wigan and Warrington.

We headed off following the route through Cragside, this is relatively challenging as Cragside Estate isn’t flat and the terrain was varied.  The route through Cragside is around 2 miles and is different every year.

We followed the Whitton Hillhead route (which is one of my favourites) passing Sharp’s Folly where we stopped for everyone to catch up and take layers off if they needed to.  The next part of the Challenge is relatively flat before the hill heading towards Lordenshaws cup and ring.  Some members of the group kept up their fast pace and made the hill in one go, which is quite an achievement, whereas some members “stopped to admire the view”.  At the top of the hill we waited for everyone to catch up before we headed to Checkpoint 1.  A few people were Nordic walking and one of the ladies (Laura) was amazed at herself as she didn’t stop.

Next stop was checkpoint 1 where we were checked off by Sharon and Moira and had the opportunity to top up our water and Edith very kindly handed around chocolates.

Once everyone was sorted I pointed out the next part of the route up to Dove Crag part of the Simonside range.   This part of the route is like a set of stairs but very challenging.  We met at the top and some members took the opportunity to have a sit down, Ruth had her picture taken to prove she had made it that far.

Next we headed down towards the Firebreak road where one of our group was struggling and decided to withdraw from the walk, along with her companion for the day.  I asked everyone to make their way to the top where there was a viewpoint and I would catch them up once I had summoned Jon in the support vehicle.  Once the ladies were picked up I ran up the hill to rejoin the group.  A lot of the group had taken the opportunity to have a sandwich.  Everyone packed up and we headed towards the Forest and down the path heading to checkpoint 2 at Tosson Lime Kiln where we would stop for lunch.  Funnily enough the pace picked up at the mention of lunch.

At checkpoint 2 we were welcomed by Bev, Lois and Paul.  We all sat down with cups of tea/coffee and our lunch in the sun and chilled out.

We were heading off towards Thropton when we heard Harry over the radio worried about the drone.  Everyone was listening intently and laughing as Harry was very concerned that the drone was coming down and he had no control and he was worried about the hedge.  Panic over the drone landed safe and sound.

We were just coming up to Thropton Bridge when one of the group had an issue with his shoe, the sole had come away and he was unable to continue on.  Again Jon in the support vehicle was summoned and we left Chris (the sweep) and the member of the group waited to be picked up as the rest of us carried on.

Everyone was still in great spirits and when we got into Cragside Estate we waited at the little bridge so we could wait for Martyn and Chris, who were both raising money, the RVS (Royal Voluntary Society) and RDA (Riding for the Disabled Association) respectively and we could finish together and the drone would be ready to get live shots of us finishing.  Once the finish was in sight I did my usual sprint to the end so that I could cheer everyone over the line.  

Well done everyone on completing the Challenge.  I hope you all had a fabulous time and hope to see you all again.