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Mon 9th March 2015

Nordic Walk - Whitton Hillhead

Nordic Walk - Whitton Hillhead

This is one of my favourite short walks around Rothbury area so I was really looking forward to it.

Everyone met in the car park nice and early and raring to go. Unusually the group was all ladies and most had not been on a Julie Nordic walk, although they had walked with Jane.  I made a quick call to check on a walker who hadn’t arrived to be told that they weren’t coming along.  

As we warmed up I explained that there were two routes at the beginning of the walk, one was up the steps (aka Jacob’s ladder) and the other was up the slight incline on the road.  Needless to say we headed up the incline of the road.

Off we set and everyone soon settled into their walking rhythm and into little groups. I mentioned that I was a stickler for technique and they would probably hear me say “elbows” quite a lot and that the terrain varied from road surface, tracks, grass and a few muddy/clarty areas.  This did not phase anyone.

I was alternating between the groups of ladies to find out a little more about them and also to tweak their technique.

It was a really relaxed group and Sharon and I were just commenting that it was unusual for me not to have slipped on the mud when we noticed a slide mark in the mud.  Everyone came to a stop and we found out it was Sandra who had slipped, in a very graceful almost balletic way, only one muddy knee though and no injury.

We continued on and were pleasantly surprised that it wasn’t as muddy as we expected it to be.

Once we got to the road again we all looked at our poles and the tips were very muddy so that nobody wanted to put their paws back on.  We did find an ingenious way of cleaning them without getting our hands dirty, all you need is a roadside with moss on and rub your pole tips into it and it cleans them up quite well.  We were all feeling very pleased with ourselves.

We headed towards Rothbury, over Lady’s Bridge and across the field to take us onto the riverside path and which point I mentioned that if anyone was interested at the end of the walk we could venture for tea and cake and the pace of the walk picked up even more.  

At the car park we did our cool down and stretches and I told everyone about walks that were coming up even though everyone knew when they were.  Those of us who were up for tea and cake headed into Rothbury.

Unfortunately Tomlinson’s was full, two buses had come in.  We headed to Harley’s tea room where we were greeted with a basket of blue covers for our shoes (which were relatively clean by this point) unlike our poles tips.  Lots of chatter around the table and around an hour later everyone headed home.

I hope to see everyone really soon and definitely at the Nordic Challenge Walks, although most will be on Jane’s shorter walk.

Thank you for your company.


Mon 16th February 2015

Druridge Bay

Druridge Bay

Sunday 15th February 2015

The first test was to find the Northumberland Wildlife Trust’s car park at Low Hauxley, well done everyone!  The second was to survive my commentary throughout the day while pretending to be interested.  Thank you for allowing me to continue under that delusion.  Did Ian and I mention that when we were doing our recce the previous Tuesday the weather was gorgeous, a really bright and warm spring day with a big wide beach and virtually nobody else around?  The day of our walk was a bit different, grey and overcast, with a cool breeze off the sea and limited visibility – but at least we didn’t get rained on.

Apart from the intrinsic interest of the Hauxley Nature Reserve itself the North Hide provided a convenient place to brief everyone about the day’s walk, it wasn’t very warm but at least we were out of the chilly breeze.  We certainly felt its effects when we left the relative protection of the Reserve and emerged onto the beach to revel in the joys of peat beds, climate change and the site of the 2013 rescue dig – well I thought it was interesting anyway.  Do have a look under “Rescued from the Sea” on the internet and you will see video of the animal and human footprints, including those of children which are thought to be circa 7,000 old.  I know the regulars smile because I usually say this but do also have a look on Google Earth at the area of our walk, it will mean so much more having walked it.

The plan was to walk the length of the beach before high tide at noon stopping-off en-route at Druridge Bay Country Park for access to the facilities and hopefully the cafe would also be open too.  Fortunately both facilities and cafe were open so that helped a lot and it was surprisingly warm there out of the wind.  The spring migration of caravans was in full swing with the main car park being taken over by enthusiasts having spent the previous night there.  Back onto the beach and heading south into the wind, surprisingly we didn’t see any naturists at all fog-bathing near Chibburn Mouth which is a designated naturist beach.  Here we went inland behind the dune line to follow the Northumberland Coast Path as far as Druridge Pools Nature Reserve.  On this section it was easy to appreciate the characteristics of the now restored former opencast coalmining landscape, low-lying, gently undulating farmland with mining flashes used as nature reserves, there are six spread along the seven miles of Druridge Bay.  Lunch was taken in a large bird hide overlooking the landscaped lake at Druridge Pools.  Nothing exotic was seen just overflying curlews and some shelduck on the water.  Compared to the large skeins of calling geese we saw on Tuesday last ...... no forget it.

The first stop after lunch was the remains of the Knights Hospitallers Low Chiburn Preceptory dating from 1313.  It has had a chequered history following the Dissolution and being passed-on to the local Widderington family who added a dower house in about 1550 before it was attacked and burnt by the French in 1691 along with Widderington village.  At least with the European Union we are not constantly at war with the French anymore – I think I’ve got that correct.  As recently as the Second World War part of the original chapel structure was converted into a rudimentary “pillbox” as part of the defences of northern England.  Following that opencasting in the area dug up everything in the area except the building site itself, even destroying the surrounding moat.  The only remaining clue to this is the curve of the fence surrounding part of the site.

On the return route we had the advantage of the wind behind us and the impetus of a brisk walk back to the comfort of Druridge Bay Country Park for the facilities prior to tanking – up on more coffee.  As it was now afternoon there were a lot more people on the beach and the tide was falling allowing us to walk the south end of the beach which was denied to us on the outgoing leg.  Kite surfing was in full swing as was kite-boarding but hey obviously don’t rise early for these activities. On reaching the cafe the spring migration of caravans had taken place, the car park was now empty of big white boxes on wheels.  The final leg back to Low Hauxley was uneventful save for the overflight of RAF Boulmer’s Seaking heading north back to base at less than a hundred feet.  We could hear it before we could see it in the coastal mist even with its navigation and winching lights on, it very soon disappeared back into the murk.  In April this year they are to be taken out of service as the RAF and RN Search and Rescue flights hand responsibility for the service over to HM Coastguard. Back at Low Hauxley the visitor centre was open with a copy of the recently published book on the aforementioned archaeology rescue dig on display.  

Thanks to everyone who attended, we hope you enjoyed the day and hope to see you all again soon. Our next walk, on 22nd March, is in the Cheviots starting from Alnham and visiting the Shepherd’s Cairns on the moor near Ewertly Shank Farm and topping-out on Hogdon Law one of the best, easiest and underrated value-for-effort viewpoints in Northumberland.  Come and find out about the mysteriously named Grey Yade of Coppath which sounds like it should be in a Harry Potter book.  

Richard and Ian                

Tue 10th February 2015

Nordic Walk - Bamburgh

Nordic Walk - Bamburgh

What a fantastic sunny morning to Nordic walk along one of the best beaches in Northumberland from Bamburgh to Seahouses.

Everyone met in the car park in plenty of time, some a few minutes later than others (a detour to the other car park).  Poles at the ready, I introduced (just in case people had forgotten who we were) myself and Jon who had joined us on the walk and it was said that I had to be on my best behaviour by the group not Jon!

We warmed up in the car park and headed down onto the beach.  

Jon, Elbows (aka Geoff) and Angela took off at a fast pace but as always with Nordic walking everyone goes at their own pace so we were stretched across the vast sandy beach but everyone was walking alongside someone else.  We soon realised we had lost one member of the group as John had decided to remove a layer straight away and when we were gathering for our “group shot” in front of the iconic Bamburgh Castle, John ran to catch us up.  As usual some of the group tried to hide behind the taller members but were soon shuffled to the front.

The beach was relatively empty bearing in mind it was such a lovely day and there was lots of chatter going on within the group as some people hadn’t seen each other for a while.  The beauty of Nordic walking is that you can walk and talk at the same time.
We had to stay on our toes as Jon was taking quite a few photographs (as you will see below) as we were walking.  There were a couple of small plodging parts where there were little rivers luckily these weren’t as deep as the week before when I had recce’d the walk.

We got to Seahouses and there were various routes off the sand, Jon and John went over two routes and the rest of the group followed me over the not so steep parts.  We walked along the grassy top to Seahouses where the conversation turned to where we were going to have lunch.  We decided to sit looking out of the harbour as the temperature was warm and some people had brought sandwiches, the rest of us headed to the fish and chip shop for our not so healthy lunch.

Refreshments finished we noticed the temperature was dropping a little, as the tide was coming in slightly, so we decided not to take any layers off and John put his chin strap on so he didn’t lose his hat.

We headed back towards Bamburgh taking the same route.  We had more of our group walking at a quicker pace, Ruth and Sharon had joined Jon, Elbows and Angela at the front.  All the techniques were still looking good at this point.  Although John asked me to check his technique, which Pam was happy about.  I gave him a few pointers and we walked quicker so that he could really use his shoulders and feel the difference I also showed him how to walk slower but get more out of his workout.  After waiting for everyone to catch up, one of the group mentioned walking over the sand at Holy Island and it was decided that we would hold a Nordic walk starting in August and I said I would check the tide tables and let Jon know so that he could put it on the website.  

Once we got back to the cars, we did our stretches.  I thanked everyone for joining me on the walk and the conversation very quickly at that point moved to tea and cake at a coffee shop.  John checked his GPS and it had measured 7½ miles, ½ mile less than advertised.  We left the cars and decided if we walked to the coffee shop that would take us over the 8 miles.

We all headed to the Copper Kettle in Bamburgh where we all relaxed and I told every one of the forthcoming walks especially the Nordic Walking Inaugural Challenge Walks on 18th April.  Elbows and Sharon confirmed they would be joining me on the 15 mile walk whereas the rest said they would stick with Jane on the 7.5 miles.

A fantastic walk, brilliant day with good friends and I hope to see everyone very soon.  Our next Nordic walk is Whitton Hillhead for an afternoon start on 7th March.