St Oswalds Way Part 5 - Boulmer to Warkworth
With the weather being what it has been Hot, sunny and decidedly Sticky, Sundance decided that he would be pushing things just a bit too far if he performed the old soft shoe shuffle and got even hotter weather. So he left it to the Fate’s to decide on what to do. As it turned out it was a wise decision.
Overnight mist was slowly burning back to the coast and as we parked up at Walkworth the sun was trying to sine through the mist although by the time the mini bus had taken us to Boulmer for the start of the walk it had not made much progress. After the group photo we set off south pass Boulmer Haven walking to Seaton Point here the path takes you along the beach to Foxton Hall a short loop over the golf course brings you back on to the cliffs above Marden Rocks. From here the path goes between two golf courses. At the Gun Battery the path descends down into Alnmouth and passes a comfort stop. From here we followed the river inland and as we had not had a 11 o’clock coffee break we stopped for an early lunch.
After lunch we crossed Alnmouth road bridge and now walked along a cycle way for 3km which eventually took us to about 200m opposite Alnmouth but on the south side of the river. We now continued south along the track on the landward side of the dunes before passing through yet another caravan site and yet another golf course. Part way along the golf course we took a path that lead us to the beach. A hard walk along the beach for 1km brought us back to the cars.
Another dry walk that was not too hot due to the sea mist early on and a cooling breeze for the rest of the day.
What fantastic weather for a good day in the Lakes, we’re not used to this, only two weekends previously I was hailed on whilst climbing Hedgehope for the “view from the summit” only to sit in hill fog above the cloud-base for lunch as part of the Rothbury Walking Festival. Perhaps we shouldn’t advertise it in future, just creep-up on it instead.
Patrick was duly picked-up outside of the new Shepherds Walks premises in Rothbury and half an hour later Barbara, Gail and Edwina where putting rucksacks in to the back of the people carrier at Kirkharle for the run over to Buttermere via the Military Road, A69, M6, A66 to Keswick and the gentle run down the side of Derwentwater and over the Honister Pass to park at Gatesgarth Farm below Haystacks. There we met-up with Peter and David who had only arrived a few minutes ahead of us from County Durham, lovely to see them both again. Boots on and rucksacks shouldered and we were walking for 10.30 am, the advantage of an early start and relatively quiet roads on the way over. Walking towards Peggy’s Bridge someone who shall be nameless (Peter) announced that he’d forgotten his sticks which gave everyone an early rest stop except him! One of the steepest parts of the ascent is the initial climb around the triangular conifer plantation below High Crag so we took things slowly. Morning coffee was taken on the path up to Scarth Gap with Low Wax Knotts below us and High Wax Knotts above, the gentle westerly breeze being greatly appreciated. We only really noticed it when we stopped and turned into wind. The views were already opening-up and we could now not only see Buttermere Lake but the village too and Crummock Water beyond both looking like sheets of glass.
Through the gap in the wall and on up to Scarth Gap, we ignored the steep ascent to High Crag to our immediate right (west), via numerous cairns to access the scramble up onto Haystacks for lunch at 1.00 pm precisely on our target time. There were lots of others on the top swarming over the numerous rocky summit knolls. I really enjoyed looking at the contorted andesite lava flows as we clambered-up the last few metres but decided to keep it to myself. Immediately after lunch we passed the tarn, not shown on most maps, and which really should qualify for the name of “Innominate Tarn” as it isn’t usually mentioned and consequently doesn’t have a name. Lots of photos were taken in this area as we left the summit ridge to approach Innominate Tarn proper, Wainright’s last resting place, by means of the grassy track a little further to the south. The views in all directions emphasised the scale of the landscape, Haystacks is significantly lower than most of the surrounding summits but no less of a destination for that. The views south-south-east towards Green and Great Gable and Scafell Pike and east to Helvellyn were especially good.
The relatively steep descent to cross the outlet of Blackbeck Tarn and up again on the other side was a surprise to some but the views down to Warnscale Bottom and along the glaciated valley occupied by Buttermere and Crummock Water were excellent. The breeze was a little stronger now and was being channelled up towards us by the valley topography and really appreciated in the absence of any shade. We could even see ripples on Buttermere. Crossing the top of Green Crag the Honister Quarries came into view and the people taking the “easy” route up to Haystacks from the Honister Slate Mine car park by way of the dismantled tramway. Our route lay down the old quarry path on the south side of Warnscale Beck and east of the Black Beck passing the bothy and now decrepit quarry buildings near the top of this route. The loose rocky surface made everyone aware of just how easy it would be to go base-over-apex. On reaching the footbridge over the Warnscale Beck Barbara promptly sat in the beck to cool-off whilst Gail removed her boots and cooled her feet, simple pleasures but none of us would have been surprised to see steam rising.
Back to the vehicle and a very welcome ice cream, thank you Barbara, and team photograph with Haystacks in the background before the return journey. It was a long day, quite strenuous but thoroughly enjoyable in excellent company and with atypically genuine summer weather. As Edwina said “We must do this again sometime” – seconded, thanks to everyone for making it so enjoyable.
Monday, 15 July 2013
Once more Sundance had danced the old soft shoe shuffle, and the day had had dawned brightish although somewhat cooler compared to previous days. As we drove up the valley it became cloudier and cooler but still dry so by the time we met at Carlcroft it was definitely a windproof day.
Leaving Carcroft Farm a steep climb brings you to a gate that leads on to what Mike thought was open fell but as we approached Carlcroft Hill a fence loomed ahead. This was not a normal fence it was a 6ft high Keep Out Fence sort of fence. Decision time should we walk back down hill and see if the gate we could see in the distance was the way through or looking ahead a quad track could be seen appearing from a slight dip at 90 degrees to the fence. Of course Mike headed for the track in anticipating that a gate would be there but of course there was not, so we continued walking gently uphill following the line of the fence.
Eventually we came across a gate but it was padlocked shut. While we took a well-earned coffee break Mike went off over the gate to explore the extent of the fence line. It appeared that the western side stretched up from Blindburn towards Lamb Hill. We continued walking up alongside the fence over Beef Stand and some were between Beefstand and Beefstand Hill the fence turned westwards. We continued in a northerly direction until we came to the border fence and the Pennine Way about 200m east of Beefstand Hill so we followed the PW westwards until we reached the summit and stopped for lunch and admired the views.
After lunch we retraced our steps and then continued along the PW to Mozie Law and short descent brought us to where the PW crosses The Street. Here we turned south to follow The Street skirting the summits of Swineside Law (afternoon tea break), Brough Law and Hindside Knowe. Rather than descending down The Street to Slyme Foot we took a path that swung back and after a short steep descent a more gradual descent took us back to Carlcroft Farm and the cars.
To finish the day in a civilised manner we drove to the Barrowburn Tea Room for a coffee and piece of homemade cake.