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Mon 14th April 2014

Training Walk 2 - Coastal Challenge route

Training Walk 2  - Coastal Challenge route

There were three features of the walk from Beadnell to Alnmouth that stood out on Saturday.

The first was and is the magnificence of the geology of the Northumberland coast. Taking a line, as this walk does, enables the contrast of sandy bays and rocky cliffs to be seen and to aid in understood how this geology shapes the use of the coastal areas by humans. Where there are breaks in the rocks humans have gathered and sought a living. An example of this is Craster. A natural break in the rocky shore made into a harbour saw the establishment of the village that was and remains largely based on the fishing industry.

Indeed some of today’s walkers took the opportunity to buy their famous Craster kippers.

The sandy bays and more gentle contours lend themselves to more recreational pasttimes and in particular to the game of golf. Plenty of sand for the bunkers! But the natural feature that attracted most attenion is the rock formations. The first real glimpse of this is just north of Dunstanborough around the Greymare Rock area where a fold in the strata is obvious. The natural looks man made but isn’t because it is seen repeatedly if you take the time to look back as you leave Craster and after passing Cullernose Point. More photopgraphs were taken here than anywhere else during the day.

The second feature is defined by the geology: and this is Dunstanborough Castle. It is easy to see why it was built were it was as a defensive fortification. It commands all that is around it. Built upon a cliff that is so sheer and inaccessible that it is the home to a kittywake colony and with clear views across the land it was the obvious site to rule and defend a kingdom from.

The third feature of the walk was the wind. We pushed and prodded our way into the wind all day. We had a few drops of rain but for the most part the sun shone strongly and the air was clear so we had good views but the wind never gave up.  We had a good walk but the energy we used was worth more than the 15 miles or so that we covered. Well done to everyone who walked so well. This was a good training walk and excellent preparation for the challenge in May. It was a relief to get into Alnmouth and turn away from the wind for the last half mile back to the car park.

We covered 15.5 miles in 6 hours and 15 minutes. The stop time was about 50 minutes which means that the overall average distance covered was 2.5 miles an hour. However the actual pace of walking was nearer 3 miles and hour.

I look forward to catching up with those of you who are doing the challenge walk and thanks to all of the walkers for their company.


Wed 9th April 2014

Holy Island Causeway to Berwick upon Tweed

Holy Island Causeway to Berwick upon Tweed

The rain splattered on the windscreen as Sundace and The Kid made their way to Berwick and then on the coach to the causeway at Holy Island wondering if it would take more than a soft shoe shuffle to keep the weather fair. They need not worry for as soon as waterproofs were donned to get off the coach the weather dried up. In fact The Kid suffered later by forgetting to bring his sun hat.

Heading North from the causeway the two groups made their way along the coastline, firstly around the muddy Beal inlet before following the dune line to Goswick. Unfortunately a trip out to the isolated sand dune 'islands' off-shore and walk along the sands wasn't going on as the rain during the week made it impossible to cross the stream beach-side at Goswick.

Instead a pleasant track led to the Golf Club House where The Kid's group descended on the only indoor loo for miles (Sundace's group went ahead and had to make do with the natural surroundings. Sundace nearly got lynched when the group discovered they had past one).

Continuing up the beach a while a pleasant lunch beach side was had before leaving the sands to avoid rock bands. A climb up and along the cliffs to Spital promenade followed. There was a cliff top encounter along the way with a Shepherds Walks nordic walking party and a suitable amount of banter between the groups ensued. Down on the prom some had ice creams, some followed the Lowry Trail and other queued at the loo's again.

Once around the Tweed mouth the groups crossed the old bridge into Berwick with one group finishing with a detour around the walls to the Lion House and a peek at the old Berwick icehouse used to store ice for the salmon fishing in previous times.


Tue 8th April 2014

St. Oswalds Way part 10 - Little Bavington to Heavens Field

St. Oswalds Way part 10  - Little Bavington to Heavens Field

Sundace had been doing the old soft shoe shuffle once more but with a bit more determination as yes you have guessed correctly he has another set of boots that let the water in, but had he over done it?  He had managed a dry walk on the Saturday were the rain gods going to let him get away with it again?

By 9.30am not only was every one ready even the buses where there as well.  A short bus trip and we had arrived at Little Bavington.  The route from here follows a minor road for nearly 5km.  Mike had already been nagged about stopping for an eleven-is and suggested we stop at the first place where we were going to be sheltered from the wind.  4.8Km latter the spot had been found a small war memorial at a cross roads in the middle of now where. 

After coffee we set off up - hill and after a couple of hundred meters we splashed our way through a field gate the first on many.  We continued up - hill to the top of Todridge Fell and there enjoyed the views except for Mike who had been attacked by a midgy.  We now walked down hill to Click’em in Farm and we were back on tarmac heading to Great Wittington looking for a lunch stop.  Just before the village a handy wall with several tree stumps provided us with the ideal semi sheltered spot!

Just as we about to set off the first rain shower hit us, unfortunately we were walking into the wind which had again become stronger.  Once more we left a hard surface and continued cross country to a derelict windmill.  A path diversion took us a cross a footbridge that spanned the River Pont which was about 2m wide. After a brisk walk up hill and a gentle decent we arrived at the B6318 and Hadrian’s Wall Path which follows the line of the Roman Wall. 

We turned West walked a short distance along the road before we climbed the first of about 32 styles in 9km.  As we walked westward we could see showers heading our way,  fortunately none of them lasted no more than 10 min’s  The 1st highlight of the day was arriving at St. Oswald’s Café with 15min to go before it closed and sitting down to fresh coffee and cakes. After a short break we continued west for a short distance and reached the 2nd highlight of the day the little church at  Heavens field and the end of for us of St. Oswald’s Way.  Unfortunately we had a further 3km to go to reach the cars.  So with determined stride we set off arriving back to at the cars some seven and half hours after leaving them. 

Yes Sundance had done it his feet were still dry even if the day was not totally dry.
In Mikes quest to get back to Alston we are going to follow the wall for another days walk before heading south to Allendale and then joining Isaac’s Tea Trail.  This is a circular walk From Allendale the route takes you to Nethead, Alston, Ninebanks and back to Allendale.