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Wed 19th June 2013

Map and Compass training - June

Map and Compass training - June

For the second Map and Compass course for 2013 something unusual happened – the sun was shining again. The first half of the day we settled into the Parish Hall to learn about maps, compasses and basic navigation techniques before venturing outside in to the lovely weather. Shepherds Walks supplied us with new compasses and very handy map extracts of the area.

Most people this time had a basic idea of the topic and were taking part to give themselves more confidence when walking without leaders or when on their own. There are always a few surprises in store for people like realising there is more than one ‘North’ and some of them don’t stay still!

The bulk of the afternoon was about taking a journey through Rothbury and around the Carrigeways to practice the classroom skills. Just to see if everyone was paying attention pairs led short sections of the route for the group. Along the way we saw features we might normally walk past like signs of how maps were originally made, ancient earthworks and features that exist on the grounds but don’t appear on the map and vice versa.

Up on the carriageways we practiced walking on compass bearings, identifying features in the landscape and testing our pacing to see what happens when you try it for real. We also learnt a new language – all about how to find our way using collecting features, handrails and attackpoints.

We finished our journey in the late afternoon sun above Rothbury appropriately next to a Bronze Age standing stone. Paul said he was coming here on a regular basis to secretly pay homage to the rain and mist deity for the more advanced map and compass course in October.


Sun 16th June 2013

Training Walk - Cragside Challenge Walk

Training Walk - Cragside Challenge Walk

On Saturday 15th June I led an enthusiastic group on a training workout in preparation for the Cragside Challenge in a couple of weeks time. The weather was mostly warm and sunny but we had one of those days when sudden rain showers swept across the Coquet valley. Waterproofs were on and then as soon as the shower came it went and the sun came out again. Waterproofs off to avoid overheating and then back on again... There were no complaints - how can there be when the beauty of the river meandering through the flood plain is contrasted with clear views of the Cheviots to the north and the sea to the east.

We set off from Rothbury and made our way over to Sharpe's folly and on to Whittondean.

After passing through the farmyard the first hill followed taking us up to the iron age hill fort with its ancient cup and ring designs etched in the rock, before dropping down to Lordenshaw Car Park. We crossed over the road and set off up the track that leads on to the ridge over Dove Crag. Up to this point we were on the exact route of the challenge walk but instead of heading back to the forest track we continued on the ridge up and over to Simonside summit.

The western descent off Simonside is not for the faint hearted. Initially it's very steep with slippery, sandy soil under foot interspersed with rocks but this merely added to the adventure of the day. After a well earned lunch break overlooking the Cheviots we rejoined the route of the challenge walk through the forest and down to Tosson and the Lime Kiln. Here we headed back along the river to Rothbury leaving the trip over to Thropton and beyond for the actual day of the challenge walk.

Thank you to my fellow travellers and to Margaret for back marking. This was a great day out and I throughly enjoyed the company.

I look forward to seeing you all again at Cragside.

Thu 6th June 2013

St. Oswalds Way part 3 (Berwick to Alston part 4)

St. Oswalds Way part 3 (Berwick to Alston part 4)

St. Oswald’s Way part 3 (Berwick to Alston part 4)


Sundance once again had his work cut out, after the rain on the Wednesday and Thursday had he done enough of the old soft shoe shuffle to get a dry day?


Sunday dawned brightish but cool. The drive to Boulmer was pleasant with little traffic on the roads.  The Car park was already half full when Mike got there and FULL by the time everyone else had arrived.  Everyone was ready on time and Mike very methodically ticked off his list as people got on the mini buses.  After a short journey we arrived at the car park at Beadnell and made use of the public comforts.


Before we started the walk proper Mike took us through the dunes so we could get a view of Beadnell Harbour and the bay to the south, we then walked back through the dunes to the car park and started the days walk.  The first part of the route is not the most inspiring as we had to walk through two caravan parks. On exiting the caravans Mike took the opportunity to whitter pointing out Cheviot and Hedgehope away in the distance.  The route swung south following the back of the sand dunes and headed towards High Newton.


A demand from the more unruly ones of the group for a tea break and the insistence that it had to have a view had Mike struggling to find a suitable spot but after a little prodding from the unruly ones a spot high in the dunes looking over a small bay met with everyones approval.  After a short break we continued on to Low Newton where the local comforts were once more put to full usage.


We continued in a southerly direction and had a brief look at Newton ponds via the bird hides, it was then on to the shanty town of beach huts before braving Embleton Golf course, Toby put us to shame by racing on the TEE and running off with a golf ball.  After Toby was put back on to his lead and the golf ball given back we made a quick exit.  Dunstanburgh Castle was beckoning in the distance where Mike was going to allow us to have a lunch stop. After a steady walk along the side of the golf course (we only had to duck once for a stray golf ball) we reached the lunch spot under the North West end of the castle.


After a pleasant lunch we set off walking under the High Tower and continued to walk along the shore line heading to Craster.  At Craster the first thing we saw was an ice cream van this allowed for an ice cream stop and yet another comfort stop. On starting again we walked through the pub’s Beer Garden, Mike was able to keep everyone on track and not to be distracted by the prospect of Craster Kippers or a cool beer.


An easy walk along the shore line brought us to the cliffs around Cullernose Point.  The next section was along a good path along the cliff top until we passed The Bathing House and an area of beach known as Rumbling Kern.  Onwards for ever onwards to Sugar Sands where we crossed the stream that flows through Howick Hall Gardens. Here we had another short break as Ann took her dog and Toby down to the sea for a splash about.


At the top of a short climb we could see some trees and Houses on the sky line that marked the position of Boulmer village one more stream crossed by a little wooden bridge and it was a straight walk in to Boulmer passing the last comfort stop of the day and we were back at the cars.


YES Sundance had done it a dry Day and the later part of the day was even warm and sunny.