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Wed 4th September 2013

St Oswald's Way, part 6 - Weldon Bridge to Lordenshaws

St Oswald's Way, part 6 - Weldon Bridge to Lordenshaws

St Oswald’s Way part 6 - Haugh’s  (HOFF’S) and Heugh’s (HUEFF’s)

Weldon Bridge to Lordenshaw

Sundance was worried 6.30am it was not looking very promising had the magic of the old soft shoe shuffle worn out?  By 9.00 it was slightly brighter so we live in hope.
All the group and mini bus had gathered at Lordenshaw car park and were ready to roll.
Mike took great delight in showing us where he lived and as usual was wittering away as we drove passed and so missed his wife waving at us.  After a short drive we arrived at Weldon Bridge and piled out of the mini bus.

Ian was designated as photographer for the day and of course Mike went straight into witter mode as we crossed the bridge looking down on the old mill race.  As soon as we crossed the bridge we left the road and had a pleasant walk along the river bank through woodland and eventually came across the old weir for the mill race.  Emerging from the wood we entered a field with a herd of bullocks with accompanying apprehension in the more faint hearted walkers.  In the next field we crossed the Roman Road known as the Devil’s Causeway but did not see any trace of its line.  We had by now passed Thistleyhaugh and were on route to Brinkheugh.  Looking at Brinkheugh farmhouse allowed Mike to speculate on the history of the building as it appeared to have at least four to five extensions.  

The route skirted a woodland through which we caught tantalising glimpses of Brinkburn Priory.  Eventually we passed Middleheugh and just as we were crossing a footbridge over the Maglinburn, Mike had to overcome a serious 11’s revolt probably lead by Ian (Famous for his huge packed lunch and constant grazing) by promising to stop at Pauperhaugh for dinner and that it was only 30mins away.  Mike overcame the revolt and we reluctantly continued on.  After passing Thorneyhaugh we again were walking close to the river when Mike spied a big bird and said it was a buzzard even though it was not flying as a buzzard flies, one of the more birdy members of the group said, “No it was an Osprey!”  Wow. Only the second one Mike had seen on the River Coquet in a lot of years.

After lunch we crossed the Forest burn by a small footbridge and headed for Pauperhaugh Bridge along the road Mike pointed out flood debris caught up in the hedgerow about 5ft above road level.  After a short walk along the river we left the river to climb up towards West Raw farm.  As we walked to join the old railway line we passed several orange sheep! Why orange?  The route now took us along the old Rothbury railway line right in to Rothbury and a coffee stop.  As part of the bribe to keep walking before lunch Mike had also promised to take us to a coffee shop. So leaving the route we crossed the refurbished Rothbury Bridge and had a pleasant break.

The final stretch of the walk is all uphill.  We re-crossed the bridge and immediately started to climb to Whitton.  After Sharpe’s folly the climb is quiet gentle until you pass Whittondean Farm.  From here it is a steep climb to Lordenshaw’s hill fort.  From the crest of the hill the cars are only a couple of hundred metres or so away.  Mike took us on a short detour to see a stone with pre-historic rock carvings on, and after a few photo’s we headed for the cars and home.

Oh by the way we also passed by Gyllheugh, Westerheugh and Cowhaugh (the car park next to the river in Rothbury).  A heugh is a steep riverbank next to the river and a haugh is the very flatland (flood plain) next to the river.

Mon 2nd September 2013

GPS in the Hills

GPS in the Hills

Our GPS in the Hills course is very practical and is aimed at those people wanting to get out in the hills and get to grips with their Garmin GPS unit.

Thankfully we were greeted with some great weather as we met at the Coquetdale Centre, the home of Shepherds Walks. After transferring a ‘route’ onto everybody’s GPS unit we set off climbing up out of Rothbury, stopping to enjoy the view on the way.

It was great to see the GPS units working to their full potential as we past Sharps Folly on the track to Whitton Hillhead. But before we reached the farm we stopped following the pre-programmed route and started to manually programme the units.

By inputting waypoints we made our way up to Lordenshaws Iron Age Hillfort and found a sheltered spot for lunch just before the hill fort itself. We then climbed up to Lorenshaws and visited the cup and ring marks.

We then descended back down St Oswald’s Way stopping on route to refresh everything we had done so far before setting our units away again to guide us on a lovely walk first to Whitton Hillhead and then along the River Coquet back into Rothbury.

Here we did a bit of geocaching before sitting in front of Garmin BaseCamp for a while, which is the free piece of software used to manage the routes on your Garmin GPS.

I hope a good day was had by all, a really good group who quickly picked things up and best of all they always had a smile on their faces.

Tue 27th August 2013

Around and Above the Harthope Blog

Around and Above the Harthope Blog

Saturday 24th August 2013

A typical Bank Holiday weekend, grey, overcast and wet – and after a long spell of good weather too!  However, it was good to meet-up with the ever youthful “Old Team” of the usual suspects for another walk in the (Northumberland National) Park.  It was especially good to welcome back my indispensible volunteer carer, Ian, following his recent foot operation and to welcome Judith to the group again.

The plan was to circumnavigate the upper Harthope from the Hawsen Burn car parking spot along both the north-west and south eastern ridges dropping down for lunch somewhere overlooking the Coldgate Water near Grimping Haugh opposite Watch Hill.  The cloudbase was well below the ridges when we set-off up the Hawsen Burn to follow the stream up onto the bridleway towards Broadstruther.  Big mistake, the bracken growth was so dense that the path kept disappearing and parts of it had been undercut and washed away so we zigzagged up the burn nimbly switching from side to side until one of our number contrived to slip into the burn much to the amusement of everyone else – but we were concerned really.  The overtrousers were necessary to avoid getting soaked from the bracken overgrowth but at least it wasn’t raining now so we climbed up to the bridleway to make easier progress amongst good hearted banter about the route selection by the guide – at least I think it was!  I did recce (we professionals call it ground-proofing) the route a few weeks previously and it was fine, honestly.

Elevenses at the gate on the ridge above the Hawsen Burn were taken at 11.30; well we only started at 10.30 and onwards to the Cold Law trig point (452m) overlooking the Harthope.  The cloudbase was slowly rising and we could look down onto the parked cars through the ragged and decaying lower cloud, nicely atmospheric.  On towards Carling Crag with some of the “team” becoming restless, what is it about undulating ground that there is to misunderstand?  The terrain gently rolls down and up, the up bits were apparently the problem!  A brief lecture about managing the moor for grouse and the importance of peat in the ecosystem followed a question about what we were seeing meant it was approaching lunchtime.  One would think that regulars would learn not to ask questions by now; we must have some slow learners in our midst.  A quick look at the walled and Scots Pine cross-shaped livestock shelter and we were off downhill towards Coronation Wood free ranging across the Access Land.  Ian went off on his own around the back of the shelter to walk in peace and quiet for a few minutes, good plan.  More “observations” along the lines of “Is he lost again?” really helpful, confidence building and encouraging, thank you.

We crossed the Harthope Burn via the wooden footbridge and pitched camp approximately half a kilometre beyond it adjacent to Skirl Naked hidden in the plantation opposite.  Two of our number accused us of hiding from them when they eventually caught-up having made a comfort stop en route.  Marion and I did think we heard a whistle minutes earlier - but we were off-duty for lunch – it’s a team thing.  After lunch we trudged to the top of Brands Hill and I didn’t speak for a whole ten minutes, I don’t know whether that was appreciated or not as nobody was speaking, just breathing hard.  Langlee Crags, one of several tors surrounding the Cheviot granite, was our next objective and the wry witty banter continued throughout.  The invitation to climb only 60 metres (a mere undulation) up to Housey Crags, another tor overlooking our starting point was firmly but politely declined in favour of swift descent back down to the vehicles whereupon the weather decided to rain on our parade.  Actually we’d done really well compared to the forecast with a Big Drip leading (or allowed to think he was) the happy band both at the beginning and the end of the walk.

Sorry that you didn’t get the long distance views of the coast to the east and Cheviot and Hedgehope to the west but it was better than we could have hoped for according to the Met Office weather warning issued for the day.  I hope that everyone feels that the above account captures at least some of the experiences that we had on-route and that it corresponds in some measure to the actual walk you experienced.  This is in response to the obviously well-meant “observation” by one of our number that the blog sometimes didn’t correspond to their experience.  I know this is just to keep me in check, so thank you.  I don’t know if this particular therapy is working or not but will keep you informed when I develop a personality and some self-confidence.  Thanks to everyone who attended and I hope to see you all again soon to continue with my course of cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT).

Tuesday, 27 August 2013