Belford figure of eight
After a wet start to the day it was dry when the group met in Belford ready for the start of the walk.
We soon came upon and past Belford West Hall Tower.
There may have been a motte and bailey here in the late 11th century, but the first recorded building was an unfortified manor house which Edward III spent the night in on his return from the Battle of Halidon Hill, 1333. By 1415 the manor house had been replaced by the 'Castrum de Beleford', a strong tower. A moat was dug at this time as part of the building's defence.
We continued along both St Oswald’s Way (97 mile – Holy Island to Heavenfield) and Northumberland Coastal Path (64 miles – Cresswell to Berwick upon Tweed) before reaching and passing through Swinhoe Farm Riding Centre, a family run business, on a 1750 acre farm.
A few miles on we gradually rose up to the stunning view over to Goswick Sands and Holy Island and Lindisfarne Castle.
To the right of the Holy Island of Lindisfarne we could see Guile Point - The Old Law Beacons stand at the tip of a sandy spit on the south side of the entrance to Holy Island Harbour. Vessels entering the harbor lined up the two beacons on a bearing of 260° (just south of due west) before turning sharply northward as they approached the tip of the spit.
The beacons were constructed as a day range and no provision was made for lighting them, probably because it was considered too dangerous to enter the harbour at night. It appears that the towers were built in 1829.
After a well-deserved lunch we reached and visited St Cuthbert’s Cave
St Cuthbert's Cave, known locally as Cuddy's Cave or Cove is a natural sandstone cave formed by overhanging rock that has been associated with Saint Cuthbert.
In 875 as the Vikings ravaged Lindisfarne and destroyed all the monasteries it is said that the body of St Cuthbert was taken from the Holy Island of Lindisfarne, as the ‘wandered about for seven years’ even though St Cuthbert is thought to have been dead for nearly 200 years.
According to legend, these caves might have been among the places in which either the monks took shelter with their holy relic or where Cuthbert himself lived as an anchorite hermit before moving to the Farne Islands.
Then it was a short walk back to Belford, a truly great walk.
Cheviot to Kirknewton
We gathered at Berwick on a fine morning. There were just the right number of seats on the bus for a party of sixteen!
On arriving in the Harthope Valley we noted the Alder trees which had been used by the Romans for channelling water and for the Vindolanda writing tablets. The forecast for the summit of the Cheviot was for poor or very poor visibility so we decided to omit this section of the walk. Our first group photograph on the ascent to Scald Hill shows the Cheviot covered in mist. Instead, we offered a ’twist’ to the end of the walk for those who were interested.
We covered approximately 10 miles with a total height gain of around 450m. We were fortunate to have good views all round. Here and there the going was slippy but the group as a whole were very steady on its feet. There were several opportunities en-route to hear the call of curlews. Its beautiful ‘flutey’ song is a joy to listen to. All members of the group will also remember when they first heard the story of ‘Tom Tallons Crag’!
To conclude the day we climbed up Yeavering Bell or ‘ The Hill of the Goats’. The group photograph shows the Cheviot in the far distance. Feral goats made their appearance on cue. As we left Old Yeavering for our final push into Kirknewton a solitary discarded coke can marked our return to ‘civilisation’!
All seats on the coach were occupied for the return journey to Berwick. A great day out. Mark and I enjoyed your company.
Roy Kennard (Hillguide)
Mark Nordmann (Volunteer)
A grey cool morning BUT dry, have Sundance’s new boots picked up the magic soft shoe shuffle? Will we have a dry day?
The group were all ready before the start time so mike wasted a bit of time as usual by having a bit of a witter We set of along a forestry track but soon left this for a very wet boggy path that lead to Holystone Well. After a brief look at the well we set off, Mike nearly took us back to Holystone (wittering) before he quickly realised that we should be going back the way we came typical.
Once back on the track we followed it uphill before picking up a footpath that wound its way along the northern edge of the wood, allowing view across the valley to Weather Cairn.
After a while of bog hopping we got on to firmer ground to be confronted with a large area of windblown trees that completely blocked the path. The detour was interesting to say the least but at last we were once more on the route just in time for lunch.
After lunch we started a climb up to Harbottle Crag with again the path disappearing a couple of times. Eventually we reached the top with views all way round which would have been even more spectacular except for the haze.
From here a gently descent first took us across moorland to the Burma Road (one of the main roads through Otterburn Range). Once more a gentle descent following the road brought us back to the cars.