Isaacs Tea Trail - Nenthead to Alston
Leaving sunny Rothbury the clouds gradually built up as Mike Headed South and by the time he parked up at Alston there was definitely dampness in the air. By the time we reached Nenthead it was a steady mizzle which soon passed but set the pattern for a while to come.
Once more lots of little fields meant lots of styles to cross. Other coming across a heard of Alpacc’s and the modal village that had been built in some ones garden it was a walk that passed in passing showers of mizzle until lunch time then heavy rain then back to the light drizzle.
On reaching Alston the facilities were put to good use. The next part was a circular walk north along a minor road were we joined Isaac’s Tea Trail at Randalholme then on to Underbank have crossed in to Northumberland somewhere along the way. We crossed the River South Tyne at Kirkhaugh Station and joined here Isaac’s Tea Trail follows the same route as the Pennine Way.
We now walk south on the firstonly stretch of open fell past Whitley Roman Fort and down to the Gilderdale Burn and back into Cumberland. After another 1 km or so we descend into low land pasture and were back into the small fields and styles again. Fortunately before to long we were on the outskirts of Alston and quickly arrived back at the cars.
Nordic Walk - Holy Island via pilgrim's route
The morning was lovely with blue sky, sunshine and a lovely warm temperature, so warm fleeces were left behind. After a discussion everyone decided to go barefoot across the sands.
We all got on the bus and travelled to the start and we all took off our socks and shoes, packed them in our bags and did a warm up.
Julie reminded everyone to go at their own pace, we couldn’t get lost and we should keep the guide poles on our left.
Everyone soon got into their stride and we had quite a stretched out group. Julie started at the back checking on techniques before moving on the middle group and then Nordic skipping to the people at the front.
At a quick stop at one of the refuges some of the group couldn’t resist climbing up, whilst the others decided it wasn’t for them.
We headed off again and came across a slippy muddy section, when we nearly lost Julie on her bottom a few times, this section really tested our Nordic walking technique. A lot of laughter was to be heard at this point when we all felt a bit like ice skaters. In fact some of the group found the choice between concentrating on their technique or just trying to stay on their feet too much and for a few minutes were using their poles as trekking poles instead.
Once over this section everyone’s legs were looking a little muddy, ankles for the taller of the group to above the knees for some of the shorter members. Not to worry there was a section of water which we headed for. Two members of the group decided to go for the shortest distance across and soon ended up in water past their knees. Julie joked that this was the swimming section of the walk before pointing out that if we walked up a short distance the water was shallower. Some people said they saw fish but by the time we had all laughed and plodged (paddled/waded) through the water they had decided it was too noisy for them and they had swam away.
We were now at the last little bit of the walk on the sands before we had to go up onto the road, dry off our feet, put our socks and shoes back on and finish the walk on the causeway road. Once back at the cars, cool down completed, Julie reminding everyone that the next Nordic walk was on the 1st November from Warkworth to Alnmouth and back. It was agreed that we would all jump back in our cars and meet again for lunch at the Barn at Beal.
Everyone said that this was a very enjoyable, funny walk and everyone was looking forward to the next walk that they could get to.
Upper Breamish Valley Blog
Sunday 21st September 2014
The Lower Breamish Valley is well known to many, a veritable tourist hotspot for lots of urban adventurers at weekends and in the school holidays. It seems to have become even more popular since the former Northumberland National Park Information Centre adjacent to the church re-opened as the Muddy Feet cafe. Approximately fifteen years ago I remember doing a National Park patrol in the valley on a hot summer’s afternoon in the holidays and counting several hundred vehicles between Hartside and Brandon. By contrast the Upper Breamish Valley is very quiet once beyond the honeypot attraction of Linhope Spout and even that requires a short walk from Hartside where the nearest public parking is located.
Ian and I did the recce of the whole route in thick fog the week before just to be on the safe side, we saw absolutely nothing of consequence all day, visibility was never more than a hundred metres but we had a thoroughly enjoyable day out nevertheless. In particular we confirmed that our navigational skills were still as good as they never were. The day of the actual walk couldn’t have been more different not least because we could see everything, the sun came out, the breeze got up and we stayed dry. The route was essentially a circular one circumnavigating Shill Moor. Ten of us and a dog set off from Hartside to Linhope having watched the farmer from Low Bleakhope put some rubbish in his bin at the Hartside road end, “only” approximately six kilometres (by road) from his farm! He still had the whole length of the lower valley to go to get to Powburn to fetch his Sunday papers.
A 9.30 start meant that we didn’t see any other walkers on the road down to Linhope or on the trudge up towards Ritto Hill to begin the moorland crossing. It became “busy” on the inbye land near the Spout as the shepherd on his quad bike, and his dogs, arrived at the office but they were soon left behind. After that we didn’t see anyone else on our route all day. Elevenses were taken exactly on time below the top of Carswell Clough in the lee of the valley side, the wind was cool and we appreciated the shelter. We were using a quad bike track to make progress easier, the long grass was very wet and the flowering heather looked stunning in the shafts of sunlight but would have made for difficult, and slow, progress. Literally the high point of the walk was reached at Rig Cairn at 462m/1515ft with good views across the valley towards Shill Moor (528m/1732ft) towards the edge of the Kidland Forest and the related tops of Cushat Law, Hogdon Law and Whether Cairn. To the north both Hedgehope and Cheviot were clearly visible. The steep convex nature of the Cheviot Hills was obvious as were the overdeepened valleys cut by meltwater streams at the close of the most recent ice age only thirteen thousand years ago. Just about here one of our number, albeit from deepest Norfolk, said he’d never been so far in the “mountains” before. I suppose that as the highest point in Norfolk is Beacon Hill at 103m/338ft then exposed moorland four times higher would appear mountainous. There was plenty of opportunity to discuss moorland management, hill sheep farming, the importance of game shooting, plantation woodland and farm diversification as we went. The steep descent from the high moor into the Breamish Valley began at High Cantle towards High Bleakhope. Now out of the cool breeze and in the sunshine we decided to have lunch whilst watching two walkers 60 metres below us on the Salter’s Road track towards Davidson’s Linn.
We finished lunch, descended to the ancient Salter’s Road via High and Low Bleakhope. The house at High Bleakhope was empty but the farm buildings were in use. Onwards along the track and over the col towards the left turn at Little Dodd. This final leg of the route was over lower level moorland, we were into the bracken zone, no heather here and more gentle relief except for the occasional old river terrace to climb where we rewarded ourselves with afternoon tea as we could see Alnhammoor Farm
in the distance which was only a kilometre or so from the cars.
It was lovely to see some old friends and meet some new ones, literally in Ian’s case in the guise of one of the Alwinton contingent and refreshing to get a different take to our landscape in the form of the Norfolk contingent. We hope everyone had a safe journey home.
Richard and Ian