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Mon 23rd July 2012

Nordic Walk - Rothbury Forest

Nordic Walk - Rothbury Forest

Another fabulous day for Nordic Walking, just what we ordered. The sun was out, a lovely breeze and for rain!

After worrying about the initial route I had set out to do I decided at 4.30am to change it to a route that was not so steep. I think the correct decision was made.

The Nordic Walker’s met in Simonside car park, we gave out poles and Julie ran through a quick refresher for those clients who were new to Nordic Walking. A quick warm up and off we went, up Simonside.

The first section of the walk was uphill, but on good track, allowing us to use those poles to help with the gradual increase in gradient. A few people lifted their poles en route to assure themselves that walking with the poles DOES make it much easier. No lead weights around the ankles as we climbed, just lots of work for our shoulders. We took plenty of breaks up this steep section, giving everyone a chance to catch their breath and take in the scenery – plus take a much needed drink on such a hot day!

Once at the summit of our walk the path levelled out and with the forest below us, we took full advantage of the light breeze that cooled us. The views from here are spectacular, we could clearly see the Cheviot Hills, Rothbury, Simonside Crags above us and out to the East we could see the sea. Just beautiful views with very little effort, due to our Nordic Walking poles.

We stopped briefly as a grass snake caught the eye of those at the front of the group, rudely awakened by the clanking of 15 pairs of poles. A little further along the top flat track, just below the summit of Simonside, before beginning our descent. Jon warned us a boggy section ahead and so we set off fearing the worst.

As we descended, back into the forest, the way became a bit steeper, making it necessary to unclip our poles from our gloves and use them as a trekking pole. And by the time we hit the boggy section it had dried to a muddy section and really wasn’t an issue. Clean shoes for once!

Once through this section we re-joined the path and were able to re-attach the poles and Nordic Walk downhill and back to the car park.

Many of those who joined us on this walk had only just learnt to Nordic Walk. But by the end of the 4 ½ mile route, and with prompting from 2 instructors,   their techniques had developed noticeably, the youngest of our group striding ahead on the return journey.

As usual this was a lovely group of Nordic Walkers who become friends as they walk along. You have the chance to meet up with new people as well as old friends and all abilities of walker came and completed the route. As the saying one gets left behind on a Mrs Shepherds Nordic Walk!

Mon 16th July 2012

Pennine Way - Kirk Yetholm to The Schil

Pennine Way - Kirk Yetholm to The Schil

Wednesday rained all day all local rivers and streams in flood.  Sundance decided to alter the route for Sunday to one where there was only one stream to cross and even that could be missed out.  Saturday Sundance had been doing the old soft shoe shuffle now for three days, and the weather had improved. 

Sunday 5.30 am bright sunshine has the soft shuffle worked?

The Group met where the Pennine Way and St. Cuthbert’s Way cross the Halter Burn it, was still sunny but the amount of cloud had built up. 

We took the Alternative Pennine Way route that follows the Halterburn upstream.  As we approached Halterburn Farm there were a lot of sheep penned in a small field next to the farm.  Some one said they must be in for shearing but smart pants Mike said no those have been sheared but as we got up to the barn, lo and be hold, they were shearing which prompted Mike to  start wittering on about ‘Sheep, shearing and maggots, wet fleeces and the price of a fleece’.  Fortunately we were soon passed the farm and Mike shut up. 

At Burnhead farm the route leaves the road and becomes a farm track up to Old Halterburnhead a derelict farm.  As the track petered out the path became rather soggy in places.  So far the path had been rising fairly gently but as we reached the watershed between the Halterburn and the Curr Burn the ascent steepened and those with short legs allowed those with long legs to get on ahead.  Eventually we all got back together on the col between The Curr and Black Hag and had lunch.  From here we had great views of the route of the last walk which we did not see at the time because of mist.

All too soon we started once more and quickly joined the original line of the Pennine Way. By now it was a strong wind making it feel much cooler and by the time we crossed the border fence into England we all had wrapped up.  The Pennine Way now follows the border fence (and the border ridge) all the way to Chew Green some 14.5 miles away.  After a boggy quarter mile we started the long hard slog up the Schil. 

By now the wind was making walking rather difficult, eventually we reached the sort of summit and this allowed us to take in the fantastic view all round.  From the North Sea in the east, across the Tweed valley towards the Southern Uplands to the North, the Cheviots stretching to the west and of course The Cheviot with the Hen Hole immediately filling the view South. 

After Mike had taken some photos we set off to the Schil summit proper but only when some one had given Mike his walking poles and some one else gave him his gloves that he had forgotten about.  As it is in Scotland we had to cross over the border fence and scramble up a tor to say we had been to the top.  Much too every one’s amusement as Mike was dashing about the top he got his boot jammed in a crack and not amount of tugging by Mike would allow the boot free, in the end Mike undid his boot laces and twisted his foot and then his boot before it popped free.

Now according to Mike it was all down hill except for a couple of ‘little ups’, we have heard this before! We retraced our steps back to the border crossing and just below Black Haggs the Pennine Way splits and this time we took the original Pennine Way which still followed the border ridge and fence.  The long descent down Steel Rig offered us stunning views to the north across the Tweed valley we could even pick out the Waterloo Monument just north of Jedburgh.

After a pleasant if windy descent we then had a very steep climb to White Law before descending once more to the head of Witchcleuch Burn and the last ascent of the day. 

Here St. Cuthbert’s Way joins the route of the Pennine Way back down to the Halterburn and our cars  By now the wind had eased the sun was warm and we were walking gently downhill. What a perfect way to end a really good day’s walk.

Mon 2nd July 2012

Cragside Challenge Walk 2012

Cragside Challenge Walk 2012

On Saturday 30th June just over 100 walkers set out and completed the 13 mile Cragside Challenge Walk.

The weather was great as they all passed along what I think is the best scenery Northumberland has to offer.

Please enjoy the YouTube Film and the pictures below.

I very much hope you can join us in 2013. More information about the 2013 Cragside Challenge Walk can be found here.