Shaftoe Crags - Feb 2012
Mon 13th February 2012
Well Sundance has yet another new pair of boots! Will these do the old magic and keep the rain away? After hours of practicing a new shuffle Sunday started with a beautiful red sunrise, was this a taste of things to come? NO! it quickly disappeared into the clouds but at least I had seen the sun.
Having reached the start point a very temperamental ticket machine started to make things rather heated but after a couple of good thumps and some different coins we eventually got the ticket out. Half the group had arrived and were ready to leave by 10.30. but what could have happened to the other half? Someone made a sensible suggestion that Mike went and checked the main car park (why did he not think of that before?). He did and sure enough there were the rest of the party, so leaving them there Mike raced back to the rest of the group at the correct car park. After a quick walk along the south shore of the lake we met up with the other half and now continued on the walk.
Having safely negotiated a road junction and a kissing gate we set off across the first of several muddy or as Mike kept saying ‘clarty’ fields. We then crossed How Burn by a small bridge and entered the shelter belt of trees around Shortflat Tower. It was possible to see the original Pele? Tower even though it was now incorporated into a much bigger building. For a short distance we walked on a hard track before once more crossing the How Burn by a more substantial bridge and once more we were walking across fields to be overtaken by a horse and rider heading to Sandy Fords Farm.
On reaching the farm, Sandy Fords, we starting walking on a tarmac track and once more crossed the How Burn by a very good bridge. As Mike pointed out the ridge and furrow marks on the side of Toft we had to step aside for two trail motor bikes. We continued a little bit further on this track before once more heading across another ‘clarty’ field. As we once more approached How Burn the ‘clarts’ got the better of one of the party who skidded down the hill and landed sitting in the ‘clarts’. Fortunately they were wearing over trousers.
This time the bridge was not good, ignoring the fact that it was cantered over at an angle, there was a two foot gap between the end of the bridge and the far bank. Of course Mike managed to leap across the gap but then decided that everyone else should use some stepping stones to cross the steam except for the most part they were under water. As Mike is a hero? He stood in the stream and gave a helping hand to everyone so they did not slip into the Burn. Once across the burn we continued up towards East Shaftoe Hall and on the way crossed the line of the Devil’s Causeway which is the course of a Roman road.
At East Shaftoe we followed a track to the west for a couple of hundred meters and then stopped for a late lunch. After lunch we continued to follow the track for a short while before Mike took us uphill to the trig point (213m) above Shaftoe Grange. From here we could see the Simonside hills the new wind turbines at Alcan and at Cramlington.
Descending back onto the footpath we reached Shaftoe Crags, where Mike then became very enthusiastic about some rocks! After a short walk across another very wet field we followed a farm track to Bolam West Houses. Mike gave a safety talk about walking on public roads before we then walked back to Bolam Lake.
On reaching the west end car park the group split into two with one group getting into their cars whilst the other half had to walk around the lake back to their cars.
Yes! Another dry day - well maybe not dry underfoot but it did not RAIN.