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Thu 23rd April 2015

Coastal Challenge Training Walk part 2 - 2015

Coastal Challenge Training Walk part 2 - 2015

Today’s training walk in preparation for the Shepherds Walks Coastal Challenge took the second part of the route along the Northumberland Coastal path from Beadnell to Alnmouth.

This route passes through caravan sites, golf courses, pretty villages, along coastal paths and beaches. The sun was shining and the wind was gentle and from the east which meant that the sea was calm. The sun shining off the benign sea made for a wonderful spectacle.

The names of places and features along this stretch of the coastline are fascinating. We walked by Beadnell Bay which has Robin Wood’s Rock at the mid point and ends at Snook Point before entering the next bay called Football Hole. This leads to Newton Haven and a set of rocks called Jenny Bells Carr before arriving at Embleton Bay.

Embleton Bay ends at Castle Point which is the site of the enigmatic Dunstanburgh Castle.  From here the walk takes you to Craster via Scrogg Hill and the Heughs.

Leaving Craster the walk takes you past Black Hole to Cullernose Point and through to Rumbling Kern, past Sugar Sands and Howdiemont Sands to Boulmer and on to Seaton Point. The final part of the walk is along the beach (or in our case the pebbles) of Alnmouth Bay for the final few miles through Alnmouth.

We covered 15.4 miles in 6 hours and 20 minutes (including breaks) which works out at around 2.5 miles per hour.

Thank you to my fellow walkers for a great day out.

Chris Constable

Thu 23rd April 2015

St Cuthbert's Way - Berwick Walking Festival

St Cuthbert's Way - Berwick Walking Festival

It was a pleasure to lead (most) of St Cuthbert’s Way for Shepherds Walks during the Berwick Walking Festival in April 2015.

The 100 km or 62 mile route took 6 days from Saturday 11th April to Thursday 16th April. The route begins in Melrose and ends on Holy Island and winds its way through the best scenery of the Borders of Scotland and Northumberland. The great attraction of the route if the variety of terrain and scenery from rolling countryside to dramatic mountains and beautiful coastal views.

Day 1.  Melrose to St Boswells

The feature of today was the Eildon Hills which are an obvious feature as they dominate the skyline above Melrose. A sharp climb from the Abbey in Melrose took us to the saddle between the the North and Middle Hills, followed by a gentle walk through the forest to Bowden then through Newtown St Boswells to the banks of the beautiful River Tweed at Dryburgh where there is a glimpse of the Abbey though the trees. The end of the day came quickly as we walked into St Boswells for the bus back to Berwick. 7 miles completed today.

Day 2. St Boswells to Jedfoot Bridge.

Today was a rest day for me. Jon led this day which unfortunately was rainy for most of the morning although the sun came out for the afternoon. The main feature of todays route is the walk along Dere Street, the old Roman road. Today 12 miles were covered.

Day 3. Jedfoot Bridge to Kirk Yetholm.

This was the longest day of the journey which starts along Dere Street but soon turns off the zigzag across fields and by forests to Morebattle. Leaving the village having already covered 8 – 9 miles the challenge of Grubbit Law (326m) and Wideopen Hill (369m), the highest point of St Cuthbert’s Way, present them selves. This steep and more rugged terrain is a test of resolve especially as the weather was threatening again. After coming off the hills the 3 mile trek to Kirk Yetholm saw some weary folk gratefully climb on to the bus. 16 miles and 8 hours of walking today.

Day 4. Kirk Yetholm to Wooler.

Today is not the longest but it is the most arduous because it contains two long climbs into the remote hills of the Cheviots. We had a strong wind all day but it was behind us and helped to push us up the hills. The first stage of today took us from Kirk Yetholm up Green Humbleton to the border ridge and then the long descent to Hethpool at the base of College Valley. Stage 2 took us up the side of Yeavering Bell with its Iron Age Hill Forts atop past Tom Tallon’s Crag to Gains Law and then the long but gentle descent to Wooler Common. We made good time so completed the day by walking through Wooler to pick up the bus on the edge of the town. 13.5 miles and 7.5 hours of walking today.

Day 5. Wooler to Fenwick.

A spectacular day.

The route starts by climbing over Weetwood Moor east of Wooler before a steep descent to Weetwood Bridge and a bit of road walking through the Horton villages. From this point on the terrain is gentler and bright sunshine helped to bring the fields alive with colour as we made our way towards St Cuthbert’s Cave. This impressive rock feature is the highlight of St Cuthbert’s Way for many walkers. The walk into Fenwick through the woodland provides glimpses of the coast and the end of the route on Holy Island. 12.4 miles and 6.5 hours of walking today.

Day 6. Fenwick to Holy Island.

The main concern of this final section is the tide times. Today the crossing to Holy Island was safe between 4.30 and 11.25am. So we had an early start leaving Berwick at 6am. The walking was easy across the fields and onto the causeway to Holy Island. The air temperature was close of freezing but there was no wind or clouds so the sun shone and provided a wonderful spectacle as Holy Island drew closer. A great end to a great walk. 6 .4 miles walked today.

The entire route measured 67.3 miles.

Chris Constable

Tue 21st April 2015

Hadrians Wall Hinterlands Walk Blog

Hadrians Wall Hinterlands Walk Blog

Sunday 19th April 2015

This walk evolved following the success of this January’s urban walk incorporating the Tyne Bridges and the Ouseburn Tunnel.  The idea of including a paid attraction within the body of the walk proved attractive to both the regulars and new clients alike and the visit to Vindolanda was a real success.

Starting from Once Brewed we warmed-up on the ascent to Windshields Crags, the highest point on Hadrian’s Wall at 345 metres.  We could equally have gone east along the Pennine Way from Steel Rigg but the wind would have been in our face and it was really chilly and overcast all morning.  The two and a half kilometre walk along the crest of the Whin Sill as far as Caw Gap with morning coffee taken adjacent to the Bogle Hole quarry gave plenty of opportunity to appreciate the value of walking downwind and to view the results of the last (Pleistocene) glaciation.

The walk down the dip slope past Shield on the Wall and over the Military Road towards Hill Top had a completely different “feel” to walking along the Wall itself.  We crossed Hill Top’s immaculately mowed lawn, even if it was on the right-of-way, to exit by what must be one of the longest genuine drive up to a house that isn’t part of a stately home.  Moving east along the lonnen past Cranberry Brow we were at least partly protected from the headwind by the drystone walls and occasional trees and hedges lining the two kilometres long straight.  We consciously avoided the footpath via Layside and the steep and boggy section just after it where it crosses both the Bean and Kingcairn Burns to access Vindolanda from the south.  

The ticket office at Vindolanda was positively warm as we booked-in but the two girls working behind the counter wearing thick fleeces didn’t think so.  We had lunch under cover and out of the wind in the quad with access to “facilities,” luxury, but still distinctly chilly.  A quick walk around the site to get our bearings was followed by a guided tour for an hour or so which proved very informative.  The sky was beginning to clear and the sun was coming out.  Some of the viewpoints and stopping points around the site were exposed and didn’t lend themselves to lengthy explanations despite the knowledge and enthusiasm of the guide.  The tour ended at the museum where the displays, and in particular the interpretation, was outstanding, particularly the material relating to the Vindolanda Tablets.  Most of the party took the opportunity to have a hot drink in the cafe before the walk back to the cars just over two kilometres away.  An advantage of ending the official walk at Vindolanda meant that participants could spend as little or as long as they wished at this valuable and unique location.

Incidentally Ian and I were at Walltown the following day (Monday 20th April) where we had lunch sitting up on the crags at Turret 44B in out shirt sleeves in really balmy weather, what a difference a day makes.  Or next walk is on Sunday 17th May centred around St Cuthbert’s Cave so we are hoping for more consistent and seasonal weather and hope to see you there.

Richard & Ian

Tuesday, 21 April 2015