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Mon 6th April 2015

Budle Bay to Beadnell - training walk

Budle Bay to Beadnell - training walk

Saturday 4th April

Training Walk for the Coastal Challenge - Part 1  Budle Bay to Beadnell.

The weather forecasters said that Saturday’s weather would be dominated by a high pressure system sitting over Britain. The result, they said, would be settled weather. Not bright sunshine and no wind, rain or hailstones – just a quiet day. They got it exactly right. As a result the perfect day for walking.

After being dropped off by the minibus at Budle we set off along the route of the coastal path and made good time skirting round the edge of Budle Bay to turn south towards Bamburgh. The views in the area are spectacular. The tide was out and all of Budle Bay’s sandy basin was on view and as soon as we turned away from this the magnificent Bamburgh castle came into sight.

We had a short stop underneath the castle having made the successful crossings of the golf courses before continuing across the fields to Seahouses, which was predictably heaving on this Easter Saturday. We skirted the harbour and had a break on the headland above the village. The tide was coming in in gentle waves, the kittiwakes were nesting on the cliffs and eider ducks feeding inside the harbour wall – coastal  Northumberland at its best.

We made it through the final golf course and out onto the last stretch along the road to Beadnell.
A great day, a great group.  Thank you for your company.

The walk was 11.6 miles and took us 5 hours (which included stops) which averages out at 2.3 miles per hour. The actual walking or moving time was 4 hours which gives an average walking speed of 3 miles and hour which is good going.

Chris.

Mon 23rd March 2015

Shepherds Cairns & Hogdon Law

Shepherds Cairns & Hogdon Law

Sunday 22nd March 2015

What an unexpectedly good day.  The weather forecasts leading up to the walk certainly didn’t suggest that we would experience such a true spring day.  Yes, the wind was a bit draughty in some of the more exposed parts of the walk but it was also dead calm in some unexpected locations too, most notably the top of High Knowes.  It was decidedly chilly when we visited the Shepherds Cairn and memorial commemorating the deaths of Jock Scott and Willie Middlemas in the snows of November 1962 so close to home and safety at nearby Ewertly Shank farm.  Only half a mile away, on a much more exposed site, there was no wind and warm spring sunshine on our backs, extraordinary.

The morning’s walk included the above location plus a walk over the moor, including spotting an unidentified reptile, into the Upper Breamish valley to visit Nellie Herron’s memorial stone (there are different spellings of both names in different sources) that pre-dated the November 1962 tragedy by almost a century, this event taking place on December 3rd 1863.  The stories of both incidents were told and parallels drawn concerning the sometimes harsh realities of living in the Cheviots.  Morning coffee, or first sittings, was taken in the shelter of a beautifully constructed sheep stell in a sheltered spot overlooking a tributary of what eventually would become the Cobden Burn which flows into the River Breamish.  Returning back across the moor to join the Salter’s Road we had excellent views to the north towards Hartside Farm which was where Nellie Herron was returning to and where she lived with her farm worker husband.  The views north towards Cunyan Crags, Dunmoor Hill, Hedgehope and Cheviot, still with its distinctive south-facing snow patch, were excellent. We heard first, and eventually were able to pick out, the yellow speck of the search and rescue helicopter from RAF Boulmer flying west south of the Border Ridge.  We could also see the smoke from the moor burning appearing from several locations in the Cheviots and several miles to the south along the Simonside Ridge.  The burning season will be over soon, it ends on 10th April.

Lunch (second sittings for some) was taken, very unusually for us, in the comfort of our cars as our not quite a figure-of-eight route passed close-by.  A comfortable seat, out of the cool wind, but in the sun, with good views and a choice of radio channels or CD-ROMS i.e. not having to listen to someone who shall be nameless spout lots of hot air, an unexpected luxury!  The ascent of Hogdon Law followed and was both uphill and into the wind.  The shelter of the morning’s session was appreciated at this point.  The views opened up quickly with the increasing height and the protection of the summit cairn and shelter were enjoyed by all providing good views to the north, east and south.  To the west we looked down into the eastern edge of the Kidland Forest where the clear-felling of recent months had changed the appearance of this extensive feature.  The good bit came next being both downhill and downwind and we could see the cars waiting for us in the distance, motivation indeed.

Back at the cars there was one little extra on offer to complete the day.  Adjacent to Castle Hill, an Iron Age hillfort (approximately 800 BC to 43AD) on the map is a “Lord of the Rings” type feature marked intriguingly as “The Grey Yade of Coppath.” On the current OS 1:25,000 scale map there is no related symbol to indicate its location but on the older editions of the 1:25,000 blue or green Pathfinders it does indicate the location.  The feature is actually a large isolated rock on the north side of the road.  A “grey yade” is an old Borderers term for a grey mare or horse.  The rock is a detached block of Cheviot andesite lava, pinkish in appearance due to the pink feldspar minerals it contains.  In direct sunlight it definitely has a pink hue but in shade, its dense covering of greyish lichens fulfilled the grey yade description perfectly.

We hope that everyone enjoyed the day as much as we did; we were lucky with both the weather and the participants and hopefully a good time was had by all.  We hope to see everyone again soon, even on our next walk along the highest part of Hadrian’s Wall and including a visit to Vindolanda on Sunday 19th April – or is that too much of a good a thing?  We hope not.

Richard & Ian                              

Mon 9th March 2015

Nordic Walk - Whitton Hillhead

Nordic Walk - Whitton Hillhead

This is one of my favourite short walks around Rothbury area so I was really looking forward to it.

Everyone met in the car park nice and early and raring to go. Unusually the group was all ladies and most had not been on a Julie Nordic walk, although they had walked with Jane.  I made a quick call to check on a walker who hadn’t arrived to be told that they weren’t coming along.  

As we warmed up I explained that there were two routes at the beginning of the walk, one was up the steps (aka Jacob’s ladder) and the other was up the slight incline on the road.  Needless to say we headed up the incline of the road.

Off we set and everyone soon settled into their walking rhythm and into little groups. I mentioned that I was a stickler for technique and they would probably hear me say “elbows” quite a lot and that the terrain varied from road surface, tracks, grass and a few muddy/clarty areas.  This did not phase anyone.

I was alternating between the groups of ladies to find out a little more about them and also to tweak their technique.

It was a really relaxed group and Sharon and I were just commenting that it was unusual for me not to have slipped on the mud when we noticed a slide mark in the mud.  Everyone came to a stop and we found out it was Sandra who had slipped, in a very graceful almost balletic way, only one muddy knee though and no injury.

We continued on and were pleasantly surprised that it wasn’t as muddy as we expected it to be.

Once we got to the road again we all looked at our poles and the tips were very muddy so that nobody wanted to put their paws back on.  We did find an ingenious way of cleaning them without getting our hands dirty, all you need is a roadside with moss on and rub your pole tips into it and it cleans them up quite well.  We were all feeling very pleased with ourselves.

We headed towards Rothbury, over Lady’s Bridge and across the field to take us onto the riverside path and which point I mentioned that if anyone was interested at the end of the walk we could venture for tea and cake and the pace of the walk picked up even more.  

At the car park we did our cool down and stretches and I told everyone about walks that were coming up even though everyone knew when they were.  Those of us who were up for tea and cake headed into Rothbury.

Unfortunately Tomlinson’s was full, two buses had come in.  We headed to Harley’s tea room where we were greeted with a basket of blue covers for our shoes (which were relatively clean by this point) unlike our poles tips.  Lots of chatter around the table and around an hour later everyone headed home.

I hope to see everyone really soon and definitely at the Nordic Challenge Walks, although most will be on Jane’s shorter walk.

Thank you for your company.

Julie