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Wed 9th March 2011

Thrunton Woods and Long Crag

Thrunton Woods and Long Crag

Guided Walk date - 7/3/11

 Sundance and his soft shoe shuffle have done it yet again.  Yes it was dry, yes it was sunny and yes even the few boggy bits were easy to dodge.  So yes Mike ended the day with dry feet.

We all met at the car park at Thrunton Woods and very quickly wrapped up against the cool breeze.  We left the cars by 10.00 and set off down the road towards the Coeburn.  The gentle walk down allowed cool muscles to warm up before the need for anything strenuous.  At the Coeburn we entered the forest and walked through an area that was being partially harvested.  Unfortunately for us this gave Mike the opportunity to start whittering about modern harvesting methods, using a machine called a harvester, compared to cutting down trees manually, and to Mike’s great delight we passed a big tank of urea, which he had been telling us about, that they paint on to stop shoots re-growing from the tree stumps.

The track continued to climb gently following the Coeburn which at this point is lined with knarled old oaks, silver birch and downy birch (yet another chance to whitter).  Crossing the Coeburn by a wooden bridge we now started to seriously ascend the front face of Coe Crags.  Mike made frequent stops to talk about rocks (again) trees and to take photographs (in reality this was the pretext he needed to get his breath back from the steep climb).

On reaching the top of the steep climb a much gentler climb lead us to the summit of Coe Crag (308m).  From the summit the views were fantastic looking across the Vale of Whittingham to the hills just above Wooler, then on to Hedgehope, and The Cheviot before swinging round to Hogdon Law and Weather Cairn then Harbottle Crags and westwards to the end of the Simonside Ridge, swinging round further we could just make out the chimneys at Alcan.  We followed the top of the scarp face to Long Crag (319m).  Just after starting the descent back down to the Coeburn we found a sheltered spot to have a latish lunch.

Lunch was very idyllic with warm spring sunshine, virtually no wind and not a sound to be heard, with a beautiful view across the vale towards the hills it felt as if we had the whole world to ourselves.  After lunch we continued down to the Coeburn and then started the long gentle climb up the lee slope to the top of Callaly Crags.

As we approached Callaly Crags we entered an old open woodland of Scots Pines and with the soft spring sunlight filtering through the trees it had an idyllic peaceful atmosphere.  A steep decent through Hobbs Nick brought us to McCartney’s Cave and then down to small valley below Castle Hill.  A short steep climb brought us to the summit of Castle Hill and having walked over a couple of ditch and ramparts, we found another pleasant place to sit and have rest and drink.  A short descent lead us back on to a Forestry Comm. track which we followed eastwards before joining the tarmac road that would lead us back to the car  park and the end of another enjoyable day out in the hills.


Mon 21st February 2011

Hadrian's Wall, part 2

Hadrian's Wall, part 2

Segedunum to Newburn. Guided Walk date - Sunday 20th February 2011

What a difference walking from east to west makes.  We saw all sorts of things that walking the opposite way some of us had never seen e.g. the Newcastle skyline from St Anthony’s Point including the Civic Centre, the seven bridges from St Lawrence’s near the Ouseburn redevelopment, even approaching the Baltic and the Sage from an unfamiliar angle made it a wholly different experience.  From now on I shall be encouraging participants to turn round and view where we have come from more often.

The grey overcast didn’t change all day but we didn’t get wet and at least the chill south-east wind was behind us all day, not bad for a late February day especially as a few of our number were prevented from getting out and about yesterday with the slushy wet snowfall in the uplands.

There were quite a lot of cyclists out on the initial section between Segedunum and the Walker Riverside Park but after that it was relatively quiet going as from here the cycle route diverges from the Hadrian’s Wall Path.  We lunched overlooking St Peter’s Basin with an explanation of the significance of a boat moored there called “The Three Amigos” which relates to a previous walking group on this route  -  you had to be there to appreciate it.

Onwards to The Baltic, our only crossing of the river of the day for a quick drink and comfort stop before negotiating the quayside market and the seven bridges each with their own particular stories to tell.  The rafts of debris on the incoming tide populated by seabirds kept us amused as far as Dunston’s coal staithes, a section had been destroyed by fire since my last walk on this route.  Looking south beyond the staithes we could easily pick out the tall block of flats (The Rocket) that was adjacent to the site of the Gateshead Garden Festival which none of us could remember the date of (it was 1990 according to the internet).  Was it “only” 20 years ago?

The Metro Centre was passed at a safe distance i.e. on the other side of the river as we passed the British Airways call centre on the redeveloped Newcastle Business Park.  There were some rye comments about how few people were working there and no wonder we couldn’t get through by phone to make reservations.  We walked out onto the Scotswood Road which, in the days of Lord Armstrong’s Elswick Works boasted no fewer than 44 public houses.  Crossing the road we entered Paradise near the start of the Vicker’s tank factory, well that is what the map said anyway.  Unfortunately the visibility was too poor to look back and see the Angel of the North, it is the only place it can be seen from along this route. We walked along a former rail track with lots of redevelopment being carried out beyond new fences to our north before looping around and over the A1 via a footbridge linking Denton Dene to Bell’s Close prior to the final run into Newburn via the southern edge of Lemington.  We had mentioned the catastrophic floods along the lower Tyne in 1771 earlier because it resulted in the collapse of so many bridges downstream of  Hexham but seeing the flood level marker outside the pub by Newburn Bridge certainly made an impression.  The last leg was literally alongside the river to the memorial of the Battle of Newburn 1640 where the first fording point on the River Tyne made it a natural choice for raiding parties from Scotland, they won that one.

That completes the second day of the series of one-day westbound walks along the Hadrian’s Wall Path.  From now onwards it is mainly rural, except for passing through Carlisle, but that is for the future, the aim is to reach Bowness – on – Solway, the official end of the walk, in the autumn.        

Tue 15th February 2011

Nordic Walk, Hepburn Woods

Nordic Walk, Hepburn Woods

Guided Walk Date - Sunday 13th Feb 2011

The morning was damp with a slight chill in the air and with poles at the ready the group gathered in the car park. After a brief introduction into Nordic walking and instruction on the basic technique, we set off along the forest tracks ready to burn some calories and create some heat. Everyone got on really well and soon got hang of the technique, quickening the pace as confidence grew.

The group were chattering away as they motored along (Nordic walking is extremely  sociable and allows you to talk and walk which has to be a bonus hasn’t it girls?) and were amazed at how much ground they were covering without feeling the effort, especially when negotiating a long, steady incline.

After a couple of miles of Nordic walking we paused for a little snacket.  It had started to rain quite hard at this point and we took shelter amongst the trees for a little respite.  Not wanting to get too cold it wasn’t long before we were off again, completing the previous route in reverse so that we took in a steeper incline.

Everyone thoroughly enjoyed the day even the cold and wet didn’t dampen our spirits. I can’t wait for the next walk around Humbleton Hill from Wooler Common on Sunday 13 March. Why don’t you join me?