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Wed 28th June 2017

Coquet Valley Challenge Walk 2017

Coquet Valley Challenge Walk 2017

On Saturday just under 100 walkers took place in the second Coquet Valley Challenge Walk.

The weather was stunning with a strong breeze on the tops and every walker who set off completed the whole route, well done!

Please do enjoy the YouTube film and all the pictures from the day which you will find underneath.

Sat 17th June 2017

Craster and Howick Nordic Walk

Craster and Howick Nordic Walk

Fantastic weather forecast for today’s Nordic walk.  We all met at Craster Quarry Car Park, we were one member of the group short, Chris, unfortunately there is no mobile phone signal so we left it for 15 minutes and headed off.

Garnett and Maggi were new walkers with us so the rest of the group started whilst I gave them a quick tutorial they picked it up really quickly.

The group had followed the path and when it split into two took the right hand path they stopped at the gate which lead to the road, as I caught them up with Garnett and Maggi I said we had to go back to the other pathway as we needed to walk over the hill.  The pace was decent and we walked through a wheat field and through a field of cows, calves and sheep, we kept a good distance from the cows who didn’t actually take any notice of us. 

Next up was the road past Howick Hall and Gardens before walking up the road to Sea Houses Farm before heading to the footbridge on the Northumberland Coastal Route, we sat in the shade to cool down and have a snack whilst a few of the group walked down to the shoreline.

Back along the Coastal Route and we passed the Bath House and continued all the way to Craster.  Everyone walked at their own pace and Martyn very kindly stayed at the back with the slower walkers.

We all got to The Jolly Fisherman pub where we got drinks and some of the group left first and the rest of us had food, which was very nice.

Thank you Martyn for staying at the back, I do appreciate it.  I didn’t take many photographs but luckily Zeenat took lots and I am grateful to her for sending them to me.

Thank you everyone for coming along, I hope you enjoyed the walk and that I see you soon.

The next walk is Corbridge and Dilston which is around woodland on 2nd July 2017.

Again I have put some information on the history of parts of the walk.

Howick Hall
Howick was the home of the Grey family from 1319 and Charles 2nd Earl Grey is the most distinguished member. 

As leader of the Whig party he was Prime Minister from 1830 to 1834, during which time the Great Reform Bill of 1832 was passed in the teeth of opposition from the Duke of Wellington; this started the process of parliamentary reform which eventually led to our modern democracy.  He married Mary Elizabeth Ponsonby in 1794; the marriage was happy and fruitful and the couple had 15 children.

Howick is also the home of Earl Grey tea!  The tea was specially blended by a Chinese mandarin for Charles, 2nd Earl Grey, to suit the water from the well at Howick, using bergamot in particular to offset the taste of the lime in it.  Lady Grey used it in London when entertaining as a political hostess, and it proved so popular that she was asked if it could be sold to others, which is how Twinings came to market it and it is now sold worldwide.  Sadly the Greys, being unbusinesslike, failed to register the trade mark and as a result they have never received a penny in royalties.

Howick Hillfort
The site at Howick was discovered when amateur archaeologists found flint tools eroding from a cliff edge 3km south of Craster on the Northumberland coast.

The main feature on the site was one of the best-preserved Mesolithic huts so far discovered in Britain. The radiocarbon dates from the hearths inside the hut have shown that it was constructed around 7800 BC (cal.), making Howick the earliest occupation site in Northumberland, and also a key site for our understanding of Stone Age settlement across Britain. In addition to the Mesolithic hut, a cemetery consisting of five Bronze Age cists was found on the site.

The site was subjected to detailed and meticulous excavation involving geophysical survey, fieldwalking, and environmental analysis to provide a landscape perspective. All archaeological deposits were passed through a sieve and flotation tank. This detailed approach to recording means that Howick now represents one of the most fully understood Mesolithic sites in Europe.

Greys Bathing House
The old Greys Bathing House is now a charming Grade II listed cottage standing on a cliff edge position with a sandy cove below. It was built in the early 19th century by the 2nd Earl Grey who was the Prime Minister responsible for the passing of the Great Reform Bill of 1832 and whose monument stands at the top of Grey Street in Newcastle upon Tyne. He had 16 children and the house was built specifically for the family to go bathing. This was a fabulous spot especially when the tide is at its highest.

Tue 13th June 2017

Hartside to High Cantle

Hartside to High Cantle

June 11th 2017

Our walkers for the day met at Hartside at the head of the Breamish valley and on a bright but blustery morning at 10.30ish set off on the road to Alnhammoor.  In a relatively sheltered spot Mark outlined the day’s walk before taking the path initially following the Shank burn and then branching off to begin the long but gentle climb to Little Dod and the junction with Salters Road. It was on this stretch and walking into a stiff breeze that the first shower of the day was encountered.

Fortunately the rain did not last too long – just enough to test our waterproofs – and at our first coffee break on Salters Road, Mark gave a brief history of this ancient route for drovers, salt traders and Border Reivers. There was also a brief discussion about “naturism” on the Northumberland beaches!

The well defined track took us to our planned lunch spot at the foot of High Cantle via the farms at Low and High Bleakehope.  Here the valley provided shelter from the wind and we encountered our only other outdoor enthusiasts – two cyclists struggling in the opposite direction to ourselves up a significant incline. During lunch Mark talked about the Battle of Otterburn amongst other topics including litter in the countryside, sheep farming, the M.O.D. range at Otterburn and future planned Shepherds Walks.

As we began our steep ascent to the High Cantle plateau the next rain shower arrived. Heart’s pumping after the short but steep climb, our route took us over the fell to Rig Cairn and on towards Linhope. Underfoot the going was extremely wet (much to Mark’s surprise when the fells had been so dry just two weeks before) but again the shower did not last. We could see further rain clouds approaching and decided to press on without further stops, but to include Linhope Spout in the walk.  As we approached this well known waterfall and beauty spot we were surprised at the number of picnickers and visitors.  Several photos were taken and then we began the final stretch to the hamlet of Linhope and from there back to the cars at Hartside.  At this point the rain became heavy and persistent and by the time we returned to our starting point everyone was rather wet!

Despite the wind and periods of rain everyone thoroughly enjoyed the walk, the scenery, the company and their conversation.

My thanks to the walkers for making this such an enjoyable day.