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Mon 18th April 2016

14.5 mile Nordic Challenge Walk

14.5 mile Nordic Challenge Walk

Keeping an eye on the forecast the week before the weather wasn’t looking good for the Challenge walks.  Most areas had snow showers on the morning but by the time we all met up the sun was shining even though it was a little cool.

As always with a Nordic walk everyone was early, bright eyed and bushy tailed. Checking in with Janey and Lynn in the Shepherds Walks shop and picking up a set of poles we headed outside for introductions of guides and volunteers from Janey and the customary group photograph.

Next up was the walk down to the bus stop to catch the Spirit bus to the start of our walks.

Russell pointed out that he had two left gloves, a quick check revealed that Debbie had two right gloves (the tallest and the shortest members of the groups)!  Quick change around and we were all set.

The Spirit bus arrived and everyone rushed to get on (raring to go).  Lots of chatter on the bus until Steve (the owner of the company) started his commentary about the area.

At Thropton the group who were doing the 7½ mile Challenge Walk got off the bus and they waved the rest of us off everyone wished each other luck.

Further up the valley we got off the bus at Alwinton, additions to clothing donned.  Martin, Laura, Ruth and me had a quick pow wow before warm up. 

Martin took off at quite a pace and the group got into their rhythm going at their own speed but in great spirits.

We encountered many different terrains in the first few miles; concrete, grass, mud (clarts) much to Debbie’s disgust and quite an incline through the trees.

Everyone was going great guns then we reached the field that me and Martin knew was an extra challenge last year as it was full of cows and a stream to cross.  Instructions were given to keep the group together through the field.  Some of the group decided to try and find a shallower/shorter part of the stream, Katharine encouraged Karen to cross the stream and she ended up to her knees in water.  Katharine followed and therefore didn’t get as wet and kept on telling Karen “my feet are dry”!  The rest of the group crossed at a different point and didn’t get as wet, I decided just to plodge across the stream, not caring about wet feet.

Jon and Harry met up with us for lunch, bringing water and jelly sweets.  Martin had bought lollies for everyone and lots of other sweets were passed around before we headed off for the second half of the walk.

A couple of hailstone showers hit us but apart from our feet we didn’t get wet in fact we walked in bright sunshine all day even through the hailstones. 

On this walk we saw deer, swans and herons.  Not the usual wildlife we see on our walks.

Everyone was doing great, this walk challenged us in so many ways, terrain being the biggest one.  It was difficult walking through some of the clarts.  Laura and Debbie made up their own word of “sharty” (?? (I will let you guess the word) mixed with clarts).  When walking through the clarts technique goes out of the window as we just get over it safely.

Angela had a stumble as we walked along the riverside but luckily wasn’t hurt.  Geoff’s knee started hurting but he was determined to carry on they had been training for this walk for a long time.

We got to Physic Lane, which is a great part of the walk to Nordic walk along, in fact it’s my favourite part.  Steve was struggling so I dropped to the back to encourage him and make sure he was okay.  He was determined to complete the Challenge.

The last little bit of the walk was down to Rothbury through the trees and rocky area. We got together as a group to complete the walk back to the Shepherds Walks shop.

We started the Challenge as a group and finished the Challenge as a group.

Thank you Russell for all your photographs.  They are excellent.

Thank you to Martin, Laura and Ruth for their invaluable help during the day.  You were immense.

I hope you all enjoyed this very difficult and challenging walk.  You were all so determined and really pushed yourselves.

Our next Nordic walk is on 15th May 2016 Kirk Yetholm and Wideopen Hill.  I hope to see you then. 


Sun 10th April 2016

Nordic Walk - Newton by the Sea

Nordic Walk - Newton by the Sea

Well the weather wasn't looking promising this morning but by the start time we had blue sky and the temperature was rising.

As is usual with the Nordic Nuts everyone arrived very early.  We headed down to the beach and I taught our new Nuts (Kath and Martyn) and invited anyone else to join us.

We had a couple of visitors who joined us on our walk in Bramble (the black lab) and Edith, another Nut.

We headed along the beach towards Dunstanburgh Castle. 

Jean took me to one side and said "Julie my gloves are rubbing on my hand".  I looked at her gloves and said "Jean that's because they are on upside down".  Jean then said "but Jane put them on my poles".  I watched Jean trying to put her gloves on and at this point couldn't help but laugh out loud because as well has having her gloves on upside down she had her right glove on her left hand and vice versa.  Gloves put right Jean said "that feels better"!  People wonder why we are called "Nordic Nuts".

The group stretched out as everyone walked at their own pace, the beauty of walking on the beach is we can't get lost (even Julie Detour Barnett).

We stopped to let everyone catch up and I explained how you can use the sand to check you aren't dragging your poles, leaving only a small hole in the sand and you can work on your technique, something I do regularly when I am walking alone. 

Catherine asked me to check her technique and give her some pointers.  This is the beauty of having an instructor on the walk the expertise is available there and then.

There was a section on the sand which was very wet, so a little plodging took place as we made our way towards Dunstanburgh Castle.  We ran out of sand so turned around and headed back to Newton by the Sea and cake and tea!  Surprisingly Martyn and Steve were well in front of the rest of the group although maybe the lure of food was too much for them.

We headed up to Newton Point and around the field which gave the newbies an opportunity to see the difference between sand and grass. 

We bid a sad farewell to Bramble and Edith.  Edith apologised if anyone had sore shoulders or legs from throwing and kicking Bramble's ball.

Everyone got back to their cars said goodbye to Laura and Catherine who weren't coming for tea and headed to the Joiners Arms where most of us decided to have food rather than just cake.  The staff at the Joiners Arms dealt with the noise, confusion and cheek of some of our group very well. 

What a fantastic shorter walk (4 miles) with a great group of people.  Keep an eye on the website as there will be another beach nordic walk on either the 11th or 12th June.

Thank you to Laura for her help as always, thank you to everyone who came along and thank you Steve for your photos. I hope you all had fun and hope to see you very soon.

Don't forget the Nordic Challenge Walks on 16th April.

See you soon

Julie x

Tue 5th April 2016

Belford figure of eight

Belford figure of eight

After a wet start to the day it was dry when the group met in Belford ready for the start of the walk.
We soon came upon and past Belford West Hall Tower.

There may have been a motte and bailey here in the late 11th century, but the first recorded building was an unfortified manor house which Edward III spent the night in on his return from the Battle of Halidon Hill, 1333. By 1415 the manor house had been replaced by the 'Castrum de Beleford', a strong tower.  A moat was dug at this time as part of the building's defence.

We continued along both St Oswald’s Way (97 mile – Holy Island to Heavenfield) and Northumberland Coastal Path (64 miles – Cresswell to Berwick upon Tweed) before reaching and passing through Swinhoe Farm Riding Centre, a family run business, on a 1750 acre farm.

A few miles on we gradually rose up to the stunning view over to Goswick Sands and Holy Island and Lindisfarne Castle.

To the right of the Holy Island of Lindisfarne we could see Guile Point - The Old Law Beacons stand at the tip of a sandy spit on the south side of the entrance to Holy Island Harbour. Vessels entering the harbor lined up the two beacons on a bearing of 260° (just south of due west) before turning sharply northward as they approached the tip of the spit.

The beacons were constructed as a day range and no provision was made for lighting them, probably because it was considered too dangerous to enter the harbour at night. It appears that the towers were built in 1829.

After a  well-deserved lunch we reached and visited St Cuthbert’s Cave

St Cuthbert's Cave, known locally as Cuddy's Cave or Cove is a natural sandstone cave formed by overhanging rock that has been associated with Saint Cuthbert.

In 875 as the Vikings ravaged Lindisfarne and destroyed all the monasteries it is said that the body of St Cuthbert was taken from the Holy Island of Lindisfarne, as the ‘wandered about for seven years’ even though St Cuthbert is thought to have been dead for nearly 200 years.

According to legend, these caves might have been among the places in which either the monks took shelter with their holy relic or where Cuthbert himself lived as an anchorite hermit before moving to the Farne Islands.

Then it was a  short walk back to Belford, a truly great walk.