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Tue 5th April 2016

Holystone Round

Holystone Round

A grey cool morning BUT dry, have Sundance’s new boots picked up the magic soft shoe shuffle?  Will we have a dry day?

The group were all ready before the start time so mike wasted a bit of time as usual by having a bit of a witter We set of along a forestry track but soon left this for a very wet boggy path that lead to Holystone Well.  After a brief look at the well we set off,  Mike nearly took us back to Holystone (wittering) before he quickly realised that we should be going back the way we came typical.

Once back on the track we followed it uphill before picking up a footpath that wound its way along the northern edge of the wood, allowing view across the valley to Weather Cairn.

After a while of bog hopping we got on to firmer ground to be confronted with a large area of windblown trees that completely blocked the path.  The detour was interesting to say the least but at last we were once more on the route just in time for lunch.

After lunch we started a climb up to Harbottle Crag with again the path disappearing a couple of times.  Eventually we reached the top with views all way round which would have been even more spectacular except for the haze.

From here a gently descent first took us across moorland to the Burma Road (one of the main roads through Otterburn Range).  Once more a gentle descent following the road brought us back to the cars.

Tue 15th March 2016

Nordic Walk - Kielder

Nordic Walk - Kielder

The forecast said it should be a great day for this nordic walk covering part of the Shepherds Walk Kielder Challenge route. 

After the recce of the walk on Monday it became a linear rather than a circular route, due to the Bull Crag Peninsular shortcut being closed for forestry work.

As always the Nordic Nuts were early and raring to go. 

First up a group photograph with Kielder Water in the background.

I introduced myself, Laura (my trusty volunteer) and Jon (the shepherd of Shepherds Walks), who warned everyone he had brought the Go Pro camera with him so he could take video shots during the walk.

As always we started with a warm up and set off, everyone at their own pace.  Kirsten, Paul, Angela, Geoff and me were at the front with the rest behind us.  The peace of Kielder was shattered as lots of chatter was heard along the way. 

We passed 3 groups of teenagers who were walking the 25.3 miles around Kielder, they were extremely friendly shouting "good morning" to us as we passed.

We stopped where checkpoint 4 is situated at the Kielder Challenge for lunch.  This point will now be known as the battlefield of the flapjacks.  Laura had brought her homemade flapjacks (which were delicious) and Steve had brought shop bought flapjacks (which were very nice).  Laura won this one, sorry Steve.

We continued onto Tower Knowe, where we had a quick comfort break, before continuing to the dam wall, this is a well known point on the Kielder Challenge for everyone saying "oh no the dam wall".
A return to Tower Knowe where Jon and Steve transported everyone back to Leaplish for the customary tea, coffee and cake (for a couple of us).

I told everyone of the next Nordic walks coming up, especially the Nordic Challenge Walk on 16th April.  I was asked if we could do another walk before that and I will be looking at adding a beach walk before then.

Thank you as always to Laura and thank you to Jon for their help during this day.

I hope to see you all very soon.


Mon 29th February 2016

Howick and Craster

Howick and Craster

What weather and it is still February.

This walk was everything you could have hoped for, when you are planning guided walks for February on the coast you dream of blue skies and sunshine and when this is what you experience who could ask for anything else.

We all met at Sea Houses, near to Howick and it was great everybody arrived in good time.

After a quick introduction we headed off South to the coast. Before we arrived at the coastline we were treated to stunning views of Sugar Sands before we dropped down to the North Sea and we joined the North Sea Trail.

We then headed North up the coast and soon came across the Bath House. This truly unique and most charming Grade II listed cottage stands in possibly the most idyllic and desirable location on the Northumberland coast. Set in a superb and secluded position on the cliff edge with a sandy cove below, it commands panoramic coastal views from every window. The majestic ruins of Dunstanburgh Castle can be seen in the north, whilst to the south there are distant views of Coquet Island.

We then continue North up the coast path and soon reached Craster.

Craster is a small fishing village on the Northumbrian coast of England. It has a small harbour and offers a view northwards along the rocky shore to the ruins of Dunstanburgh Castle.

For many years, the village has had a herring-curing business: Craster kippers are well known in England. The local herrings are smoked in a traditional manner by the Robson family.

The remains of a tower on the end of the harbour are all that can be seen now of the much taller building which was part of the overhead equipment which used to convey the local stone from where it was quarried to boats in the harbour. The disused quarry is now a car park. A small distance inland lies Craster Tower, the home of the Craster family who owned the quarry and had the harbour improved for its benefit.

Our lunch stop was Craster Tourist Information centre and Piper's Pitch, the food van that is rated as the No1 place to eat at Craster. It was very civilised to be sat on chairs for lunch!

After lunch we headed inland through some great farmland before reaching 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 fruitfut 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 un-business like, failed to register the trade mark and as a result they have never received a penny in royalties.

We then had a short walk back down the road back to the cars.

A lovely walk complimented by some great company!