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Wed 25th June 2014

Harbottle and the Drake Stone

Harbottle and the Drake Stone

Everyone was in good time for the start of the walk so after explaining the route and looking at the map we set off bright and early.  We had parked in West Wood and talked a little about the forestry commission and squirrels, and then we walked up through the wood and into the nature reserve.  

After a short distance we were able to have excellent views of Harbottle village and Harbottle crags. As we walked up the single track, the splendid views opened up before us, and stopping at the cairn, we looked up to the Drake stone and talked about Gallow Law, at this point the cameras were out and everyone was clicking away at the views of Harbottle and the nature reserve in front of us.

Then following the track upwards we diverted left past the seat and up to the Drakes stone.  It was photograph time again and a short history lesson about the stone and all its folklore, with everyone touching the stone to get its ‘healing properties’.  From there it was a short walk to Harbottle Lake and reference to the boat house and ‘coldness’ of the water was made.  Then after an examination of a couple of damaged millstones we headed up the fence line and then back through the wood following the concrete posts of an old fence line.  As we exited the wood we talked about dry stone walling and the unique wall running down the side of ‘Gregory Nick’.  Then we were greeted with tremendous views of upper Coquet dale, Alwinton and especially the Church.

Lunch stop was getting close, so after a short walk on the road, we stopped at the bridge to look at the River Coquet and River Alwin coming together.  Then turning right at lower Alwinton we headed along the side of the river Coquet on the Border  County ride towards the Lime kiln, where a lunch stop was awaiting and it was there we had company in the form of a horse which attempted to eat our sandwiches (not mine!)  

After lunch it was a gentle walk across the fields with views of the Drake Stone in the distance.  After crossing the Coquet we walked up to the village, where there was lots to discuss like the second Castle, water trough, memorial fountain all found in the one main road through Harbottle.  We then had a visit to the Castle, read the sad poem, and tried to work out the Roman numerals for the date it was written? and then headed to the car park.

Just before the car park there was a tree covered in a silk web, all its branches and leaves were covered and the only other people we had seen all day suggested it was some kind of moth (open for suggestions).  Then back to the car park and everyone expressed how good of a day it had been.

Thu 19th June 2014

Nordic Walk - Druridge Bay and Cresswell

Nordic Walk - Druridge Bay and Cresswell

Julie and Jane arrived early as there were a couple of people who hadn’t Nordic walked before so had a quick lesson with Julie before everyone arrived.  Jane welcomed the rest of the group and handed out poles to those who needed it before meeting Julie and the others on the beach.

Introductions were made and a warm up took place on the beach and Julie pointed out how far we would be walking and telling everyone that that was where Cresswell Ices was, at which point lots of ears perked up, especially the youngest of our group, Adam.  
Julie said she would be walking at the front at a good pace and Jane would be at the back for those who didn’t want to go quickly.  Also if anyone wanted/needed any advice with their technique we were around to help out.  As it was a very long clear stretch of sand everyone was encouraged to go at their own pace and find the sand that suited them the most.  Everyone was soon in their stride and the group stretched out.

The scenery was stunning, the temperature warm and the company fabulous (as always).
We arrived at Cresswell Ices at which point everyone descended into the shop and tried various different flavours and it was time to move on back to the cars.  

We headed back to the starting point, did a cool down and reminded everyone of the next Nordic walk with Jane (no Julie) on 5th July.

Thanks everyone for a fab walk and we look forward to seeing you soon.

Julie & Jane x

Mon 16th June 2014

Ford Figure-of-Eight Blog

Ford Figure-of-Eight Blog

This is an exceptional route for close-in observations of some exceptional features, of which more later, and also for distant views of the Cheviots, the Eildon Hills and the odd glimpse of the North Sea.  However, due to the generally overcast anticyclonic gloom, high humidity and the constantly varying cloud-base distant views were the exception.  It was quite good for midges however if sheltered from the light breeze but generally speaking nobody appreciated that.

Ten of us set-off from the car park straight into Fordhill Wood for fun with long wet grass with added nettles and thistles, my legs tingled for the rest of the day.  Out into fields of even longer and wetter grass and the first bit of avoiding the really clarty bits including jumping over streams and pointing out distant features that ordinarily would be visible - but weren’t!  The electrified pheasant rearing pens on the way to Ford Moss and the predominance of Scots Pine plantations provided a bit of a distraction and we were soon at the interpretation board adjacent to the chimney (the old colliery chimney and engine house) prior to the walk across the heather covered sandstone Broomridge.  Pausing on top of the ridge to view the Moss we saw our first roe deer of the day bounding down the slope towards the cover afforded by the mixed woodland on its southern edge.   Elevenses had been promised at the Goatscrag rock shelter above Routin Linn Farm even if we were early (we were), unfortunately the midges also attended. The engravings of what are interpreted as four deer on the sandstone of the rock shelter gave rise to a conversation, OK a mini-discourse, on the Mesolithic (i.e. Middle Stone Age 10,000 to 4,000 years BC) hunter-gatherers nomadic lifestyle and what the local environment would have been like then.  However archaeologists can’t be certain that the engravings date from that period.  To be fair I distinctly remember warning everyone before the walk started not to ask too many questions because the answers might put them to sleep.

Elevenses over we set off across the top of the ridge to descend by farm track for the waterfall in the Broomridgedean Burn.  We arrived to find a photo shoot in progress involving a tame buzzard so we didn’t stay long.  The next stop was the Routin Linn rock panel the largest cup and ring marked outcrop in England which gave rise to lots of speculation and discussion about their origins and meaning.  Incidentally the Ordnance Survey spell Routin Linn on their maps as seen but different publications often use Roughtin Linn instead, I didn’t want you to think I can’t spell.  The adjacent ancient enclosure consisting of three rows and ditches was hidden beneath lush grass and wildflower growth and some rampant bright pink rhododendrons.  Almost time for lunch now so a quick dash up the road towards Lowick got us onto pastoral land for lunch in the lee of a large mound with sufficient “ventilation” to discourage the midges but not before spotting some purple orchids (their colour not their name) along the verge and using the local knowledge of one of our number to direct a lost motorist to some kennels.        

Following lunch we set out on an anticlockwise yomp through the fields towards the eastern entrance into Ford Moss Nature Reserve, a lowland peat bog of post-glacial origin.  The access was “geet very clarty” (North East Mud and Mere Scale) necessitating a slight route deviation for several hundred metres before regaining the path near to the fenced-off remains of the collapsing former colliery manager’s house.  The huge sandstone blocks of which the building was constructed looked out of scale with what remained of the shored-up crooked windows and doorway.  Coal mining had taken place here from medieval times and finally ended just before the First World War in 1910.  We had a look at one of the fenced-off bell pit shafts and the associated spoil heap which were now grassed-over and blended into the landscape.  However, once everyone “got there eye in” the whole area was littered with these small scale industrial archaeological remains.  Shortly afterwards we heard a deer barking ahead of us surprised a roe deer in a clearing just before emerging out of the conifer plantation adjacent to the Friendly Hound B&B.  

The large southern loop of the figure-of-eight route now completed we travelled gently uphill towards Brownridge Moor for the final coffee, tea and photo opportunity of the walk.  From the ridge top we could easily pick out the three humped silhouette of the Eildon Hills, known as Trimontium to the Romans, almost 42 kilometres away as the crow flies to the west-south-west.  After this it was literally all downhill back to Ford village – then uphill again to the cars.  There were lots of incidentals along the way like the cuckoo we heard somewhere in the trees on the edge of the Moss, the buzzards overhead, the rabbits everywhere etc plus my own very occasional observations (aka droning-on).  Considering it didn’t actually rain everyone had a thoroughly wet time.  I hope that the high squelch factor (wet vegetation, streams, bog etc) didn’t put anyone off too much.  Oh and I’ve included a few panoramic photos of what we would have seen had the visibility been better.  And don’t think that I didn’t notice the huge decrease in questions as we approached Ford, there were certainly no slow learners present.  I hope you all enjoyed the day; I know my wife did and she thanks you all for it.