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Sun 28th April 2013

Whernside - Yorkshire Dales

Whernside - Yorkshire Dales

Not just the first ‘away day’ of the year, but the first ever.

We have a great loyal group of Shepherds Walkers who we take out throughout the year week on week and to date all our ‘day walks’ have been in the North East.

I have also walked extensively in many other places and the Yorkshire Dales is one of my favourite places, especially the famous Three Peaks. I have walked these many times with friends and family over the past 20 years, so what better location to start our ‘away days’.

We planned to do one of the three peaks every other weekend and looking at bookings to date we had made the right decision.

As I arrived into Ribblehead at 10.00 am the weather was not the greatest. Sharp showers blew across and looking up to Whernside itself, it looked like it was going to be a blowy affair.

After meeting up with the rest of the group I quickly realised it was going to be a good day. We had some great characters and everybody gelled very quickly which was just what we needed for our climb up the highest peak in the Yorkshire Dales.

We skirted along the side of the Ribblehead viaduct and walked along the edge of the Settle to Carlisle Railway before crossing over the top of it to start the ascent. The path is great underfoot and the group managed brilliantly with a great atmosphere running throughout.

As many of us had started off very early that morning we stopped for lunch just after 12.00, with this also being just before we joined the long ridge walk to the summit. It was thought that a sheltered spot, in the now glorious sunshine, was just what the doctor ordered. It was a great sun trap as we sat behind the broken down stone wall.

After lunch the real climbing started but the whole group worked well as a team. They all had total respect and cared for every single member of the group and therefore the climb was broken up with some great conversations and debates. It was not long before reached the summit.

The summit shot, at the top of Whenside (all 2515 feet of her) was a must and we spent a good 15 to 20 minutes savouring the moment and enjoying the views on what has turned out to be the ideal day on the weather front.

As we started our decent the path did get steeper and it was just a case of taking our time and looking back on the great achievement the group had made.

After dropping back down to the valley floor we passed through some beautiful farmland appreciating the newly born lambs and discussing the qualities of the different breeds as we came across them.

A few moments was taken as we passed under the Ribblehead viaduct to really take in the true engineering and sheer scale of this stunning construction.

Back at the cars we said our farewells and I believe a real day to remember for many of group had really been had.

I think I should get out of the office more often; this is what Shepherds Walks is all about. Looking forward to leading the walk up the next one - Pen-y-ghent in two weeks time already.


Wed 24th April 2013

Two day Outdoor First Aid course

Two day Outdoor First Aid course


Last weekend saw a new departure when we ran the first open Outdoor First Aid course for Shepherds Walks.

The course is designed for those who have a voluntary or paid role in leading groups in the outdoors or for those who travel to more remote places where help may be some time in arriving (even in Northumberland!). A mixed group of guides, Mountain Rescue, outdoor event first aiders and teacher/leaders assembled early on Saturday at the Quarry Centre in Whitley Bay. Given the experience of the group there was no pressure on Paul - not much!

The two days consists of mostly practical first aid work gradually building the skills and confidence needed to deal with mishaps in the outdoors.

Paul also introduced a unique scoring system so that the 'casualties' can score their first aiders. You will be pleased to know that 'deaths' and 'dangerous' practice were quickly reduced to a minimum!

Most first aid courses focus on the lone first aider's but another good feature of this training is that people start on their own but by the end of day two they will have worked in pairs, three's and groups. Then on Sunday afternoon the groups went outside to practice their skills. Paul was pleased that on cue it began to rain.......This part is usually the most enjoyable and memorable aspect and everyone had a jolly time getting to grips with the reality of dealing with people outdoors - too many pockets on clothing where 'suprises' can be hidden, cold ground seeings through clothing and recording cards that fall to bits in the wet. As one participant memorably put it "you come outside and everything you learnt indoors goes" (actually he said something involving more choice language than can be repeated here).

Everyone went away having learnt something new or had a good 'refresher,' including Paul, which is as it should be.

In June there will be a one day first aid course for those who walk with friends or act as an occassional volunteer with groups. A more broader and less intense experience will be on offer but yes, you will be going outside whatever the weather!

Tue 23rd April 2013

Coastal Challenge Walk 2013 - Training Walk 2

Coastal Challenge Walk 2013 - Training Walk 2

Wednesday phone call from Jon “do you fancy an easy walk on Saturday” Yes says I.  Ok its Beadnel to Alnmouth as you have walked it before it will be no problem!  So Sundance started the old soft shoe shuffle and yes it worked again.  Saturday was a bright sunny day although there was a stiff SW wind.

We met at Almouth football clubs ground and by 9.45 we were on the mini bus heading for the start of the walk at Beadnell.  A quick loo stop and we were off. The path goes through a caravan park before a sharp left leads to the back of the dunes eventually after crossing a footbridge we eventually reached Newton Links car park (which is checkpoint 2 on the challenge walk).  The path continues along the back of the dunes until Low Newton.  Here the path goes behind the village (and passes a public loo).  The route passes two bird hides at Newton pool before reaching an area with numerous beach huts, we eventually stopped for lunch near the beach huts overlooking Embleton Bay with Dunstanburgh Castle as a back drop.

After lunch we had to negotiate a golf course to Castle Point and then walked below Dunstanburgh before heading along the some fields to reach Craster.  Check point 3 is just in front of Lifeboat Station.  The path now takes a strange route as it goes through the back garden of the pub before reaching the cliffs around Cullernose Point.  The next leg walks along the cliffs and passes The Bathing House then crosses a stream by a concrete bridge at the seaward end of Howick Hall Gardens. A sharp little climb takes us up on to grassland which eventual develops in to a track that leads to Boulmer (check point 4).  After another loo stop and a coffee stop for Mike we set off passing Boulmer Haven then through another caravan park keep an eye out for a sharp left turn Seaton House.

A small problem of tides now becomes an issue as you now have to walk along the beach to reach a small gate that takes you to Foxton Hall.  If the tide is in you have to join the road from Boulmer to Alnmouth.  Having walked round the club house and across the golf course the path winds its way along the cliff top before descending down into Almouth.

Following the road to Alnwick we crossed the river Aln and just before reaching Hipsburn we arrived back at the cars.