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Tue 26th June 2012

Quarries of Coquetdale

Quarries of Coquetdale

Around Rothbury there are the remains of a number of old Quarries, all with different stone, which have played an important part in the development of the area. This walk aimed to look in much more details at these.

After a short transfer the first stop of the day at Caiston Quarry, an old sand and gravel quarry. The modern operation commenced production in July 1956, although there had been a very small production unit under previous ownership situated further upstream. The old wet pits left after extraction were to be restored into a nature reserve.

From there we crossed the valley floor over to Tosson to look at the Limestone Quarry that created the essential stone for the Lime Kiln, which helped transform the agricultural land in the area.

On our way back to Rothbury the last stop will be just on the edge of the village, at the old Sandstone quarry, which many of the original houses were built out of.

A great walk.

Sun 24th June 2012

Rothbury and Tosson Lime Kiln

Rothbury and Tosson Lime Kiln

Rothbury Walking Festival – Sunday 24th June

Day two of the Rothbury walking festival and at the start of today’s walk it was nice to see that the strong winds that walkers had experienced yesterday had finally ebated! Instead however, the sky was full with the promise of rain at some stage very soon!

We left Rothbury after a quick briefing down by the river (The briefing was quick as we feared we may have needed a snorkel and flippers if we hung around for too long!) wearing an amount of Gore-Tex equal to our collective body weight as a group! However, arriving at Whitton fifteen minutes or so later it was necessary to remove a number of layers! It was also noted that a pocket of blue sky could be seen overhead. We had obviously won Mother Nature’s favour today!

Continuing our journey we headed for Sharpe’s Folly, a high stone tower built under the instruction of Dr Thomas Sharpe, in 1720, which provided work for the local people. We did however pass a number of comments amongst the group that the tower had superb views out towards the Northumberland coast. The tower also happened to be a prime location for an observatory, as it is rumoured that Dr Thomas was also rather fond of astronomy! How “convenient” for him!

Our route then headed out towards Whitton Hillhead and down into Simonside Forest. It was on this leg of the journey that a number of topics were discussed amongst the group including the proportion of accidents in the outdoors related to cattle, and not for the feint-hearted, the variety of gate fastenings seen around Northumberland. It was concluded that there are indeed many!

Heading through Simonside Forest we were aware that we were indeed travelling uphill rather rapidly, and that there was a very wet rain cloud heading in our direction. A quick 5 minute input on the ancient practice of using soft-rush as a candle-wick, and the merits of burning both ends at the same time to give extra light meant that I could not only share perhaps the only seed of knowledge that I have about the grasses of Northumberland, but we could also remain sheltered under the trees to ensure that the aforementioned raincloud had indeed fully downloaded somewhere in the region of Alwinton! Carrying on down the track, there was evidence of the wrath of the recent high winds with many tree branches down, and we then headed North-East towards Great Tosson and then to Tosson Lime Kiln, which was a perfect spot for lunch in the sun!

After some discussion about the use of lime in 19th Century farming, and lamenting over (or perhaps for some in the group, relishing) the potential fate of Daisy the cow (burgers, steaks, and there was definitely some mention of a barbecue!) who after the 2nd World War wandered too close to the edge and fell into the lime kiln, we headed down towards Thropton. It was here that we were relieved to be able to walk the riverside path, despite the recent heavy rain. The overgrown vegetation due to the recent warm and wet weather did however need some “coaxing” to allow us to pass through! It was a venture that even Bear Grylls would be proud of!

Entering Thropton, we surprisingly met up with the other Shepherd’s Walks group who had encountered some problems with the recent heavy rain-fall which meant that there intended route was completely water-logged. As a preventative measure to curb the sprouting of webbed feet within the group, their guide had needed to employ an alternative route. After many (friendly) insults were passed between the guides over the rights to the route (The route was in our group’s plan, but the other group were ahead of us!) we all walked together for the short stretch up Physic Lane, before reaching the lower carriageway track above Rothbury. It was at this point that the sun came out in full-force and we were reminded that it is actually June!

Onwards and upwards, and with some bog-dodging here and there, we hit the higher carriageway track above Rothbury, which was historically used by Lord William Armstrong to showcase the surrounding countryside to his guests! We then headed across the crags and then followed the track down into Rothbury. Additionally, we managed to remain in the most-part dry and at my last count just above Rothbury, we were still a group of 15 – Always a bonus!

This was a lovely walk with a great group who made my first guided walk for Shepherd’s Walks very enjoyable! Thanks to all who came, and I hope to see you all again!

The name Daisy has been used to protect the identity of the cow in question.

Sat 16th June 2012

Nordic Walk - Hauxley and Druridge Bay

Nordic Walk - Hauxley and Druridge Bay

Today was going to be a day of shower dodging. Everybody had travelled through all four seasons on their way to the meeting point, Hauxley Nature Reserve.

After a quick warm up we headed around the edge of the reserve out to the beach. After a little time of ‘Nordic Walking on the spot’ which hopefully will help us all take our skills to a higher level we headed south along the beach at a good pace.

The beach became narrower and narrower and at this point we made our way to the path which runs behind the dunes to continue our journey south to Druridge Bay Country Park.

Druridge Bay Country Park was full of VW vehicles as over the weekend the ‘Dub Fest’ was taking place, which is a celebration of everything VW. But for us Nordic walkers the cafe at Druridge was a welcome haven with warm refreshments and a good opportunity to relax and chat to everybody in the group.

Full of energy again we headed back north up the beach and really pushed on giving a true full body workout. Walking on the beach gave everybody a really good opportunity to work on their advanced Nordic Walking technique.

Just as we turned back into Hauxley Nature Reserve the heavens opened and I know for sure i was glad to get the car heaters on during the drive home.

Thanks everybody for coming and I hope you enjoyed this coastal Nordic Walk. It gave everybody a very different environment to get out and really feel the difference that those two poles can make.