Barnard Castle & Teesdale Way – 6th May 2019

We were at a loose end on Easter Monday, so we needed something to do. The weather forecast wasn’t too good, so higher level walks were discounted early. One option was a river walk from Barnard Castle, along the Teesdale Way. It looked reasonably easy and, even if it did rain, it wouldn’t be too bad. We picked Anne up and off we went.

Arriving in Barnard Castle, we set off. Not on the walk but to the nearest tea shop for pre-walk refreshments. We weren’t on a schedule today.

The start

We could see it was going to be a good walk as soon as we started. It leaves Barnard Castle close to the market square and follows the river downstream. We were quickly into fields and paths alongside the River Tees. At this point we were only going as far as Abbey bridge but the walk was so good that we decided to continue further. The Teesdale Way actually crosses the bridge and follows the South side of the river but we followed an alternative path along the North side.

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Riverside path

The Meeting of the Waters

Continuing further down the river was definitely a good idea. The path took us through a lovely area of woodland on the bank of the Tees. This led out into fields again but quickly returned to the river at a point called Meeting of the Waters. This is one of the highlights of the walk and is where he River Greta meets the Tees at Rokeby.

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Meeting of the waters

Lunch

The path continues along the river with beautiful views of both the river and the opposite bank. Eventually, we reached the village of Whorlton. We chose to stop here for lunch. There isn’t a tea shop here, so we took advantage of the village pub, The Fernaville’s Rest.  This turned out to be a very welcoming pub restaurant.  Although they were quite full we were able to get some soup in the bar and the general opinion was that it was excellent.

After lunch, we set off again.  The path from the village lead down to Whorlton Bridge.  We discovered that Whorlton bridge is a chain link bridge, similar to the Union Chain Bridge near Berwick.  

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Whortlon Bridge

We rejoined the Teesdale Way but now heading West back to Barnard castle. The path continues on the other side of the bridge and follows the River Tees back upstream. It passes over fields initially, before returning to the river at the Meeting of the Waters, near to Motham Tower.

Egglestone Abbey

We followed the path through woods along the banks of the river until we came back to Abbey Bridge. This is situated just to the East of Egglestone Abbey. This is another highlight of the walk. The Abbey itself is on the path back to Barnard Castle. We felt obliged to take a look as entry is free.

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Egglestone Abbey

Back to Barny

The short walk from Egglestone Abbey is across fields and parts of it overlook Barnard Castle. The roof of Bowes Museum is visible above the houses. We returned back into Barnard Castle over the footbridge and straight to the tea shop before travelling home.

This might be further South than we usually go but it is definitely worth it. We’ll be putting this on the programme, so keep a look out for it.

Julie and Martin x


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Yeavering Bell – 11th May 2019

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Yeavering Bell summit

Another visit to Wooler for a lovely days walk out to Yeavering Bell. We have become regulars in Wooler over the past month so the routine was familiar. Meet in Wooler Common car park and go from there.

The start

We completed our warm up and set off. The short but steep slope from the car park, and up to the moor gets your heart going. So, we had a breather before heading on the walk proper.

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Getting our breath back after the climb from the car park

The start of the walk is the same as the Humbleton Hill walk that we did earlier in May. It’s no hardship to walk that bit again because it is very pleasant. There were plenty of new lambs around to enjoy watching too.

On the way to Yeavering

At the bottom of Humbleton Hill we took the right fork and tackled Harehope Hill. We only climb halfway up this one but it is a bit steep. So we had the obligatory stop to admire the view at the top of the climb. The next part was easy as we just contoured round Harehope Hill to Gleadscleugh. We were in wild goat country here and Martin had seen them up close on the recce for this walk. So, the walkers were keen to see them but none around yet.

The weather, which had started out a bit overcast, was coming good. This makes walking in the Cheviots even more pleasurable. The warmth meant everyone was layering down.

First sight of goats

At Gleadscleugh we started on the second hill of the day. Rather than taking the steep path over White Law, we took the road up the side of it and joined a quad track at the top. The group got a bit stretched here. However, to the disappointment of the backmarkers, those nearer the front got the first glimpse of wild goats across the valley.

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Looking for goats

The summit

This was the last stretch to the foot of Yeavering Bell. Only a small bog to encounter and the final ascent to the top and we were there. Lunchtime!

Ruth complained the we hadn’t seen enough wild goats. Julie joked that it was because she hadn’t paid yet. Ruth promptly sorted this out and demanded more wild goats on the way back.

The return leg

Heading off the hill, we took the same path down but veered to the right at the bottom. This path took us to St Cuthbert’s Way. Just as we reached St Cuthbert’s way, Julie spotted goats close by. Ruth got her wish.

The route back is walked a lot and is very clear. However, we did go wrong a bit, trying to avoid wet feet in another boggy bit. We got through it and found our way back onto the path. On the way back, we were treated to the sound of a very loud cuckoo while passing a small copse. There seems to be a lot more of them around these days.

Arriving back to the car park, we did a cool down and agreed to meet in The Terrace Cafe in Wooler for refreshments. It was agreed that this was a great walk, so we’ll need to think about putting it on the programme again some time.

See you all again soon.

Julie and Martin x


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Harbottle Wood – 5th May 2019

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Group shot with Simonside Hills in the background

We met up at Holystone picnic area for our visit to Harbottle Wood. There was some confusion over the actual starting point and some arrived spot on 10am. It’s difficult to check the details these days when there is no phone reception in the area. No matter, as it was only a small group.

It was a little chilly, so a warm up was appreciated. Off we went on the road up the southern side of Harbottle Wood, gaining some height in the process. There was an added benefit to walking up the hill in that it warmed us up further.

Harbottle Wood

Once in the Wood we could stride out and enjoy the scenery and the lovely tracks that make Nordic Walking a pleasure.

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Striding out along the woodland tracks

We followed the main track round towards the northern edge of the Wood, where Harbottle Village is located. Before we exited the Wood we turned a sharp right to look for the path through the trees. It’s not easy to find but once we had we were off again.

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Emerging from pine woodland

Harvesting

Emerging from the dense pine woodland we found ourselves in an area that had been recently harvested. The ground had been quite chewed up by the heavy tree felling machinery but there were some interesting things left behind, like a pond alive with pond-skaters.

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Watching pond-skaters

Native Woodland

Quickly getting though the harvested area, we entered a section of the Wood that still has many native trees. This bit feels completely different and is less claustrophobic than a pine woodland can be. The views up towards Sharperton were very pretty.

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Looking at saplings

The path leads round to an area that has been recently planted. The consensus was that they were beech trees, I think. Some of the saplings were fairing better than others.

Lady’s Well

We were close to the end of the walk here but there were a few more delights to see, like patches of bluebells, as we walked back.  After a short cool down we decided to visit nearby Lady’s Well. We were intending to walk there but decided to drive there as it was on our way back.

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Lady’s Well

It is rumoured that early Christians were baptised by St Ninian here.  A statue of St Ninian is situated at one end of the pool.  The pool is actually from a spring that is used to supply water to Holystone Village.

To round the day off we visited Tomlinsons in Rothbury, for refreshments.  Thank you to everyone for coming along.  Hope to see you all soon.

Julie and Martin x


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Learn to Nordic Walk at Clara Vale – 4th May 2019

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The Clara Vale group

Clara Vale is a small village close to Crawcrook. It used to be a pit village but the coal mine was demolished long ago. However, the community is still thriving. We were invited to demonstrate Nordic Walking and help people learn how to Nordic Walk here, at Clara Vale Village Hall. As part of this we were invited to have breakfast before the training session, so we did. While taking breakfast and drinking tea we met with the people who would be training with us.

Once introductions had been done, we went out to the play area next to the village hall. Here we could explain about Nordic Walking and get everyone used to the poles. Next we started the training and instruct on the technique required for Nordic Walking. We even did some drills to illustrate the degree of movement that Nordic Walking can provide.

After sufficient instruction, we went out on a short walk through the golf course and along the River Tyne. Almost immediately the walkers noticed a difference. Some were feeling the effort in their shoulders and others feeling more stable and less pressure on legs. On the way back we tried walking up a hill and lifting the poles. This is always the time when the most difference can be felt, as the weight of walking goes back onto the legs. One of the biggest benefits of using poles is when going up hills.

This was a lovely group and we are looking forward to the second Nordic Walking training session at Clara Vale on the 26th May. One or two from this session are booking onto the second session too. Thank you for coming along and hope to see you again.

Julie and Martin x


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Humbleton Hill – 28th April 2019

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We met at Wooler Common Car Park for the walk up one of our favourites, Humbleton Hill. It was looking a little overcast and a little chilly, but we were hopeful. The warm up helped, as did the first little climb up through the woods to St Cuthbert’s Way.

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A little rest after climbing up through the wood

The route followed St Cuthbert’s Way west for a short distance before turning, through a gate and onto a lane. This lane took us down to the foot of Humbleton Hill and the start of the climb up the hill. By this point, and contrary to the forecast, the sun was coming out and layers were being shed. Hooray!

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Julie pointing to Humbleton Hill in the background

The path from here winds up and around the western side of the hill. The summit looks closer than it is and it is just a case of plodding on upward. Plenty of admiring the view on the way up.

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Admiring the view

It wasn’t long before we reached the top and were greeted with panoramic views all round. Being quite close to Wooler and not too difficult, this hill is a favourite for visitors. However, this time we were very lucky to have the summit to ourselves. We could see the nearby hills like The Cheviot, Hedgehope and Yeavering Bell, as well as the distant villages of Fenton and Doddington (famous locally for ice cream). We could even see the area around Ford Moss to the North and Blawearie to the East. The sea would have been visible on a clearer day but the haze obscured it.

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Panorama from the summit

The descent was back the way we came, for a short way and then turning South towards St Cuthbert’s Way again. This made for a relatively easy route back after the hard work had been already done.

For the tea shop we agreed that a trip out to the Rocking Horse Cafe, North of Alnwick, would be good. Besides, Martin had to drop off a batch of chocolate brownies there anyway. The lovely weather continued and we were even able to sit outside to enjoy our well earned refreshments.

Another great walk, with the bonus of unexpected sunshine. Thanks to everyone for coming and hope to see you soon.

Julie and Martin x


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Wallington Training – 13th April 2019

Another great training session at Wallington. This time Martin took the training, as he had recently qualified as a Nordic Walking instructor, Julie was on hand as well. We started in the Visitors Centre by introducing Strolls with Poles and Nordic Walking in general.

Introduction

Once everyone was kitted out with poles, we headed round to the courtyard. While walking round we held our poles to watch for arm movement. Not everyone moves their arms when walking but it is essential in Nordic Walking. Something that we work on in training.

Training

We started training in the courtyard at Wallington. Although everyone got the technique easily, we quickly identified what to work on during the walk. The walk is always the best place to hone the technique, as people stop thinking about it here.

The Walk

The walk was lovely, as usual. The weather was great and the stepping stones were out of the water, so were safe to use. We continued on, following the river and working on technique. Everyone agreed that the poles did benefit them, especially on the hill towards the end off the walk.

Refreshments

After a short cool down, we all visited the Wallington Clocktower Cafe to round off the day. As usual, lunch was lovely.

Good to meet everyone and we hope to see you again.

Julie & Martin


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Blawearie – 6th April 2019

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As can be seen above, the weather wasn’t ideal for this walk. The recce was done on a very clear day and the views were great and panoramic. Never mind though, us Nordic Walkers are hardy souls and set off anyway, although there were a few considering just missing out the walk and going straight to the tearoom.

The start

The original start from the car park was too difficult, so we tried a different route, which proved to be just as difficult. Once that was out of the way we got on the walk proper. We continued along the ridge above Hepburn Wood and round towards Bewick Hill. Normally, the Cheviots are visible from here but there plainly weren’t going to be any views today.

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Bewick Hill

When we arrived at Bewick Hill, it was difficult to even see the hill forts for the fog. We did take a look at one of the two WW2 pill boxes, situated on the side of one of the forts. The pictures below were taken from about the same spot. The left one on the walk and the right one on the recce.

After the amazing views from Bewick Hill, everyone was feeling a little peckish. So, we headed off towards Blawearie.

Blawearie

Blawearie is thought to mean “Tired of the Wind”. It can get a bit blowy up there, so the name is understandable. It was the home of a shepherding family called the Rogerson’s, although they appear to have abandoned this location before the Second World War. The ruin is surrounded by Bronze age burial cairns and is at the centre of a very historical area of Northumberland.

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Cateran Hole

Time was moving on and we all wanted to get back to the tearoom before it closed. So, when lunch was finished, we set off for the last part of the walk, a visit to Cateran Hole. The path to Cateran Hole was pretty clear, so it was easy to find. Once there some of the group went in to take a look. A head torch was essential, as it was pitch black inside. The hole is in fact a long tunnel, constructed from gritstone and is just wide enough and tall enough to walk the full length of about 45m. It is thought that this was a smugglers hiding place but nobody really knows its purpose.

Cateran Hole was the last stop on the walk and it only remained to walk the last two miles along the road and back to the car park.

The Rocking Horse Cafe

Once sufficiently cooled down, we got into our cars and formed a convoy to the hidden gem of the Rocking Horse Cafe in Rock, near Alnwick. We had called ahead and they very kindly stayed open for us.  Andrew (our host) was so welcoming and as is usual we filled the tearoom.  The food was lovely and everything is local.   It was a wonderful way to finish the day.

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Thanks to all that walked with us on this challenging walk. Hope to see you all again soon.

Julie and Martin x

P.S. We’ve added a second gallery, so that you can see what the views really look like.


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Strolls with poles – Nordic Walking for Fun and Fitness

Craster – 3rd March 2019

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The forecast for today’s walk was to be windy but dry. We all met at the Tourist Information Centre. We started with our warm up and set off.

Our walk took us towards the harbour and along the Northumberland Coastal path to Dunstanburgh Castle. This area is excellent for Nordic walking as it is relatively flat. A couple of group photographs were taken in front of the Castle.

We continued further along the Northumberland Coastal Path and through the golf course. Turning left we headed up the road to Dunstan Steads and past the fields to the lime kiln and pill box.

Passing through farmyards we came back towards Craster. We stopped for a short snack break before heading back towards Dunstanburgh Castle and along the Coastal path to Craster.

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Rather than returning to the cars we went straight to the Shorline cafe. Everyone enjoyed various food includiing chowder, toasties, cheese scones and cake.

I hope you enjoyed the walk and look forward to seeing you again soon.

Julie


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Lesbury – 24th February 2019

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Another beautiful day in February took us to Lesbury. We all met at the big tree in Lesbury and welcomed Kath to her first Strolls with Poles walk.

As always we started with a warm up and set off. We crossed Lesbury Bridge which dates to the late 1500 or early 1600s. Early in the walk we came across a couple of small hills which take us down to the river and passed the viaduct which has the East Coast Train line running across it.

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Following the river we reached Bilton Mill. We came to the railway line which is in the process of being renovated to take the train from Alnmouth Station to Alnwick. We dropped down to the short section we would have to walk along before coming to the woodland. The group had got quite stretched and the back group were so busy chatting they didn’t see which route Martin had taken. Julie caught them up and turned them around and crossed the river, which was very low, so easy to cross.

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We crossed over fields where we spotted 2 hares who started fighting. Definitely a sign of the Mad March Hares. A woodpecker was seen by some of the group too.

We returned to Lesbury where we completed a cool down before a group drove to Alnmouth to visit one of our favourite tearooms, the Village Tearoom.

We hope you enjoyed the walk and look forward to seeing you again soon.

Julie & Martin x


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Tanfield – 23rd February 2019

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This walk took us to County Durham and theTanfield Railway. The weather was excellent for February.

A few of us enjoyed a cup of tea and breakfast whilst waiting for the others to arrive. Martin went up to the main road as a few missed the turn off and needed further directions.

When everyone arrived we did our warm up and set off. We walked through the woodland along the waggonway. We passed through the old quarry until we reached the bridge which crosses the river just beside Causey Arch. A group photograph was taken.

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Next we had to walk up the stairs to the bridge. It is said to be the oldest surviving single-arch railway bridge in the world. We stood and watched lots of volunteers planting, clearing and cleaning the area of the Causey Arch Station.

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We followed along the waggonway to East Tanfield Station, unfortunately the tearoom was not open but we stopped for lunch anyway.

The walk then took us up to Beamish.  We walked through the site, passing the bakery and farmyard.  Following the road again through another woodland and back to our start point, the tearoom.  

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We said goodbye to a couple of our group whilst the rest of us visited the Causey Arch Tearoom for hot beef sandwiches and cake!

An interesting walk with a great group and we hope you enjoyed it.

Look forward to seeing you again soon.

Julie & Martin x


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Strolls with poles – Nordic Walking for Fun and Fitness