Warkworth to Alnmouth – 3rd November 2018

The weather forecast for this walk looked good, as a small group met at the Warkworth Picnic Area car park.  Following the clocks changing, we moved the start time to 10 am.   Everyone arrived early.

Warm up completed, we started down to Warkworth beach and towards Alnmouth, which we could see in the distance.

Warkworth beach is around 3 miles long and really beautiful.  Everyone headed off at their own pace, with Martin, Claire and Kirsty striding out in front.  Chris and Anne lagged behind, as they were taking photographs along the way.

We came across some rocks which, because the tide was high, were negotiated by going up onto the cliff top.  This path took us alongside an old WW2 pillbox hidden in the cliff side.

Dropping down onto the beach again, we reached the mouth of the river Aln, separating us from Alnmouth.  From here, we walked up a small hill to reach St Cuthbert’s Cross.  This location is allegedly where St Cuthbert agreed to become Bishop of Lindisfarne when petitioned by the King.  The view from the top is spectacular, and Chris, who hadn’t seen it before, exclaimed “Wow”.

Group photograph taken we then dropped down to the Cycle Path which took us around to Alnmouth.  Claire asked Martin if we were walking along Lovers Walk!  Unfortunately work was being carried out and the route was closed.

Once we were in Alnmouth, we headed to The Village Tearooms.  This is one of our regular stops.  We were told there was no space for us.  However, Julie stepped in and spoke to Denise, who found us space and we enjoyed crab sandwiches, hot beef and gravy stotties and cakes with lashings of tea.

Following lunch we retraced our steps along the cycle route, missing out the trip to St Cuthbert’s Cross, and instead crossing the dunes to the beach.

By now the weather wasn’t so good.  The blue sky had made way for rain, so the walk back was a lot quicker.

Reaching the cars, we did a cool down and everyone said they had thoroughly enjoyed the day.

Another great day out with great people.  See you on the next walk.

Julie and Martin


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High and Low Force – 28th October 2018

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We set off for High and Low Force for the second time this year.  Again, some of the regular group hadn’t been able to make the original walk but really wanted to do this one as they had never been to the area.  So, we put this on again in October.

Gibson’s Cave and Summerhill Force

We arrived at 9:15, 45 minutes before the Bowlees Visitor Centre opened, so we would have to wait for breakfast.  While we were waiting, we decided to take a look at Gibson’s Cave.  This is only a short walk from the Bowlees car park and well worth a look.  Sunmmerhill Force cascades over the top of Gibson’s Cave.

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Low Force

HighForce - HighForce_GibsonsCave_28102018M-1.jpegWe set off from the warm visitor’s centre and out into the Autumn air.  There was a chill in the air, which was distinctly different to last time we were here, when it was very much a summer day.  However, we were suitably rewarded by the beautiful autumn leaves on the trees.

HighForce - HighForce_28102018M-6.jpegWe followed the diversion down river, that we had used on the previous occasion.  This wasn’t an enforced detour, or even an unplanned one.  We did it because it is one of the best parts of the walk.  It’s quieter than the main areas and there is some spectacular scenery on the way.

We crossed the Tees to join the Pennine Way and walked up the opposite side of the river.  There had been rumours of a kingfisher sighting, so we were on the lookout.  Unfortunately, nobody saw it.

HighForce - HighForce_28102018R-3.jpgSoon we were at Low Force.  Ruth asked if this was High Force.  She had never been here before and was assured that she’d know High Force when she saw it.

Even at Low Force,  we could see that the recent wet weather had resulted in significantly more flow over the falls than there had been in the summer.

HighForce - HighForce_28102018R-7.jpgSome of us crossed Wynch Bridge, for a different view from the other side.  This is a bit of a drawn out process, as Wynch Bridge is a somewhat unique in being a 200 year old, grade 2 listed, suspension bridge and, for safety reasons, only one person is allowed on it at any time.  Once everyone was back on the South side of the river, we set off again.

Some of the best scenery of the walk is along this stretch.  It was worth taking our time to enjoy and take plenty of photos.

High Force

HighForce - HighForce_28102018R-9.jpgWe could hear the thunder of High Force long before we reached it.  On arrival at the usual viewpoint, each of the group took turns to take the customary souvenir photo.

A little way further up, you can get very close to the top of the waterfall.  The water tumbling over the falls, is only feet away, and the power and noise is incredible.

We decided to have lunch here.  Julie had brought some of her birthday cake, that was baked by Martin.  Everyone tried it and said it was good.

The return journey

As on the previous walk we continued past High Force and further upwards into the valley.  Following the Pennine Way to Forest in Teesdale and the turning East to head back.  At this point we encountered the only inclement weather of the day, though miraculously we avoided the worst of it.

The route back was uneventful.  Anne didn’t find the goat that followed her last time.  However, close to the finish we met a substantial bull.  He was standing just off the path, with his back to us.  There was no option.  We had to pass him.  Keeping a respectful distance we got through the next gate.  He was a handsome beast, but everyone was glad to get by him.

Bowlees

We finished the day back at the Bowlees Visitor Centre.  Julie had reserved her sandwich and cake, just in case they ran out, and they had.  Martin just took pot luck, so missed out on cake.

Another great day out with great people.  See you on the next walk.

Julie and Martin


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November Newsletter

The November newsletter has been sent out.  Don’t forget to click the link.

I hope you enjoy reading it.  If you would like it delivered direct to your inbox please sign up on the website.

I look forward to seeing you soon.

Julie x

Link to November newsletter

Roseberry Topping Recce – 29th September 2018

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Yet again we were blessed with a beautiful day.  There was a cool autumnal breeze but still perfect weather for walking.

Captain Cook’s Monument

We started from Gribdale car park but we will be starting from a different place for the walk.  More on that later.

RoseberryTopping - RoseberryTopping_01102018J-5.jpgWe set off up Easby Moor, along the Cleveland way towards Captain Cook’s Monument.  From here we got our first view of our ultimate goal, Roseberry Topping.  It’s horn shaped outline is quite distinct and is the result of weathering, undercutting the sandstone cap.

RoseberryTopping - RoseberryToppingRecce_29092018M-21.jpegBefore we reached the monument, Julie found a plaque marking the crash site of a World War 2 Hudson bomber that crashed here in 1940.  A little way further and we were at the monument.  This was erected in 1827, in memory of the great circumnavigator.  (More info)

Woods and apple trees

RoseberryTopping - RoseberryTopping_01102018J-2.jpgFrom here we descended towards Great Ayton Station through Ayton Banks Woods.  There are various paths through the woods.  The one that we chose was a bit steep in places, so we’ll find a better one for the walk.  All of them give wonderful views though and are very pleasant.

RoseberryTopping - RoseberryToppingRecce_29092018M-12.jpegWe passed through Undercliffe and then entered a field over a stile.  Just before a kissing gate into a wood, Julie spotted an apple tree.  Being the forager that she is we couldn’t pass it without scrumping a few.  They turned out to be a little sharp but very good.  Considering we hadn’t brought lunch, they were very welcome.

Following a very scenic path through Cliff Ridge Wood, we enjoyed the outdoors, benefiting from the fact that insects don’t like the English autumn.

Roseberry Topping

RoseberryTopping - RoseberryToppingRecce_29092018M-1.jpegOn the outskirts of Great Ayton, we turned a sharp right into Newton Wood and towards Roseberry Topping.  Reaching the bottom of Roseberry Topping, we went round to the North side and climbed up there.  We should have taken the tourist path, as this one was negotiable but steep.  Maybe next time.  At the top we found the normal crowded summit.  There were even several dogs up there.  The views all round from here are spectacular.  The North Sea at Redcar, Hartlepool, Middlesbrough, Stockton and Darlington are all visible on a good day.

The last leg took us up onto Great Ayton Moor and back to the car park.

The tea shop

Hungry and gasping for a cuppa, we made for the nearest tea shop, which turned out to be Fletchers Farm.  This is our new starting point, so we can have breakfast before the walk and tea after.

This is a great walk in varied country.  The iconic Roseberry Topping is the highlight and is a place to tick of any walkers list.  Hope to see you all on this walk.

Julie and Martin


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Pilgrim’s Causeway – 15th September 2018

For the second time this year we set off for Holy Island.  Some of the regular group hadn’t been able to make the earlier walk but were determined to do the walk, so we laid on another one in September.

We arrived early, to ensure that we had time to get a coffee/tea and maybe a full English breakfast at The Barn at Beal.  As with the previous walk, this was the starting point.

We set off

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Fully fed and watered, we left our cars at the Barn at Beal (with their permission) and took the footpath to the start of the causeway.  We were crossing soon after the tide had gone out, so the water was higher than on the previous crossing.  So, we split and most went over the bridge by the refuge.  However, Julie, Martin, Chris and Annabelle went through the channel.  It was thigh deep and pretty cold but tremendous fun, to start the crossing.

Safety refuge boxes

Daniel took the opportunity to climb into the refuge boxes.  He’s a keen amateur photographer, so this gave him a different perspective and the opportunity to add to his portfolio.

Holy Island

As usual, once on Holy Island, we made our way to Pilgrims Coffee House, which is our cafe of choice on the island.  A few of the group went to explore the island.  The rest stayed in the tea shop and enjoyed watching the flock of tame sparrows try their luck.  Even the odd starling couldn’t compete with the sparrows.

Heading back

It was a bit colder on the way backPilgrimsCauseway - PilgrimsCauseway_150918M-4.jpeg, which made the pace a bit quicker.  We arrived back at The Barn at Beal much earlier than usual.  We enjoyed another round of tea before saying goodbye and heading home.

Thank you everyone for coming along.  We hope to see you all soon.

Julie and Martin


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Sycamore Gap – 8 September 2018

This was a walk that everyone was looking forward to.  A walk to the iconic Sycamore Gap, interestingly most of the group had never been to this part of Hadrian’s Wall despite living in the North East.

We met at The Sill National Landscape Discovery Centre. Whilst we were waiting for a couple of walkers, I introduced Jude and Andy to the group.  This was to be their first walk with us.  Poles distributed and warm up completed, we started on this walk.

We crossed the Military Road (B6318) before starting up the hill to the public footpath, on the way to the Winshield Crags, the highest point of Hadrian’s Wall.  Some of the group led by Ruth passed the footpath we were taking.  This wasn’t a problem, as the path they followed took them to the same point.  We got to the trig point at the top of the hill and when those of us further back caught up, we were met by lots of chatter between our group and some walkers who were visiting from Canada.  These walkers very kindly took our group shot before Ruth returned the gesture.

Continuing the walk and retracing our steps, we followed the remnants of the wall to the East.  Anne took a detour into the next field as she had spotted some field mushrooms.

Steel Rigg

We got to Steel Rigg and this was our first glimpse of the wall proper.  It looked daunting as it is quite a climb to the top.  Everyone was encouraged to take their time to the top.  I went ahead and Ruth brought up the rear.

Milecastle 39

We followed the wall, passing milecastle 39.  A milecastle is a small rectangular fort (fortlet).  They were placed at intervals of approximately one Roman mile along several major frontiers, hence the name.

Sycamore Gap

At this point we had walked approximately 2 mile.  Everyone said it felt like further.  Another half a mile later and we could see Sycamore Gap from the high vantage point.  It doesn’t disappoint.  We took the chance to stop for a snack/lunch under the tree.

I used my new Jacwicks Designs perch www.jacwicksdesigns.co.uk whilst watching Ruth and Andy come down the hill.  Andy lost his footing slightly and fell back onto his bottom.  I ran up the hill to check he was okay.  Thankfully he was and he made the rest of the descent safely.

Lots of photos were taken at the iconic tree.  Easily the silliest comment of the day was “what sort of tree is it?  Is it an oak?” not mentioning any names.

Crag Lough

The last hill took us to a point where we had a view of Crag Lough.  Unfortunately we weren’t able to take in the view for long, as a heavy rain shower hit.  This area is totally open to the elements, so everyone pushed on as I went back to let Ruth know the plans.  The group got to the small wooded area, where they were sheltered from the rain, but luckily for us it had stopped.  Whilst we waited for everyone to catch up I identified some wood sorrel and everyone tried some.

The quick rain shower had made some of the stones through the wooded area slippery and Anne was the one to slip.  Thankfully she was unhurt, apart from a broken box in her rucksack.  We came out of this area without any further mishaps.

The Way Back

From here we were out in open fields on our way back to The Sill.  I took most of the group ahead and Ruth followed with Andy, Jude and Chris.

Once back to The Sill I did the cooldown with the group who had got back quickly and waited for the others before replicating the cooldown again.

I hope everyone enjoyed this beautiful, if challenging, walk and I look forward to seeing you all at a future walk.

Julie x


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Wall and Heavenfield Recce 2nd September 2018

A free Sunday gave me a chance to recce the Wall and Heavenfield walk.  I previously guided this walk a few years ago and decided to add this shorter but very varied walk to our programme.

The Walk

I started by walking through the village and up through fields to Fallowfield Farm.  From here the walk takes us to Heavenfield and the beautiful St Oswald’s Church.  Within the grounds there is an information board identifying the Cheviots to the North.

From here I visited the 15 metre-long section of Hadrian’s Wall, called Planetrees,  A short section of woodland brought me to a minor road and back to Wall.

This is a beautiful 5 mile walk with lots to see.

Wall

The village of Wall in North Northumberland takes its name from nearby Hadrian’s Wall.

A focal point in the village is the outstanding Church dedicated to St.Michael.

The church occupies a quiet position in a picturesque tree-lined churchyard.

In the centre of the village is The Hadrian Inn, a 19th-century ivy-clad hotel.  This is where we will be going for refreshments after the walk.

Heavenfield

The village stands near the site of the Battle of Heavenfield.

The Welsh army under Cadwallon ap Cadfan attacked Oswald’s army.  Oswald was King of Bernicia, part of the Northumbrian kingdom.   The armies met around AD 633 and the result was a decisive victory for Oswald.  As a consequence of his victory, Oswald was able to unite the Northumbrian kingdoms of Bernicia and Deira under his rule.

A settlement grew up at Heavenfield, with its own church. The villagers of Wall had to walk the 1.5 miles to worship at Heavenfield.  In 1896 the Victorian church of St George was built on the village green and replaced an earlier cottage thatched with heather.

Several interesting sections of Hadrian’s Wall run close to the village. Just to the north is Brunton Turret, and to the northwest is a milecastle.  Chesters Roman Fort  is a mile away.

St Oswald’s Church

The present building is probably the third on the site of what is believed to be the location where King Oswald (604-642) raised a large wooden cross before the Battle of Heavenfield (AD 635).  There is a wooden cross in the place  near the assumed site of the original cross.

A Short Description of the Church

St. Oswald’s stands in a churchyard set in the middle of a field.

The church itself has a simple chancel which is divided at the west end into a vestry, the rest being the body of the church.  On the roof there is a simple belfry-arch for the single bell, rung during services.  There is an unusual feature of a sundial on the south wall.

The interior is of limewashed stone without any plaster, with a font set near a Roman altar that had been re-used as a cross base .

The most unusual feature to the 21st century visitor is the gas-lighting with its mantles and glass-shielded burners in the roof, and the candle-holders set in the walls.  These and the old American harmonium show that St Oswald’s has never been connected to electricity, mains gas or water supplies, and witness the modest background of this tiny church.

An excellent display on the history of both the church and the battlefield is in the vestry.

Planetrees

This length of wall is important for what it reveals about a change of plan that took place during the construction of the Wall.  The Wall’s width was narrowed from 10 to 8 Roman feet – probably to speed up building.  At Planetrees the narrower Wall sits on top of broader foundations.

I hope to see you at the Wall and Heavenfield walk on 23rd September.

Julie


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Blanchland – 1st September 2018

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Here we were at Blanchland for the third time this year and the second time in a week.  This time it was for the walk though and not a recce.

We welcomed a new walker to our group, Chris.  He is Sylvia’s husband.  Sylvia had come on her first walk with us earlier in the year and had enjoyed it so much that she recommended it to her husband, who decided to try it out.  Juno, the Border Terrier would also be with us again.

As The White Monk Tea Room didn’t open until 10:30, the time that we were scheduled to begin the walk, we had to use the facilities in the village and settle for a takeaway tea from the Post Office.

Rowan

Before we had started, Anne had disappeared.  Whilst still wondering where she had gone, she reappeared with a carrier bag full of something.  It turned out to be Rowan berries and probably about 2kg of them.  She was intent on making a Rowan jelly of some kind.  Foraging would be today’s theme.

Once everyone had arrived, we warmed up and then set off for the hills and moors of Blanchland.

Mushrooms

Julie is really interested in wild mushrooms, so on the way round she picked anything that remotely resembled a wild mushroom.  She was ably assisted by the group who pointed them out whenever they spotted one.

Lunch

BlanchlandCarriersWay - BlanchlandWalk01092018M-9.jpegWe sat down for lunch at Riddlehamhope, about half way through the walk.  It had been a little cloudy in the morning but, as we sat down, the sun came out.  We were bathed in warming sunshine as we ate our lunch.  Lovely!

At this point, Julie uncovered her mushroom treasure.  Anne, Martin and Julie had their heads in mushroom books, trying to identify the types.  We don’t know a great deal about mushrooms, apart from the obvious ones.  It looked like there were various types of Bolete’s and Blewit’s, but we weren’t confident.  It didn’t really matter, as this was just practising for fun and none of them would be eaten.

BlanchlandCarriersWay - BlanchlandWalk01092018M-6.jpegWe set off after lunch for the fell top and the beautiful views over the Tyne Valley.  We reminded Claire what could be seen in the far distance.  Yes, it was her favourite walk, The Cheviot.  She has fond memories of that one, or is it nightmares.  We can’t quite remember.

A dog’s life

BlanchlandCarriersWay - BlanchlandWalk01092018M-15.jpegOn joining the Carriers’ Way we had to follow paths through heather.  This was great fun for Juno, as they were like tunnels for a little dog.  Continuing on over the fell we reached the shooting hut at Blackburn Head. We had a little rest here and a look in the hut.

Leaving the hut, we came to a stile over a fence.  Juno didn’t want to go under the fence and decided to go through the fence.

Sloe progress

BlanchlandCarriersWay - BlanchlandWalk01092018J-FB-5.jpgTowards the end of the walk, we ended up back on the path that we had started on.  Anne had her eye on some Sloe bushes that she had seen on the way out.  She sped of to ensure that she got there first and got the best of the berries.  Many of us helped her out and managed to get over a kilo.  Enough for Anne’s Sloe Gin recipe.

We finished the walk back in the car park and cooled down as usual.  Then it was off to the tea room for a cuppa and a bite to eat.  A lovely way to round off the day.

Thanks for coming along and see you on the next one.

Julie and Martin


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September Newsletter

The September newsletter has been sent out.  Don’t forget to click the link.

I hope you enjoy reading it.  If you would like it delivered direct to your inbox please sign up on the website.

I look forward to seeing you soon.

Julie x

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Blanchland Recce Number 2 – 26th August 2018

The last time that we checked out the route for the Newbiggin and the Carriers’ Way (Blanchland) walk was back in March of this year (First Blanchland recce).  We were planning on doing that walk the weekend after the Recce.  However, plans had to change when we found that the snow on the moor was over two feet deep in places, making it very hard going and extremely difficult to navigate.  It was too dangerous to take people out on.  So, we set the new date for this walk as the 1st September.

Confident that the snow had definitely gone, after a lovely hot summer, we decided that we should walk it again to make sure that everything would be OK.

The White Monk Tea Room

We started as we usually mean to go on with a visit to the local tea room at Blanchland.  The White Monk Tea Room is in an old school house in the centre of Blanchland village.  A nice pot of tea and a cake is perfect preparation to set out on this walk.  Tea and cake consumed, off we went.

Baybridge

Passing the car park entrance we climb up towards Cote House Farm.  This has the advantages of being a bit safer than walking on the road and giving the first great view over the River Derwent valley, towards Baybridge.  Walking across the field, we saw what we think were Fairy Ring Champignon.  They are reputed to be very tasty.

We descended through a field to Baybridge.  This is a very peaceful and pretty little village, with some very nice houses.  On approaching the village we saw a large bird.  It disappeared, but soon reappeared again in the wood, just up the private road, that we follow.  It was a very impressive and large Barn Owl.

Gibraltar

Out of Baybridge, we quickly climb up onto the side of the fell.  A little way along, Gibraltar is visible.  Not the peninsular off the coast of Spain, but the farm on the other side of the valley.

The last time we came this way, there were trees along Beldon Side.  However, a fair bit of logging has taken place.  The woods were nice but the views are much improved without the trees.

Soon after this we reached the point where we took pictures of our poles earlier this year.  Here is a comparison of the same place then and now.

Lunch

08 - BlanchlandRecce250818M-26.jpegFurther along, we came to Riddlehamhope.  There’s a lovely walled area of woodland here.  It’s very pleasant and would normally be a great place for lunch.  However, just past this, is a field of lush grass with incredible views.  This was our lunch stop and a very pleasant one it was.

The Carriers’ Way

08 - BlanchlandRecce250818M-22.jpegLunch over, we carried on.  It’s not far to where we join the Carriers’ Way, on Hope Fell.  Here we saw quite and impressive ram, looking proud of his curly horns.

We stepped over the fence expecting to see the clear path that we couldn’t see last time.  No such luck.  All we could see was what looked like a bunch of sheep tracks through the thick heather.  We just followed the one going in the general direction that we wanted to go.  Luckily, this eventually lead to the right place but certainly didn’t follow the right of way.  It’s open access land, so that didn’t matter so much.

Beldon Cleugh

08 - BlanchlandRecce250818M-21.jpegBeldon Cleugh is a remnant of the ice age, as a glacier created this ‘S’ shaped feature.  There is also a peat bog up here too.

We descended into Beldon Cleugh, through the overgrown bracken.  This is definitely a long trouser walk.  At the bottom, there is a boardwalk leading up to a stile.  The stile is missing an extra rung (maybe it never had one) that makes it a bit difficult to get over, but get over we did.

From here we follow the  Carriers’ Way up towards Beldon End Plantation.  Here the path becomes unclear again, but a little searching showed a path.  This was good enough until we found the Carriers’ Way proper again.

Blackburn Head

The Carriers’ Way is clear from Beldon End Plantation.  The views are fantastic up here.  We were able to see the Cheviot hills in the distance and, closer, we could see Hexham Racecourse.

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08 - BlanchlandRecce250818M-15.jpegThe next feature is Blackburn Head.  There is a road here that leads back to the path we followed up the fell earlier.  There is also a shooting bothy here, to accommodate the shooting parties in the grouse shooting season.  However, the shortage of grouse might mean that shooting is cancelled here.  We took a look in the bothy.  It’s a typical shooting bothy and is quite a well kept one.  There was also a small tin roofed offshoot, rather less salubrious but still kitted with  benches and table.  This room was actually warmer that the main room.

Birkside Fell

The last leg is across Birkside Fell.  We followed the Carriers’ Way as far as the way marker towards Birkside.  We followed this path, which opens onto a lovely grassy path once off the fell, down to Birkside.  Further down we found an area of Rowan.  The looked great with their bright red berries festooning them.  Through the fields and down the road, we returned to the car park, spotting some sloe bushes on the way.

Shoes changed and stretches done, we rewarded ourselves with refreshments at the Lord Crew Arms.

Hope to see you at the walk on 1st September.

Julie and Martin


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