Wylam and Ovingham – 10th February 2019

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We all met up in Wylam. This was only a small group, so we promptly did a warm up and were on our way. The weather was remarkable for a February day, sunny and relatively warm, especially in the sun.

We set off towards Newburn at a good pace and it didn’t take long to get there. Once there we decided that a cup of tea was in order. The tea shop was very busy but it was lovely outside, so we decided to sit by the river.

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The next leg of the walk passed one of the boat clubs on this part of the river and then crossed the bridge at Newburn. It was great to see all of the rowers out on the river. We then followed the river back upstream on the opposite side and on towards Wylam.

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At Wylam two of our walkers dropped out and the rest carried on to Low Prudhoe. This section was interesting as it was effectively over industrial spoil heaps from the war when ICI manufactured fertiliser. These heaps are called the Spetchells and are made of chalk. This chalk environment is unique in Northumberland and many flora and fauna that would normally only be found in the South of England, can be found here.

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On reaching Low Prudhoe we visited the Riverside Cafe in the Tyne Riverside Country Park. We enjoyed a slightly overdue lunch with several of us having the amazing ham broth and cheese scone.

Keen to get back and off to the final tea room of the day, we speeded off and covered the three miles back to the car park in record time.

We finished off at Daniel Farm Shop and Tea Room, before heading home.

Look forward to seeing you again soon.

Julie & Martin


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Strolls with poles – Nordic Walking for Fun and Fitness

Howick Hall Gardens – 17th February 2019

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This was an unusual walk as we started with a guided tour of the gardens with Peter, a volunteer at Howick Hall Gardens.  Peter was incredibly knowledgeable about the trees within the gardens, explaining how they are labelled, where they come from and who has collected the seeds.  We walked through the sensory garden, provided by the Autism Society and around the blankets of snowdrops.

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We completed the morning with a visit to St Michael’s and All Angels Church. Peter gave us the history of some of the tombs within the graveyard.

We said thank you and goodbye to Peter and went to the Earl Grey Teahouse for lunch.  As usual Martyn was unlucky in that the cheese scones had sold out.

The afternoon saw most of us head over the road to the arboretum, following the route for the long walk.  We reached the pond where we saw swans, eider ducks (also known as Cuddy ducks), 7 herons, 2 buzzards and 5 roe deer.

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We finished off the day with another visit to the Teahouse, where we enjoyed a cream tea of fruit scones, clotted cream and blackcurrant jam.  Delicious.

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

Julie x


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Strolls with poles – Nordic Walking for Fun and Fitness

Learn to Nordic Walk at Wallington – 9th February 2019

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This was the first “Learn to Nordic Walk at Wallington”. So, it was not only a learning experience for the walkers but for us too. We met everyone in the Visitors Centre and introduced ourselves to them. It turned out that one of the ladies was Polish, giving another meaning to Strolls With Poles. We gathered their details before giving them a little instruction on how to attach themselves to the poles and explaining the origin of Nordic walking.



The training was to take place on the green near the coffee shop. On reaching there, Julie taught the first 6 steps of the technique, with Anne helping to demonstrate, including some partner exercises before letting them try out the technique.

The river walk

Once they had mastered the basics, it was time to try it out for real. Martin lead the group out of the grounds and into the gardens. Some of the walkers, that hadn’t been to Wallington before, were already remarking how beautiful the gardens are and it’s still winter. We headed down towards the river but quickly found that we needed to make a diversion. The river was high and the stepping stones were under water. Luckily, there is a road that runs down to the bridge, where it’s possible to cross the river and rejoin the river path.

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We followed the river path from the bridge. Already, some of the group were commenting about how the poles made a difference, especially with hills. Along the way, Julie and Dave spotted 3 deer. This group of deer are known to roam the area by the river.

Towards the end of the walk, there are a couple of hills, to test the technique. They all managed them with ease.

Martin lead the group in front of the house and towards the dragon heads, that can be seen as you approach Wallington. The last group photograph of the day was taken and we went off to cool down.

The coffee shop

Everyone took advantage of the coffee shop to warm up and enjoy refreshments, before saying their goodbyes and going off to investigate Wallington further.

We hope you enjoyed the session and look forward to seeing you all again on another walk.

Julie & Martin x


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Strolls with poles – Nordic Walking for Fun and Fitness

Chopwell Woods – 27th January 2019

We arrived at Chopwell Woods early with everyone looking forward to a good day of walking. When everyone arrived, we did the usual warm up before setting off.

The morning walk

The intention was to follow the red route (River Route), in the leaflet from The Forestry Commission, followed by the green route (Boundary Walk). The’re weren’t any red markers making it was difficult to follow however a great route was found and it was a lovely walk. The woodland and views were spectacular and we saw a few Red Kites at the Bird of Prey viewpoint. We came back to the car park for lunch. Whilst standing in the shelter we realised that the red route had been changed, according to the information board.

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The afternoon walk

After lunch we set off following the green walk. The scenery is significantly different to the dense woodland on the southern part of the morning walk. This part is mainly to the North of the wood and higher up the hill. Parts of this section followed the old railway line through the wood. Further on we passed an information board and decided to investigate. We found some coal tubs in a small cutting. This was an old route used to transport coal, using a track-way, according to the information board. The day was getting on and people were tiring so we made our way back to the car park, where we cooled down and debated which tea shop to visit.

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The tea shop

It was decide that we should go to one of our favourite tea rooms at the Thornley Woodland Centre. Off we went for the traditional tea/coffee, cakes and whatever else. It was excellent, as usual.

Well done everyone on a difficult walk you all did brilliantly.

Look forward to seeing you soon.

Julie x


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Strolls with poles – Nordic Walking for Fun and Fitness

Herrington Country Park and Penshaw Monument – 19th January 2019

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This was our longest walk on the programme so far this year and would take us around Herrington Country Park before heading towards Penshaw Monument and down to walk along the River Wear.

As we started we spotted another group of Nordic walkers who we would see later on in the morning.

We started walking in the Country Park, around the lake and visiting the Miners Memorial Garden and sculptures along the way. Various group photos were taken at these points.

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Crossing the main road and heading up the hill towards Penshaw Monument there were a few cows and bullocks who are obviously used to people and dogs as they didn’t even lift their heads.

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There is a well placed seat half way up the hill and an opportunity for a group photo with the iconic Penshaw Monument as the backdrop. We walked down to the River Wear.

Anne had been walking along the River earlier this week and had seen a kingfisher. Kiirsty was so excited and hoped we would see it again. Otters and seals had also been spotted along and everyone kept their eyes wide open in the hope of spotting them, unfortunately with no luck.

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As we stopped for lunch down by the River there were squeals of delight from Kirsty, Anne, Chris and Diane as they had spotted the kingfisher.

Following the River we passed a boat which had been wrecked during the Beast from the East.

Part of the route was the old railway line and the pace was picked up especially by Kirsty and Chris. The beauty of a disused railway line is that it is flat which was just as well as we were about to have a challenge walking up the hill to Penshaw Monument.

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We ended the walk back at Herrington Country Park with a cool down and stretch. Some of us went to Penshaw Tea Room where we had to wait a while for a table but we were rewarded with our delicious sandwiches and cake.

Well done everyone on a difficult walk you all did brilliantly.

Look forward to seeing you soon.

Julie x

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Hauxley Nature Reserve – 13th January 2019

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A short teaching session started this shorter walk as we had 3 new walkers, Sue, Pete and Emma joining us.

The rest of the group met up with us and after a warm up we headed down towards Druridge beach and pushed on with techniques getting better as we powered on.

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The Northumberland coast has many WW2 coastal defences (tank traps) and we walked past more of these remarkable structures.

On heading back to the Nature Reserve, Pete and Sue mentioned how they were feeling their shoulders and arms and Emma commented on how much better her posture was. In their first walk they were seeing and feeling instant positives.

We completed the walk by walking around the whole of the Nature Reserve. We spotted a group of twitchers very excited and interested by a bird. I asked what they were watching. They answered with “eider ducks” as they hadn’t seen them often. Martyn said that these ducks in Northumberland are commonly called Cuddy ducks, named after Cuthbert.

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On reaching the cars we did a stretch and cool down before heading into The Lookout Cafe for cake and tea.

It was fantastic to see everyone again and to welcome Pete, Sue and Emma and I hope to see you all soon.

Julie x

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Newbiggin by the Sea and River Wansbeck – 6th January 2019

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The first walk of 2019 saw us visit the town of Newbiggin by the Sea. It was great to welcome everyone back and also Christine’s daughter Stacey, who was with us for her first walk.

Whilst waiting for everyone to arrive we admired the Couples structure standing on the breakwater off Newbiggin by the Sea.

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We warmed up and headed towards the beach. We walked past some bollards topped with puffin statues. Cue first group shot of the day.

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Once down onto the very soft sand. We moved closer to the waters edge to try and find some firmer sand. Walking on soft sand is very difficult and really works your glutes and legs. The beach is very short so we headed up onto the England Coast Path.

The Coast Path passes through the Sandy Bay Caravan Park which was closed up for the winter so was very quiet.

After passing through the caravan park we moved down to the edge of the River Wansbeck before we walked along the pathway passing under the A189 towards Cambois Rowing Club.

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We took the opportunity to stop for lunch by the river before heading back along the same route. The weather was unseasonably warm and a few of us discarded our jackets and were down to t-shirts.

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As we came back to Newbiggin by the Sea we stayed up on the promende and stopped at the smaller version of the couple statue and another group photo was taken.

The Newbiggin Maritime Centre was to be our final stop before heading home.

Thank you everyone for joining me and I hope to see you all at another walk.

Julie x

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Exciting News – Wallington Hall

We have some very exciting news. 

From February we will be working in partnership with the National Trust at Wallington Hall providing beginner Nordic walking sessions once a month initially. 

The sessions will include a short training session followed by a 2 mile walk around part of Wallington’s grounds.

The dates we have are:

Saturday 9 February
Saturday 9 March
Saturday 13 April
Sunday 12 May
Sunday 9 June
Sunday 7 July
We hope you can join us at this amazing venue.
Julie x


January Newsletter

The January 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 January newsletter

Simonside Christmas Walk – 8th December 2018

ChristmasWalk - ChristmasWalk_08122018M-11.jpg We met in the traditional Christmas Walk starting point, Cowhaugh Car Park.  This was the last walk of 2018 and the anniversary of the first Strolls with Poles walk.  What a great day to celebrate with a lovely walk up Simonside. Christmas greetings were swapped.  Ruth handed out Pine Cone Elves, as she wasn’t doing Christmas Cards.  Julie handed out the special mulled wine Strolls With Poles lollies.   A quick warm-up was definitely in order, as it was a little chilly.  Off we went.

The first climb

ChristmasWalk - ChristmasWalk_08122018M-10.jpgJust to warm people up we followed the road up towards Whitton.   Not too steep but enough to get the hearts pumping, ready for the next one.  The view from the gate at Whitton is one of my favourite views of Rothbury, on the other side of the valley.

The second climb

ChristmasWalk - ChristmasWalk_08122018M-1.jpgWe followed the road up to Whittondean and the onto the second climb from here to Lordenshaw car park.  This is a grassy slope but arguably the most difficult climb, even harder than Simonside itself.  Everyone made it though and, hopefully, felt better for it.  Kirsty went off to look at the cup and ring markings that are just off the path.

The third climb

The third climb is up from Lordenshaw to Dove Crag, on Simonside.  We stopped at the car park for a group photo before the climb.  This path goes via the Beacon, where some of us took a little shelter from the wind.

Dove Crag

Finally, we arrived at Dove Crag.  Just round the back of the crag was the decorated Christmas tree, the purpose of our walk.  We gathered and got the picnic out on a makeshift rock table.  There was crisps, chocolate gingers, Ruth’s famous lemon drizzle cake, stollen, fudge, and, of course, Martin’s mince pies and mulled wine. We enjoyed the fayre and gathered for a picture around the tree.  After standing and sitting still for over half an hour we were all feeling the cold bite.  Best to get going and out of the wind.  We headed off the side of Dove Crag and towards the woods.

The woods

We descended into the woods.  It was surprising how much warmer it felt out of the wind and several of us had to remove hats and gloves for the first time in the walk. At the picnic area we stopped to meet another Nordic walker, Jude, who couldn’t make the full walk.  She joined us to complete the last two miles of the walk, back into Rothbury.

The way home

ChristmasWalk - ChristmasWalk_08122018M-13.jpgLeaving the picnic area, we took the path towards Whitton Hillhead Farm.  This is the easy part of the walk as it has a relatively shallow gradient all the way back.  It also helps being able to see our destination almost all the way back. Along the way we could see the Cheviot, in the distance.  No snow on it’s top but covered in cloud as it often is.

Tea time

We arrived back at Cowhaugh car park and did our cool down.  Then off to Tomlinson’s Cafe for tea.  Luckily there were just enough chairs for us.  We enjoyed the great cakes, scones, tea and coffee. Thanks for walking with us in 2018.  See you in 2019. Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year. Julie and Martin xx


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