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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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

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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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.

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Training

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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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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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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