Friday, 17 November 2017

Oh, no! Not another repeat...Alnham (Northumberland) November 17th.
 Winter walks tend to be nearer home, there's less daylight. Today's gadgie walk is from Alnham and again it's a repeat although I don't think  we have done it for some time.
Alnham is a tiny village on the edge of the Northumberland National Park. To find take A1 north, A697 at Morpeth, turn of for Whittingham and follow signs down narrow lanes. The village has a few houses, a hall a church dating to the 12th century but largely rebuilt in 1870, a green mound that was a castle destroyed by the Scots and a fine example of an Iron Age Hill Fort.
There are nine  out today, a noctet? a novgadge?: Brian, John x 3, Ben, Harry, Dave, Ray and me. Breakfast in Tomlinsons of Rothbury again, we are becoming regulars.
The map for the walk is OS Explorer 16, The Cheviot Hills.  The church is at GR NT990109 approx.
 There is not a car park at the church but it is permitted to park on the grass verge, free.
                   St Michaels church Alnham> By the lych gate there are the stumps of two medieval crosses.
The walk;
Just beyond the church and Tower House there is a footpath on the right, initially crossing a stream, and heading uphill in a lane. At the end of the lane the path crosses, still in a roughly north west direction. At the end of the field the path turns north and crosses moorland before turning to the corner of the wood at Cobden. There are a number of paths, quad bike tracks and trails in the area, take care to stay on the right path! Given time you can look for the memorial stone to Nellie Heron, the lady who sadly died on the moor in the 19th century as she walked home from Alnham to Hartside. (Looking for Nellie Heron, October 2015)
From the corner of Cobden we walked down to Alnhamoor Farm, usually a Herbie Spot but on this occasion we chose to push on, too soon after the bacon sandwich or toasted teacake at Tomlinsons.
                  The farm at Alnhamoor

Although it looks a little like a Katushka rocket launcher it is for launching discs of clay for shooting practise.
Passing the farm we headed west crossing a stream by means of a footbridge made from two old railway sleepers. The path, which is marked occasionally, heads uphill, and today it headed into a strong, cold wind. Again there are several tracks to follow and we probably wandered off the real one but we eventually met the Salter's Road Track at Little Dod. The well made track heads south east and downhill, and out of the wind too. At a bend in the track, where there was a high bank to offer shelter we called a Hebie Spot.
             Herbie time in the light rain; Pork pie, ginger cake, hobnobs, cake, ginger biscuits and a sandwich.
Lunch over we continued on the track, crossed a ford and headed uphill. At Green Knowe the path goes through a plantation and emerges at the wonderfully named Ewarty Shank farmhouse. Going through the farm yard, protected by barking dogs, we came to a stile and marker that took us  across an extremely boggy piece of land. As a recommended alternative there is a metalled farm track which we met at the point marked CG on the map.(Cattle Grid) At this point John Ha and I decided to stick to the road, having had enough of Lauder Grass (qv) and bog. After about two miles we were back at the church. The rest of the team took off along the Salter's Road Track and reached the cars a little later, giving John and I some time to look round the tiny church.
On the way home we stopped at the Anglers Arms for a change. Today's offerings were Spitfire, Bombardier and Black Sheep, or coffee for the drivers of course.

Matrix MMXVII                                              N3

                                                                                   steps                               miles
NAK                                                                          25692                              10.5 (too much)
iPhone                                                                        22326                                9.4
OUTDOOR GPS                                                                                                  9.4
Dave's 3D                                                                   23709                             11.14 (longer walk)
  ""        USB                                                               22642                             11.1
 ""          NAK                                                             22511                              11.01
Sylvia's mother                                                           23452                              11.47
Brian                                                                                                                   10.97
John C                                                                                                                 10.5
Contains OS data Copyright Crown copyright and data base right 2017

Monday, 13 November 2017

Walking with the gadgette, Volume 6, November
   On Friday November 10th the team had a gentle coastal walk based on Craster, I think.
I wasn't with them as my wife and I flew off to Spain for a holiday in the relatively warm sun.
We flew to Malaga and were taken about 60 miles east to Almunecar on the Mediterranean coast. A small town, possibly founded by the Phoenicians, later occupied by the Romans. When they went the Vandals hit the area but were driven out by the Moors, invading from Africa and staying until the end of the 15th century. Andalusia, the land of the Vandals!
Almunecar has a population of about 27000, but in summer when the blocks of holiday apaertments fill the population increases to about 140000. Not surprisingly this November week being the end of the season, most of the restaurants and bars are closed. Pretty town though, with:

Boules (petanque) on the beach on Sunday morning. This is the first division, the non league teams played further down the strand.

                              Tourist office, closed. Once the home of a sugar plantation family. This area of Spain apparently was once a sugar cane area but Christopher Columbus took the plants to the Caribbean and very slowly, over several hundred years the local sugar mills closed one by one. Non left now, shame, they made rum.

                     The Romans had a fish salting factory here.
                  The promenade at Almunecar has beautiful tiled benches
Not being pool dwellers we took the opportunity to join other oldies on a bus trip to Salobrena, not too far away. (I estimate the average age of the hotel guests as being 70 +/-2)
We walked up zig zag streets to the castle above the town. The old houses dated back to the days of the Moors. Manuel the guide (yes he was aware of Fawlty Towers) explained in his excellent English that Moorish houses had no external windows but were built round an inner courtyard, the original patio. When they were ejected by the Christians the new owners put windows in the outer walls, but as the streets were narrow this led to burglary so they put iron grills over the windows!
Nice little town though, with:
                                        A fine  castle overlooking town and sea.
                   Moors were very clean apparently, washing for hygienic and religious reasons, unlike the Christians who kicked them out.
A second trip was to the Alhambra Palace and the city of Granada. After the Prado gallery in Madrid the palace is the second most visited place in Spain, not surprising really.
Started in 889 AD on the site of a Roman fort it was extensively rebuilt in the 13th century by the Sultan. It remained a Moorish Palace until 1492 when the Christians ejected them, took it over as a home for Ferdinand and Isabella, the royal couple who financed Columbus, the man responsible for ruining the sugar trade in Spain and discovering America. The palace grounds originally included a mosque which was demolished and replaced with a church. But the palace retains its Arabic style and d├ęcor, no pictures of humans or animals, acres of beautiful tiling, moulded plaster decorations, colonades and reflecting pools. Some of the columns had thin inserts of lead at the top and bottom to act as cushions when earthquakes occurred. Thirteenth century Arabic genius.
A quick trip round the palace:
                        Reflecting pool
                             View of part of the palace
                Sadly the concrete dome collapsed, otherwise it would possibly be bigger than Rome's Pantheon
                                  ....... patterns
            Animals! There's always an exception. This fountain, the story goes, was presented to the sultan by a wealthy Jew. Each sheep represents one of the twelve tribes of Israel.
                                  Moulded ceiling
                                  Moulded wall decorations
                                           Moorish bath houses, hot rooms, cold rooms
                             View of the walls of Granada from the palace.

Even sultans need toilets. It's the hole in the ground in the top picture, just above the square water tank
We had some time to explore Granada too. We took one of those road trains that give a grand tour, hop on and hop off .It was such fun we stayed on for two circuits. That apart Granada seemed just another city, with shops. But I liked this pawnbroker's sign:

A third trip was to the cave at Nerja. Rediscovered by five teenagers in the 1950s there is evidence of occupation for 40000 years. Unfortunately the cave drawings are not included in the area open to the public and flash photography is forbidden but my phone did quite a good job, better than my camera.
When stalactite meets stalagmite you get the biggest column in the world, according to the Guinness book of records. (StalaCtite grows from the Ceiling, stalagmite from the Ground, my Geography teacher told us)
We finished the day walking round the village of Frigiliana, high in the hills, narrow streets and steep paths.
                             Frigiliana street
                 The streets are too narrow for cars, and they are stepped. The mule was carrying building material up to a house.
A final day's outing was to the city of Almeria, 90 miles on the Mediterranean Motorway that runs from Gibraltar to the French border. (Built with EU money Manuel told us!)
The castle in Almeria is another Moorish structure, supposedly the biggest fortress in Europe. Like the other castles we visited it dominated the town. And like the Alhambra it had baths, similar to Roman ones. It took the Christians a while to catch up in the cleanliness stakes.

                               Almeria Castle, and baths.
Not a walking holiday then, but we averaged six miles a day according to the iphones.
And I had full English breakfast everyday!
Gadgie walks return next week.