Saturday, 2 June 2012

The Searchers................(June 1st)
 is one of John Wayne's more interesting films. Made in 1956 it tells the tale of Ex-Confederate soldier Ethan Edwards (John Wayne) as he searches for his niece who has been captured  as a child by Comanches.
It is loosely based on the true tale of Cynthia Parker, captured as a child in 1830s Texas and brought up by the Comanches. She married a chief and had three children, one of whom grew to be Quanah Parker, Comanche chief. Cynthia was eventually captured and returned to her family. She died, longing to return to her nomadic tribe. Quanah lived into the twentieth century, built a large house and entertained lavishly - and Theodore Rooseveldt.*
I first saw this film in Fort McMurray, north Alberta. There were more First Nations in the audience than whites and they cheerfully booed John Wayne as I sank deeper into my seat.
  All we were searching for was a bacon butty; first we tried the village of Longframlington which did not have a cafe, so no flitches. Then we drove back to Longhorsely which offered sandwiches and tea but only to be eaten outside. (It was cold)
One flitch. Finally we went to Rothbury and called at the Elm House Cafe for bacon and tea. The staff were very friendly, the bacon was fine, so was the tea, but the sandwich came in sliced brown bread, not a roll, so 3.5 flitches.
  At last the walk:
Three gadgies out today, me, Brian the punmeister and Dave the vogelmeister. Other gadgies are attending family functions or working.
  We are having a relatively gentle walk round Thrunton  Woods in Northumberland.
To get there from Newcastle take the  familiar A1, familiar A697 and take the left fork at the sign saying Thrunton Woods. After about a mile and a half there is a car park, picnic site and information board describing the walks in the woods. There are four, we have chosen the longest, the Four Crags walk, red trail, three booter and possibly muddy and one steep section. A map could be useful although the trails are clearly marked on posts. OS Explorer 332 covers the woods and more. The car park is at GR085097

                                        The car park for Thrunton Woods.
  Enter the wood just to the right of the Information Board and after about 100 yards take the footpath to the right, following the red arrow. After walking north for about a half mile turn left and remain on the woodland path past Wedderburn's Hole to the first crag, Thrunton Crag.

                       It is a woodland walk in part, in this part mostly conifers,
                                       planted in straight lines too. Very dull.
  In spite of this being a Forestry Commision wood, unlike some of their small forests, there is some ground cover making it more interesting and also on this section of the walk there are view points just off the footpath offering magnificent northern views of  Northumberland. Sadly the skies were overcast but the views were still good.

                               Not the best of days for photography.
Shortly after Thrunton Crag it is decision time.   As you emerge from the wood there is a red marker pointing south. However, on the right is a kissing gate, go this way, passing Callaly Crag,  and follow a narrow footpath past Hard Nab to a large cairn which makes an suitable Herbiespot. Looking to the north is Callaly hamlet and Callaly Castle.
 Kindly Dave had brought pork pie to add to sandwiches and coffee, a leisurely lunch, it wasn't so long since the bacon breakfast. Cave, donning his archaeologists mantle decided the cairn probably was an ancient burial cairn, well it gets Gothic script on the map.
 The path from the cairn heads down hill, a few degrees east of south and alongside a wood. At the bottom of the hill it is possible to take a short cut across by crossing a stile and heading east but that is not the way of the gadgie. Instead we took the rather steep and muddy and boulder strewn path up the other side of the valley. Having reached the ridge the path turns east to pass more crags. The first is Long Crag which also has a Trig Point. From a distance we could see a small bird sitting on the point. Dave, the vogelmeister did not recognise it but Brian, as sharp as ever claimed it to be Trig-warbler. Crossing moorland the path next comes to Coe Crags which have views north over the wood and south west towards Simonside.
                                   Dave on one of the Coe Crags......
                                       ......... and Brian on another

 Leaving the crags the path goes downhill quite steeply to the Coe Burn, which fortunately has a footbridge. A few yards beyond the bridge it is possible to turn right back to the road or turn left on the forest track and follow it as we did through a mixture of conifer plantations and areas where the trees have been cut down.  Not being sure I asked the vogelmeister what types of tree the conifers were. He reckoned they were Sitka Spruce, Lodge pole pines and Norwegian Spruce. "Norwegian Wood eh" I exclaimed.
"Yes, " he quipped, "it's a pine record."  Work it out yourself .
Some areas of the wood appeared to have been burned, some cleared and in some patches, deciduous trees were growing, birch and rowan and holly. Much nicer than coniferous plantations.
 The forest track meandered uphill, then down and back to the car park.
Good old Higear recorded the walk as 8.7 miles. The footpath App recorded not only a map but claimed the walk was 8.4 miles, both somewhat short of the 10 the Information Board claimed. Nevertheless another fine walk we got ourselves into.
On the way home we stopped at the Anlers Arms, Weldon Bridge. On offer; Speckled Hen, Ruddles or Abbot. I chose Abbot. This pub gets five barrels, always has good beer, always has friendly staff and one day we shall stay there.
Considering we walked through woodland we did not see a lot of birds, although we heard them. From the crags we looked down on a pair of buzzards and we saw dhaffinches and blackbirds. Brian maintains he saw a twite. They are interesting, have tattoos and carry iphones. At least I think he said twite.

  Contains O.S. data. copyright. Crown copyright and data base copyright 2012
Book of the blog, which has nothing to do with walking;
Empire of the Summer Moon by S.C. Gwynne. A history of the Comanche v Texans from about 1830 onwards, much about Cynthia Parker and her son Quanah.