Friday, 30 November 2012

Walking backwards near Christmas*

November 30th.
 This walk has been done before, in August,   (Canadas, Coots, Grey Lags and Grebes) but the days are short and we don't want to travel far so we are off up the A1, left on the A697 near Morpeth and turn left for Ingram just after Powburn. Cross the bridge and there is a carpark. .A map is useful, the walk is covered by OL Explorer 16 and 332 Alnwick and Amble. Two maps! Copy and laminate.  and the car park is at GR017163.

There are six of us out on this cold but bright  Friday, the last day in November; route, pun, vogel, halfmarathon, music and blogpie. Naturally we stopped for breakfast at the Village Tea Shop and Emporium near Powburn and ordered the usual bacon butties and tea. The bacon was slightly too salty for my taste but the others thought it fine. The bun was a little too soft and the tea arrived in two large pots, one a Chinese Willow Pattern which I haven;t seen I last had tea at my grandmas in 1949.
All older people had them, they came out on Sunday with the ham tea and tomato. (Yes that is singular).  The village tea shop and emprium was awarded 4 flitches.

                             Getting ready. A sure test of fitness for a gadgie is the ability to
                             put his underpants (shorts to you US guys) on without holding on
                             to anything for support. The route meister can do it but admits he
                             can't manage to put his socks on this way. I can do both.

 As I said this walk has been done before, several times but today we are walking  it in a clockwise direction i.e. backwards so that we come to the small nature conservation area first and get the best of the light and see what birds are on the ponds.  We left the car park and turned right on the road, crossing the bridge and walking about a mile in an easterly direction until we came to a long footbridge  over the river Breamish at Brandon.
                            The Breamish at Brandon, not to be confused with Branton.
Across the river we walked a few yards down the road and entered the conservation area by the gate on the left. These two former gravel pits have been transformed into a reserve for water birds and there are some otters too, although we never saw any today. The ponds were quiet although there was a number of ducks and geese on the water including teal, golden eye, goosanders, widgeon mute swans and a heron. The hide had little to offer, possibly because a number of people were out walking their dogs and disturbing the birds.  As we completed our circumnavigation of the water a skein of greylags appeared and noisily settled on the ponds.
                                All quiet on the western pond.

 Leaving the area by the gate we entered we crossed the road and climbed the stile into a field. The footpath went straight across it and so did we  until we turned left at the marker and contoured round the side of East Hill  until we arrived at Fawdon Farm. Because the sun is low but bright the old ridge and furrow systems are well picked out.

                                         Ridge and furrow. Experts like the vogelmeister can
                                         tell whether they are really old or merely medieval.

We followed the path through Fawdon and ascended Old Fawdon Hill, site of an ancient settlement but also giving a fine view of a settlement to the south east, complete with two types of ridge and furrow.

             Unnamed settlement to the south east of Old Fawdon Hill, r and f in the background.
             Ingram Valley was wellpopulated and a centre for agriculture centuries ago.
The trig point on top of the hill was declared a Herbiespot. I have reverted to my winter diet of Cornish Pasty and I am working on a lightweight microwave so I can heat and eat them. And yes, pork pie and ginger biscuits were on the menu plus Morrisons Apple Pies. Well done punmeister for guessing the make correctly.

Lunch over, and with a sun getting lower in the sky we followed the track in a south west direction down the hill to Rocky Burn. Across the burn, up the path to the track and then north west over Cochrane Pike. There are some strictly out of bounds area round here and it is advisable to stick to the official paths as there is quite a bit of game shooting going on. Over the Pike  we followed paths round the perimeter of a plantation before turning north east on a good track which led us back to the farm at Ingram, although we walked carefully as the temperature had hardly crossed the zero mark all day and there were patches of ice underfoot.

                             Not gloomy gadgies, but gadgies in the evening gloom.
The road past Ingram Farm led us back to the car park.
 Once changed we headed for a favourite watering hole, the Anglers Arms at Weldon Bridge where we were given the usual warm welcome and offered Directors or Abbot. We all drank Abbot except Harry who was driving and had coffee and a plateful of biscuits which we ate for him. Five barrels.


Hi gear is now in real danger,

                                                        steps                                miles
ASDA slim                                    20873                                 9.39
Daves Asda slim                            21083                                 9.90
LIDLUSB                                      20304                                  9.60
OUTDOORS GPS claimed 9.8 miles and Ben's bragometer 9.4

* In the late fifties and sixties a favourite British radio show was The Goons. Three ex servicemen, Harry Secombe, Spike Milligan and Peter Sellers (Yes Dr. Strangelove and the Pink Panther) had us all in stitches with their surreal humour.
One of their songs was "I'm walking backwards for Christmas