Saturday, 5 October 2013

Misty, with a Rainbow. October 4th.

John Keats, the poet I suffered for O levels, got it right with his Ode to Autumn,

Season of mists and mellow fruitfulness,
Close bosomed friend of the maturing sun.

Not that there was much sun out today. And that well known poet A. Nony Mous had it better with his nursery rhyme;

One misty moisty morning,
When cloudy was the weather.
It was misty as we left home, misty when we got to the start point, misty as we finished, almost.

The jolly jock had told us on local TV that the weather would be finer, dry even, in the east so we headed for the coast, not by the last train, but by car to Craster in Northumberland. Easy to find, head north on the A1 and turn east at the first junction past Alnwick, signed Denwick and follow the minor roads to the kipper fishing village of Craster. There is a car park, a generous £2 for the day, next to the information office at NU256198. The maps to use, although you could survive without them are OS Explorers 332, Alnwick and Amble and 340 whose name I don't know.
                                                  Yes it's a car park!

There are four of us out today, Brian, Ben, Dave and me.
Craster, whose name derives from crawe ceastre or crow camp, is not the prettiest of fishing villages, unlikely to be chosen as the backdrop for some 18th century tale, has a herring smoke house for producing kippers, a pub, a church, an information centre a café and not much more.  The church is dedicated to St. Peter the fisherman which seems appropriate.
There is an interesting piece of art as you approach the village, a lobster and its pot.
  The Shoreline café is really nice; friendly staff, good selection of snacks for breakfast, light and airy room too but for me the bun that contained the bacon was a bit too soft and white and the tea was a bit weak so I am awarding a mere  4 flitches today.
 It was as we ate that Dave started complaining about his broken zip, the more he fiddled the more we giggled until eventually he went outside in his attempts to fix it.

At last the walk:
We headed past the harbour which was quiet, past the row of cottages and across the fields in the direction of Dunstanburgh castle.
                                                    Craster Harbour

                                           Looking more spooky than usual in the mist.
                                           Some readers must be very familiar with the
                                           ruins of Dunstanburgh Castle by now.
 However, instead of taking our usual path close to the castle we took the path close to the remains of the ancient fresh water fish ponds that kept the inhabitants of the fortress in fish and crossed, with care, the golf course.
Question from Brian: What does a golfer have for breakfast?
Answer: Two teas and a round, of course.
Following the path through the dunes rather than walking the beach of Embleton Bay we  arrived at Low Newton by the Sea. The National Trust takes care of a couple of ponds behind the few houses and pub that make up this fishing hamlet and we decided to make one of the hides a Herbie Spot. There was little activity on the pond, a heron visible through the mist, a cygnet, some lapwings and a small number of ducks of some species The mist didn't help much, it was almost impossible to see across the water.. A bird watcher who joined us did enthuse about the snow buntings he had seen on the beach, another, equipped with telescope and telephoto lens decided we were too noisy for him and cleared off.
Lunch today was a feast. Apart from the usual sandwiches we had Ben's ginger biscuits, Dave had invested in some Thornton's Caramel Shortbread and I donated several slices of Madeira cake, very rich and fruity. Dave continued to fiddle with his zip, which refused to fasten, perhaps he felt draughty.
                                                    Mist over Low Newton Pond.
Leaving the hide  we followed the road north out of the village for a few yards before taking the footpath across the fields  above the sea.  Just before we came to Newton Links House we met a party of teenage Germans and a lady I guessed was in her vierzigs*. They were not too sure where they were but wanted to head for Craster. Brian told them to head south, keeping the sea on their left and off they went. He should have said "auf links", especially as we were near a golf course.
Normally we walk along the beach around Embleton Bay too but he tide was high so we followed the dunes path. Strangely, as it was a very still day in the mist, the sea was in one of its more powerful moods, the waves crashing in on the beach below. We had not gone far when we heard the German children behind us, lost again but without the lady. They were heading for Beadnell so we advised them to follow us. We decided that they were probably doing their Duke of Schleswig Holstein Gold Award and had to find their way back to the campsite unaided. That or they had done her in. Fortunately, with so many young people around, Dave had forgotten his zip problem.
 Had we been on the sands we might have been brave enough to wade through the beautifully named Long Nanny Burn but the dunes path took us across the bridge, followed by a group of German teenagers! Several small flocks of goldfinches were feeding on thistle seed alongside the path, charming birds.
 We entered Beadnell  ( Beda's halh or haugh) through the almost deserted caravan sites. The most interesting thing on the sites was an ancient Moggy.
                                              Morris Minor Traveller. I learned to drive in
                                              a saloon version, they chugged along all day.
  From Beadnell Dave and Ben opted to stay on the road to Seahouses but Brian and I finally took the plunge, not literally, and headed for the beach. With the tide still high there was not a lot of room between water and dunes and it was fun, reverting to childhood at times, running from the incoming waves. The narrow beach was also temporary home to a number of sea birds and a few crows, presumably hoping the retreating water would leave something of interest.
 Approaching the end of the walk we climbed the dunes again and followed a very narrow path between rocky shore and a grubby looking pool, crossed another golf course and walked into the fishing/village/resort of Seahouses and headed for The Olde Ship pub just as the sun finally came out. There was no sign of the other two, zip problems possibly but Brian and I settled for a pint. The Olde Ship is an interesting pub, over-decorated with sea going artefacts it has a fine selection of ales, including Tyneside Blonde, Farne Island, Directors and Ruddles County, yet it is very much a locals' pub and we were obviously in someones seat.
                                     Seahouses harbour, take a boat to the Farnes from here.

                                                 Approaching the Olde Ship
Eventually the other two arrived, they had been waiting at a bus stop thinking we were using our passes to return to Craster. \When we didn't turn up and the bus went they decided, rightly, we were in the pub. Although still troubled by his non functioning zip Dave enjoyed a couple of pints before we caught the next bus back to Craster car park. The mist had descended again.

The Misty Matrix
                                                           steps                           miles
Good old Higear                              23931                            11.3
Crivit 3D                                          16003                             7.2 (Measured from Low Newton Hide)
Dave's Crivit 3D                              20808                             9.5
Dave's USB                                      20679                            10.4
OUTDOOR GPS                                                                     10.7
Brian's GPS ran out of battery
Ben's bragometer ran ou of battery.

Bird of the Blog;
                                                   A charming goldfinch.
I knew that GCSE in German (Grade B) would have a use one day.

And why Rainbow?

There used to be a children's TV show in Britain called Rainbow with a character, frog or alien, called Zippy.