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Saturday, 9 November 2013

One over the eight      November 7th.

  The jolly jock who shares the local weather forecast on the BBC with Hannah B assured us that any rain in the north east would fall late in the afternoon so we headed off to do a walk from Barrowburn in the Coquet Valley to Windy Gyle on the border with Scotland.
On the way we stopped at Tomlinsons Café and Bunkhouse in Rothbury for breakfast. An excellent eating place, bacon served in a brown bap with a small side salad and a generous pot of tea. As you enter Rothbury turn left off the main street down to the bridge and there is the café.
 We finished and headed for Barrowburn but by the time we got to Thropton it was raining, heavily. After a brief discussion b etween the occupants of the two cars, difficult in the rain, we decided to abandon the walk in the hills and head for the coast, namely Howick a few miles south of Craster.
This is a slight variation on previous walks in the area and it is a relatively gentle stroll partly along the coast and partly through fields.  There are six gadgies out today, Ben, Brian, John, Harry, Dave and me.
The walk is covered on OSExplorer 332 Alnwick and Amble although you could follow the route without the help of the Ordnance Survey. However the start is at NU258173 on a bit of car parking near the farm marked Seahouses on the map.
                                                          Ready to go from the car park.
                                                         Long shadows already, possibly
                                                         the latest start to a walk at noon!
  Close to the parking area a footpath runs down to the cliff top track that leads north to Craster. There is an attractive house overlooking the North Sea that I think is a holiday let perhaps it started life as a coastguard's cottage, must try to find out.
                                                   Ideal place for writing that novel!
This part of the walk is along the Northumberland Coastal Path and is easy to follow. Mile number 1 is midway between the cottage and  Cullernose Point where there is a small bay with the intriguing name of Swine Den. If you have the map look at the other names given to points on the coast between Cullernose and Craster; Black Hole, Hole o' the Dike, God knows what Americans will think of us.
                                                  Swine Den, the cliffs are home to
                                                     Kittiwakes in summer.
And on to Craster (2m)  The name of this tiny fishing village comes from crowe ceastre, the old fort where the crows live. To my surprise, Dave did not know this. Craster is famous for smoking kippers and being the starting point for the short walk north to Dunstanburgh Castle.(3m)
                                              Craster harbour. The rectangular arch was built
                                            to help in the loading of stone from local quarries.
                                                      Fishing boats of Old Craster.
 It isn't so long since we walked past the ruins of Dunstanburgh Castle, started by Thomas Earl of Lancaster in 1314 on a site used in iron age  and  Romano- British times as a fort. It has been a spectacular ruin for centuries.
                                                 Dunstanburgh gatehouse
                                                                Lilburn Tower.
  Just north of the castle we settled down on the rocky beach for a Herbie Spot. Today's treats included bakewell tart, ginger biscuits and chocolate. No wonder it is getting increasingly difficult to squeeze through some of the many "kissing gates" on this walk.
Close by there is a fine example of an anticline,frequently visited by Geography students with clipboards.
                                                 Rocks bent by heat and pressure to form an anticline.
Not far from the Herbie Spot there is a footpath on the left (it would have to be really) that took us along side the golf course (4m) with its flying balls to Dunstan Steads, a collection of smart looking stone built cottages and houses. (5m) Here the path turns south east along a straight concrete roadway. It has been suggested that the road was built for the movement of tanks in WWII, something else to investigate one day. At one point there are two pillboxes of unusual construction. They are built from what appear to be concrete sandbags!
 There is also a fine example of a Lime Kiln to admire, just one of many in the county.
                                                                 Lime Kiln near Dunstan Steads.
                                         This pill box is defending the sea.
 At the end of the concrete road, at Dunstan Square, we turned left across the fields towards the Heughs.(6m) These are part of the great Whin Sill which stretches across much of the north of England. It is an igneous rock intrusion in the limestone and has proved extremely useful as a foundation for castles and Roman walls.
The footpath beneath the Heughs leads back to Craster and emerges on the road by the information centre.  Behind the centre a footpath leads to the nature reserve (7m) and across fields to Craster South Farm.
                                                 Information board at the Craster Centre.
                                          The footpath to the nature reserve is just to the left of it.
 Turning south across more fields, some of us made the very steep ascent of Hip Heugh (8m) to admire the Trig point on its summit before heading down again and across a footpath that bisects a field which is often muddy but not today, and emerges at the Howick Hall car park.
                                                  Trig point on Hip Heugh
Howick Hall is famous for its gardens and for being the home of Earl Grey, the man who was Prime Minister  from 1830 to 1834 and whose government was responsible for the Great Reform Bill of 1832, an act that led Britain on the road to a form of democracy. He was also responsible for adding bergamot to his tea to cover the lime taste of the local water and thus introducing Earl Grey tea to the world. I can live without it.
 
                                                             The monument to Earl Grey in
                                                                     Newcastle. Sometimes you can
                                                             go to the top
At Howick the road leads east back to the car park (9m)
 
After the walk we headed back to Alnwick and across the moors to The Anglers Arms, a favourite watering hole, which had Timothy Taylor's Landlord, Black Sheep and Hobgoblin on offer. The AGM, held in this hostelry was discussed  but no decision made.
 
The two pedometers I was wearing behaved very badly, one claiming a distance of 0.06 km for the day and the other 3.7 miles. However, according to Dave:
 
                                                   steps              miles
LIDL3D                                     18925              8.74
LIDL USB                                  19874             8.29
which is pretty good.
OUTDOORS GPS claimed 9 miles and Brian's GPS gave the walk as 8.9 miles.
Although we were on the coast we did not see many birds but the bird of the blog goes to:
 
                                                Oyster Catchers