Friday, 31 October 2014

Once more unto the Wear dear friends, once more. Oct 31st.
   Slightly down on numbers this Halloween, five of us Brian, Ray, John H , Dave and me) have elected for another walk in Weardale. It is a beautiful valley and looks very rural but on this walk there is evidence of old industries, some dating back hundreds of years.
The walk starts at Wolsingham and follows the Weardale Way  which is well marked in most places as it wanders over moorland and field but a map is more than pretty useful and the one to use is OS OL 31 North Pennines. It is also a real gadgie walk as it involves a bus journey,or two cars at least.
We drove to Stanhope and had breakfast at the Durham Dales Centre which also has a free car park.
Having got down to 13 stones (182 lb in US ) I just had tea.
We then caught the bus to Wolsingham a few miles east down the valley. The bus is operated by Weardale Travel, there are not many of them so if you want to do the walk this way look on their website for bus service 101. Friendly driver and they now have upped their technology and scan gadgie bus passes* instead of counting and making a note.
The journey to Wolsingham takes all of ten minutes and once off and having armed our pedometers we set off.
Weardale Coaches, great way to travel

                                              The River Wear at Wolsingham.
In Wolsingham look out for the sign say in Weardale Railway and follow it down to the river. Once across the river a sign post points to a track alongside the railway. It is marked as the Weardale Way on the map but ignore it, cross the railway bridge and walk uphill until you spot a sign post saying Ashes farm. This is the real Weardale Way. The farm track does indeed go to and through Ashes Farm.
A gate fastening for the book, unique.
Follow the little yellow Weardale Way markers on gate posts  towards the wonderfully named Towdy Potts farm and continue over fields in a western direction before turning south and climbing through fields with some curious cows and calves until you hit heather covered moorland. Plenty of grouse too.This is Sunnyside Ridge, in the distance a small clump of trees is known as the Elephant Trees because they look vaguely like a small group of pachyderms walking line astern.

                                     The Elephant Trees, oh come on, use your imagination
Just short of this group of trees the path turns north. We stopped in what looked like a shell hole and declared a Herbie Spot. Sandwiches and coffee, Hobnob flapjack, caramel chocolate muffins,almond slices and mini bramley apple pies. (184 pounds) I was accused of eating healthily because I also had an apple. Considering the date it was remarkably warm although a little breezy, warmest Halloween in the UK since records began, apparently. Preparing for hell.
Back to the directions;
Head downhill towards the farm at West Biggins. Biggins apparently means barley. West Biggins has some noisy dogs. At the bottom of the hill the track turns almost back on itself and follows the Bollihope Burn. The first farm really has gone for technology; a button operated gate. We opted for the side gate and the very narrow footpath alongside the track.
                                                    Technology comes to Weardale
                                                          Frosterley quarries
 Frosterley is well known for its marble quarries, now closed. Dave the geologist would have given a short lecture on them but we plodded on. The font at Hexham Abbey is made from Frosterley Marble as no doubt are lots of other things in the north.
Information board for Harehope Gill lead mine, opened in the 18th century the buildings have long gone apart from a few bits of wall.
Further along we came to some well preserved lime kilns which were in operation until 1975. Limestone was brought from a nearby quarry and put in the kiln in layers with coal in between. The slaked lime had a variety of uses, fertiliser and whitewash are but two.

                                                        Bishopley Lime Kilns.
Beyond the kilns follow the footpath alongside the Bollihope Burn. The railway track went through an opening blasted out of the limestone;

  The limeston quarry that supplied the kilns further down the line.
Follow the path which goes through a caravan park and up a steep road to Hill End. The Weardale Way is marked here by a finger post on the left. Look out for it and follow the path west across moorland for half a mile before finding the almost hidden gate on the right. From here the path crosses fields as it goes downhill past more old quarries and disused shafts. It is a little difficult to follow,  or, as John put it, this section was designed by a navigator who did a lot of tacking, some signs are obscured but persevere and eventually you reach a large caravan park named Heathe View. The Weardale Way goes through the park, across more fields to Unthank Mill. Here a footbridge crosses the river and follow the road back to Durham Dales Centre, if you left your car there.
                                                      This week's car park.
Changed we drove to the Punch Bowl at Edmundbyers for re-hydration (three real ales, very good, hints of grapefruit in one) before going home.

The Matrix MMXIV T
                                                                           steps                      miles
LIDL3D                                                             28023                     12.81
HiGear                                                               23720                      10.768
Dave's USB                                                       24478                       10.81
Dav'e 3D                                                           24808                        10.91
OUTDOORS GPS                                                                              10.9
Brian's GPS                                                                                         12.2
Rays                                                                                                     11.37
Brian and Ray took a slightly different route from Hill Head
Gadgie distance 386 miles
*  In England people over the age of 60 are given a bus pass which they can use for free on any local bus in the country. Aren't we lucky.

Contains OS Data Copyright. Crown Copyright and database right 2014.

Saturday, 25 October 2014

For reasons I am not going to go into today's walk was to be a pleasant, flat stroll round Holy Island or Lindisfarne.  It is only possible to get to the island by road when the tide is out and I had consulted the crossing tables which claimed the road was clear between 12.15 and 21.15. So seven gadgies agreed to meet at The Barn at Beal cafe at 11pm, have a bacon sandwich and cross to the island. The cafe is near the crossing.
We arrived at two minutes past eleven and Brian ordered his usual bacon sandwich, only to be told that the cafe stopped serving breakfast at 11am! A new  grade of flitches was immediately introduced -5.
As we drank our tea (not breakfast tea) I noticed a blackboard with safe crossing times, 7.20 to 13.20.
We could go, but for two hours. The embarrassment of it, what had I done? It later transpired I had looked at times for October, 2013. Oh the shame, leader last week, non reader this week.
However gadgies are not put off by minor mishaps and we soon came up with another walk, part of St. Cuthbert's Way.
The walk starts at the small car park near the causeway. To get there drive north on the A1 for about 40 miles until you spot the sign saying Beal  Holy Island. Turn right from the A1 and go through Beal, avoiding the Beal Barn if it's after 11am and continue to the car park on the left.
The map needed for this walk is OS OL 340 Holy Island and Berwick (and it would be useful) and the car park is at NU079427.
                                   The team prepares for the walk, in the carpark of course.
 We crossed the road and followed the St. Cuthbert's Way sign through the old concrete tank blocks, they have worked well. After a short distance, following the signs we crossed fields until we reached the railway. This is the main line from London to Edinburgh and although not TGVs the trains come fast. There is a phone which you are asked to ring for permission to cross the tracks and on the other side, having safely crossed, there is another to let the signalman know you made it.
                                  A slightly slanting Lindisfarne, or Holy Island birthplace of English Christianity, founded by St. Aidan and the home of St. Cuthbert.
He was going round the curve, making 90 miles an hour
After crossing a couple more fields and walking past Fenwick Granary we came to the A1, major road route from London to Edinburgh  but still not a dual carriageway. It is because it is in the north.
It is a busy road and needs crossing with care. Once over it is not far to the village of Fenwick.
                                       Check you are in the right place.............

                                              ....and follow the St. Cuthbert's signs.
At this point the, on a minor road, the footpath trebles as St. Cuthbert's Way, St. Oswald's Way and the Northumberland Coastal Path. About a mile out of Fenwick we came to a house marked as Blawearie on the map. (Another Blawearie!). Here the St. Cuthbert's trail  goes roughly south on the edge of a wood but being gadgies we opted to go through the plantation known as Kylie Wood. If you follow us take care, and a map, as the wood, which is a coniferous plantation, teems with wood nymphs, elves, sprites and the occasional orc. Furthermore there are many forest trails and it is quite easy to walk in circles. take a compass. We followed a trail for about a mile south west before it shrank to no more than a footpath going west. This plantation is unlike many; the trees have been thinned out and there is thick ground cover instead of the usual fairly dead footpaths. In a sunlit dell we stopped for Herbie, being hungry as there were no bacon sandwiches at the Barn at Beal, it being after 11am when we arrived, but only just.

Kyloe Woods

More Kyloe Woods

                                             It has been a good year for fruit, elderberries.
Apart from sandwiches and coffee today's feast included mini pork pies! Biscuits, chocolate, Ben biscuits and a moist lemon flavoured cake from Mrs A.
                                    Members of the Wherethehellarewe tribe
Lunch consumed we headed briefly west of north then west before emerging on a minor road. We turned left and walked along the road for about 100 yards before spotting the footpath which took us across more fields  in a generally west direction to the farm at Moorhouse. The path goes through the yard, look out for the huge bales of straw and mighty John Deere tractor.

    I am a midwest farmer, and I drive my old John Deere.
Once through the farm we crossed more fields to the village of Lowick. The fields had been recently ploughed, harrowed and seeded, walk carefully on the bare track down the middle. The path comes to Lowick by the Lowick United FC, the noble groundsman was marching out the pitch for Saturday's game.
Lowick was preparing for Halloween and had a couple of scarecrows on display.
                                                    Make sure you get the right village
Satan Santa. Halloween seems to be another import from America, like school proms and movies.
I blame ET and his flying bicycles for Halloween. What's wrong with celebrating a proper British festival like Guy Fawkes, even in these days of Civic bonfires, Health and Safety, having the good old school disco and saying films.

It is not necessary to go into the village, across the road from the footbll ground there is an electricity sub station. We climbed the wall and followed the footpath down the side of the field, through a gate and down another field, across a simple concrete bridge, more field and then we arrived at Lickar Lea.  From here, as time was getting on we followed the road past Lowick Mill, turned right at the next junction, then left past Kenstone farm and cottages, over Glebe Hill and down to the A1 at the Lindisfarne Inn. We crossed the road,which was busy, and walked down the road through Beal, ignoring the Barn at Beal, and followed a foot/cycle path back to the car park. The road crosses the main railway line but it has a level crossing with gates and no phone. On the seaward side is an old engine.
                          A blast from the past, 
Changed we headed back to the Lindisfarne Inn which had Black Sheep and a couple of other beers on offer, but I was driving and had coffee.

The Matrix  MMXIV    U

                                                                              steps                                 miles
LIDL3D                                                                  30743                              13.93
Hi Gear                                                                   28644                               13.0
Dave's USB                                                            26674                                14.44
Dave's 3D                                                               27247                                 13.89
OUTDOOR GPS                                                                                               12.75

Total Gadgie distance  375 miles

Probably better than Holy Island too, but must learn to read.

Friday, 17 October 2014

The Leader of the Pack........October 17th
To slightly misquote the bard I am neither a leader nor a follower, I just wander along somewhere in the middle. But today I have been told by my fellow gadgies that I am leading the walk. Hope we get there.
There are five of us out today, Brian, Dave, John H, Ben and me. We are going in Brian's new car which has a variety of bells and whistles like built in Satnav, something called Bluetooth and the ability to play tunes directly from his mobile phone. It has a radio too.
The walk is on familiar territory, from the Muddy Boots Cafe in the old National Park Centre at Ingram. A great cafe, well stocked with tempting cakes, bacon sandwiches, breakfasts and tea, or coffee.
To get there from base take the A1 north, the A697 from Morpeth and turn off for Ingram just past Powburn. Drive along a few miles, cross the bridge, turn left past the cottages and the church and there is the cafe and car park.
                                                  Two for the price of one, car park and cafe
The walk starts from the cafe, the map to use is OS OL16 The Cheviot Hills and the cafe is at NU019163.
 I led the gadgie patrol from the car park, past the church and cottages, most of which appear to be holiday lets, and very nice too. At the top of the lane we turned right and walked past Ingram Farm before turning left on a good farm track.  Almost immediately there is a fork, keep left. We followed the track past the cottage at Ingram Hill. The track shrank to a path through bracken in Middle Dene and then went through Little Cleugh. There is a Hill Forts Trail in the valley, not surprising when you see all the ancient hill top forts and we followed the trail across Cochrane Pike, a bit of a misnomer as it is fairly flat.
                                            Looking back down Middle  Dene
An interesting gate fastener, look carefully it is double locked. Fortunately we have Ben, the gate expert.
Once through the gate and across Fawdon Dene we started the climb up  Old Fawdon Hill, which is a bit steep but not too long a haul. On the top, which has a Trig Point we declared a Herbie Spot, partly because of the views and because it was lunch time anyway.
                                                Old Fawdon Hill Trig Point, John H and Brian
                                          Gibbs Hill fort and settlement from Old Fawdon Hill
                                                  Cheviot View, with walking pole
                        This is why we come out walking the Cheviot Hills
   The usual lunch time political or philosophical discussions were dropped today, perhaps it was the views and the warmth. Instead we confessed our TV likes and dislikes, Ben likes Strictly Come Dancing, John likes a comedy called the Detectorists. Brian and I can't stand Bargain Hunt. I confessed to enjoying Songs of Praise provided they had proper hymns, Wesley tunes or Victorian songs of hope. I explained that my wife, although not at all religious knew the  numbers of a good many of the Hymns we all sang in morning assemblies from "Songs of Praise." Brian said his favourite was number 666, The Devil wants me for his fireside. 
Today's treats: ALDI Chocolate, Chunky flapjacks, Ginger nuts slice, Ben's home made ginger biscuits and Mrs A's almond and cherry slices. (13 stones {182lb} this morning, going down, slowly.)
Lunch over we headed downhill in a north east direction to the farm at Fawdon. Following the signpost we crossed several fields of bracken before turning east through a clover meadow and came out on the road near the entrance to Branton Ponds. Once gravel pits these excavations are now a conservation area and, having been flooded, attract a number of birds, otters and snakes. Not really warm enough for the adders to be out today.
We headed for the bird hide and watched the activity on the water; Canada Geese, Grey Lags, swans, coots, teal and some other ducks.

                                                     The Branton Ponds
                                                 Some of their occupants

                                   Water horse.
 Binoculars away we completed the walk round the ponds and crossed the River Breamish by means of the footbridge.
                                                      The Breamish from the footbridge
                                                    Modern cowboys, and dog
                                 Cultivation terraces on the north side of the Breamish
                                                  St. Michael's church in Ingram. Saxon origins
Once across the bridge we turned left and walked along the road back to the car park. The walk can be extended by going up the lane towards Brandon and turning left over the fields past the cottage at Heddon and on to Reavely, but not today.
Changed we headed for the Anglers Arms at Weldon Bridge. Only two beers on, Bombardier and Bombardier Gold. There was  a problem with the pump on Timothy Taylors Landlord. Oh Woe.
But nobody got lost.

The Matrix MMXIV  T
                                                                                  steps                            miles
LIDL 3D                                                                    25045                          11.6
New Hi Gear!!!!                                                        22143                           10.47
Pinky                                                                          22518                           10.6
Dave's 3D                                                                   21268                           9.99
USB                                                                            20863                           9.87

OUTDOORS GPS                                                                                           9.5
Brian's GPS                                                                                                      9.18
Ben's bragometer                                                                                              9.33

Adjustments needed.

Gadgie distance 362

Contains OS Data,copyright. Crown Copyright database right 2014.

Friday, 10 October 2014

Oh we do like to be beside the seaside. Oct 10th
   In an effort to stave off dementia I have returned to lectures at the Joseph Cowen organisation in Newcastle. ( Monday morning is Philosophy and as it was the first session we had to say hello to the person on our right and on our left, then we went round the group giving names and a few details. I explained that I wrote a blog on local walks. At the end of the session a lady asked me if my walks were easy.
"It all depends on what you mean by easy I replied."     See philosophy lectures pay off.
  Today's walk is a popular one, blogged several times but being repeated because one of our number has a sprained ankle (See Russell's Cairn Sept  26th) and we need to have access to bus stops in case he is in too much discomfort. So we are walking the coast from Craster to Seahouses, from kippers to fish and chips, or beer in the Olde Ship.
To get to Craster (the camp where crows live) head north on the A1 to just beyond Alnwick and turn off going east and following signs. There is a car park as you enter the village, next to the information centre and toilets. (Useful as you get a bit older)
There are seven of us out today, Ben, John C, John H, Brian, Ben, Dave and me, joined by Brian's brother in law Geordie Bob who lives in Essex but has escaped.
There is also a nice friendly cafe for tea and bacon sandwiches. I resisted the temptation and had tea, this morning having weighed in at 12 stone 12 lb (180lb US)
You can easily do this walk without a map, provided you keep the sea on your right if you are walking north, but should you want a map the walk is covered by two; OS OL332 Alnwick and OS OL 340, Berwick and Holy Island.

                                                  No carpark this week. Shame as it was a fine one in 
                                         the old Craster Quarry from where whinstone was  sent to
                                         the harbour by a sort of cable way and loaded on to boats.
                                           Slightly out of focus cafe.
The harbour. The structure on the right of the mouth was the end of the cable way.
The walk;
  We left the cafe and walked back towards the harbour and past the row of cottages above the water, through the gate and across the fields to Dunstanburgh Castle. Once the home of the Duke of Lancaster it remained in the ownership of the sovereign until the time of Queen Elizabeth I. The title Duke of Lancaster is always held by the sovereign, regardless of their sex, so yes, the Queen is the Duke of Lancaster.
                                            Magnificent ruin, Dunstanburgh Castle, National Trust property.
  If you have the map look at the interesting names given to features of the coast between Craster and the castle; Little Carr (a carr is a rock), Liverpool Hole, Oxberrylaw Holes, Nova Scotia, Cushat Stiel and Queen Margarets Cove. Queen Margaret, a Scottish lady, stayed here before sailing off to Denmark.
We walked round the west side of the castle, looking up at the Lilburn Tower.
The Lilburn Tower which has nothing to do with John Lilburn. (Look him up)
Just beyond the castle is the fine example of an anticline that always gets a mention on this walk, so here it is:
                                                     Geology lesson of the day.
The Northumberland Coastal Path follows the dunes around Embleton Bay but we opted for a walk across the sands past jenny Bells Carr, Scadpallet and Fish Carr.
At the north end of the bay is the tiny fishing hamlet of Low Newton by the sea, a pretty square of cottages and a pub, The Ship, which has had a mention in The Times as a pub to eat and drink in.
                                                       Embleton Bay
                                                  Low Newton by the Sea
                                                       Information board

                                              Looking back at the castle.
Resisting the temptation to visit the pub we had a short rest before pushing on along the Northumberland Coastal Path which at this point is also St. Oswald's Way.  We called a Herbie stop, having a feeding frenzy on Ben's ginger biscuits, chunky flapjacks, chocolate hobnobs, Mrs A's iced  cakes and some chocolate from Aldi. (185lb)                                                                                    Instead of walking the sands of Beadnell Bay we followed the path across the dunes, crossing the Brunton Burn by the footbridge and reaching Beadnell by way of the caravan park. Not the prettiest way into the village, and we missed the Lime Kilns on the harbour.
                                                        Brunton Burn

                                             Birdwatchers of Beadnell
 North of the village we climbed down to the beach again and walked towards Seahouses. Approaching this haven for the lovers of fish and chips we had to walk up to the road and then turn into the golf course. We walked round the edge, followed a narrow path high above the rocky beach and a small pond before crossing the golf course again and following the markers into town.

WWII tank blockers

                                                          Seahouses harbour....
......and boats
Normally on this walk we rehydrate at the Olde Ship but today we were just in time to catch the bus back to Craster where we retired to the Jolly Fisherman, another Northumbrian pub that has rated a mention in The Times. Quite right too, it sold Timothy Taylor's Landlord, one of the nation's finest ales. It also had Black Sheep and a few others. 
Refreshed we drove home aftyer another good day out.

The Matrix MMXIV   S
                                                                               steps            miles
LIDL3D                                                               22016               10.01
ASDA BLUE                                                      23793                11.18
Little Pink                                                           22211                 10.45
OUTDOOR GPS                                                                            10.5

Dave's 3D                                                            22111                  10.61
USB                                                                     21782                  9.96
Ben's bragometer (back from repair)                                               10.5
Bob's GPS                                                                                         10.5
Gadgie distance 353

This is getting ridiculous.

Contains OS data Copyright. Crown copyright database right 2014.

Gloria Raven of New Zealand
I found a reference to Curlheugh in somebody's work on his family. It said it was a few miles north of Eglingham. I can't find it on the OS map so guess it was a farm or hamlet that no longer exists. There are, relatively close by on the map to Eglingham, old coal workings. Hope this answers your question. Could you let me know?