Saturday, 24 October 2015

Gusset and Bushygap a tour of Northumberland Farms...................Oct 23rd.
  Believe it or not, these are two places on today's walk which is centred on Rothbury in Northumberland. To get there from base head North on the A1 take the A697 north of Morpeth and bwatch out for diversion signs for Rothbury as the road has still not been repaired.
There are six of us gadgies out today, Brian, John H, Dave, Ben, Harry and me. Two cars so we are meeting in Tomlinsons  cafe and bunkhouse on Bridge Street a cafe that serves good bacon sandwiches and is generous with its tea.
We left the cars on the road outside the cafe, booted up and set off.

Tomlinsons cafe and bunkhouse in Rothbury. See later photo for the bikes. It is today's car park too.
  We started off by crossing the recently repaired and strengthened bridge across the Coquet and turned left along Mill Lane to join St. Oswald's Way, a long distance Northumbrian walk. If you look at the map and have slightly more than half a brain you can see that St. Oswald's follows the disused and dismantled railway line/ for a while but if you are six gadgies who refrain from reading OS publications at times you will decide to turn down to the river,walk through fields and woodlands with thigh high bracken and nettles.(There is a footpath marked this way on the map)

Cottage or barn that has seen better days. 
                  However we were soon back on track, some way beyond Wagtail Farm. The way then leaves the railway and crosses fields before reaching West Raw. Beware, as we approached this farm a recording announced we were being recorded on CCTV, the message being repeated several times.  From this protected farm we followed the farm road past Butterknowes to East Raw. (Just after mile 3).

                                      Watch out for this sign post at East Raw and follow it.
The above sign sent us across a field and into Forest Burn. This wooded burn is a bit of a challenge. The path criss crosses the stream several times and apart from at the beginning there are no footbridges. The water today was not very deep but the moss covered stones were slippy and progress was slow until we emerged at  a ford close to The Lee.
I am very fond of this farm. In 1986 I was out on my bike, alone and approaching the ford downhill from Rothbury on my way home. I decided to go through the ford, it was summer and it didn't look deep. The next thing I knew I was over the handle bars in the water with what I first thought was a mouthful of broken teeth. It was gravel. There was an unseen pothole in the water.
 My front wheel was badly buckled, my watch was broken and I had 2p in my pocket. Fortunately the rest of me was fine. I knew there was a phone at nearby Embleton Terrace so thought I might as well head that way. As i past The Lee farm I decided to ask for help and knocked on the door. The farmer was watching the European Cup Final but he took me in, gave me a glass of brandy and said he would take me home after the match. His wife came in from shopping and insisted I change my wet trousers for a pair of her husband's. Match over he took me and my bike home, refusing any money for petrol. Next day I returned with a thank you gift and I took my girls along for the ride. My younger daughter was about ten and keen to be a vet. The farmer took her round his farm showing off his sheepdogs and some of his flock. What a man, we need more people like that.
I was in the area a few weeks later, the potholes had been patched!!!
                                              Autumn in Forest Burn

                                        The ford at The Lee, greatly improved!
(Had we turned left up the road at The Lee we would have come to the Gusset)
Reminiscence over we crossed the stream by the bridge and headed across a field with two dilapidated caravans, climbed the bank and followed the footpath across fields to The Lonning. From here we followed a farm track which crossed the old railway, still with its LNER gate, to the road, turned left and almost immediately turned right down another farm track to Blagdonburn Farm. The footpath goes through the farmyard  and then heads north west across moorland in the direction of Spylaw. Along the way we sheltered from the breeze behind the wall of a Sheepfold, or Stell as they are called in the north east, for a Herbie Spot.
                                                 Full of cake and biscuit
Sheepfold or Stell
                                                                                   Thankfully Mrs A has returned so we shared her fruit cake plus ginger biscuits from Ben, Cherry Bakewells, flapjacks and Alpine Bars. But we walk it off.
Lunch over we continued towards Spylaw, rejoined the St. Oswald's Way footpath  and headed down a flagstoned path to cross the road just north of Lordenshaw. There is a car park here. The path continues north east but at the first junction we left St. O's and walked across Garleigh Moor, ignoring the remains of the Iron Age Fort, various cairns and a standing stone before hitting the road near Whitton Farm. The road goes past Sharp's Folly:

Sharp's Folly and plaque. (Whitton and Tosson Parish Councils)
At the foot of the hill, across the road from Whitton Towers is a marked gate. The footpath crosses two fields and then emerges in the town near the bridge and the cars.
The tour of Britain Cycle Race passed through Northumberland earlier this year. The route was marked by old bikes painted red and gold, the county colours, these have been left.
It was a good day for the birders too. We saw two herons, guaranteeing a good gadgie walk, nuthatch, dipper, kestrel, buzzards and the bird of the blog is a snipe, we saw several.

                                     River Coquet at Rothbury.
Changed we headed for the Anglers Arms at Weldon Bridge. They had Timothy Taylor's Landlord, Abbott and Speckled Hen on offer, plus some really nice coffee.

The Matrix MMXV WW
                                                                         steps                             miles
LIDL3D                                                           28377                            9.22
OUTDOOR GPS                                                                                   10.99
etrex                                                                                                       11
Ben's bragometer                                                                                   10.85
Dave's LIDL3D                                               24645                             10.84
Dav'e USB                                                      24053                             10.62

If my mum had not died in March she would have been 100 today. She would have been pleased with the Queen's telegram but would never have agreed to a paragraph in the local paper giving reasons for longevity. But as daughter Lucy said "Well 99 is pretty good and it's a nice ice cream. Just like grandma always had."