Friday, 13 November 2015

Whittlesnittering in Northumberland..Nov13th (Obvious)
   Whittlesnittering is almost a lost skill in Northumberland. Back in the days when agriculture was horse-powered a farm labourer, usually the youngest, was given the task of cleaning the clarts (qv) from horses hooves before they were re shod, especially if the ground had been really claggy. (qv too). As it was not a glamorous task it has rarely been seen at village fairs, unlike sheep shearing, sheep dog trials and pony-riding. Perhaps one day it will make a comeback.
You can see how well the Whittlesnitterer has done his work in this photo, a neat pile of clarts.

  The British Meteorological society has a gentle sense of humour. Older Britons will well remember the unfortunate BBC weatherman, Michael Fish, using information from the Met Office, telling the nation there was no truth in the talk of a great storm one night in October 1987. That night over four million trees were uprooted or blown over in the south of England leading to a rise in the sales of wood burning stoves and artisan furniture.
  This year the Met Office has decided to follow the practice of other countries and give names to storms as they approach. The first, scheduled to arrive on Thursday night, November 12th, has been called Abigail. How subtle is that, A Big Gale. In future we can look forward to Harry Kane or Teresa Felling.

Today's walk round Teesdale has been postponed, mainly thanks to Abigail, and we have chosen a more sheltered walk from Rothbury, country town in Northumberland. (A1 north, A697 and follow the diversion signs, the road has still not been fully repaired since it was washed out two years ago.)
Six of us out, Ben, Brian, John H,, John C., Dave and me, two cars and meeting for breakfast in Tomlinsons cafe and bunkhouse on Bridge Street, Rothbury. A top cafe, good food, including beer and wine if you want, a bunkhouse and some books on local interest and walks for sale.
The walk:
A map is more than useful on this walk although much of it is well marked. The map to use is OS Explorer 332 Alnwick and Amble. We started at Tomlinsons cafe, there is limited parking on the street and there is a car park across the river.

Still there although the Tour of Britain is long gone.

        From the cafe we walked up the hill, past the church and onto Rothbury High Street. Easily recognised it is very wide and lined on the north side with proper shops. Look out for an alleyway or ginnel on the north side, there is no signpost but a notice tells you the Cooperative Funeral Service is at the top. The alley is quite steep, the Grisdale of Rothbury. At the top we turned left on the road and then almost immediately turned right, still climbing up a lane past several bungalows. At the end of the lane the footpath enters a wood, still climbing too, and slippy after much overnight rain. Once out of the wood we took the right fork in the path and headed across boggy moorland before entering the Primrose Wood plantation.

Walking through the sun dappled woods.
                                                                                                                        Look out for an old trailer on the left, it has been there for years. We turned left at the forest road and leaving the primrose path headed north to Crocky's Heugh. (A heugh is a hill or cliff, not to be confused with a haugh, which is a bit of flat land by a bend in a river. You could have a haugh below a heugh!). We followed the track across the moor until, near a wall, we spotted a signpost that took us on another muddy, boggy path heading north up and over Cartington Hill, mostly interesting for its three cairns, in a straight line.

                                                Cartington Hill only about 980 feet high.
At the end of the summit plateau we followed a path going west that is not marked on the map. It led to a gate marked "Private No Access" but as none of us can read we went through, joined a farm track and soon arrived unmolested at a road turned right and walked on to Bankhead. At the farm it started to rain, courtesy of Abigail, and we stopped to don waterproofs.
                               Cloud covered Cheviot. A scattering of snow visible when it was clear.

At Bankhead we turned left down a farm track and crossed several fields before reaching the farm at Whittle. Whittle means white hill. It is a fine looking farmhouse with a friendly collie guarding the gate.
         Whittle farm, the dog had turned to call his agent                                                                                              The footpath is well marked with little yellow arrows on white discs, easy to follow.
 We followed the footpath alongside a field sown with winter wheat already showing before turning right across the field and entering a wood, crossing Blackburn by a footbridge. On the edge of the wood we called a Herbie Spot.
                        Caught in the sunlight. Today's treats included Ben's ginger biscuits, almond slices, flapjacks from, Corbyn cookies aqnd apple muffins from Mrs A. The apples game from the Algar garden.
Lunch over we headed south of west along the edge of a field before turning left and crossing more fields until we reached Snitter.

           Snitter, a hamlet. Nothing to do with cigars or sad Danes it is a settlement without a church. The name Snitter means a blast of icy snow.
  For years English teachers have told their pupils that the Inuits do not have a word for snow but have seventeen  words to describe different types of snow. Google it and you will find the teachers are wrong. Inuits have words as we do to describe different forms of snow, like sleet presumably. A recent dictionary of the Scottish language claims the Scots have over four hundred words to describe snow!
  We turned right along the road going north west out of the village and then almost immediately turned left again, crossing more fields, pausing  only to look at an interesting gatepost before reaching a road.
                      An interesting, if redundant gatepost.
  After walking a short distance on the road we came to Thropton. The footpath to Rothbury is not too obvious. Look for the Recycling Area and walk down the lane. It is on the right of the main street. Halfway down the lane is a signpost telling you you are on the right track. The footpath crosses the river Coquet and wanders across fields before joining a good path which leads to another footbridge.

                                        River Coquet near Rothbury.
 Back on the north side of the river the well made footpath leads back towards Rothbury. Look out for a set of narrow steps near the car park, they lead back to the church and Tomlinsons.
On the way home we visited the Anglers Arms which was selling Taylors Golden Bitter and Bombardier, the Speckled Hen had just been finished.

                                                                         steps                              miles
Nakosite                                                          27594                            12.56 (needs adjusting)
LIDL3D                                                          24718                            8.45       "           "
Dave's 3D                                                       22220                             10.21
USB                                                                21543                             9.86
Naosite                                                            21412                             9.8
OUTDOOR GPS                                                                                   10.1
etrx                                                                                                        10.13
Ben                                                                                                        10

settle for 10 then.

Abigail was like a baby, a bit wet and windy. And we saw a heron
Aw come on, you didn't really believe it did you?