Saturday, 3 December 2016

For the benefit of Geordie Bob..(Northumberland) Dec 2nd.
Winter started officially, yesterday, December 1st. It was bright and sunny with a temperature high of 11C and we are hoping for similar weather today, the jolly jock on local TV thinks it could be a little cloudier, but mild.
A large turn out, John x 3, Brian, Ray, Harry, Dave, Ben, me and a guest, Brian's brother in law Bob, a Geordie exiled to deepest Essex.  (Is this a decagadge?) Today's walk is another old favourite, a relatively gentle stroll from Belford in Northumberland, visiting St. Cuthbert's Cave and a couple of ponds.
Belford is easy to find, head north on the A1 beyond Alnwick turn left where the village is signposted. There is ample parking, we left cars near the village club.
The whole walk is on OS Explorer 340, Holy Island and Bamburgh.
The name Belford provides a little mystery: it could be "Bella's Ford" or it could be bel-haga, a glade in a forest, or it could be dry land in a swamp.  You choose.
We had breakfast in a fine wooden coffee shop/shop on the left just as we approached Belford. (Sunnyhills Farm Shop)
We started the walk from the Belford Community Club, a little way off the high street to the left.
 Looking at the club there is a lane to the left of it, it probably has a sign post saying Saint Cuthbert's Way and Northumberland Coastal Path but I can't remember. (Gadgiedom strikes again). This is the start of the walk.
                             Belford, parking in the street. The Community Club is the white building.
The lane is a bit muddy and leads to a farm at Westhall. Across the field is Westhall itself, a farm building possibly built on the site of an 11th Century Motte and Bailey castle. There is some evidence of a moat.
                                     Westhall and a sheep's ear.
 On the right are Chapel Crags:
                                       Chapel Crags.
We continued on the lane until we came to the farm at Swinhoe where we turned north, following another muddy lane and passing an old Lime Kiln Swinhoe Lakes;
              Lime Kiln, now a useful place for storing boulders.
                                     Swinhoe Lake with distant swans.
Beyond the lakes the path crosses several open fields before entering the plantation named as Shielflow Wood.  The path arcs north west, emerging from the plantation at Raven's Crag before heading south. The footpath which goes south of the pond at Holburn Moss is not  signposted but watch out for it on the left. It leads past the Moss and up on to Greensheen Hill. The hill has several things to offer, notably wonderful panoramic views to the east and west. To the east, overlooking the coastal plain and beyond to Lindisfarne, or Holy Isaland. To the west is the Cheviot range, and there is a trig point too.  Three deer ran across the path a short distance in front of us.
                               Holborn Moss
 I see no ships. Well Ray wouldn't, he's looking west.

                      The distant little bump is the castle on Holy Island, or Lindisfarne.
                         Cheviots on a hazy day.
At the end of the hill we took the path part way down before heading off left on a vague track and over a stile into the wood above St. Cuthbert's Cave where we called a Herbie Spot.
St. Cuthbert's Cave. Tradition has it that St. Cuthbert's fellow monks carried his body around the north east of England until they finally decided to stop and build a cathedral at Durham. Whether they stayed in the cave is unknown as far as I'm aware but it is said that when they got to Durham his body showed no signs of decomposition.
His cave makes a great sharing spot for gadgies; we exchanged gifts of mince pies, pork pies, two varieties of biscuit, hobnobs, fruit cakes and brownies from Mrs A.. I was worried about the mince pies as I had only brought six and there were ten ouf us out. Fortunately at least four were more concerned about their waistlines or calorie intake, not realising that all this is walked off. Well that's my theory.
Back on the track we passed Cockenheugh, Dick's Old Walls and finally arrived back at Swinhoe Farm.

                         Ben is official gatemeister. Here he demonstrates his skills.
                                               Swinhoe Farm stock
 A row of outdoor netties behind the cottages at Swinhoe Farm. For aliens netty is a north east dialect term for lavatory. MoThe Matrix st people do have them indoors today. As a small child I was terrified of the trip across our back yard.

At Swinhoe we walked south east through the yard past the area set aside for horses, and across the fields back to Belford.
This is definitely classed as a  "good walk", worthy of The Times. About ten mile through varying countryside, wonderful views and not much climbing which seems to be getting more important.
Once changed we headed down the A1and stopped at The Cook and Barker Inn at Newton on the Moor for refreshment. The pub is well known as an eating place but we were welcomed, Coquet Island Gold, Secret Kingdom and Black Sheep ales were on offer, and coffee.
The matrix         MMXVI            Z+
                                                                        steps                                miles
NAK                                                              22928                              9.4
iPhone app                                                    22823                               10.2
Dave's 3D                                                      22475                              10.34
 ""       USB                                                   21678                               10.26
  "" NAK                                                       21529                               10.19
OUTDOOR GPS                                                                                   10.2
Brian                                                                                                      10.5
Etrex                                                                                                       10.5

Walking time                     3 hours 24 minutes        Talking time 1 hour 10 minutes
Contains OS data Copyright.Crown Copyright and database right 2016.

                            Explanation for this hilarious photo is available. Tand C apply
                                  Rock standing number 3