Saturday, 19 August 2017

Kippers, a castle and a coastal walk. (Northumberland) August 18th
Still not a full squad, four of us have taken note of the threatened heavy showers and strong wind and opted for another walk up the Northumberland coast. Dave, Harry, John H. and I are walking from Longhoughton to Embleton by way of Craster. A linear walk so if you choose to follow us have a car at either end or check Arriva bus X18, Travelsure bus 418. It is not a regular service, roughly a bus an hour.
To get to Longhoughton A1 north, turn east at Alnwick and follow signs. Alternatively follow the Northumberland Coastal route.
 Longhoughton is close to Boulmer, once an RAF helicopter station and radar base. It had a general store/NAAFI which is now a community centre. There is a small car park behind it, just off the main street through the village, and it's a Yorkshire car park. And as far as we could see there is no café in the village, so no breakfast, just get on with the walk.
                            Longhoughton car park, behind the village community centre.
The whole of the walk is covered, just by OS Explorer 332, Alnwick and Amble but it is easy to follow and can be done without a map.
 We walked a few hundred yards south down the main street before turning left towards Low Stead Farm. There is a sign post, so it's easy to find. The lane goes down to the beach, the hedges on either side displayed an abundance of blackberries, early this year, but sweet.
                        The start of the Low Stead lane.
At the beach we opted for the footpath and headed north.
                The footpath just off the beach.
Not far up the path we came to Sugar Sands and Iron Scars, the latter at the mouth of the Howick Burn, the stream that comes down through woods from Howick Hall, home of the Grey family, tea flavourers.
There is a footbridge across the burn. On the south side, on the rocks, a freshwater spring empties into the sea, the low cliffs are a geologist's textbook.
                         Fresh water spring, bit of a dribble today
                      OOH look, sedimentary layers
                                   Howick Burn.
From here the footpath follows the cliff tops, passes the old coast guard cottage, now a holiday let and on to Craster.
                             First view of Dunstanburgh Castle
                               Coastguards Cottage.
Craster  (Old fort inhabited by crows)is famous for kippers, processed from herrings by smoking them. The small smoking shed is run by the Robinsons! (actually the Robsons but so near to being Smokey Robinson and the Miracles I couldn't resist being childish) The village has a fine pub, the Jolly Fisherman, noted for its crab sandwiches and fine cooking.
Being pensioners we found a bench overlooking the small harbour and called a Herbie Spot.
                        Craster harbour. The concrete block on the right pier was the terminal for a ropeway carrying stone from the local quarry.
We shared Titans, Snickers and cherrycake, washed down with tea or coffee. The real goodies will reappear when the team returns to full strength.

                                        Craster War Memorial.
Lunch over we chatted to the many visitors, some really enjoying the fine, warm day, some dragging their bored teenage offspring and many walking their dogs. We resumed the walk north, heading across the fields towards Dunstanburgh Castle.
No matter how many times I visit this ruin I am impressed. Run by the National Trust there is little left but the massive gateway, walls and the Lilburn Tower. Work started in 1314 under the direction of the Earl of Lancaster. Later John of Gaunt, who left his horse shoe at the corner of Market Street and penny Street in Lancaster, held the castle.

                         Dunstanburgh Castle
                                       And the leaning tower of Lilburn
Beyond the castle the walk goes round the edge of Dunstanburgh Golf Course, beware of flying balls.

                      The path goes close to this fine example of an anticline. The oldest rocks are in the core and I could go on but..........................
                                                  WW2 pill box.
Beyond the golf course we walked down onto the sandy beach of Embleton Bay, school holidays, lots of children playing, as they should, building castles, digging moats and flying kites.
                                     Embleton Bay
                           One section of the beach had been invaded by jellyfish, so strong, according to Dave, they can stab through the  sole of your boot. I was very careful.
Shortly before Newton by the Sea (famous for its pub, the Ship, which always gets a mention in seaside places to eat in The Times, and it has a microbrewery) we crossed the dunes and had a look in the Newton Pond bird hides. A very quiet day, a couple of Grey Lags, a family of swans and a coot.

Following the markers for the Northumberland Coastal Path we walked round the south end of the pond and across the fields to Embleton. The footpath has been improved considerably, well grassed, well posted and easy to follow, right across a wheat field too!
                                                  Another pill box
                           Small animal house
                                          Friendly neighbours

In Embleton we headed for the Greys Inn, an excellent pub offering Alnwick Amber Ale, Revolvetry, Stella Spark, Giuseppe Lager and Black and Tan. As it was Dave's birthday he followed the gadgie tradition of buying everybody a drink. Unfortunately we only had time for one as we had to catch the bus back to Longhoughton.
Another good coastal walk in beautiful Northumberland. And it didn't rain at all.

                                                                         steps                                      miles
NAK                                                               27946                                     11.8
NAK 2, a new one                                          23183                                     11.5
iPhone                                                             23150                                     10.3
OUTDOOR GPS                                                                                            10
Dave's 3D                                                       21827                                      10.04
  "" "" USB                                                     21591                                       10.56
  """ NAK                                                       20859                                       10.2

Contain OS data, copyright. Crown copyright and database right 2017

Saturday, 12 August 2017

Grumpy granddad goes out with the gadgies again.
(Northumberland) August 11th.
   I did not join the team for a walk last Friday as we were looking after our grandson. In spite of my efforts to learn new soccer skills, play cricket, take trips on buses, metros, ferries and trains, visit a museum and watch a football match at St. Jaime's Park in Newcastle I was  named grumpy granddad for telling him (note, not asking) not to throw the sofa cushions around.
The lads had a walk on Rothbury Terraces, always a goodie, especially if you wander through the grounds of Cragside, and this time of year the heather on the moors is in bloom. (See "Rural Route Round Rothbury" 7/8/16)
  The forecast for today, given by the jovial jock on local TV is for rain in the morning and possibly light showers later. We decided to do another familiar walk, from Belford to Seahouses, usually done the other way round. Only three of us today, holiday time again. We are Brian, Harry and me, grumpy.
  If you follow this, starting from Belford, take the A1 north, well beyond Alnwick turn left into the village.
 It is a linear walk so a car at both ends is useful, or check the buses between the start and the end, Arriva X18, but there are not a lot of them.
The complete walk is covered by OS Explorer 340, Holy Island and Bamburgh.
We waited, with tea, coffee and bacon in the Sunnyhills farm shop and café, on the left as you drive into Belford and, cheekily, left the  car there all day. The shop is at NU113333. The rain stopped at 11.30 so we set off.
                       Sunnyhills, Belford, lovely people.
                           Lovely people too.
From the café we walked back along the road to the A1. It's a busy road, cross with care.
                 A1 near Belford. The main east coast road from London to Edinburgh. Had it been in the south it would have been duelled by now but it's in the north, we do get promises though.
Having crossed the road we walked north for a few hundred yards before spotting the sign post for the Northumberland Coastal Path. Well hidden by the hedge in winter, watch out for it.
                              The walk is well signed with this or the usual yellow public footpath sign.
                      The path, on the east side of the A1.
Once through the hedge the footpath crosses fields alongside the Coastal Granaries until it reaches the main East Coast Railway line.
                                     Coastal Granaries

              Some people are amazed to find that Northumberland is an agricultural county.  "I thought it was all mining and ship building, living off fish and chips"
There is a footpath across the railway. Walkers are asked to ring the signal box for permission to cross. (There is a phone in a bright yellow box) You tell him how many there are in the party and he gives permission to go or to wait until an express has thundered past. On the far side you ring him back to tell him you made it.
                                        Main, East Coast London to Edinburgh and beyond
Once over the line the footpath crosses an old single track that went to a nearby quarry and then crosses fields in the direction of Waren Mill. This old mill, now converted into flats is well worth a visit but we gave it a miss. Having crossed the fields with a large herd of curious cows we came to a minor road, turned right and followed it to the Ducket.
                     The Ducket. Built in the 18th century as a feed store and dovecot it is now a five floored holiday let which sleeps only two. The views from the top must be spectacular. (On the map it is marked as a windmill)
Following the road north east for a short time, we walked downhill to Spindleston Mill, like Waren, now converted into flats and holiday homes.
                                    Spindlestone Mill.
Walking alongside the Spindlestone Heughs for a short time we turned off the road at a sign post pointing uphill through woodland, across a field to the caravan site at East Hill.
Keeping to the narrow road we followed the Coastal Path before crossing fields that took us to the coast road. We turned left and after a few hundred yards took the footpath into the Bamburgh Golf Course. A bench just inside the grounds looked like a suitable spot for a Herbie so we took one.
Being only the three of us, pickings were slim, Titan bars from ALDI and home made rhubarb flavoured little cakes from Mrs A.
                                  The Herbie Spot. There is a bench, close to the flag. Passing golfers were very friendly, as was the group of German tourists who followed the footpath over the course.
Break over we followed the posts that mark the footpath across the golf course to the footpath above Budle Bay.

                     Budle Bay and the remains of a WW2 pillbox. 
The footpath rounds the course and eventually comes to a track down to the beach at Blackrocks point where there is a lighthouse/ siren and the famous stag rock.

                      Lighthouse/klaxon and famous stag rock.
We walked along the beach towards Bamburgh Castle, one of the finest in England if not the UK.

                         Bamburgh Castle, still inhabited, still starring in films.
We left the beach just before the castle, indulged in a "99" ice cream (no monkey blood!) and continued our walk round the cricket field below the castle walls. It must be one of the most picturesque cricket grounds in England.
               Hard to hit a six over that!
On the road beyond the castle we passed the car park and took the footpath on the right hand side of the road that crosses fields of wheat waiting for the combine until we eventually reached a road on the edge of Seahouses. We turned right and having passed a few small industrial sites turned left along the old railway line that is now a footpath and walked into Seahouses centre. A busy little seaside town, famous for fish and chips and boat trips out to the Farne Islands, home to several hundred thousand sea birds and seals. Surprisingly we visited the Olde Ship Inn and enjoyed a pint of Farne Island before heading home.

                                                                                steps                                  miles
Original NAK                                                             29632                            9.35
iPhone                                                                         23652                            10.75
New wrist NAK                                                          23401                            11.4
OUTDOOR GPS                                                                                               10.5

Contains OS data. Copyright. Crown copyright and databaseright2017