Saturday, 29 July 2017

A bastle a castle and Blawearie.  (Northumberland) July28th
  Numbers are still low, holidays and family commitments have reduced the squad to five; Harry, Ben, John H., John Ha. and me. With a promise of showers all over England we have decided to head north and have a walk from Hepburn Woods somewhere beyond  Alnwick. The walk is a favourite although it has not been done for several years.
To get to the start take A1 north, just beyond Alnwick turn left along the B5346 and after a good few miles look out for a sign post on the right for Hepburn. Beyond the farm is a car park.
A map is useful and the walk is covered by two; OS Explorer 340 Holy Island and Bamburgh and OS 332 Alnwick and Amble. The car park is at NU 072249, approximately.
               Hepburn , a Yorkshire car park, with a view of Hedgehope
                    The bastle just across the road from the car park. A bastle is a fortified house, dating from the almost interminable border wars between England and Scotland. A peel tower is a mini castle
            Start the walk on the path between the information board and the car.
We set off up the path mentioned in the caption above. After a few hundred yards, if that, there is a footpath on the left that climbs steeply to a ladder stile. Over the stile there is a short scramble to the top of the rocky crags which once made an almost natural fort, look carefully and the outline can be seen. The footpath west from the fort is overgrown this time of year by heather but we plodded on, crossed the minor road and walked up to Ros Castle. Not much to see of a castle or settlement but the views are spectacular, the Cheviots  west, the north sea east and north looks down on Chillingham Castle. The famous Wild White Cattle live in the park  but today they must have been sheltering under the  trees.
               Another beautiful summer's day in Northumberland
         Descendent of the inventor of bergamot flavoured tea?
                  Chillingham Castle parklands, cattle free. The building left of centre is not the castle.
Having admired the views and chatted to a retired lady teacher also out walking we returned to the road and headed east towards Botany, passing a row of bee hives close to the road. (Normally on this walk we walk across the fields but, getting old, we decided they were a bit claggy. (Muddy)
After a little over  a mile, with the Eiffel Tower in plain sight, we spotted the sign post on the right that indicated the path to Blawearie.
                       Turn right before the Eiffel Tower.
Not too far along the track we turned left and headed south east along the path up Cateran Hill. Somewhere off the road is Cateran Hole, a natural fissure which tunnels some hundred yards into the hill side. It is difficult to spot, the moor was covered with heather which can make walking an effort, so on this occasion we gave it a miss. The hole was likely used as a hideaway in Riever days and possibly by smugglers too. Should you try to find it, take a torch.
  We walked over the moor, passing a touching memorial on the way.
          The memorial to Douglas Brown
                 This poem,the authorship is uncertain, was voted the favourite by the nation some years ago. Not theologically sound apparently, but often used at funerals.
Some way on from the memorial we called a Herbie Spot, sitting behind a wall to keep out of the chill July wind. Sadly no Mrs A today but we shared ginger biscuits from Ben, Snickers, Titans from ALDI and chocolate from Hungary. And I am still 175 lbs, or 12 stones 7 lbs in correct currency.
Lunch over we walked along the track before heading east just south of the trig point at spot height 215.
The footpath we took went along the wall to a ford and across a field to Harehope Farm.
                The stream looks brownish from the peat on the hills.
                              Harehope Farm
                                  Come chicks.
Heading north at the farm we crossed a large meadow, shaped like a hexagon on the map, before spotting a stile over barbed wire. The path from here initially crosses grass land before climbing over heather moors. Since our last visit there have been changes. There are now a  number of pens for young birds, grouse, pheasants, partridges, and paths have been cut through the bracken and heather, presumably for the shooters who will appear on the glorious 12th of August.
 The path brought us to Blawearie, an old farmhouse that was occupied until the 1930s(?) but is now a ruin. The name, apparently, means "tired of the wind".
                 Blawearie, lovely setting, shame nobody kept it as a home or farm.
               This pile of stones is possibly a burial cairn or cist, or possibly somebody having a joke.
Passing Blawearie we took the grass track on the right and headed north west over the moors.  Beautiful at this time of year, the heather being in bloom, the bees doing what bees do and small birds  flying out of the undergrowth as we approached. Finally we hit the road near Botany again, turned left and walked back to the car park.
                     Beehives near Ros Castle. The heather here has been burned off to promote new growth but there were acres of it for the insects to use for gathering nectar and spreading pollen.
Changed we drove down the A697 and called in at the Anglers Arms, as welcoming as ever. The pub had Hook Norton, "Hooky" on offer, Black Sheep and another ale.

Not having Dave the pedometer king with us the matrix is a bit short.

                                                                    steps                                   miles
NAK                                                           31359                                 9.89
iPhone                                                        26087 (big difference)       11.4
OUTDOOR GPS                                                                                   11
Ben's bragometer                                                                                   11

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

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