Saturday, 10 March 2018

Walk in the Park (Not Barefoot) (Northumberland) March 9th
The snow has gone, almost as quickly as it came, causing some floods but nothing too disastrous.
We have decided that all footpaths will be muddy and we have had enough of that this year so we have chosen to walk in Hulne Park, Alnwick. Hulne Park is the home park of the Duke of Northumberland and he kindly leaves it open to us proles most days of the year. The paths are good and hard, ideal for a gentle walk with lots to see too. To get to the Park take the A1 north, turn off for, and drive through, Alnwick, turn left at the castle gate and turn left almost immediately after and drive the short distance to the entrance. Parking is limited and if you don't park on the left you will be hung, drawn and quartered. You cannot take your car into the park. For this offence you will be severely dealt with. I know from experience*
The map to use is OS Explore 332 Alnwick and Amble but you can download a map showing the separate walks in the park if you google Hulne Park. ( Or close to that. If you download this map it shows three colour coded walks, red, yellow and blue. We have chosen the blue, the longest, and are going to add a loop to it. Both maps name the drives or roads on the walks but the downloaded one is, in my humble opinion, better, it has a little more information.

We stopped for breakfast at Barter Books, one of the largest second hand bookshops in England. Housed in the old Alnwick station it has books, DVDs, CDs, coffee, food and souvenirs. It does not buy books, it gives you credit, but it does sell books. And it's very popular on wet days, not surprisingly.
             Barter Books, still looking like the station it was
                              The lion of Alnwick, slightly headless.
The walk;
Having parked outside the gate into the park and booted up, we set off. After the freezing conditions of last week the weather was very mild, no need for extra lagging.
                       Yorkshire car park in Northumberland
William the lion, King of Scotland came to a sticky end here in 1174.
We walked along the Farm Drive, initially bordered by lines of gnarled trees, before the woodland gave way to open fields, in the last of which is a fine hemmel.
                 A fine Hemmel.  hemmel is a northern dialect word for a cattle shelter, open on one side. So how about Hemel Hempstead, just outside London?
After a couple of miles of easy, pleasant walking and chatting, we turned off the Farm Drive, joined the yellow walk and climbed White Hill to examine the Brizlee Tower.
                          The Brizlee Tower, erected  at the end of the 18th century by the first Duke of Northumberland in memory of his wife. A sort of Taj Mahal. The thing on the top is a fire basket. I suspect by the time the tower was built there was no longer a threat from marauding Scots but perhaps it was used as a beacon. I do remember going to watch the beacons lit on coronation night, 1953.
Having admired the structure we continued on our way in an anticlockwise loop round Brizlee Hill, eventually finishing up back on Farm Drive, which promptly, and mysteriously became Farm Road.
                   The view across Northumberland from East Brizlee. The Cheviot range, snowcapped is just about visible.

              I have been told that this is the graveyard for members of the Percy family. Empty at the moment. I am also informed the family has one space left in Westminster Abbey.
                      Family motto. "Hope in God"

At East Bridge we crossed the River Aln and walked Palmstrother Drive along Palmstrother Haugh. (Haugh is another good northern word; "flat piece of land by a river")
One side of the road is freshly planted with trees, protected by a deer fence. We did not see a deer, or any other animal, all day.
We followed the footpath uphill to Hulne Abbey (Called Hulne Priory on OS map) and called a Herbie, sharing ginger biscuits from Ben, toffee bakewell tarts, frangepans and Mrs A.s chocolate iced ginger biscuits.

               Hulne Abbey, inside and out. The map says it is a ruin but there is an inhabited cottage inside. It was founded in 1242. Its modern claim to fame is as the home of Maid Marian in Kevin Costner's film "Robin Prince of Thieves" (The one where he got from Dover to Hadrian's Wall in three seconds)
Herbie time over we walked round the back of the Abbey and downhill to Lady's Well Drive, another pleasingly pleasant flat stretch along Filbert Haugh. At Filbert Haugh we crossed the river and followed its south bank until we were opposite the ruins of Alnwick Abbey. Difficult to see  because of the trees, only ruins remain. It was founded in 1174 by Premonstratian canons.
At the junction we turned right and walked uphill to Park Cottage, turned left and were soon back at the car.
On the way home we called at the Cook and Barker inn at Newton on the Moor. A well known eating place, we simply rehydrated on Atlantic Hop or Black Sheep, enjoyed close to a roaring fire.
This is an easy walk, about eight and a half miles. The paths are firm, no mud, things to see and superb views. Good family stroll out.

                                                                steps                                    miles
NAK                                                       22543                                     8.8
iPhone                                                     19355                                     8.4
Dave's 3D                                                17392                                    8.52
"" USB                                                    17926                                     9.05
"" NAK                                                   17746                                     8.96
Sylvia;s mother                                       18117                                     9.15
Brian                                                                                                       8
Ben                                                                                                         8.4
OUTDOOR GPS                                                                                    8.4
Contains OS data. Copyright Crown copyright and database right 2018
* I did this walk sometime last year with my group of "Russians". At Hulne Abbey/Priory one of the party felt very unwell. Fortunately we had a doctor with us who took command, looked after the patient for a while and the ran to the entrance to get her car. She was stopped by the gateman and inspite of her explaining somebody was unwell and needed assistance he was very abusive, verbally.
I can understand the estate does not want cars going into the park but most of us have a little more understanding. He didn't know that one of our group knows somebody who works for the Duke....