Friday, 26 June 2015

It has not been a flaming June.............June26th
  Those of you who know the north east of England will be aware that during the last week of June one of the largest travelling fairs in England assembles on the Town Moor in Newcastle for the annual "Hoppings", a festival of fun and rides,wrestling and chips, fortune tellers and shuggy boats. And usually it rains. This year is no exception, the forecast for Friday has made the four gadgies available (Brian, John H, Harry, me)  to stay relatively close to home and have a walk in Allendale, starting at the town of the same name.
To get there, A69 west  A686 just west of Hexham and the B6295 through Catton. 
A pretty little town with a history of lead mining, Allendale has several cafes for breakfast and several pubs for apres walk refreshment too.   We called in at the Allendale cafe and tea rooms, for tea, coffee or Bacon sandwich. Brian awarded it five fletches, I must admit it looked good but the weight is slowly, very slowly going down.
Use OS OL43 Hadrian's Wall
                                      Free parking!
                                                     Allendale high street
We started the walk in the west corner of the town square, following the road downhill  until we reached a footpath that took us alongside the river East Allen. A wooded footpath, close to the stream, we followed it until we came to a bridge which we crossed and, passing the local brewery, joined the footpath on the south side of the East River, heading vaguely north west through unmown hay fields, rich in flowers , passing renovated cottages  with wonderful flower and vegetable gardens until we came to Oakpool.

                                                   Cottage garden , beautiful        
                                  River East Allen at Oakpool
                                         When I was a child most meadows looked like this, full of flowers. There was a movement to mow earlier, before the flowers had chance to bloom but this is now being reversed, in some places. The photo does not give the meadow full justice, it was awash with colour.
(Need a better camera, might win the Times competition for one!)
At Oakpool we left the footpaths and climbed a fairly steep metalled road, turning right at the next, slightly more major road. Having passed two houses we followed the sign that said Private, Harlow Bower (There was a sign saying public footpath). 
        There were three Shetland ponies at Harlow Bower, not too keen on being photographed.
Beyond the bower the footpath crossed more fields, going downhill, to Monk.
Whitfield church from Monk. It is a large church for what appears to be a small village although there are several hamlets in the area. Perhaps it was funded by the owners of nearby Whitfield Hall.
From Monk we followed the track through the woods  above the river West Allen, heading south. At the end of the wood we called a Herbie Stop. Today's goodies were chocolate iced biscuits from Mrs A, iced cake and peanut flavoured fudge, courtesy of www.
( I fool myself I walk the calories off)
At this point it looked like rain, as promised, so we donned waterproofs and headed across fields up Keenlyside Hill, joining a very minor road after a pleasant chat with a passing farmer on his quadbike, and taking the path across Dryburn Moor. Before we started on the moor we took the waterproofs off, the threat of rain having passed. The path across the moor is grassed and leads upwards, but fairly gently until it reaches a road. Weturned left and after a few hundred yards took the path that led past the old chimneys and old mill flue.
                                                   Remains of the chimney..............
......................................and the flue  (Look carefully, see the cuckoo's nest)
The lead industry in this part of the world goes back many years, possibly to Roman Times. The very long flue was built to provide a strong draught for the smelting of the metal. The work that went into it is quite remarkable, it's built of stone.
At the bottom of the hill we joined a farm track  which joined a road that brought us back into Allendale, eventually. Changed we headed for the Carts Bog pub near Hexham where the non drivers enjoyed their beer and we alll enjoyed a chat with a couple of young brickies who had just finished their week's labours.
This is what the Times would call A Good Walk, it has fields, woods, moorland and a bit of industrial arcaeology, shame Dave wasn't out.  And it didn't rain.
Not a bad day for the birders, we saw lapwings, curlews, dippers, wagtails, wrens, a kestrel and the usual lbjs but the bird of the blog was a pair of woodcocks.
                                                     Woodcock, keeping warm, not taken yesterday.

The Matrix MMXV  PPP
                                                                steps                                  miles
LIDL3D                                              31038                                   11.04
OUTDOORGPS                                                                              11.4

Both maps. Contain OS Data Copyright. Crown copyright and Database right 2015

Friday, 19 June 2015

Votadini was 'ere too......................June 19th
  This is a popular gadgie walk, covered several times including "Brough Law, Branto, Birthdays and Beer" way back in April 2014. However the weather forecast is not great so we are off on the same walk again, almost, it has a couple of slight variations.
There are six out today, John H, John C, Brian, Dave, Harry and me.
The walk starts at Ingram Centre, once the Muddy Boots Cafe which has unfortunately closed. It will reopen on June 27th 2015, so don't go there this week.
To get to the centre, A1 north, A697 at Morpeth and just beyond Powburn turn left at the signpost for Ingram. The map to use is OS OL 16 The Cheviot Hills and the car park is at NU019163.
 This week's car park, the familiar one at Ingram centre with the temporarily closed cafe behind.
                                                               Ingram Church, St. Michael's.
The walk; Leave the car park and walk up the lane past the church, turn right and head for the valley road. Go past the farm and after about half a mile (near the car park on the right side of the road) there is a footpath on the left that leads uphill, skirts a plantation and climbs to Brough Law, an ancient fort whose bivallate (two walls) enclosing walls are clearly visible. This is another Hillfort trail but not one we will be following too closely.
 Looking up the Ingram Valley from Brough Law.
                                      The remains of the ramparts on Brough Law.
Leaving the fort behind the walk continues south across moorland On Ewe Hill, easily recognised by the number of sheep, following green tracks with the occasional marker for either the Hillfort Trail or a public right of way. There are several paths going off to left and right, follow the one until Chesters Farm lies directly to the west then turn east, passing close to an ancient settlement before turning south then south east across Cochrane Pike before heading downhill, crossing a farm track and continuing downhill to a gate at Fawdon Dene.
                                    Aim for Old Fawdon Hill, which has an enclosure and.............
                                                    ....................a trig point
Once through the gate the path heads in a fairly straight line in a north east direction to the top of the hill. We called a Herbie Spot at this point, slightly down from the top to keep out of the unseasonably cold wind. Back to normal rations; Hobnobs, chocolate, mini Mars bars,almond slices and Mrs A's high quality chocolate covered biscuits. And a sandwich, spicey Mexican cheese in my case, with sandwich spread.

Fuzzy fort from Fawdon Hill. It is on Gibb's Hill and looks impressive in real life.
Leave the hill and head down, keeping a small plantation on the left and cross several fields to Fawdon Farm.
 Look carefully, you can make out the enclosure embankments, just.
                                          It was a very young calf.
Turn left in the farmyard and take the unmarked footpath almost immediately on the right which leads across  fields which show clearly the old ridge and furrow system.
Ridge and furrow, our resident archaeologist says the crop was planted on the ridge.
We cheated a bit and did not follow the official path which crosses fields and comes out at a footbridge near the entrance to the Branton Consevation Area. As naughty gadgies we walked down the edge of a hayfield, turned left at the road and walked through the very pretty village of Branton before entering the conservation area near the bird hide.
                 An old hemel (cowshed) in Branton, converted to cottages.
From the hide. We saw swans, Canada geese, swallows, martins, grebes, oystercatchers, moorhens and several varieties of duck, including stone ducks, Ben's speciality.
From the hide take the path between the two ponds (or walk round them both if you want) and leave the area by the footbridge. Do not cross the bridge unless you want to walk back on the road, but go through a gate on the left and follow the path through  a recently planted deciduous wood, across a hayfield and on to the footpath that passes Ingram Mill. Turn right down the lane back to the car park.
On the way home, surprise surprise, we called at the Anglers Arms which offered Speckled Hen, Young's Blonde and Youngs Gold. All went down well.

The Matrix MMXV  PP

                                                              steps                                        miles
LIDL3D                                               29284                                          10.82
Dave's LIDL3D                                   23442                                           10.73
Dave's USB                                         22706                                            10.39
OUTDOORGPS                                                                                         9.81
Etrex                                                                                                          10.18
Brian's GPS                                                                                                10
John C                                                                                                         10.1
Remarkably consistent.

Thursday, 18 June 2015

Fort Votadini* the Cheviots.....................June18
An extra gadgie walk for Dave and I. We are going to follow the Hillfort Trail in the beautiful College Valley in Northumberland. The walk starts at the entrance to the valley, Hethpool, a large house once the home of Lord Collingwood of Trafalgar fame. You may only drive down the valley if you buy a day permit from John Sales, estate agents, in Wooler. A permit costs £10, only 12 are issued each day but the valley is well worth the money. We are starting from Hethpool itself and there is a small car park just over the cattle grid past the row of cottages. Free too. To get to Hethpool follow the A1 north to Morpeth, follow the A697 past Wooler for about five miles, turn left for Kirk Yetholm, go through the village of Kirknewton and watch for the sign to Hethpool, it's on the left and is a two mile drive down a narrow road, watch out for vehicles coming the other way, especially large timber trucks.
The map for this walk is OS OL 16 The Cheviot Hills and the car park is at NT893280.
                                 Today's car park, quite popular, a group of ladies were setting out for a walk and a couple from Lancashire told me that they thought Northumberland was beautiful and if it wasn't for family they would come and live here. Quite right, I did.
From the car park we walked back past the cottages and the big house and up the lane to the junction for Eldonburn. A short way down the farm road we spotted the first of many "Hill Fort Trail" posts that led us across the well defined ancient Cultivation Terraces before heading north west up White Hill.  Most of the route is well posted, watch out for them, but in some places a few extra would be more than useful. Turning south west and then west we past a homestead before heading for the corner of a plantation.
                           Well defined ancient field boundary.
                                                            Watch out for signs, and follow them.
We went through the wood and came to Ring Chesters, a well preserved enclosure or fort, nobody really knows which.
                        Doesn't look much but it was once the family hearth

                       Worth the effort for the views if nothing else. The tors, Hare Law and Yeavering Bell
Descending the hill having examined the bivallate Ring Chesters we walked down to see the outlines of a farm stead and field system, then retraced our steps  and continued on our way to the farm at Elsdonburn. Beyond the farm we followed St. Cuthbert's Way for a short distance  before heading south east uphill to the forts of Little Hetha and Great Hetha. Little Hetha, viewed from above on its big brother is unusual for a fort as it is rectangular, like the traditional Roman fort.
Little Hetha from Great Hetha. I need a better camera for pictures like this but I am an old age pensioner.
 Still you can make out the shape.
On Great Hetha, which has the remains of the outer and inner ramparts clearly visible we called a Herbie Spot and had lunch admiring the views over to Easter and Wester Tors, the College Valley and the small lake at Hethpool House.
This pile of stones was once the outer ring of the ramparts, built long before the Romans arrived.
Refreshed, it had been a steep climb, we headed south west to Trowupburn. At the bottom of Great Hetha a film crew were taking a break from filming the opening sequence of "Beowulf", to be shown on ITV in the autumn. All nice people but I didn't recognise any celebrities, if there were any.
The Hillfort Trail signs seem to have been forgotten beyond Trowupburn farm bur we followed  a footpath uphill  and walked through a plantation on Sinkside Hill. There is a fort on this hill too but there is also a plantation and a notice saying the footpath was closed due to fallen trees so we gave it a miss, or put it to one side for another day. Walking downhill on a forest road we soon came to Cuddystone Hall (Whitehall on the map) and turned south on the valley road looking for a post directing us to the last of the forts. We found it and had to turn through almost 180 degrees to follow the track to the top of the hill for the last fort of the day. Having examined this one too we headed south downhill to rejoin the valley road and head north back to the car park. We met two ladies on horse back. They had been to watch the filming of Beowulf but had not been offered parts. They maintained they were too glamorous, they were probably right.
                                                  Hazy day in Northumberland
               Memorial to RAF (and some USAAF ) personnel killed in the Cheviots
                                                   Cuddystone Hall, it fair rocks on a Friday night.
On the way home we stopped at the Anglers Arms, Timothy Taylor, Youngs Gold and Youngs Blonde, and coffee for the driver. A good and interesting walk. Should you want to find out more about the many fortys in Northumberland get a copy of " Hillforts. Prehistoric strongholds of Northumberland National Park" published by English Heritage or "Prehistoric Northumberland" by Stan Beckensall. Or just get out there.
 Both maps  Contains OS Data, copyright. Crown copyright and data base right 2015

                                                         steps                                      miles
LIDL 3D                                            37761                                  12.2  Little legs!
OUTDOORGPS                                                                            11.9
etrex GPS                                                                                       12.59
Dave's LIDL3D                              29942                                      12.87
Dave's USB                                                                                     12.31
* Votadini, the tribe who lived in this area when the Romans arrived with their roads and things.

Saturday, 13 June 2015

The Frank Sinatra Walk.............June 12th
 We are off to the Lakes today as the weather girl on local TV has promised a warm, dry sunny day.
I asked for a "Nice and Easy" walk and Brian came up with today's adventure, a walk from Seatoller to Keswick via several thwaites and crags. A thwaite is Old Norse for a piece of cleared land. It is common in English names too, I went to school with Eddie Cornthwaite;  there is, or was, a Thwaites brewery in Blackburn,  Lancashire, town of the four thousand holes.
The walk requires either a bus pass or two cars or maybe more as there are six gadgies out today, Ben, Brian, Harry, John H, Dave and me.
From Newcastle head west on the A69, South down the M6, west on the A66 to Keswick, stop for refreshments, leave your car and take the bus (no. 78) to Seatoller, they run at 15 minutes past the hour, currently.
We started the day at the Coffee Lounge in Keswick. Brian swears it still sells the best bacon sandwich in the world, I have given up on extra breakfast and had a pot of tea. Over the drinks Brian asked for a team photograph today, requested by Sue of Forest Hall. Harry wondered if she had been named after an American Indian tribe, Brian said not that one, she was Christened Anne late in life and having always been rather reserved was  usually referred to as  shy Anne.

Two car parks today, this one in Keswick, £7 for a whole day but it does have Skiddaw in the background as a bonus.
The bus journey to Seatoller takes about half an hour in an open topped double decker bus, great for views over Derwent  Water but be careful you don't stand up or you will get slapped in the face by a tree branch.
                                     Taken from the bus
                                               Car park number two, Seatoller.
The walk, at last. A map could be useful; OS OL4 English Lakes North West Area covers the trail which starts in the Seatoller car park.
At the back of the car park a footpath takes you through the woods to the Youth Hostel at Longthwaite. The woods are the remains of the ancient forest that once covered most of our little island, deciduous oak, beech, birch etc. and this is one of the best times to see it, a sunny day in spring when the leaves have that fresh green look, the ground has flowers instead of the deadness of the coniferous plantations we see in Northumberland.  The footpath is very rough, made with an assortment of large stones and chunks of in situ rock. I thought I was in trouble until I realised I was wearing my distance vision sunglasses. I never learn.
                                       Woodland at Seatoller
The Youth Hostel at Longthwaite. One of the best in the country, purpose built and very comfortable. There were several groups of primary school children setting off for a day's adventures in the hills. Nice to see them and their enthusiastic but tired teachers. 
Beyond the hostel the footpath continues on the west bank of the River Derwent for a short time, following the Cumbria Way, before a set of stepping stones cross the stream and the path goes to Rosthwaite (yes another thwaite).
In Rosthwaite there is a cafe, the Flock Inn which does bacon but also specialises in lamb from the many Herdwick sheep that are bred in the Lake District. The farm doubles as a B and B and it said that Prince Charles has stayed here, there is a picture of him in the cafe.
                        Ben and Harry cross the stream.  Love Ben's hat, it's a Tilley
At the end of the road turn left and after a few hundred yards take the lane on the right hand side of the road that crosses the Stonethwaite Beck. The footpath just over the bridge begins the steep climb that finishes at Watendlath.
 Across the small divide, looking west towards Borrowdale before starting to walk down to...........................
 The barn at the end of the lake, otherwise Watendlath, pretty as a box of Kendal Mint Cake.
                                                 Bridge at Watendlath, teas and ice cream available in the old farm
                                                   The tea room
                                              Heroine of the Rogue Herries novels lived here
This is for you Sue, of Forest Hall Newcastle upon Tyne.  Brian waves, Harry stands out of respect.
Hope this is what you wanted. I am not on it because I can't work the self timer yet. The dog on the right stole Brian's pork pie. Fortunately I had a spare, it's the sort of thing gadgies carry.
  As you can see we called a Herbie Spot and sat in the sun feasting on Ben's ginger biscuits, flapjacks, Mrs A's extra chocolatey cookies, chocolate and from Dave, pork pies!! Fortunately I had taken a couple for my lunch (they're only small) so was able to help Brian out when the collie pinched his. (Down to 177 pounds, for now.)
Back to the walk; The footpath down the Watendlath Beck heads north down the valley through fields and woodland, deciduous. If you wish take time out to visit Lodore Falls above the Lodore Hotel.We didn't but paused some way on to admire the views over Derwent Water.

            Down the Watendlath Valley, me at the back again taking pictures.
                                Looking Down on Dewrwent Water, Mary Mount Hotel
                                                  Ashness Bridge.

We paused for a while at Ashness Bridge, it was hot , but the sight of a beautiful grey wagtail on a rock made the day. From the bridge the footpath leaves the road on the right  and starts the second climb of the day, a steep path up to Walla Crag which has magnificent views of the Lake and Skiddaw beyond. We paused for more water at Lady's Rake.   Harry, poor man, has contracted Lymes disease but is recovering well, thanks to the NHS. He needs to go to hospital for antibiotics, given intravenously. Brian has advised him to make sure he is the third man in the seating area so he is called first.  Work it out yourself.                                                                                       The path crosses a stile and several fields in a north east direction. Look carefully and you can see the stone circle at Castlerigg. Leave the fields and follow a farm trail but look out for a signpost on the left pointing the way to Keswick and going through more woodland. Pass the ice cream shop if you can at Springs Farm and follow the road back into Keswick.
Changed we opted to drive most of the way home before stopping for liquid refreshment. We headed for the wonderfully named Carts Bog pub near Hexham but they were having a music festival called Bogstock so we continued to Wylam and called at the Boathouse, pub of fourteen different hand pulled beers which make choosing difficult. I settled for Northumberland Gold, and it was.
This walk would qualify for "A Good Walk" in the Saturday edition of the Times. Great gadgie day out in the sun.

The Matrix MMXV   NN
                                                                  steps                              miles
LIDL3 D                                                  29413                             9.35  (I am 3' 11" tall today)
Dave's LIDL3D                                        21501                             9.16
Dave's USB                                               20930                            8.91
OUTDOOR GPS                                                                             9.1
Ben's Bragometer                                                                            9.5
Brian                                                                                                9.7 with a slight diversion

Yes they have slightly different scales.
PS the total scent is about 2000 feet