Friday, 30 September 2016

Meet the Hewitts.................Sept 30th
Hewitts are Hills in England Wales and Ireland more than Two Thousand feet high. I never knew  that. Hedgehope in Northumberland, at 714metres or 2343 feet is one of them.  It is a child's idea of a mountain, nice and conical and today, not for the first time, nor the last, we gadgies are going to walk up it.
The walk starts at Hartside in the beloved Ingram Valley, home of the river Breamish. To get there, A1 North, A687 at Morpeth, turn left after Powburn and follow the valley. Stop for breakfast at the Valley Cottage café first and then move on to Hartside, which is as far as the public can go. Beyond is the settlement of Linhope. The cafe hopes to stay open weekends over winter, it will need support.
There is off road parking at Hartside. The walk is covered by OS OL 16, The Cheviot Hills and the start is at GRNT976162
A good turn out today, seven of us: John C., Brian, Ray, Harry, Ben, Dave and me.
We followed the road west from Hartside passing the hamlet of Linhope. (Semantics, a hamlet is a village without a church, apparently) On the right a sign post directs walkers towards Linhope Spout, a pretty waterfall and pool but at the end of the plantation we took the footpath on the left and headed uphill on a rough grass track past Rig Cairn and on to High Cantle.
On the way, the road to Linhope. A fine day for walking too, just as the weather maid had promised.

Turn off the road at this marker and head up the track

The grassy track, it meanders a bit

At High Cantle we turned north west and continued across Shielcleugh Edge to Coldlaw Cairn. It is well worth noting that the ground on this section, and indeed almost to the top of Hedgehope, was very boggy, peat hags led to some meandering and most of us admitted to damp feet. At Coldlaw Cairn, another rocky outcrop, we called a Herbie Spot.
Jackets are an indication that although a bright day Autumn has arrived and temperatures have fallen. We shared Ben's ginger biscuits, first time for a while, Pork Pies, Jesmond Cake  Company ginger flapjacks and a cream topped juicy cake from Mrs A...
Lunch over we headed north and then turned north east on Comb Fell. An experiment here with some plastic mesh proved interesting. Vegetation has grown through it and we were freed for a while from the bog but eventually it ran out and we battled through more hags before hitting the relatively dry and grassy path to the top of Hedgehope.
Hedgehope has a fine cairn offering shelter from the wind, and it has a trig point too.

 Shelter and trig point, Hedgehope
There are several routes down from Hedgehope. From the top head south east, follow the fenceline around the plantation and hit more bog approaching Dunmoor Hill, head west of south past the Staindrops, some bog, or turn south at mile 8 and follow the relatively dry grass track downhill to rejoin the road at mile 10, by the plantation at Linhope. This is the track we took and were soon back at the cars. Changed, surprisingly we headed for the Anglers Arms at Weldon Bridge which offered beer or coffee.
A good walk on a fine blowy day.

                                                                               steps                           miles
NAK                                                                    32652                          13.24 (mmm)
Dave's 3D                                                            26052                          11.5
  "      USB                                                           24988                          11.43
  "      NAK                                                          24796                           11.34
Etrex GPS                                                                                               11.1
OUTDOOR GPS                                                                                     11.01

Walking time 4hrs 23 min                            talking time 53 mins   Height climbed 2695 feet

Contains OS data copyright. Crown copyright and data base right 2016


Saturday, 24 September 2016

Walking with the gadgette, Volume 5 September 2016
  A change from Madeira, my dear, this year we have been to the borderland between Portugal and Spain, flying to the former, staying in the latter but visiting the former too.
The hotel is in Isla Canela, a recently developed holiday area, next to the Atlantic, miles of golden sand but fortunately not too many bars and no discos, ideal for us older Anglos.
The holiday itinerary include three walks through areas of interest to nature lovers and in spite of the heat we finished them all.
The first walk took us back into Portugal, across the River Guadiana, the border. Portugal, being sensible, has UK time so crossing over the bridge makes you an hour younger.
There were eight of us in the group, all about the same age and we were led by a young Spaniard called Rafa. Handsome and bronzed he broke all the ladies hearts. More important he was an expert, knowledgeable about flora and fauna, particularly the birds of the area. He has a degree in law but makes a living guiding tours and writing books about the bird life of Spain.
                                                   Rafa, our guide and walking expert.
We were taken to the town of Alcoutim, a small place on the river and enjoyed a walk along the "Via Algarviana", not bthe whole length, it's a bit like the West Highland Way.
                   Alcoutim on the right, Spanish Sanlucar de Guadiana on the left.
The walk, once through the town, took us through scrubland, very dry. Had Clint Eastwood, complete with cigar and blanket appeared down a dry gulch we would not have been surprised.
The walk was about 5.3 miles according to theliterature we had been given. My faithful NAKOSITE pedometer said 5.8 but three pedometers built into fellow holidaymakers iphones said the distance was 7.5 miles. Mostly flat with some short climbs on good hard tracks, quite different from the Cheviots.
The area is poor for agriculture but we saw several interesting trees; Cork Oaks, grown for their bark. The bark is removed every 9 years, with great care, Umbrella Pines, grown all over southern Spain in the 16th century to provide timber for ships to fight the English! mastic bushes, home to the lynx, fig trees, olive trees, fennel, carob trees and another shrub which has very sticky stems and is used, apparently, to make Chanel No 5 stick to the skin longer!
Rafa spotted a distant snake eagle and we also saw at least two species of lark, Sandwich terns, Dartford Warblers and egrets.
                                    Umbrella Pine..............
                                River Guadiana.........................
                                      The area produce honey, by the ton.
Back in Alcoutim we had lunch looking over the river before taking a gentle three hour ride by boat down the river to Ayamonte on the Spanish side and a bus back to the hotel.
                  Spain on the left, Portugal on the right and as both are in the EU no border points.
Next day was hot, 34C, something we Northumbrians rarely have to deal with. The walk was flat near the coast at a town called El Rompido. The footpath was on sand or boardwalks, through stands of Umbrella Pines, all grown for those wooden ships of yesterday but now a source of pine nuts. Pine nuts are difficult to prise out of the cones and it is not a popular job, sounds a bit like cauliflower cutting in England, mostly done by workers from Eastern Europe.
We were accompanied today by Maria, Rafa's apprentice. A young lady working towards qualifying as a tour guide. Her English, like Rafa's, was excellent, learnt waitressing in London.
The walk was really a bird spotting stroll, we saw hoopoes, spoonbills, whimbrel, plovers, warblers, whinchats, stilt, snipe, red shank, red rumped swallows and sparrows. And a stork's nest, the stork had migrated.
                              Make way for the Segways. There were many cyclists too

A distant egret

We lunched in El Robido before taking the bus back to Isla Canela. It had been a very hot day, several members of the group were quite exhausted but the lady I christened Pristine Christine was living proof that "horses sweat, men perspire but ladies simply glow" She had not so much as a hair out of place, mascara and lipstick in perfect condition.
This walk was also 5 miles long but again the pedometer on iphones claimed a little more.

The third organised walk was to a Spanish National Park, Donana. Very close to the Atlantic coast its main features are the sand dunes that rise to 100 metres. Like most sand dunes they shift, but this has been stopped by planting them with umbrella pines, thousands and thousands of them. Franco made use of his prison population to create a vast forest.
              Sky of blue, sea of green, and not a submarine in sight.
The track was sand, soft sand and very hard walking too but Rafa led us round gently with frequent stops, mostly to admire the few non umbrella pine trees. We saw juniper trees, eucalyptus which had been grown for a local paper factory, an occasional pine and low bushes, including the "curry plant" which smelled of..................
One short stretch of dune had been left in its natural state and we walked to the top of it for lunch, looking out over the Atlantic as we ate.
Rafa donned his disguise as the last of the Mohicans and pointed out the tracks of boar, fox, lizards and an Egyptian Mongoose. We spotted an army of ants crossing the trail, just like the ones in Tom and Jerry cartoons.
Today's birds included a booted eagle, winchat, swallows, yellow legged gulls and, best of all, four young hobbies resting up before they crossed to Africa. The region also supports Ospreys, both in transit and permanently. Of course we didn't see one.
                             Sea of blue, trees of green but not a submarine was seen. The boat is fishing for clams, illegally.
After a four mile hard walk on the sand we went o a town called El Rocio. No tarmac, the roads were sanded. The bars had hitching rails and high bars so that cabelleros could drink their beer whilst still in the saddle. In places it could have been a set for a western.
"Grandad", an olive tree supposedly 800 years old, still going.
                            El Rocio church, the town is a major pilgrimage site.
On other days, with no organised walk we amused ourselves with a trip to the local town of Ayamonte to admire its narrow streets and shops selling tat. Another day we took a boat trip round the Isla Christina which has the largest fishing fleet in Spain and a shipyard and mussel beds. Doesn't sound it but it was interesting.


Friday, 23 September 2016

Great Hetha Circular. (Scotland / Northumberland Sept 23
 After a week's holiday in Spain (Coming to a blog near you soon; Walking with the gadgette volume 5) I am out with the gang again, six of us: John x 2, Brian, Dave, Ray and me. This week's chosen walk is a circle in the Cheviots, starting just over the border in Kirk Yetholm but mostly in Northumberland.
To get to the start A1 north, A697 at Morpeth and a couple of miles past Wooler turn left on the road to Kirk Yetholm. Turn left at the village green, past the Gypsy King's house, up the hill, down the hill and on the left is a grassed parking area. The map to use, and it is advisable, is OS OL 16 The Cheviot Hills and the car park is at NT839276.
                              Correct equipment is essential for a day in the hills. These gentlemen are wearing gaiters and jackets, except for Ray who is a hard Geordie lad.
In the east corner of the car park a finger post pointed us on the path along part of the Pennine Way, we crossed the Halter Burn by a footbridge and walked on the south side of Green Humbleton, a hill with a fine fort on the top. back in England on a path that doubles as St. Cuthberts Way and the Pennine way, we left the path and headed north east across moorland to Ring Chesters, another hill fort.
Not much left of the hillfort at Ring Chesters but the walls can be made out, just.
Leaving the fort and going downhill we walked through a plantation and emerging, decided it was lunch time after a mere three miles. (Note there was no café stop for breakfast.) Another feast, almond slices, biscuits, flapjacks from and cheese scones from Mrs A.
Break over we continued east across sheep infested moorland, turned south east and arrived at Hethpool. Hethpool is at the entrance to the College Valley. It is possible to drive down the valley with a permit obtainable at John Sales Estate Agent in Wooler (£10) but there is a car park just beyond the cottages and you can walk from there.

Distant view of the Hethpool Cottages. We turned right at the little hut you can just see over the edge.
After a short walk down the valley road we turned right at the finger post indicating Great Hetha. Initially a gentle climb alongside a wood the path becomes much steeper as it approaches the top of the hill, on which is a hill fort! Great Hetha, just one of several in the area, and not much to see.

                  Not much to see of Great Hetha fort, good view though.
Piles of stones, formerly the walls of Great Hetha.
 (I have mistakenly labelled Great Hetha as a Herbie Spot, the real one was miles back, at mile 3.)
Leaving Hetha we headed south west across moorland to Trowupburn, one of the most isolated homes in Northumberland. Great place for an author who likes the company of sheep.
                                          Trowupburn and inhabitants.
The path turns west and climbs again, we stopped for a break at mile 8. Dave observed that Brian's cap was frayed. Brian replied he was "fraid it was" but didn't wear it backwards like an American teenager, a style affected for the day by Dave.
We headed west on fairly level paths before rejoining St. Cuthberts Way/Pennine Way. (There are two branches to the Pennine Way here, we were on the high level one) Going downhill at the end, we reached the car park, changed and headed for the Anglers Arms, which had Pedigree New World, Speckled Hen and Adnams Ghost Ship on offer.

The Matrix MMXVI zzzz
                                                                        steps                          miles
NAK                                                              27745                        12.26 needs adjusting again
Dave's 3D                                                      23274                        10.28
  "       USB                                                    22210                         10.16
  "       NAK                                                   22162                         10.14
OUTDOOR GPS                                                                               10
Garmin                                                                                               9.7
Brian                                                                                                  9.64
John C                                                                                               10.1

Contains  OS Data copyright
Crown copyright and data base right 2016

Friday, 9 September 2016

Addlebrough in the Dales   (Or Brough Law in Ingram Valley)..........Sept 9th
  The nation has had a mini heat wave, warm air blowing up from Africa and sending records for the highest temperature in September to the highest "since records began" or at least 20 years. For a change we are off to the Yorkshire Dales, Wensleydale to be precise, home of Wallace and Grommit's* favourite cheese. white and crumbly with a sharp taste. Goes well with anything, especially marmalade in a sandwich.
There are five out: John x 2, Brian, Dave and me, the frustrated newspaper columnist.
The walk starts from the village of Worton near Hawes and it is covered by OS Explorer 30. Yorkshire Dales, North and Central. From Tyneside Worton is reached by taking the A1(M) South to Scotch Corner, The A6108 through Richmond to Leyburn and the A684 to the village. Off road parking is available.
Well that's as far as we got in that direction. I got to Brian's, John C., got to Brian's and much later John H. and Dave got to Brian's, thanks to heavy traffic and road works. Too late to drive down to Yorkshire, we decided to fall back on that good old favourite Brough Law. This well documented walk has been blogged several times but here it is again.
The walk starts from the car park at the Valley Cottage café in Ingram. A1 north, A687 at Morpeth, turn left some miles after Powburn into Ingram Valley, cross the road bridge and turn left , past the church and park. We had breakfast in the café, tea, coffee, bacon sandwiches, still175 pounds or 12 stones  7 lb.
This walk requires two OS maps; OL 16, The Cheviot Hills and Explorer 332, Alnwick and Amble.

  Car park and café. It has a small display of the history of the valley, starting 12000 years ago!
In the north west corner of the car park there is a footpath, it leads to the valley road near the bridge. This is the way we started. Once on the road we turned left and walked west, past Ingram Farm with its shy peacocks.
                 Too shy to flash those tails
Ignoring the first path on the left we walked on, taking the next footpath uphill, then along the side of a wood until we reached the top of Brough Law. An iron age bivallate hill fort, all that remains is the rubble of the perimeter walls.

                     Ruined walls, but they are Pre Roman, they have lasted well.
From the fort we took the footpath south above Chesters Burn for about a mile and a half before turning slowly through 90 degrees and heading over Cochrane Peak (mile 4). From here the footpath goes through bracken, crosses a farm track, continues through the bracken to a wooden gate of great interest.

Dave points out the added security of a two chained gate. It fooled the sheep but not us.
Once through this obstacle we followed the footpath north east to the top of Old Fawdon Hill which has a trig point and brilliant views of Simonside and the Cheviots. We normally sit on the top for a Herbie Spot but it was very windy so we descended  and sat in the shelter of a small wood. Another day of sharing; Fuesli bars, Almond Slices, Mrs A's chocolate cake and ginger with chocolate flapjacks
 The trig point does not really lean, it was very windy.
Enclosure to the south east of Old Fawdon Hill. It doesn't appear to have a name, shame as it is very prominent.
Lunch over we walked across the fields to Fawdon Farm, turned left in the yard and almost immediately took the footpath round the side of East Hill. After about one and a half miles we took the footpath on the right across two fields to the Branton Ponds. Once gravel pits they are now nature reserves although there was not a lot of bird life about today, swans, Canada geese, lapwings and some ducks. Bur from the hide we were given a glimpse of the bird of the blog, a Kingfisher.
                     Not my picture, the Kingfisher is not exactly a common sight. The man in the hide had waited two hours for it to appear, and we scared it off as soon as it landed. Whoops, sorry
Having walked around the ponds we returned to the road, crossed the River Breamish by the footbridge, turned left and walked up the road to the car park.
Surprisingly we stopped at the Anglers Arms at Weldon Bridge on the way home. They had Young's London Gold, Bombardier and Diet Coke for one of our party who is off alcohol for a short period under doctor's orders. I hope he recovers soon, it is so embarrassing asking for a pint of coke please.

                                                                                steps              miles
NAK                                                                   30090                 10.44
Dave's 3D                                                           23560                 10.36
""""" USB                                                           22658                 10.38
  """   NAK                                                         22669                 10.37
OUTDOOR GPS                                                                           10.5
Garmin                                                                                           10.6
Brian                                                                                               10.5

For technical reasons there are two maps today
* Wallace and Grommit, a stop motion animation about one man and his dog. Very funny, very English and popular with people of all ages.