Saturday, 25 March 2017

 Murder most Foul. (Northumberland ) March 24th
MUD HEATHER AND LAUDER GRASS WARNING!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
Ask most people living in the North East of England what they know about the village of Elsdon and they will say "The gibbet".
In 1791 William Winter was executed in Newcastle for the murder of an elderly lady, Margaret Crozier, who lived in a bastle house near Elsdon and ran, from home, a small shop selling material. His body was taken to Steng Cross, a hill above the village and hung in chains to rot. A replica of the gibbet post remains, but William is represented by a wooden head.
As you may have guessed, today's walk is centred on Elsdon. A sleepy village in Northumberland, the name comes from Elli's dene or valley, it has a church, a fine motte and bailey castle, a pub, a shop, a car park and a penfold. To get there take the A69 west, the A68 north and at Ridsdale watch out for signs on the right pointing towards the village.
The map for this walk is OS OL 42 Kielder Water and Forest. The car park is at  GR NY 937933
The church is dedicated to St. Cuthbert; his mortal remains rested here as the meandering monks took him to Durham. The church has 12th century origins, rebuilt in the 14th century. Nearby is the vicars peel, a fortified house to defend the villagers against referendum seeking Scots during the many border wars and skirmishes.
                   St Cuthbert's Church Elsdon. A large church for a tiny village but once upon a time Elsdon was larger and busier.
The car park is small, can only take a few cars, but there is plenty of space round the village to leave a vehicle.
The team today is: John x 3, Harry, Ben, Dave and me
                  This week's car park. And look how bright the day is. On Wednesday it rained heavily, on Thursday it was cols and windy but today it is bright, a little warmer and there is a light breeze.
The walk at last.
We started off on the metalled farm road heading east from the car park towards Landshot. A good start, very gentle slopes and a hard surface. Beyond the second farm building at Landshot we took the supposed footpath north east across fields and over Landschot Hill. The ground was soggy but the hard work started when we began to climb up King's Dod. Heather and the clumps of grass we used to call Dougalls after the dog in The Magic Roundabout. It's essential to watch the ground rather than the scenery.

                          The dougalls get worse later.
We struggled on, tripping in the heather until we caught a glimpse of Darden Lough and finally made it to the trig point on Darden Pike.
                                 Darden Lough
                                       Which way now? Two mapsters and a GPS
Just beyond the trig point there is a cairn and a broken gate. A short distance beyond the gate is a path that curves round Miller's Moss. The footpath is very narrow, quite slippy and on occasion it was easier to walk on the adjacent strips of heather. At a rocky outcrop we called a Herbie Spot. I have marked the Herbie Spot incorrectly on the map, it should be by the spot height 244m about 4.5 miles into the walk.
Today's Herbie Spot. Some had soup and sandwiches. We shared Mars Bars, oat cookies, chocolate caramel slices and chocolate, ginger biscuits from Ben and sticky ginger cake made by my own fair hand. (Under close supervision) I think I will change my title from blogmeister to cakemeister. Eat you heart out Mrs A.
Feasting over we headed downhill on another muddy track past Cloven Crag to the Grasslees Burn.
                                     Cloven Crags in the distance.
Having crossed the stream we turned left and waded through the sodden field to Grasslees, walked west for a short distance along the road before making up a path on the north side of Grasslees Burn to a farm track close to The Raw, the site of the murder of Margaret Crozier. Look on the map, there are three bastle houses in the area, or their remains at least. Oh those awful Scots.
We walked past this:
 The sign says it is a hemmel. We say it isn't
                               But this is a stell, although part has collapsed

Heading west (mile 7) we crossed more soaking fields until we reached what is probably a military road. The army has a large training area in nearby Otterburn, the edge is marked Danger Area on the map and there are warning signs advising you not to pick up anything.

                               It's a flare, but I left it alone.

Thankful to be off soggy, difficult ground we walked along the road to High Carrick. (just after mile 8) here we turned left, walked past the farm and followed a well constructed grassy track that looked as if it had been built for some industrial purpose, until we came to Elsdon Burn. Nothing for it but to wade through, gaiters have their uses and kept most of the water out.. After struggling through more wet land and crossing Folly Sike we hit the road close to the farm marked The Folly. From here we walked back along the road to Elsdon, preferring the road to the last bit of soaking footpath.
Changed we went to the village pub Bird in The Bush. The pub is being completely renovated but the bar was open. Sparsely furnished but with a real fire, we were told renovations would be complete in July. Really friendly place, with Wainwrights ale, a beer from Ringwoods in Hampshire and Golden Host from Jennings. Tea came in a mug and coffee in a large cafetierre. Support this pub!
In summer with drier conditions underfoot this would be a really good walk if only for the panoramic views of Northumberland.

The Matrix MMXVII                   LL
                                                                         steps                                 miles
NAK                                                             35762                                 13.54 (And I had adjusted it)
Dave's 3D                                                    28412                                   12.5
  "" USB                                                      26078                                   12.34
  "" NAK                                                     25688                                    12.16
iPhone                                                         29439                                    12.5
OUTDOOR GPS                                                                                      11.45
John C                                                                                                       11.9
Contains OS data. Copyright. Crown copyright and database right 2017
                             Elsdon Motte and Bailey
                               "Vicar's tower" A peel or fortified house.

Saturday, 18 March 2017

To sea or not to sea........(Northumberland )    March 17th
The tail end of the storm that caused chaos on the eastern seaboard of the USA (but not Canada, it kindly stopped at the border they always do if you watch BBC news.) threatened northern Britain today. The jovial jock on local TV on Thursday suggested Friday  could be wet. We had two walks planned, one in the country and one by the sea. Six of us out, two cars, we met at the entrance to Hulne Park, Alnwick to make a decision. (For Hulne Park see February 14th blog with Cyrillic heading)
The six of us; John x 3, Dave, Harry and me soon came to a decision.
The forecast had changed, the day would be overcast but mainly dry until early evening. So we chose the country and left for Eglingham,  a pretty village north of Alnwick.
Directions: north on the A1, turn off and go through the arch in Alnwick, turn right on the main street, turn left at the castle entrance, drive about five mikes, mostly alongside the wall keeping the riff raff out of Hulne Park. There is some off road parking on the lane going down to the village church.
The map to use is OS Explorer 332 Alnwick and Amble and it is advisable to take one, or a laminated photocopied sheet to amuse your daughters. A compass might also be handy! The parking spot is at GR NU106195, and here it is.
Car parking for a few vehicles near the church.

St. Maurice's church, Eglingham. It dates back to the 12 and 13th centuries but was sacked by referendum seeking Scots in 1596 and rebuilt in the 17th century.

Leaving the church we walked down the village street, past the Tankerville Arms, searching for the sign post that would send us on our way. It was hidden by foliage;

Spot the sign post. It says Public Bridleway and Titlington.
Having found the post we followed a poorly marked footpath across fields in a south east direction before coming to Kimmer Lough, a smallish lake with a number of feathered inhabitants.

Friendly  locals and a distant Kimmer Lough.
Beyond the lough we turned south along a muddy track before finding the dilapidated gate below.
Dilapidated gate and distant Jenny's Lantern
Beyond the gate we stumbled over a field of Lauder Grass (qv in Glossary) and heather, slowly ascending to Jenny's Lantern. Not sure whether this ruin is a peel tower or old farm house but on a cold and windy day it made an excellent Herbie Spot.

Jenny's Lantern outside and in. There are two versions of the origin of its name.

Jenny was the farmer's wife and waved a lantern at night to help guide her husband home from the tavern in Eglingham. The sort of wife a man should have.
"Jenny's lantern" is the local term for "will o' the wisp". Of course I prefer the former. For our feast today we shared pork pies, Mars Bars, home made biscuits and the last of my supervised batch of flapjacks. Some of us had soup too, with croutons.
(For anybody following this route Jenny's Lantern here is the one marked on the OS map with a height of 144m, not the Jenny's Lantern Hill to the south west)
Lunch over we headed west, round the end of a plantation, past a small pool with Canada Geese, Grey Lag Geese and teal before reaching this unmarked cairn.
                                     Out of focus pond
                      and unmarked cairn.
 On a previous walk we headed downhill and across fields towards Titlington Mount where we were met by an angry farmer who verbally abused us for trespass and offered an ASBO. This time we took the path downhill across a field with horse jumps made from old tyres until we hit a track, turned left and went to Titlington, which is an equestrian centre and bus station.
From here there is a marked footpath across fields and gently uphill to the road towards Titlington Mount. At the road we turned left and after a few hundred yards found the footpath on the right that went uphill, gently, through Titlington Wood. Emerging from the wood we followed a track across moorland to Titlington Pike, which has a trig point, one of the few we have spotted with a dedication.
                                John and the trig point on Titlington Pike.
From the pike you can see a lot of Northumberland, even on an overcast day. Also visible is Shepherds Law, a monastery. It is, I think, an outpost of the Anglican monastery at Alnmouth.

                               Shepherds Law. It has a fine apse.
From the monastery we headed roughly north past the remains of ancient field systems and boundary walls to Beanley Plantation. The wood has been thinned considerably since the last time we were here but the paths are just as muddy. Emerging from the trees we split in two, amicably. Harry, John Ha. and I crossed a field to a minor road, turned right at bthe end and walked back to Eglingham, passing Eglingham Hall on the way.
John C., John H. and Dave took the footpathto Rigses Fort, a Roman British settlement which is impressive but I don't suppose it has changed much in the five years since I saw it.

Eglingham Hall, built in 1728 and incorporating older houses from the 16th and 17th centuries.
Changed we visited the village pub, the Tankerville Arms. Very friendly and with two real ales on offer, Alnwick Amber and Tyneside Blonde.

The Matrix MMXVII KK
                                                                        steps                          miles
NAK                                                              27717                            10.93
Dave's 3D                                                      22833                            10.05
"" USB                                                          21741                             10.26
"" NAK                                                         21645                             10.24
IPhone                                                          23089                              10.3
etrex                                                                                                      10
OUTDOOR GPS                                                                                  10
John C                                                                                                   10.2

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