Friday, 27 October 2017

Hadriana vallum ambulantes (Northumberland) October 27th.
Walking the wall is always a pleasure, at least to me, especially this bit in the middle of the 80 Roman mile structure that was  northern boundary of the Empire. Built by Hadrian's legions in a few years, starting AD122, some of it has been lost beneath the B6318, some beneath the streets of Newcastle. But in between Northumberland and Cumbria much remains, not as high as originally built, and it has become a popular long distance path.

To reach the start take A69 west, find the B6318 and drive on to the reach the Sill, newly reopened visitor centre, conveniently placed next door to the Twice Brewed pub/brewery.
The map to use is OS OL Explorer 43, Hadrian's Wall. For fanatics the National Trust has a large scale map pinpointing all the milecastles, turrets and forts along the way.
Quinque ambulates out today, Brianus, Haraldic, Jovanus,me and Ben Hur, whose chariot we are using. (Thanks Brian) and we are starting the walk from The Sill after breakfast of tea/coffee/bacon. The car park is at GR NY752668.
  The Sill, there is a footpath that leads to the roof. Great views from the top. It was sunny when we arrived.............

..............and misty when we left the car park!
Leaving the car park we took the road south, after about half a mile turning left on the road to Vindolanda. On the left hand side of the road is the remaining stump of a Roman milestone, the first of many piles of stones we saw today.
                                      Remains of Roman milestone. This road is built over the Stanegate, once the road across the country built south of Hadrian's Wall.
And a little further along is one of the few thatched cottages in Northumberland.

                                        Thatched cottage on the way to Vindolanda.
 Built as a service fort for the wall, Vindolanda is one of the best excavated forts on or near the wall. Great museum, wonderful piles of stones so you can see where the barracks and granaries were. But not for us today.
                      Vindolanda Fort.
A short way beyond the fort, on the left is a whole Roman milestone.
                                           Did they really need such a large milestone?
At the end of the road we turned left. At a road junction we turned right, having admired the limekiln of course.
At mile 3 on the map we turned left on the farm track to East Crindledykes. At the end of the track, by the farm, we dutifully followed the footpath markers across fields towards the B6318, usually called the Military Road. Follow our route on the map, not the marked path, cross the stile and the road and take the metalled track that leads to the museum outside Housesteads  Museum. If you want to go into the fort at Housesteads (Vercovicim) you need to buy a ticket. We walked uphill to a gate and were on the wall. Turning left we walked west, some of us on the wall itself, this section is the only one where people are allowed on the top of the wall.
                 Remains of the west gate at Housesteads
                The wall heading west from Housesteads, not its original height. There is a footpath on the left.
At the 5 mile marker on the map we called a Herbie, sitting on rocks at the base of the wall. (I forgot to mark HS on the map)
                      Herbie time. Two course dinner again, pork pie for mains and Lion bars, ginger biscuits and heavily seeded cake from Mrs A. Wall behind.
Lunch over we continued heading west on the Hadrian's Wall Path. At one point, not far from lunch the wall is crossed by the Pennine Way and for a short distance the two paths are as one. The mist was quite heavy, allowing some to recite the first few lines of Keats "Ode to Autumn", nobody could remember much more.
Beyond Hotbanks Farm the wall, and the path, climb high above Crag Lough. This section is my favourite stretch of the wall. High above the water, which usually has a pair of swans at least, the wall has gone but the views north are so well worth viewing you need to watch your step as the path has a very steep edge going down to the lough.
                Milecastle 38, with a gate on the north wall.
                       Season of mists and mellow fruitfulness....................
                            Crag Lough from east of Hotbanks
                      Looking down on the lough.
Beyond the lough there are several steep descents, followed immediately by steep ascents. The most famous of these dips is "Sycamore Gap" because it appeared in the film Robin Hood, Prince of Thieves, along with Kevin Costner and Morgan Freeman.
 From the crag above the final of these descents on our walk there is a view of a turret. With a few exceptions all the turrets, or their sites, on the wall are numbered. For example turrets 37A and 37B are between milecastles 37 and 38.
This one is not numbered, possibly built as extra protection on a vulnerable part of the wall which is in a dip here.
                            The turret with no name, and some of the many walkers out today.
We took a footpath across a field and turned down the road back to the Sill, and more important the Twice Brewed pub and micro brewery. We did have a good look round the Sill first, café, gift shop(!) and YHA. I have my doubts about the architecture but what do I know.

Twice Brewed: The pub had Sycamore Gap, Vindolanda Pale and Twice Brewed bitter on offer, plus something called Kaffir Lime Leaf. The bitter was in fine form, so I had two.
This walk is a bit shorter than our usual expeditions, apart from the short steep climbs on the wall itself it is easy going too, and there are plenty of piles of stones.

MATRIX MMXVII  Z to the n+4
                                                                              steps                            miles
NAK                                                                    14993                            6.15  too few, too short
iPhone                                                                  18569                            8
OUTDOOR GPS                                                                                        7.84
No Dave today, and I forgot what Brian and Ben said.
              Contains OS Data, copyright. Crown copyright and database right 2017
And a few more pictures
              Crag Lough. I took this picture two weeks ago, in the sunshine

Friday, 20 October 2017

Hotter than a Copper Snout (Northumberland) October 20th.
Like many a gadgie I suffer from Ohrwurm, a song going round my head all day. Today's Ohrwurm is Jackson, a 60's hit for Nancy Sinatra and Lee Hazlewood, and also for Johnny Cash and his wife June Carter. It contains the line "Hotter than a pepper sprout" . Say no more except that a North East group misheard the lyric and called themselves "Prefab Sprout", a fine example of a Mondegreen if ever there was one.
Enough of that, a septet of gadgies, largest gathering for some time, are heading for Alwinton in Northumberland to walk part of Clennell Street and along Copper Snout.
This walk is number 94 in a recently published book by gadgie Norman Johnsen; "100 Walks in Northumberland". It is also one we have done before, several times.
We exercising seven are Harry, Dave, John H., John Ha,  Ben, me and Brian, who has kindly given his name to the storm due to hit Britain on Saturday October 21st.
To get to Alwinton from base go north on the A1, turn off at Morpeth on the A697, turn left at Eldon Bridge on the Rothbury road, drive through that small town and some miles beyond turn right for Alwinton.
There is a National Park car park in the village, for a fee, or a Yorkshire one on the verge by the stream as you reach the village.
The map to use is OS OL Explorer 16, The Cheviot Hills and the freeby is at  GR NT 921063
We stopped in Rothbury on the way for tea/coffee/scones/bacon at Tomlinsons Café and Bunkhouse on Bridge Street, always a welcoming place. It has colouring books.
                      Tomlinson's café and bunkhouse in Rothbury. The staff said we could wash up instead of paying. We left
Onwards to Alwinton.
          This week's advert for Ford Mondeo (and Fiesta) Alwinton village street behind.
  There is a footbridge over the stream in front of the car parking area. We crossed it and turned left, following the ancient drove road called Clennell Strret. Once past the Creel, a farm not a fisherman's basket, the path is grassed and climbs slowly, and a bit wetly today, thanks to overnight rain. On the left is Castle Hill which has a hillfort on the top but we kept Dave away from it today. There are other settlements and enclosures off the path, fortunately very difficult to make out. There is also a Cross Dyke crossing the path, and it is visible. Nobody seems sure what its purpose was, maybe defensive, maybe part of a system for holding animals on the drove road, or a boundary marker.
The path, more like a quad bike route, continues over the moors in a north west direction and is now marked as Border County Ride on the map as well as Clennell Street.
The day was warm and sunny, the views well worth the effort of steadily plodding upwards towards Kidland Forest, a plantation, much of which has been cut.
                     Looking east towards the sea.

                         And looking west.
We paused near Wholehope to look at the sad remains of the Youth Hostel, now nothing more than a pile of stones.
                   Once there was a Youth Hostel on this site, the corrugated shed is not the remains.
After a short distance through the western edge of the plantation we emerged onto open ground again and found the marker post heading south west towards Copper Snout.

                      Turn left at this marker, it does have an arrow.
Off the forest track we were back on a footpath, and a wet one at that, thanks again to last night's rain. Not far in we spotted a stell (Sheep fold) and decided it would make an excellent spot for a Herbie.
                      The stell we chose for alfresco dining.
          October 20th, warm and sunny. two course meal again today, mini Scotch eggs followed by chocolate cake from Mrs AS., ginger biscuits from Ben, ginger and nut cookies from John Ha., Alpen Bars and little cherry cakes. Tea and sandwich and an apple and six small tomatoes from the vine for me. We discussed opera too, some like it some tolerate it, some can't stand it. We can be cultured sometime, some of us.
Back on track we headed south along the ridge over Copper Snout. Brian and Dave took off to the north to bag Saughy Hill and rejoined us a little further on.
                 Gently rounded Northumberland on a beautiful day
                      Light cirrus, with cumulus behind, and the Cheviots.
The grassy path wanders downhill to the farm at Shillmoor. The house appears to be have taken over by the army, there was a platoon of fully armed soldiers on the road but they didn't recognise us the enemy. Quite friendly really, probably finishing a long march and wanting a brew.
              Large fungus on the way down, about 9 inches in diameter
                  Shillmoor farm and soldier.
Once across the river we turned left and walked back to Alwinton along the road.There is a footpath on the south side of the river but the red flags warning of army activity were out so we chose to stay clear. There is also a path on the north side of the river from Shilmoor which we have taken in the past but today we stuck to the valley road.
                                There are several such sites along the way
                                     River Coquet, quite full today

                      A humorous farmer lives at Linbriggs 
                              A fair warning, we took it.
Back at Alwinton we decided to make use of the village pub, the Rose and Thistle. Several lagers and one real ale on offer, a well kept Northumberland Gold.
This approximates to Norman's walk number 94. He gives more precise directions but not as many pictures. Apparently the publishers removed some of the Points of Interest he mentions in his walks, so have I today. There are the sites of several illicit whiskey stills in these hills, we passed close to one but there was nothing to see. Well hidden from the excise men.
It's a good walk, not too much climbing, the views on a fine day like today are wonderful in all directions, and it's a bit over 9 miles long.

MATRIX      MMXVII   Z to the n+12
                                                                                        steps                              miles
NAK                                                                              23460                            9.62
iPhone                                                                            21369                            9.37
Dave's 3D                                                                      21058                            9.26
  ""     USB                                                                     20578                            9.74
   ""  NAK                                                                      20412                            9.40
OUTDOOR GPS                                                                                                 9.34
Brian                                                                                                                    9.57
Contains OS data, copyright. Crown copyright and databaseright 2017

The first four photographs in this week's gallery are from Harry, photographer. I'm just a snapper, but quite a good one.