Friday, 24 November 2017

Bolam, Wansbeck and Shaftoe....Northumberland November 24.
They sound like a firm of solicitors, but they are places on today's walk.  (The best known solicitors in the north east are Hadaway, Hadaway and s*****)*
Another familiar walk and another close to home, starting at St. Andrew's Church in Bolam. To get there, A1 north, turn off for Morpeth and turn left at the golf club shortly before going downhill into the town. At Whalton turn right for Bolam and after four miles take the lane on the right that goes to the church.
Interesting church, Saxon West Tower, Norman additions and a small window where a WW2 bomb pierced the wall but failed to explode. Some years ago the German pilot came over and apologised.
The map for the walk is OS Explorer OL 42 Kielder Water and Forest. (GR NZ 092825 for the church)
Another grand turnout too. Nine gadgies braving the cold day; John x 3, Dave, Harry, Ben, Brian, Ray and me.
Naturally we are having breakfast first, this time at the Kirkley Cycle café which is not on the route above but is close to Kirkley Hall College which teaches dry stone walling and hedge laying amongst other things. Very interesting café, specialising in supplying energy to cyclists and anybody else. Next door, in an old farm building, is a gym. This morning a group of lycred young ladies were going through their exercises, later, as we were having breakfast they came to the café. Too much.

                                    Gym and cafe

The walk; We left the café and went to the church at Bolam. There is parking on the grass verge outside the church yard.
                        St. Andrew's, Bolam, plus the shadow of the photographer
               The small window is where the bomb pierced the wall of the church.

                      This week's car park by the church, slightly out of focus, but free
Walking through the church yard and past the west end tower we went through a gate, with marker, and headed north across very muddy fields past the houses at Angerton Steads, which have their own tennis court, across the dismantled railway, so dismantled you hardly know it's there, to the farm at Low Angerton.
From here we walked a few hundred yards along the road to the sign post on the left hand side pointing west.
             Top line says Public Bridleway but the bottom line has faded, follow it anyway.
The path here crosses fields alongside the river Wansbeck. There are some markers but like the river itself it meanders. Could be some Ox bow lakes here in a few hundred years. The path crosses a stream by means of a footbridge (unmarked) and it also crosses a field that had been ploughed, seeded and had shoots of some cereal crop. The footpath, marked, goes straight across this field and reaches Middleton Mill Farm. Through the yard we went and along the farm track to a road. At the road we turned left, crossed the bridge over the Wansbeck and turned into a field on the right. Dave the archaeologist explained we had just passed the site of a Medieval Village and the field boundaries. Some few hundred yards further on we came to an open stone rectangle, presumably designed as a shelter for sheep. It made a classy Herbie Spot as we sat backs to the wall, keeping out of the cold west wind.

                Herbie time in the shelter, with shadows. Today's lunch included pork pies, quiche from Mrs A., ginger biscuits from Ben, Alpen Bars, Yorkshire flapjacks and home made cake from John Ha.. And soup for some of us. A good idea, it seldom got much higher than 2C today.
 Lunch over we walked south west to Middleton South Farm and having gone along the road infront of it for a short distance turned south along a grassy track alongside the field wall. Crossing a wall we turned south west on a farm track heading north of Half Moon Plantation and up a slight slope towards the Salters Nick.

              Salters Nick, part of the ancient drove road.
Rather than go through the nick we turned south and followed the boggy track to the Piper's Chair. Tradition has it that at the wedding of one of the Shaftoe family the bowl on top of the rock was filled with wine for the guests. There is quite a steep drop on the south side............
                       The Pipers's Chair.
After a short detour up the hill to admire the trig point, and the view, we headed east on a well paved road  to East Shaftoe Hall Farm.
                                               East Shaftoe Hall, the left hand side is 17th century at least.
From the hall we followed the farm track back to the road. Part of the road is made up from old concrete railway sleepers which came all the way from Glasgow. They make a good hard road too.
At Bolam West Houses we turned right on the road and after about a half mile turned into Bolam Lake Country Park. We followed the footpath through the wood which surrounds the lake eventually emerging on the road near the information centre. We turned left, then right and walked uphill on the road and back to the church.
On our way home we stopped at The Blackbird Inn, Ponteland, a pub with a special meaning for me. My wife and I had our first date there in 1965! Nowadays it's a dinner date, then it was a drink and a chat. My generosity obviously paid dividends. The pub has changed considerably, more of an eatery now but it did have a selection of real ales. I chose Supermac, named for a seventies Newcastle footballing hero. Nothing special, the beer that is, so I had a pint of Blackbird Hand Crafted Ale

The Matrix MMXVII          Z ^27

                                                                                   steps                                     miles
NAK                                                                          27273                                     11.19
IPhone                                                                       22836                                      10.2
Dave's 3D                                                                  21595                                      10.58
  "" USB                                                                     20946                                      10.57
  "" NAK                                                                    20622                                       10.41
Sylvia's mother                                                          21299                                       10.76
OUTDOOR GPS                                                                                                        9.87
Brian                                                                                                                           9.87
John C.                                                                                                                        10.5
 Contains OS data. Copyright. Crown copyright and database right 2017
* This refers to a Geordie joke. Copies of the joke are available free, with a SAE

Friday, 17 November 2017

Oh, no! Not another repeat...Alnham (Northumberland) November 17th.
 Winter walks tend to be nearer home, there's less daylight. Today's gadgie walk is from Alnham and again it's a repeat although I don't think  we have done it for some time.
Alnham is a tiny village on the edge of the Northumberland National Park. To find take A1 north, A697 at Morpeth, turn of for Whittingham and follow signs down narrow lanes. The village has a few houses, a hall a church dating to the 12th century but largely rebuilt in 1870, a green mound that was a castle destroyed by the Scots and a fine example of an Iron Age Hill Fort.
There are nine  out today, a noctet? a novgadge?: Brian, John x 3, Ben, Harry, Dave, Ray and me. Breakfast in Tomlinsons of Rothbury again, we are becoming regulars.
The map for the walk is OS Explorer 16, The Cheviot Hills.  The church is at GR NT990109 approx.
 There is not a car park at the church but it is permitted to park on the grass verge, free.
                   St Michaels church Alnham> By the lych gate there are the stumps of two medieval crosses.
The walk;
Just beyond the church and Tower House there is a footpath on the right, initially crossing a stream, and heading uphill in a lane. At the end of the lane the path crosses, still in a roughly north west direction. At the end of the field the path turns north and crosses moorland before turning to the corner of the wood at Cobden. There are a number of paths, quad bike tracks and trails in the area, take care to stay on the right path! Given time you can look for the memorial stone to Nellie Heron, the lady who sadly died on the moor in the 19th century as she walked home from Alnham to Hartside. (Looking for Nellie Heron, October 2015)
From the corner of Cobden we walked down to Alnhamoor Farm, usually a Herbie Spot but on this occasion we chose to push on, too soon after the bacon sandwich or toasted teacake at Tomlinsons.
                  The farm at Alnhamoor

Although it looks a little like a Katushka rocket launcher it is for launching discs of clay for shooting practise.
Passing the farm we headed west crossing a stream by means of a footbridge made from two old railway sleepers. The path, which is marked occasionally, heads uphill, and today it headed into a strong, cold wind. Again there are several tracks to follow and we probably wandered off the real one but we eventually met the Salter's Road Track at Little Dod. The well made track heads south east and downhill, and out of the wind too. At a bend in the track, where there was a high bank to offer shelter we called a Hebie Spot.
             Herbie time in the light rain; Pork pie, ginger cake, hobnobs, cake, ginger biscuits and a sandwich.
Lunch over we continued on the track, crossed a ford and headed uphill. At Green Knowe the path goes through a plantation and emerges at the wonderfully named Ewarty Shank farmhouse. Going through the farm yard, protected by barking dogs, we came to a stile and marker that took us  across an extremely boggy piece of land. As a recommended alternative there is a metalled farm track which we met at the point marked CG on the map.(Cattle Grid) At this point John Ha and I decided to stick to the road, having had enough of Lauder Grass (qv) and bog. After about two miles we were back at the church. The rest of the team took off along the Salter's Road Track and reached the cars a little later, giving John and I some time to look round the tiny church.
On the way home we stopped at the Anglers Arms for a change. Today's offerings were Spitfire, Bombardier and Black Sheep, or coffee for the drivers of course.

Matrix MMXVII                                              N3

                                                                                   steps                               miles
NAK                                                                          25692                              10.5 (too much)
iPhone                                                                        22326                                9.4
OUTDOOR GPS                                                                                                  9.4
Dave's 3D                                                                   23709                             11.14 (longer walk)
  ""        USB                                                               22642                             11.1
 ""          NAK                                                             22511                              11.01
Sylvia's mother                                                           23452                              11.47
Brian                                                                                                                   10.97
John C                                                                                                                 10.5
Contains OS data Copyright Crown copyright and data base right 2017

Monday, 13 November 2017

Walking with the gadgette, Volume 6, November
   On Friday November 10th the team had a gentle coastal walk based on Craster, I think.
I wasn't with them as my wife and I flew off to Spain for a holiday in the relatively warm sun.
We flew to Malaga and were taken about 60 miles east to Almunecar on the Mediterranean coast. A small town, possibly founded by the Phoenicians, later occupied by the Romans. When they went the Vandals hit the area but were driven out by the Moors, invading from Africa and staying until the end of the 15th century. Andalusia, the land of the Vandals!
Almunecar has a population of about 27000, but in summer when the blocks of holiday apaertments fill the population increases to about 140000. Not surprisingly this November week being the end of the season, most of the restaurants and bars are closed. Pretty town though, with:

Boules (petanque) on the beach on Sunday morning. This is the first division, the non league teams played further down the strand.

                              Tourist office, closed. Once the home of a sugar plantation family. This area of Spain apparently was once a sugar cane area but Christopher Columbus took the plants to the Caribbean and very slowly, over several hundred years the local sugar mills closed one by one. Non left now, shame, they made rum.

                     The Romans had a fish salting factory here.
                  The promenade at Almunecar has beautiful tiled benches
Not being pool dwellers we took the opportunity to join other oldies on a bus trip to Salobrena, not too far away. (I estimate the average age of the hotel guests as being 70 +/-2)
We walked up zig zag streets to the castle above the town. The old houses dated back to the days of the Moors. Manuel the guide (yes he was aware of Fawlty Towers) explained in his excellent English that Moorish houses had no external windows but were built round an inner courtyard, the original patio. When they were ejected by the Christians the new owners put windows in the outer walls, but as the streets were narrow this led to burglary so they put iron grills over the windows!
Nice little town though, with:
                                        A fine  castle overlooking town and sea.
                   Moors were very clean apparently, washing for hygienic and religious reasons, unlike the Christians who kicked them out.
A second trip was to the Alhambra Palace and the city of Granada. After the Prado gallery in Madrid the palace is the second most visited place in Spain, not surprising really.
Started in 889 AD on the site of a Roman fort it was extensively rebuilt in the 13th century by the Sultan. It remained a Moorish Palace until 1492 when the Christians ejected them, took it over as a home for Ferdinand and Isabella, the royal couple who financed Columbus, the man responsible for ruining the sugar trade in Spain and discovering America. The palace grounds originally included a mosque which was demolished and replaced with a church. But the palace retains its Arabic style and décor, no pictures of humans or animals, acres of beautiful tiling, moulded plaster decorations, colonades and reflecting pools. Some of the columns had thin inserts of lead at the top and bottom to act as cushions when earthquakes occurred. Thirteenth century Arabic genius.
A quick trip round the palace:
                        Reflecting pool
                             View of part of the palace
                Sadly the concrete dome collapsed, otherwise it would possibly be bigger than Rome's Pantheon
                                  ....... patterns
            Animals! There's always an exception. This fountain, the story goes, was presented to the sultan by a wealthy Jew. Each sheep represents one of the twelve tribes of Israel.
                                  Moulded ceiling
                                  Moulded wall decorations
                                           Moorish bath houses, hot rooms, cold rooms
                             View of the walls of Granada from the palace.

Even sultans need toilets. It's the hole in the ground in the top picture, just above the square water tank
We had some time to explore Granada too. We took one of those road trains that give a grand tour, hop on and hop off .It was such fun we stayed on for two circuits. That apart Granada seemed just another city, with shops. But I liked this pawnbroker's sign:

A third trip was to the cave at Nerja. Rediscovered by five teenagers in the 1950s there is evidence of occupation for 40000 years. Unfortunately the cave drawings are not included in the area open to the public and flash photography is forbidden but my phone did quite a good job, better than my camera.
When stalactite meets stalagmite you get the biggest column in the world, according to the Guinness book of records. (StalaCtite grows from the Ceiling, stalagmite from the Ground, my Geography teacher told us)
We finished the day walking round the village of Frigiliana, high in the hills, narrow streets and steep paths.
                             Frigiliana street
                 The streets are too narrow for cars, and they are stepped. The mule was carrying building material up to a house.
A final day's outing was to the city of Almeria, 90 miles on the Mediterranean Motorway that runs from Gibraltar to the French border. (Built with EU money Manuel told us!)
The castle in Almeria is another Moorish structure, supposedly the biggest fortress in Europe. Like the other castles we visited it dominated the town. And like the Alhambra it had baths, similar to Roman ones. It took the Christians a while to catch up in the cleanliness stakes.

                               Almeria Castle, and baths.
Not a walking holiday then, but we averaged six miles a day according to the iphones.
And I had full English breakfast everyday!
Gadgie walks return next week.