Saturday, 21 December 2019

The last walk of 2019...…….  December 20th
  And we are going to Craster! All five of us, Brian, Ray, Harry, John Hampton and me.
Maps: OS Explorer 332 Alnwick and Amble; OS Explorer 340 Holy Island.
Head north up the A1, turn towards the coast  just beyond Alnwick and follow signs.
The car park, on the right as you enter the village, is next to the information centre and costs £4 for a whole day. Utilising the old quarry it was empty, apart from our car.

Craster car park.  The young lady who gave the BBC North East weather forecast promised us that rain would sweep up from the south by lunchtime. This, plus the facts that it was a cold grey day probably accounts for the empty car park.

Breakfast at the Shoreline Café, almost as empty as the car park, we were the only customers at this friendly little café.
                           Well worth a visit, good coffee, tea and bacon
Having fed we headed down the road towards the harbour, walked round the edge  and into the fields which are about a mile from Dunstanburgh castle.
                    Craster Harbour, as empty as the car park. A few turnstones were doing exactly that on the edge of the water.

              Dunstanburgh Castle. Thomas, Earl of Lancaster started to build the castle in 1314. Little remains but the solid looking gatehouse. Run by The National Trust and English Heritage it now has a new information board just inside the gate in the fence. It gives a potted history of the construction and history of the fortress.
Beyond the castle we followed the coastal path on the edge of the golf course, watching out as requested for flying golf balls but there were few players out.
             We walked past the famous anticline which had a sentinel today.
                       WW2 pill box. During the war the castle was "refortified" Anti tank ditches were dug as were several gun pits. A minefield was also laid.
Leaving the path on the dunes we walked down to the beach and, almost alone, strolled round the edge of the sandy Embleton Bay to Low Newton by the Sea where we stopped for a Herbie.
              The square of fishermen's cottages at Low Newton. The pub in the corner has its own micro brewery and the restaurant frequently gets a mention in the heavy papers "where to eat" columns.

                Herbie time and bird watching at Low Newton. For lunch, apart from soup or sandwiches, we shared  Titans. Granola and cheese canapes from Mrs A. 
The birders saw oyster catchers, wagtails, long tailed ducks and eider ducks, plus others.
Usually in this area we visit the bird hide which overlooks the Newton Ponds but the path to it was deep in water so we gave that a trip a miss, walked a short distance on the dunes before joining the coastal path through the settlement of small wooden summer houses, around the edge of the golf course and taking the footpath to Dunstansteads.
At Dunstansteads we turned left and walked along the concrete track on the edge of the fields. Rumour says the track was laid for WW2 tanks but where were they going?
The track passes a Lime Kiln;
                             One of the many lime kilns in Northumberland.
On the other side of the track is a pill box which appears to be made of sand bags....
                           Pill box of concrete sandbags.
At Dunstan Square we decided that as the day was getting gloomier we would cut bthe walk short and headed across a field to the path through the Heughs which leads back to the Craster car park.
Changed we headed for the Ridley Arms in Stannington, not far north of Newcastle. Four hand pumps, one of which was Tyneside Blonde so good it went down well.
This walk is about  8 miles. And the young lady was wrong, it did not rain at all.
                   Contains OS data, copyright. Crown copyright and database right 2019.

Saturday, 14 December 2019

On the Blue Bridge footpaths of Northumbria.
(December 13th)
   Half way through December and a new walk! Eight of us; John x 3, Dave, Harry, Brian, Ray and me are starting a walk from Whitfield on the West Allen river. 
To get to the start A69 West, A686 South at Haydon Bridge and follow the A686 to Whitfield. There is a café, the Whitfield Pantry which is also the local shop run by some lovely ladies who offered coffee refills too. Highly recommended.

                          The Whitfield Pantry
The map to use is OSOL Explorer43 Hadrian's Wall and the weather today is supposed to be dry but cold, a fine day for a walk.
Having eaten and drunk our coffee we moved a few hundred  yards down the road to the Elk Head Hotel. Across the Allendale road the hotel has a large car park, strictly for patrons only but we knew we would call in after the walk.
                              This week's car park, muddy but large.
          The walk;
Leaving the car park we walked up the Allendale Road for a quarter mile or so until we reached a bend where we took the farm track to Monk farm. From the farm the there is a forest trail that goes through Monk Wood. The view over the valley is well worth pausing for.
                          Whitfield church,  Holy Trinity. Built in 1860
                          Whitfield Hall, late 18th century with later additions.
   This section of the walk is part of Isaac's tea trail. Isaac sold tea to the locals, travelling on horseback and his paths are well marked as walks today. This walk also has frequent yellow markers on the many stiles to climb, most of them being very slippy too because of all the recent rain. At least one of us fell as a result, fortunately without serious injury.
Out of the wood the footpath crosses fields, muddy through rain and animals. At Gate house we started to climb steadily over the fields. One section is along a relatively dry green lane, then across a rather dreary Dryburn Moor which was anything but. At the top of the moor we came to a road, turned left and walked a short distance before turning back onto the moors towards the old chimneys above Allendale.

                                              Back onto the moor
The chimneys are left from the days when the area was mined for lead, silver and other metals. Apart from the two chimneys there are the smelting flues, stone built tunnels to provide draught for the metal smelting.
The first chimney has entrances so we declared a Herbie and settled down inside, out of the cold wind.
                                                Herbie time, ouside….
           ..and inside; varieties of biscuit, including from jesmondcakecompany, chocolate slices and scones. (And hot soup)
                                remains of the smelting flue. At times the walls were scrubbed to get the lead and silver particles carried by the smoke from the furnace below the hill.
We followed the path alongside the flues past Fell House and turned left at the next junction. Near Dryside we were back in the muddy fields, along with a small herd of rather friendly sheep.
A footbridge took us over Hollingreen Burn, then across more muddy fields to Rude Clough. Here we met a road but turned immediately down the private road to Chapel House.
                                  Take this road, even though it says Private, it is a right of way.
Across more muddy fields to Hindley Mill and on to Lanehead. Yet more fields, getting harder to struggle through to Asheybank and Harlowbank where we rejoined the road we had started out on. Walking downhill, thankfully we were soon back at the car park. Changed from muddy boots to relatively clean trainers we crossed the car park to the Elks Head hotel and pub., where we were made welcome. Only one real ale on today, Allendale Brewery Pennine but it went down well, except for the drivers.
slightly better version from GPS

      Contains OS data, copyright. Crown copyright and database right 2019.
Poor quality map, still having printer problems.
 Most of us agreed this walk was about 10 miles long and would be lovely on a dry summer's day.
A few more pictures