Saturday, 25 May 2019

Bird watching in Berwickshire (Scotland) May 24th.
The town of Berwick upon Tweed is in England, the old county of Berwickshire (before it became part of the Borders Region) is in Scotland. Such is British logic.
Seven of us are off to St. Abbs Head not far over the border to have a walk and watch the sea birds which abound in the nature reserve of St. Abbs Head, a rocky promontory.
 Named for St. Ebba who opened a monastery there in the 7th century for monks and nuns. She also founded a monastery in Ebchester, Northumberland.
The seven, mostly armed with binoculars are Brian, Ray, Dave, Ben, Harry, John H .and me. To get to the start, in Coldingham, drive up the A1, cross into Scotland (no border post yet) and turn right at the sign post for Eyemouth. Drive past this Scottish answer to Berwick to Coldingham and turn right down to Coldingham Bay where there is a large and free car park.
(On the journey we stopped for breakfast at Summerhills farmshop/restaurant in Belford. Well worth the delay too.)

             Summerhills, so good it deserves a photo.
               The car park at Coldingham Bay. The motor cycles belong to four German gentlemen on their way back to the ferry on the Tyne.
                          St Vedas surf shop/ bar/restaurant opposite the car park.
This walk is possible without a map as it is well posted but the 1;50000 OS  Landranger sheet 67 will suffice and the car park is at  GR NT 915665.
Leaving the car park we walked down to the beach at Coldingham Bay, climbed steps up to the coastal path and down steps to the little harbour of St. Abbs. A few fishing boats and a diving shop and school and then up steps again, passing the memorial to lost fishermen and their families in a great 19th century storm.
                                           The sands of Coldingham

                               The harbour and lobster pots
                                         Memorial stone
After a short walk along the road past the village hall and the church we turned right and walked the footpath alongside a wall before coming out into open seaside country, the path being high on cliff edges, passing some interesting looking rocks too.
                       An interesting rock, the lobster's claw.
The footpath stays close to the sea mostly but turns inland a little as it goes near the ruins of St. Abb's Kirk, not that there's much to see. Part of the walk has been fenced off as it is the home of the Northern Brown Argus Butterfly. We saw a couple, they are small but by the time cameras were out, turned on, switched to Macro, they had gone.
There is a lighthouse and fog horn on St. Abb's Head and, like several other groups and couples we decided to sit, backs against the white wall, sun on faces and have lunch.
                                    To the lighthouse
                       Lunchtime in the sun. Some of us shared savoury scones, courtesy of Mrs A. ginger biscuits from Ben, flapjacks, lemon slices and Titans from ALDI.
Lunch over we resumed the walk but soon came to a halt again to watch the birds nesting on the rocks beyond the lighthouse. Literally thousands, razorbills, terns, puffins, fairly ordinary gulls, kittiwakes and gannets sailing by out at sea in groups of four or larger flotillas.

                                                    Birds on the rocks. Need a telephoto lens.
Pushing on we walked to Pettico Wick and then came down from the cliffs and walked along the north side of Mire Loch. 
                    At this point, Pettico Wick, I was talking to a young couple from Birmingham who had no idea that North East England and South East Scotland were so beautiful. I asked, as usual, they keep it to themselves.
                                         Mire Loch
At this point the team got split up. Ben, Ray, John and Brian were ahead, Harry and Dave were in the middle. I saw the first four walk across the dam at the end of the loch but did not see them turn and head up the far side. When I crossed the loch I came to a track and assumed that's the chosen track. I followed the track, which became a road, passing the visitor centre  and cafĂ©, back to the village.  And from the village I walked the footpath above the beach back to the car park. Dave and Harry had seen me walk up the track and followed, stopping for coffee and ice cream before returning to the cars. The others followed the coastal path round Coldingham Loch and eventually back to the the cars by road. Short walk for me, Harry and Dave!
On the way home we stopped at the Cook and Barker, popular pub and restaurant at Newton on the Moor. Black Sheep and Graphite, a new one to me and too sweet.
St. Abb's Head is a beautiful walk, especially on a sunny day and if you have an interest in sea birds, short or long version it is well worth doing.
Contains OS data, copyright. Crown copyright and database right 2019.


                                                                                steps                                           miles
NAK                                                                      17823                                           6.46
Dave's NAK 1                                                        13939                                           6.6
""""""""""""""2                                                       13918                                          6.59
""""""""USB                                                           13538                                          6.41
"""" SM                                                                   13833                                          6.55


Saturday, 18 May 2019

Mark Anthony's Helm. (Cumbria ) May 17th.
 Reduced to a team of three, Harry, Dave, and I are going to walk to the top of Cross Fell, at 853 metres (2798 feet), the highest point in the English Pennines. It is a while since we have done this walk and we are hoping for a fine day as the views from the top can be spectacular. 
The walk starts in the village of Blencarn, which sounds Scottish but isn't. To reach the village from Newcastle take the A69 west, turn off onto the A686 close to Haydon Bridge, drive through Alston, over Hartside and head south from Melmerby village. The map to use is OS OL 31 North Pennines and is recommended.
Close to Blencarn are the hanging Walls of Mark Anthony. Highly unlikely he ever walked up Cross Fell. He may have been with his mate Caesar when they came to Britain in 55BC but they only went to London before going home. It is thought the name may have been given because the Maiden Way, a Roman Road going from Kirby Thore on the A66 to Carvoran on Hadrian's Wall. The walls are Medieval Cultivation Terraces lynchets, ploughing on the slope, following contours and maximising the arable land on a hillside.
The only named wind in England is the Helm which lows from the north east across the south west face of Cross Fell and forms a cloud or helmet above the hill. Said to be a sign of rain coming. But we started off in warm sunlight with high thin clouds

                   Car parking in Blencarn, Cumbria, a Yorkshire style car park. Last week a reader asked how I could have a Durham car park in Yorkshire. The reason is that, as Yorkshire folk are known for being careful with their money (or tight) a free parking place is a bonus, happily snapped up. Another regular complains I have become to organised in my accounts, must rectify that.
We were parked at the end of the village, literally the end of the road and once booted and gaitered we set off following the finger post's suggested direction across fields towards the farm at Wythwaite.

                     Some of the locals we met beyond Wythwaite
                                            Two sides of an old boundary stone.
Beyond the farm we left the path marked on the map and made our way on narrow footpaths up the north edge of Wildboar scar, the first of several steep climbs during the day. We continued climbing up the slope of Kirkland Fell, passing several shake holes and other geological features guaranteed to have pleased the man in the jacket.
Finally we reached the last steep section leading to the plateau summit of Cross Fell. The route we had chosen, not the usual one which heads north east from Wythwaite until it reaches the Pennine Way at Tees Head, was another knee killing  section, I mentally prayed for a beach walk next week.
On the summit point of Cross Fell some organisation has built a very welcome cross shaped shelter with a beehive. The shelter provides protection from the wind regardless of direction, today the wind was blowing in quite strongly from the east. Not the Helm then, but cold enough to encourage extra lagging.

              Lunch on Cross Fell. We shared Titans and lemon slices. The man on the right was walking a section of the Pennine Way.

                                            Cross Fell has a trig point too, and several cairns.
It was a bit on the chilly side so rather than hang around too long we moved on but not before admiring the views. To the west the long range of the Lake District fell with the corner of one lake just visible, I'm guessing it was Haweswater. Hills to the north, Dufton fells and the  Air Traffic Ball to the south and even more hills on the east side.
                     Too hazy really but this is the lakes from Cross Fell.
We headed a few degrees west of north down a track from the top until we reached a junction. Going right takes walkers past Greg's Hut, an isolated bothy, and down to Garrigil. We turned left and headed a little south of east on the track back to Blencarn.
               A distant view of Greg's Hut (Centre right) The tree beside the hut is the highest tree in England, apparently; Krumholz.
The track down was mostly grassy and only steep in a few places, as well as my little legs were tired. Again the best part was the spectacular views of the hills around.

                        On the route down.
Eventually we came to the village of Kirkland which has a few houses and a church dedicated to St. Lawrence. Thought to have 13th century origins with 19th century renovation, a pretty, small church.
                          St Lawrence Church Kirkland.
From Kirkland we walked back on the road, passing the Blencarn Lake, a fishing pond.
Changed we drove back home, stopping at the Elk's Head Inn, Whitfield where the two non drivers enjoyed a pint or two of Allandale "Curlews Return" and the unlucky driver had coffee.
No arrows but we went anti clockwise and Herbied on the top of Cross Fell

                                                                                     steps              miles
NAK                                                                           28388              10.3
Dave's NAK 1                                                            23298               10.05
""""""""""""2                                                             23308               10.66
""""""""  USB                                                            23494               10.75
"""""""""SM                                                               23426               10.72
OUTDOOR GPS                                                                                 9.61
iPhone                                                                        25023                10.1
GARMIN   4hr 29 min walk 45 min talk                                            10.05