Saturday, 22 June 2019

The longest day..,(Northumberland) June 21st
After the Speyside Way walk four of us are having a stroll out based on Craster, familiar fishing village in  Northumberland. A1 to Alnwick, turn right and follow signs. OS Explorers 332 Alnwick and Amble and 340 Holy Island cover the walk.
Four fine fellows out today; Brian, John H., Dave and me, all having recovered from the Speyside Way.
We parked in the large car park on the right at the entrance to the village. £4 for a  day.
               Classic car park in an old quarry at Craster. Worth every penny for the day and guaranteed to please my growing army of car park fans.
As usual we are calling in at the Shoreline café  in Craster for breakfast: bacon sandwich, sausage sandwich, tea or coffee.

  We breakfasted on the decking outside the Shoreline café and were joined by this sparrow and his mates.
The Walk.
Breakfast over we left the café and turned to head south down the coast from Craster. (Normally we head north but the rebel element remains in all of us.) The path is well marked on the ground and on the map, it is part of the Northumberland Coast Path. Fairly flat with a few little ups and downs and always close to the coast.
 The bathing cottage, built for the ladies of Howick Hall, now a holiday let.
            Guano factory on the footpath south from Craster.
If you have the map enjoy the interesting names given to features along the way; Hole o' the Dike, Black Hole,  Cullernose Point and Swine Dee. We followed the path to Iron Scars where the Howick Burn enters the North Sea and there is a freshwater spring on the rocks.
                             Iron Scars. The spring is in the centre of the picture, on the flattish section of rock.
Here we turned through almost 180 degrees and  followed the footpath to Sea Houses Farm where we turned west and walked along the road to Howick Hall, home of the Grey family of tea fame.
Although we had only walked four miles we decided the picnic tables kindly provided in the car park would make a jolly Herbie Spot.
             Our dining table at Howick Hall car park. We shared cheese muffins from Mrs A. Titans, flapjacks and out of date chocolate biscuit bars which didn't harm us.

From Howick Hall we followed the footpath across fields, one had a fine crop of thistles, behind Hips Heugh to Craster South Farm. From here we walked the road to Dunstan, through the village, past the Tower and Proctor's Stead to a footpath heading across fields to Embleton
                            Follow this finger post.
Beyond Mosscrop Plantation, close to a caravan site, we reached Shirewater Low Mill and took the footpath through the woods to Low Mill Farm and Dunstanburgh Castle Golf Club. The footpath goes round the edge of the course, naturally, and passes the bird hide at Newton Pool Nature Reserve.
There were several people in the hide, equipped with some fancy looking cameras and spotting scopes. Renowned for once shouting "Ooh look, a kingfisher in a hide" I behaved myself. Not that there was much action on the pond.
                  A heron is considered the sign of a good gadgie walk. This one is on Newton Pond.
Leaving the hide we walked the short distance to the square of cottages that make up Low Newton by the Sea.
                   Low Newton by the sea. Mostly holiday lets now rather than fishermen's cottages, and the famous Ship Inn, good food and beer but not today.
Back in the beach, rather than joining the Northumberland Coast Path, we headed south across the sands of Embleton Bay, fairly busy with families building castles or walking their dogs.
Again the names are fascinating; Fish Carr, Scadpallet, Jenny Bells Carr and Graymare Rock.
Rumble Churn is the small bay beneath the ruins of Dunstanburgh Castle.

                              Dunstanburgh from a distance
                       Can't resist the famous anticline near the castle

                                   The Lilburn Tower at Dunstanburgh
A  couple of miles across the fields from Dunstanburgh Castle on the Coast Path and we were back in Craster. (Cushat Stiel, Nova Scotia, Oxberrylaw Holes  and Liverpool Hole on the way)

                 Craster, famous for kippers.
Changed we headed home, calling at the Cook and Barker at Newton on the Moor for a little light refreshment.
               Secret Kingdom, Lindisfarne and Black Sheep on tap.
              Contains OS data, copyright. Crown copyright and data base right 2019.

                                                                                   steps                       miles
NAK (New one!)                                                       34994                     14.35 (generous)
Dave's NAK1                                                               27879                     13.2
"""      """""2                                                                27580                      13.18
""""""SM                                                                     27700                       13.11
Garmin 4h 36 min walk 55 min talk                                                            13.44
OUTDOOR GPS                                                                                          13.2

A few more pictures

Friday, 14 June 2019

A Walk on the Spey Side. June 5-12th
  For this year's walking week we chose the Speyside Way walk from Buckie on the Moray Firth, to Aviemore. Six of us, Brian and Margaret, Paul, Dave, John and me. We used Mickledore (Keswick) again to organise accommodation, taxis, maps and guide books and again they provided an excellent service.
The walk is very well signposted but a guide book is advisable there are several available, and maps are always iseful, either OS maps or Harvey's map.  The Speyside Way, a rucsac reader by Jacquetta Megarry and Jim Strachan has notes and maps.
 We started the walk in Buckie, a settlement of several fishing villages, Buckie, Yardie, Buckpool and Port Gordon. The town looks a little run down, the fishing industry almost gone, the railway gone. The only pub we could find was depressing too but the house we stayed in, Rosemount, was fine, with a sideline in Koi carp!
                       Rosemount and Koi Carp van
Walk one from Buckie to Fochabers;
                   Brian, Dave, Margaret, Paul and John at the start, or end if you go the other way.
                                         The Speyside way is well marked, just follow the yellow arrows.
The first day was a very flat walk, along the coast to Spey Bay, passing through the villages listed above and stopping in Port Gordon to see the seals on the rocky beach.

Port Gordon Seals, 
At Spey Bay we paused at the Whale and Dolphin Centre but saw neither. The Bay boasts the largest ice house in the UK, built in 1830 for the fishing industry.
                                     Ice house

                          The only Osprey I saw all week, at Spey Bay.
From the bay we headed south on paths close to the river, through fields and woodland until we reached Fochabers, the home of Baxters Soups and our home for the night; The Gordon Hotel.
               Gordon Hotel Fochabers, restaurant and bar with real ale. We finished it.
Fochabers is a well heeled little town with some fancy shops and a small museum and a very impressive school building, the Milne Primary.
Today's walk   10.8 miles.
Walk two, Fochabers to Craigellachie
On a warm and sunny day we rejoined the Speyside Way, following a road for a short distance before turning off to visit the Earth Pillars, a point of interest to Geologists. The view point is above them, all we could see was the tips. Shame.
Back on the minor road we walked to Boat o,Brig, named for a time 400 years ago when the bridge collapsed and a ferry carried passengers over the Spey. Now there are road and rail bridges.
                                                       Distant view of bridges at Boat o' Brig.
We left the road and walked down a track, passing a very frustrated bull (in a field) who spent his time roaring at the bull and herd of cows in the adjacent meadow.
                                         Unhappy chappy.
We turned into the forest tracks that go round Ben Aigen, stopping to make use of some convenient logs as picnic tables. At one point we could see the Moray Firth and the hills on the other side.
Passing Arndilly House, with its private entrance for deliveries, we followed the road into Craigellachie and after a drink in the pub went to Craigellachie Lodge, home for the night.
                              Craigellachie Lodge, very comfortable, large rooms. Lovely staff.
Showered and changed we went back to the Highlander  Innfor dinner and a little light liquid refreshment. The pub had a wonderful display of whiskey's, some old, so old they were kept under lock and key.
                 Unusual, seeing a swallow on the ground and so close
Today; 14 miles       Running total 24.8 miles.
Walk three; Craigellachie to Ballindalloch.
On the road again, we followed a footpath, partly on a dismantled railway to the village of Abelour, a stopping place for stocking up with sandwiches or the makings. We sat for a while on the old railway station platform, admiring the view. Much of this walk was near the river, there were many salmon fishing spots and of course there is a distillery nearby (Cardhu)
                                        A short tunnel, long echoes
                                           Abelour Station, waiting for a train.
              The Speyside Way crosses the river at Carron, near the distillery but recrosses as it approaches the village of Ballindaloch, having passed through Knockando and Tamdhu, another old station, but well preserved. The signal box still had a line of leavers but, perhaps fortunately, it was locked. 
                       Tamdhu Station
                                         Signal Box at Thamdhu                                                                                                                                At Ballindaloch we left the way and walked about a mile and a half to our accommodation for the night at Delnashaugh Hotel which supplied good beer and a good meal, served by a charming you lady who had a weekend job in the hotel.

                        Delnashaugh Hotel and restaurant and bar. Good job too, the nearest other was miles away.
          Coat of arms from nearby Ballindaloch Castle
Today  14 miles                                                Running total 38.8 miles
Walk four, The Tomintoul Spur
There are two spurs on the Speyside Way, one to Dufftown one to Tomintoul. walkers can do them both, or none, or one. We chose the Tomintoul spur but didn't choose the weather. A taxi took us to the small town, the highest in the Highlands and we walked back to the Delnashaugh Hotel.
                                 Tomintoul, set round a green 1120 feet above sea level and usually the first town cut off by snow in the UK
                            Start of the way back in Tomintoul.
The path took us across boggy land but many sections had duckboards making walking easier and cleaner. Some sections had had the path built up and gravelled, in some areas work was still going on. The guide books explain that along the way there are spectacular views of the mountains but not today. Low clouds in all directions and as we climbed  to the top of Cairn Daimh (1886 ft) the rain got heavier and the clouds got lower. Not much to see.
                             Path across the moors on the way to Cairn Daimh (Hill of the stags, saw none)
The weather improved as we went down the hill towards the Glenlivet distillery but as we were all slightly damp to say the least we made use of the distillery tea/coffee shop (does that make sense in a distillery?) to get something warm inside and allow clothes to dry a little.
                             Grey and damp in Scotland.
                                  Glenlivet distillery, popular visitor centre, especially on a wet day.
Back on the path we crossed more moorland before heading gently downhill on a minor road that brought us back, thankfully, to the hotel, hot showers, dry clothes and a good meal.
Today's walk 14.7 miles                                                 Running total 53.5 miles

Walk five Ballindaloch to Grantown on Spey.
After the usual full Scottish breakfast or a slightly smaller variation we walked back to Ballindaloch station to rejoin the Way to Grantown on Spey. For a short distance the path was  on 5he old railway line, nice and flat. We then left the railway and walked uphill to the distillery at Tormore where we crossed the A95. For the next few miles we crossed fields and woodland. It seemed every 20 yards there was a stile:
           Brian demonstrates those "bloody stiles". Two metal bars that open into a V and close quickly behind you catching your foot or sticks or whatever. What's wrong with a gate?
After the rain of yesterday even some parts of the forest tracks were boggy but at Tom an Uird Wood we descended to the A95 again, crossed it to take railway and footpath to Cromdale. Beyond the village we crossed the Spey and followed forest tracks through the beautiful woods of Anagach, for the last four miles to Grantown on Spey and Dunallan House, home for the night.
Dunallan House run by Stephen and Ginny. Stephen kept all guests entertained and remembered everybody's name. Great place.
We were advised to go to Craig's Bar but changed our minds and walked down the broad main street to a hotel (The Spey?) for a meal and rehydration.
Today's walk 16.7 miles                                                                                   Running Total 70.2 miles

Walk six, Grantown to Aviemore.
Two of the team, John and I had for different reasons, had enough of walking and spent the day drinking coffee in Grantown, catching the bus to Aviemore, drinking more coffee and eating sandwiches on the railway station and trying to find a suitable place for an evening meal.
The first pub we tried was closed for staff training, the second was open for drinks but no food, the kitchen was being refurbished . When we got to the Park Guest House, home for the night, the owner advised us to go to the Old Bridge Inn, some short distance out of town.
The other hardy walkers completed the walk from Grantown to Aviemore. Mostly flat and passing through Nethy Bridge, the RSPB Osprey Centre at Loch Garten (Didn't see one), and Boat of Garten they joined us at the hotel. Changed we all went for a meal at the Old Bridge and celebrated the week's walking. Must admit I felt I had let myself down.
Today's walk for the fab four 17 miles                                                   Running distance 87.2 miles

               Outside the Park Guest House with my Bilina Gymnasium T shirt for my Czech friends!
Next day we took a taxi back to Buckie, said our farewells and drove home in two cars.

Contains OS data Copyright. Crown Copyright and database right 2019
(And the height graph is only for last two days)

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