Saturday, 31 August 2019

The Belford Four (Northumberland) August 30th
    A new season of walks for gadgies, although numbers are still down because of holidays, family commitments and bowling competitions. (Green not ten pin)
Four of us, Brian, Dave, John H. and I are off for a walk from Belford in Northumberland. We have started walks here several times but today's wander is, apart from the first mile, a new adventure.
Belford is easy to find, head north up the A1 past Alnwick and turn left at the Belford sign, opposite the grain silos.
As you approach the village turn left into the Sunny Hills farm shop and café. Very busy this morning and service was a bit slow but worth the wait.
                   Free plug for Sunny Hills, it doesn't really lean.
Drive up the main street and turn left on the Wooler road. After a few hundred yards there is some parking outside the Village Community Centre, which looks a little dilapidated.

                    This week's free parking in Belford, outside the Community Centre
On the left of the car park is a lane, the start of the walk.
                      Way to go. (It's the strap on my walking pole)
We followed the lane, passing through the farmyard at Westhall (Not on the St Oswald's Way/Northumberland Coast Path) until we reached Swinhoe Farm.
                 Old farmhouse at West Hall 19th Century castellated
                       Lime kiln near the farm at Westhall
                      Swinhoe Farm

At Swinhoe there are two tracks which both lead to St. Cuthbert's Cave. For this walk we took the left fork and walked in a south west direction across fields, through a wood, across another field to a second wood. On the left, hidden by a large pile of stones (not archaeological in this case) is a sign post. Following its suggested direction we followed a grassy trail through the trees until we reached the crags of Colour Heugh where we had to battle with bracken, barbed wire and a stone wall to get into a field.

                     Colour Heugh, look carefully, there are two climbers just right of centre.
Once across the field we turned south east and walked on a minor road above Bowden Doors, another popular climbing spot, until we reached a slightly less minor road, turned right and almost immediately turned left at the sign post for Newton Moor. 
It was a windy day but the hedge in the field offered shelter so we sat on the ground, telling sad stories and eating lunch; frangipanes, savoury slices, flap jacks and Mr. Kipling's chocolate slices - and a sandwich.
The path at this point is almost free of markers but we navigated successfully past a number of long disused coal workings to a road which we crossed  and then across more fields to another road.
                           A new style of stile, sheep proof and almost human proof
                      Two members of the world famous "Where the hell are we tribe." 
At the road we turned left  and walked to Warenton, small settlement that appeared to be a collection of holiday lets. 
Beyond this hamlet, at a point where the road turns right we spotted a sign post saying "Belford 2 miles" Initially a narrow path between nettles, bracken and a wall it was transformed as it crossed a narrow but steep sided stream into a battle ground against more bracken and piles of stones.
Having beaten all we emerged onto a good track that ran alongside fields. On one side were thousands of hens, on the other a combine was safely gathering in, ere the winter storms.
                                                   Hens to the right of them
                                               combine to the left.
The track took us back to Belford. Changed we went to the Cook and Barker at Newton on the Moor which had three beers on offer, Red Rowan, Running Fox (?) and another one. Friendly pub, popular restaurant and Dawn from our days in the Anglers Arms was most welcoming.
                                 Newton on the Moor hostelry
                  Contain OS data, copyright. Crown copyright and database right 2019

The walk came in at about 10.5 miles on an assortment of pedometers and GPS systems.

Monday, 26 August 2019

Down the Tyne (Northumberland) August 24th
As recorded by Alex.
 Most of the gadgies are on holiday still so I am taking my grandad for a walk on the River Tyne. It is a flat walk as he is having a bit of trouble with his knee and doesn't want to go up hills, or so he says.
The walk starts and finishes in Wylam, a large village west of Newcastle and easy to find. Drive west on the A69 and turn south at the sign that says Wylam. Easy. Drive through the village and just before the river there is a large car park. (Not the station one)
Grandad says this is an excellent car park because it is free and he understands these things as he comes from Yorkshire.
 At the back of the car park there is a path, the Hadrian's Wall path which stretches right across the country close to the Roman Wall. We walked along it and pretty soon came to Stephenson's cottage.
                  Stephenson's cottage near Wylam where he was born. George, and his son Robert, are important because they invented railways and won a competition between Liverpool and Manchester.

The path was easy walking because it is flat and soon we came to Close House Golf Course. The people here are not keen on visitors because they have a very large sign saying "KEEP OFF". It looked nice though. 
In the fields between the river and the path the farmer was growing maize, not for cornflakes but as animal feed.
Further on we came to Tyne Riverside Country Park which had exercise machines and things;
                                   Taking exercise at the country park.
Nearby is a memorial to the Battle of Newburn Ford.
                         The battle took place in the Civil War. The Scots beat the English at this battle and went on to attack Newcastle. They only managed a draw there but they did some damage to the goalposts.
Beyond the battlefield we passed a pub, the Boathouse, but it was closed so we continued on a little further and crossed the river on the Newburn Bridge. 
                                                 Newburn Bridge
Once on the south side we turned west on another footpath called The Keelmen's Way after the men who used to carry coal down the river.
We stopped at a bench where another man was sitting and we ate our small lunch as we talked to him.
Lunch was chocolate and an apple, washed down with apple juice but it was alright.
Saying goodbye to the man, who was dressed in camouflage trousers and jacket, we went on our way, passing Ryton Willows. The bushes there seemed to have been burned.
There were lots of blackberries on the bushes and we ate some sweet ones, but one had a spider's web on it.
Just before we came to Ryton Golf Course we came to a strange sight. An area, which was fenced off, had lots of plumes of smoke coming out of the ground. There used to be coal mines here and an underground fire has been burning for years, the smoke coming out of the ground like there was a volcano. It was warm too.
Once past the golf course we walked close to the railway line until we came to the station. We crossed the river and were soon back at the car park.
We went to the Coffee Tree and I had a pizza and grandad had a quiche. Then we went home and grandma made scrambled egg and beans on toast, but not straight away.
Contains OS data, copyright. Crown copyright and database right 2019.
Our walk was an easy 6 miles, easier than Carey Burn but alright.

Thursday, 8 August 2019

Alexander the Great (Northumberland) August 6th
No gadgie walk this week as several of the team are off on the coast to coast walk, others are on holiday and I am entertaining family. To make up grandson Alex and I are going to walk the famous Carey Burn in the Harthope Valley. To reach the start take the A1 north, A697 at Morpeth and drive into Wooler. Turn left up Cheviot Street, the first street you come to, and head uphill. At the first fork go right and continue to the road sign that points to Langleeford. Uphill again, past the delightfully named Skirl Naked and go downhill to park off the road at Carey Burn Bridge. The walk is covered by OS OL 16 Cheviot Hills.
                       Today's car park...……………… but sometimes passing cattle make a mess on your vehicle!
As soon as we were booted up it started to rain, but undaunted we set off, taking the footpath by the bridge. A well marked track it follows the Carey burn closely, sometimes high up and sometimes on the river bank. Two ladies were doing the same walk and we took turns in leading!
The bracken and gorse were very high, higher than Alex but he is only 8 and three quarters. 
We hoped to see some snakes but it was probably too wet for the adders to play out, but we did spot a heron.
At the first footbridge the two ladies were having a snack and kindly offered us both a cereal bar.
                                  At the waterfall on Carey Burn.
Moving on we walked across open land until we reached the next  footbridge. It was decided that as the rain had stopped this would make an excellent lunch stop so we sat on a stile and ate cheese sandwiches, marmite sandwiches, vegetarian pepperoni, apples, Titan bars and crisps. Quite a feast.
Lunch over we turned south, crossed a footbridge and headed east, initially on a marked footpath through the heather, which is in bloom.

                            A damp day in the Cheviots
                 Saves opening the gate!

                                                                                               This path joined a farm track and we followed it on the side of Snear Hill until we came to the large sheep sheds near Carey Burn Bridge. We were both quite wet so we headed home as fast as we could for a shower!   In spite of the rain it was a grand day out, enjoyed by both of us.

              Contains OS data, copyright. Crown copyright and data base right 2019.