Saturday, 30 November 2019

Eucalyptus trees in Ashington. (Northumberland) November 28th.
Another midweek walk for Dave and I. This time a stroll beginning in Ashington, once a mining village, claimed to be the largest in the world. Currently it is reinventing itself.
A true gadgie walk, we went by bus from Newcastle to Ashington. Not having a car park to show I took a photo of the Metro Station at Regent Centre, Newcastle from where we caught the X20 which sped us to Ashington.
                        The Regent Centre Interchange, where train meets bus.
Once off the bus we walked north between what looked like a sports centre and an ASDA store, across a roundabout and down a track popular with dog walkers. We crossed the railway line and immediately turned right along a muddy footpath until we reached Queen Elizabeth Country Park.
Once a coal mine the area was transformed in the 1970s. There is close by the Woodhorn Mining Museum, well worth a visit, and there is a large pond which is partly a nature reserve, partly used for coarse fishing.
We walked round the lake once, watching the variety of birds on the water, swans, geese,ducks, cormorants and the usual collection of small birds.
                         Entrance to the mining museum
                               No ugly ducklings
                             Pit head wheel, reminder of the past
                                   A common cormorant
After the circuit of the lake we left the park, crossed a road and followed the old road, now a footpath to Woodhorn. It runs beside a small plantation of eucalyptus.
                                    Lake at QE Country Park
                                          Eucalyptus. I am told they were grown for a now defunct local company which used the leaves for oil.
                                   Old windmill at Woodhorn.
At Woodhorn we walked up the road, past the old windmill, still in good if not working, condition until we reached the power station. Originally built to power the ALCAN smelter which has been long gone, it now supplies the national grid. A signpost just inside the gate pointed towards the  path, part of the English Coast path.
                       Lynemouth power station, powered by wood chips stored in the hoppers on the left

        Another relic from WW2
There was a strong, cold north wind coming of the sea which threw up plenty of spume and also made us feel cold.
We followed the path on top of dunes into Newbiggin where we had lunch sitting in the shelter of the Maritime Centre, looking across the water at the statue of the sea gazing couple and at the large structure in Blyth which has something to do with undersea pipe laying.
Having eaten we decided to catch a bus to Ashington. When we got there we had forty minutes to wait for the bus to Newcastle so we passed time in a pub. An enlightening experience, the pub was packed although it was lunchtime. The happy drinkers were conversing in a high number of decibels, at least one man was refused a drink as "You've had enough" and there was almost a fight. Very enjoyable.
                                        St Bartholomews Newbiggin. Tradition says it dates back initially to the 7th century.
                                Nice decoration on a post in Newbiggin
                     Large sea going structure in Blyth
Contains OS data,copyright.Crown copyright and database right 2019.
This walk is about seven miles, enough on a cold day.

Friday, 29 November 2019

The ragged Rascals Roamed Round Rothbury.
(Northumberland) November 29th.
 After last weeks muddy walk we are hoping for something a little less claggy and are repeating yet another well loved walk round the Rothbury terraces.
Directions are familiar, A1 North A697 at Morpeth and turn off for Rothbury at Weldon Bridge.  There isa large car park just across the river and it is free.
                     Almost empty car park in Rothbury. Look at the sky, no clouds, first time for a week.
There are eight of us: John Ha., John H., Brian, Ben, Dave. Harry, Ray and me.
The walk crosses over two maps: OS OL 42 Kielder Forest and OS Explorer 332 Alnwick and Amble.
We had breakfast at the Running Fox in Longframlington, small but friendly and it sells artisan bread too except it was so full we couldn't get in so we went to the Elm Tree in Rothbury which is equally friendly.
After tea/coffee/bacon/toast we set off back down to the path along the River Coquet which, not surprisingly was full and fast flowing. The path follows the Thrum Mill, now a home for some lucky person.
                         Thrum Mill and a model of a Roman oven
After crossing the road we entered the grounds of Cragside in spite of the notice saying private, No Entry. Hopefully it refers to cars only, certainly no aged retainer emerged from the cottage to chase us off. The path goes past the engine house which contains some of Lord Armstrong's hydro electric machinery, then wanders round the grounds. We chose not to go to the big house but caught a glimpse of it through the trees.
                  Cragside, home of Lord Armstrong who made his fortune with guns, warships and hydraulic devices like the swing bridge in Newcastle. The house is now run by the National Trust
        The top end of the Archimedian screw. It was spinning rapidly today
                                Cottage in the grounds
                                     Home farm.
Beyond the farm the estate road meets the road to Alnwick and almost directly opposite is the track up on to the moors.
                               We followed the path, turning north at Primrose Cottage
                         Through the gate, and keep it closed
                      We turned off at this point and took the track through Blue Mill
This path climbs, but gently, for which my knees are beginning to be thankful. After some time a marker on the right pointed our way to a muddy path, a fine stone stile and eventually back on to a good track. The views over the Cheviots were fine, with a little cloud on the highest points and a slight smear of snow on one ridge.
                                         Cheviot view
                     Remains of Cartington Castle in the centre
                    A sunny Herbie; Titans, cookies, Ben's biscuits, flapjacks, Kipling Slices and savoury from Mrs A.
After the lunch stop we walked a little further on before turning right and across a field to the start of Physic Lane.
                   The road to Physic Lane
At the bottom of the lane we turned right and walked down hill to Thropton. Making use of the footbridge rather than the road bridge we crossed the stream, crossed the road and followed the muddy footpath alongside a stream until we reached the River Coquet, which was still very full and fast flowing.
                 Footbridge over the Coquet at Thropton.
From this point we normally walk alongside the river but because of recent heavy rains we took the paths across the amazingly dry fields until we reached the next footbridge and crossed back to the north side of the river.

                                Nearly back in Rothbury
There is a hard path from here onwards but most of us walked over the fields and joined the riverside walk back into Rothbury, the car park and dry shoes.
                                   Rothbury church
                              The final footbridge

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

On our way home we stopped in Longhorsley at the Shoulder of Mutton. We are almost regulars and they still had Timothy Taylor's Landlord.
This walk is approximately 9.5 miles and is easy going, even after rain.

Saturday, 23 November 2019

The Fiddlers Elbow (Northumberland) November 22nd.
           Another fairly local walk on a cold day in November. Overcast but dry we are walking the countryside from Longhorsly in Northumberland. To get to the start take the A1 north, turn on to the A697 at Morpeth and stop in Longhorsly, parking on the roadside.
There are eight of us again, John x 3, Harry, Dave, Brian, Ray and me. 
The map to use is OS Explore 325, Morpeth and Blyth. Breakfast at Hieghleygate garden centre, Christmas decoration emporium and farm shop. The coffee/tea/bacon sandwich were acceptable but the place was very busy, full of pensioners enjoying a mid morning shop and snack.
                         Dobbies Garden Centre, Heighley Gate Morpeth.
Breakfast over we drove the few miles to the village of Longhorsley, and parked on the roadside near a church.
                         Sorry girls, best we could do today.
                Does this church employ a dog-nauper?
It was raining, lightly, so we were soon booted, gaitered and waterproofed before setting off along the road past Horsley Tower, a building with 16th century origins and additions in the 17th century and 1930.
A short distance past the tower we came to Archie's Pond and a footpath that ran parallel to the road and was far more pleasant to walk on.
At the corner of a field we left the path and road and walked on a well marked track across muddy fields  and alongside small plantations, crossing several stiles that were slippy because of the heavy rain of the last few days. There were a couple of dodgy footbridges too, testing for anyone over 13 stones (or 90kg.) Eventually we plodged our way to Wingate, a tiny, pretty Northumbrian Hamlet which has a few cottages, a couple of farms and a village hall. The school had long since been converted to a house.
               This does not do justice to the pretty hamlet Wingate.
 From Wingate the footpath goes roughly south through the yard of South Farm and across several muddy fields until it reaches a minor road. No shelter or even decent seating but we called a Herbie;
                        Somewhere in this flock is a single tup, wearing his working waistcoat!
                                Al fresco dining. We shared Racers, Ben's ginger biscuits. Mr Kipling Unicorn slices to celebrate the election, chocolate, biscuits and savoury scones from Mrs A.
Lunch over the group divided. Four chose to continue on the longer, original route, four chose to take a short cut back to Longhorsley.
Those of us on the shorter route followed the road, which went past Fiddler's Elbow, not that you would know. A couple of bungalows but I had hoped for a pub at least with a fine sign.
We followed the road to High Southward edge where we eventually spotted a well hidden signpost that took us across muddy fields and down a very muddy wide lane until we reached a road near a gas installation.
Here we spotted a ladder stile that was the start of a footpath across more mud to the settlement of Muckley, a couple of houses and little more. From here we followed the path across more muddy fields to Acres Cottage where we joined the road that took us the short distance to Longhorsley. First time in many a walk I have had wet feet.
Changed we went to the village pub, Shoulder of |Mutton, which had a welcome fire and Timothy Taylor's Landlord Ale from Keighley. Heaven in a glass. They also had Directors.
                 Contains OS data, copyright. Crown copyright and database right 2019.
The yellow line is the planned route and is about ten miles, the black is the cut off with a distance of 8.25 miles.
Few pictures, my camera lived most of a damp day in a plastic bag.