Saturday, 27 June 2020

Northumberland's Avalon. June 26.
Gadgie Dave, piles of stones analyst and expert, assures me that John of Gaunt, builder of Dunstanburgh Castle, was an Arthurian fantasist and that the now ruined castle was built as his own private little Avalon. Excavations suggest the site was inhabited in Iron Age and Roman times. Construction of the present castle started with the digging of the moat in 1314 and most of it was finished by 1380, it didn't last long.
Today's walk from Craster, another well known and popular day out passes the noble ruins.
Most of the walk, about 95% is covered by OS Explorer 332 Alnwick and Amble, the other 5% is on OS Explorer 340, Holy Island and Bamburgh.
There are six of us: Dave, Brian, Margaret, John H., John Ha. and me.
To get to Craster head north on the A1, turn off just north of Alnwick and head east, following signs to the fishing village. In an old quarry on the right, as you enter the village , is a large car park. It is not very expensive, £4 for a whole day. Unfortunately because of the current restrictions we are not sharing cars.
                       Even the cars are socially distanced. How obedient we northerners are
 In the first, smaller, car park there is a footpath on the right that goes down to the village. We took it and headed for the Shoreline CafĂ©.
              The Shoreline, Craster. Although closed for eating inside the Shoreline is doing a great take away service. We got tea/coffee/ snack and carried them past the Jolly Fisherman pub and sat overlooking the harbour.

               Two views of the harbour. The large concrete block is a left over from the days when stone from the quarry (now the car park) was brought down to the harbour on a ropeway.
 Quick breakfast and off we went. In front of a row of houses, through a gate and across the fields to Dunstanburgh Castle, 14th century.

                  Gatehouse and Lilburn Tower, not much more is left of John's Arthurian castle.
Beyond the castle the footpath passes between a golf course and the sea.
                 For neogeologists, this is an anticline, and a fine one too. Sometimes you get groups of bored A level students here having it all explained by the PE teacher/ geographer.
And on the left is a pill box left over from WW2. It was thought that an invasion could take place in the north and the coast still has concrete blocks on the shore and several of these boxes, designed to keep the Wehrmacht out.
                              WW2 pill box
Not far beyond the pill box we headed down from the dunes to walk on the sands of Embleton Bay.
There has been some controversy of late because during lockdown, and persuaded by some hot weather, thousands of people took to Bournemouth on the south coast for a day by the sea. The powers that be disapproved, quite rightly, it broke the social distancing rules but;

                 Embleton Bay, Northumberland June 26th

           Bournemouth. June 24th
Where would you rather be?
The bay curves gently for a bout a mile. There are a number of small holiday chalets on the dunes. Round the corner at the top of the bay and we were in Newton by the Sea, usually a Herbie Spot.
          Newton by the Sea. The Ship Inn has a good reputation for food and has its own brewery. No dining or drinking inside because of ….. but the pub was doing a roaring trade in take away beer, sandwiches and other snacks.
We walked round the back of the little square of houses and followed the footpath to Newton Pond Nature Reserve. Like Philadelphia it was closed.
              Normally a Herbie Spot, eat and observe at the same time but it closed because of.....
Through the trees we saw Mallards, Canadas, grey lags and even an avocet on or near the water. No heron.
We carried on on the footpath until we reached the golf course and there we found a suitable spot to Herbie. Still no sharing but I believe two of the party had intended to bring sharing things but forgot them. Can't complain, we all forget.
The footpath goes through the dunes, past several of the chalets and heads towards the club house near Low Mill Farm. We walked along the edge of the course, sometimes on the grass, sometimes on a narrow brambly footpath until we arrived at the gate to walk up to Dunstan Steads.
From the farm here a concrete strip, again supposedly a left over from WW2 crosses fields to the farm at Dunstan Square.

 On the way we passed some friendly looking cows, a lime kiln and an unusual pillboxmade from concrete sandbags.
At Dunstan Square we split. Four of us took the footpath east to the path behind the Heughs and walked back to Craster. Brian and Margaret carried on to Dunstan and beyond before returning to Craster.
                         Approaching Craster behind the heughs.
Still no pubs open to sit in and have a drink without queuing so we went home.
                               Contains OS data, copyright. Crown copyright and database right 2020

                                                                   steps                          miles
NAK                                                         22059                           8.7 (thought I'd fixed it)
Dave's NAK 1                                          17090                           7.82
""""""""""""2                                            17114                           7.83
SM                                                            17175                           7.86
OUTDOOR GPS                                                                           7.5
Brian and Margaret                                                                        12

A few more pictures of the walk, which is a lovely gentle stroll out.


Tuesday, 23 June 2020

Walking on the Edge (Northumberland) June 22
   Another extra walk, this time based in Rothbury. A1, A697, turn left at Weldon Bridge. In Rothbury turn down Bridge Street and go to the free car park on the right.
There are four of us out for a Monday stroll, Brian, Margaret, Dave and me. The forecast is for a warm day with the possibility of showers. The walk has been chosen as being knee friendly for those who are slightly arthritic.
Rothbury is an old town, a cross roads for turnpike roads to Newcastle, Alnwick, Morpeth and Hexham. Granted a charter by bad King John in 1291 but now it relies to a large extent on tourism. The parish church, All Saints is Victorian but incorporates some Saxon wall.
Close to Rothbury is Cragside, the home built by Lord Armstrong. Now run by the National Trust the house is currently closed because of the pandemic but the grounds are open although it is necessary to book a parking slot.
The problem with Rothbury walks is that the town is on the edge of two maps;
OS OL 42 Kielder Water and Forest and OS Explorer 332 Alnwick and Amble. Best to photocopy and laminate even if your daughters tease you.
(Unfortunately a computer malfunction means no photographs taken on the day. I have used some from a very similar walk. Such is life)
                  Rothbury free car park taken in July 2018. Social distancing for cars then too.
The walk:
Cross the River Coquet by the footbridge and turn right. Normally on this walk we follow the footpath all the way to Thrum Mill, cross the road and enter the estate through a gate. Nobody is too sure of the legality of this but we have never been stopped. Today, because the gardens are only open by booking in advance we turned up Bridge Street, crossed the main road and turned right. Take the road that goes up to the school but keep going past the attractive cottages which are actually flats and find the gate on the left. The path here goes between two fields, cows to the left, rams to the right but fear not, the path is fenced off from the animals.
At the top of the field is Hillside Road, turn right and walk on to the B6341. Turn left and walk uphill. This is the worst part of today's walk as the road is narrow but is busy, even in lockdown. Another reason for going through Cragside if you can.
Tumbleton Lake is visible from the road and you do pass the main entrance to Cragside, guarded today by a couple of National Trust girls, checking entry tickets. Debdon Lake is on the left but out of sight.
 Looking back on Rothbury.
After about a mile of walking up the road, take the forestry road on the left and stay on it to Primrose Cottage.
                                       Not this one
There are two paths at Primrose, take the one on the right. This track, easy to follow, loops round the edge of the wood and crosses the moor south of  Cartington Hill before it reaches the entrance to Blue Mill wood.
                         Blue Mill, entrance just to the left of the picture.
The track climbs, but not too steeply. After about half a mile watch out for the marker on the right. Take this footpath, cross a proper stone stile and walk up to the next well made track.
Turn right and follow the track. We stopped near this tree, resting on large stones and making use of a gate post that had been pushed over.
                     Picnic site. Sharing is still off the menu, sadly, I miss all those treats.
Lunch over, and a chat with some fellow walkers known to Brian and Margaret we continued on the track before reaching the gate that leads to Physic Lane.
                   Brian and the gate that leads to Physic Lane
              The easy going grassy track that leads to Physic Lane.
There are several houses on Physic Lane and at the bottom is a small estate of new bungalows. Go through the small estate and there is a footpath that leads to the road. Turn Right, pass the Cross Keys, (closed of course) and walk downhill to Thropton.
                     Cross the Black Burn by the footbridge, the road is busy.
Cross the road and walk through what looks like a coach park and take the footpath alongside the burn.
Eventually it joins the River Coquet and a short distance upstream is a footbridge.
              Bridge on the River Coquet.
Cross the bridge and turn left. The footpath stays close to the river almost all the way back to Rothbury. The north bank was home to a number of Sand Martins and we saw a heron perched in a tree which meant the walk was a true gadgie walk. There had been some discussion on this although a minimum number for a gadgie walk has never been set.

                                    On the Coquet.
The path eventually comes to another footbridge which takes walkers back to the north side of the river. After crossing a field take the very well made path that goes all the way back to Rothbury.
                                      Cross back to the north bank

                                          All Saints, Rothbury
Take the footpath back to the car park and I am afraid the pubs and cafes are still closed.
                 Contains OS data, copyright. Crown copyright and database right 2020


                                                                              steps                                     miles
NAK                                                                      23583                                     9.42
Dave's NAK 1                                                       19874                                     9.09
""""""""""""""2                                                      19881                                     9.09
SM                                                                         19902                                     9.11
Garmin 3.17 walking 1.35 talking                                                                        9.42
OUTDOOR                                                                                                           9.06
Brian                                                                                                                      9.14