Tuesday 24 May 2016. I broke my journey home by stopping off in Boroughbridge for two nights. This gave me a chance to call in and see my nephew and his family and to do a walk today. I made the short drive to Sutton Bank for today’s 7.8 mile walk with a total ascent of 1,600ft. The last time that I was here was in July 2014 with Karen when we walked south to visit the “white horse” carved out of the chalk hillside. For a change, I walked north following the Cleveland Way across the ridge top for 3 miles before descending for my mid-point coffee stop in the hamlet of Boltby.
There were incredible views to be had from the ridge top and I could see beyond Harrogate to the “golf ball” radar globes at the Menwith Hill listening station. Looking west across the Vale of York I could see a range of distant hills some 30 miles away. At the time I was unsure what they were but it now seems as if it was Penhill which isn’t too far from Aysgarth.
For my return I could either walk through the forest at the foot of the ridge or in more open countryside in the valley bottom. It was such a lovely sunny day that I chose the latter to make the most if the views. I crossed through mixed woodland carpeted with bluebells before arriving at Goremire Lake. I knew that I would have a climb to finish with and the last mile required a steep pull of 600ft. Despite this rather taxing end, it had been a beautiful walk and a good end to this holiday.
Sutton Bank – walk route
Sunday 22 May 2016. My last walk on this Northumberland holiday was an 8.1-mile route with 940ft of ascent starting from the picturesque village of Ford. The first part of the walk was across farmland and it came as no surprise that I soon encountered a field of oilseed rape where the footpath hadn’t been reinstated nor had the path in the next field which had been sown with wheat. I was able to walk around both of these fields but will be reporting these obstructions in the hope that they can be cleared for the benefit of other walkers.
The second half of the route was better as it skirted around a peat bog nature reserve “Ford Moss”. I should have taken the path around the northern edge but somehow found myself on a more southerly route. I think that my main concern was not sinking into the bog. My route back was further obstructed by another 2 fields of oilseed rape, only one of which had a clear path.
Having finished the walk, I made the short drive to Hay Farm to have a look at their “heavy horses”.
Ford – walk route
Monday 16 May 2016. I don’t really have a bucket list but one of the things that I’ve wanted to do for some time is to visit Inner Farne during the bird nesting season. This was the main reason for coming to Beadnell at this particular time as Seahouses is less than 3 miles away and boats depart from the harbour for trips around the Farne Islands with a chance to get off for a walk around Inner Farne. I’ve been waiting for the weather conditions to improve and today was the day. A gentle breeze and a near flat calm sea. I’m no great sailor but this was the gentlest crossing ever.
I booked for the 12 noon sailing which got under way 20 minutes late with the boat, Glad Tidings VI, being crammed with the maximum of 80 passengers. As you will see from the route pdf below, we headed out to the east of the Islands stopping for a short time to look at the seals on Little Scarcar. The boat went very close but the seals took no notice of us. We then headed out around Staple Island with the boat getting within 20ft or 30ft of the birds nesting on the steep cliffs.
Coming back on a more westerly course we stopped off for an hour on Inner Farne where I took pictures of Guillemot, Razorbill, Artic Tern, Eider Duck, Puffin, Ringed Plover, Shag, Kittiwake and Black Headed Gull. I came prepared with my hat to protect me from being attacked by the Terns but only a few were sitting on eggs and they were relatively calm although flying within a few feet of visitors. I was amazed by how the birds built their nests so close to the paths with one Tern nest being built in the middle of the path.
The cruise cost £15 which for nearly 3 hours was great value. The NT charge £8 to land on Inner Farne but this was covered by my SNT membership. The cruise covered 10.9 miles with less than one mile of walking. It made a great break and I would recommend it to any birders or lovers of wildlife.
Thursday 19 May 2016. I follow Stuart Greig on Twitter (@LoneWalkerUK) and it was in one of his blog post (lonewalker.net) in May 2013, when he was walking the Southern Uplands Way, that he wrote about using carrier bags as “emergency gaiters” to help him get across the boggier sections of this trail. The idea struck a chord with me as I have often found myself dithering on the banks of small streams wondering how I can get across without getting my feet wet. I decided to adapt his idea and, since reading his blog, I’ve had a few charity collection bags in my rucksack to use as “emergency waders”. After 3 years of carrying these charity bags, today was the day when I finally got to put them to the test. I hadn’t fully read the instructions for today’s walk but discovered about half way around that I would have to make two crossings of a small stream, about 20ft wide. Too wide to jump; no stepping stones and about a foot deep. For the first crossing I used a single bag on each foot but the small holes (to stop children suffocating) let some water in. For the second crossing I adopted a double bag solution which worked better but there was still some water ingress. This was certainly better than letting the water overflow the top of my boots or removing them and going across barefoot. For the future I think that I’ll use some large bin bags with draw cords to secure them at about knee level.
Enough of the dramas of river crossings and back to today’s walk which was 7.3 miles with 1,000ft of ascent. I get a lot of my routes from Walkingworld.com and they are generally okay but I have to say that this wasn’t one of them. I should have known when I started at the top of a hill that there would be a climb to finish with and so it proved with almost half of the total ascent being in the last mile. The one highlight of the walk came after a couple of miles with a visit to the ruins of Edlingham Castle where I stopped for coffee. The remainder of the walk was fairly boring being through farmland; something that I could do equally well at home.
Edlingham – walk route