Yorkshire Weekend

3rd to 6th March 2016. My niece, Dawn, was having a 40th birthday party on Saturday 4 March and I felt obliged to attend. I’m not known as a “party animal” but it would at least give me a chance to see the whole of my family in one place at the same time. Rather than staying with my brother, I decided to take the caravan to nearby Boroughbridge with the intention of staying on a few days to do a bit of walking in “God’s own County”.

The drive up the A1 on Friday was horrendous. The traffic was heavy and with pouring rain it took me an age to get out of Cambridgeshire. It didn’t improve the further north that I went with a broken down car blocking the outside lane near Doncaster. It took me nearly 4 hours to travel 142 miles, about an hour longer than the return journey on Monday morning. Slow going was to become something of a theme for the weekend.

I spent most of Saturday with my brother and his wife before driving them to the birthday party in a nearby pub at 4.30pm. It had been organised to start at this time as many of Dawn’s friends have small children who could come along. Imagine the scene; a large group of people who I didn’t know, screaming children and loud music. Not my idea of a good time. Fortunately, my nephew, his wife and two teenage children were there so I had someone I knew to talk to. I stuck it out for more than an hour before having to make my excuses and to make my escape.

Family duties done, the rest of the time was my own. However, walking 40 miles in the space of a week had done some damage and my right leg was giving me some grief. It started with a pain just below and in front of my knee and then extended to the back of my calf and thigh. I’d been to see my GP on 28 February when he ruled out arthritis and sent me for an x-ray the following day to see if there was any structural abnormality. I’ll be going back to see him later this week to get the results.

The GP told me to keep exercising so with some trepidation I set off on Sunday 5 March to do a 7.5 mile walk which would take me along the north and south banks of the River Ure, passing Danby Grange and Jervaulx Abbey. Although the walk was fairly flat, I used my walking poles in the hope that this might alleviate some of the leg pain. This didn’t work and after a mile or so I was struggling. Should I turn back or carry on? In retrospect I made the wrong decision as, when stopping for coffee at the church just before Thornton Steward, I discovered that I didn’t have any painkillers with me. I think that I gave them to Josephine on an earlier walk? It still wasn’t too late to turn back as this would have been the shorter option but stubbornness got the better of me. Despite the pain, it had been an enjoyable walk up to the point of having to wade ankle-deep through a mixture of mud and slurry at Woodhouse farm.

My route seemed to be a popular one as I met a fair number of walkers coming the other way to me. I warned them all of the messy moras that waited them at Woodhouse farm. Jervaulx Abbey came as a welcome sight as it meant that I only had to endure another 2 miles of pain. I stopped soon after at Fishpond Plantation for a rest before limping back to the car. It had taken me over 4 hours to complete a walk that I would normally do in a little under 3 hours. The walk had been completed in the dry but it started to rain soon after starting the drive back to Boroughbridge.

My plans of walking again on Monday and Tuesday were quickly abandoned and, as there was no point in staying on, I drove home 2 days earlier than planned. My motivation was to get back as soon as I could and to make an appointment with my physiotherapist to get my leg sorted out. Luckily I was able to get an appointment at 7pm on Monday evening. She had sorted out my back a little over a year ago when I had slipped and fallen down some steps and I had faith that she could sort me out again. Some pre-appointment internet research had indicated that I might be suffering from a mild form of sciatica as the pain extended through my buttock, down the back of my thigh & knee and down the back of my calf. My Physio, Beth from Ramsey Physiotherapy, gave me a quick examination and agreed that the pain was emanating from the discs in my lower back. An intensive session of massage was undertaken and I was given a set of stretching exercises to do at home in the hope of improving my flexibility and thereby easing the leg pain. There isn’t any noticeable improvement today (7 March) but its early days and I hope that with the passage of time it will gradually get better.

I’ll do a few short walks around Benwick this week and will test it again on Sunday when I’m due to lead an 8 mile walk for the Fenland Group. I have another session booked with Beth next Tuesday and hope to get the problem resolved before I go away on my next 3 week walking holiday.

Jervaulx Abbey – walk route



Sunday 26 February 2017. This walk was originally described as being 8.5 miles but when Linda and I did a recce it turned out to be 9.5 miles which was far too much for many in our Group. Luckily, I was able to change the route into a 7.2 mile figure-of-eight stopping off in Aldwincle for coffee and lunch sat on benches in the children’s play area adjoining the village hall. 10 of us turned out for this walk for which it remained dry but we battled with a strong wind for much of the way.

Setting off from Wadenhoe we made good progress until we encountered a fallen tree on Byway MC17 (known historically as Northampton Way). This was a substantial tree and, had it been any bigger, it would have completely blocked our path. Fortunately we could step over the thin upper most branches without too much difficulty. As we turned off this byway to head into the village of Aldwicle we met a group of motorbike trail riders who seemed intent on heading towards the fallen tree. Despite our warnings, they headed off on a collision course with this obstruction. I’ve reported the fallen tree via FixMyStreet.com in the hope that Northamptonshire County Council will get it moved.

Our coffee stop in Aldwincle came after 2.5 miles and was a welcome respite from the gusty wind and muddy tracks. Suitably rested and refreshed we set off for a circuit of one of the lakes on the Titchmarch Nature Reserve, returning to Aldwincle on the Nene Way which we then followed back to our starting point in Wadenhoe.




Monday 13 February 2017. Buying myself a new camera (Panasonic Lumix TZ70) for Christmas has revitalised my interest in photography. To further this interest and to get in some much needed practice, I took myself off to the village of Laxton this afternoon. I remember walking through here with the Thursday Stroller some years ago and seeing a flock or “wake” of Red Kites circling above. I had hoped to get a picture or two but despite there being dozens of Kites today, they were a little too high and moving too quickly for me to get them in the frame and in focus at the same time. I’ll come back for another try.

The other objective of the outing was to get a few sunset shots. I’m pleased to say that I had more success in this regard and I’ve added a few of the better images below. The pdf map link shows a red box from where it is best to park and see the Kites. The red cross, not far away, shows the location of the sunset shots.




Sunday 12 February 2017. Helen was scheduled to lead today’s walk but cried-off with a heavy cold. Given the weather forecast I don’t blame her. Hilary also cried-off and a number of other members had previously advised that they were otherwise engaged this weekend. It was a 65 mile drive for me (each way) and, if it wasn’t for standing in as leader, then I too might have given it a miss.

As it turned out, there was just 4 of us: Moira, Betty, Josephine and me. The weather wasn’t quite as bad as forecast but there was a strong and chilly easterly wind. This was on our backs as we set off towards Stiffkey but we knew that it would be blowing into our faces on the way back. We agreed that we would walk part of the Norfolk Coastal Path first and, if the weather deteriorated, we would then retrace our steps and cut the walk short.

We stopped for coffee after just a mile and a half in a fairly sheltered spot just north of the small lake near White Bridges. I suggested that instead of going through Stiffkey that we should follow the path down the side of the lake and onto the main road for a while before picking up a path through Hang High Plantation and across Cockthorpe Common. I’d walked the road section many years ago and was pleasantly surprised to find that there is now a permissive path which runs behind the hedge and provides an effective barrier from the passing traffic. The path across Cockthorpe Common was new to me and was the most pleasant part of the walk.

We made a short detour into Cockthorpe for lunch at the church before heading back towards Morston. There was a ploughed field on our route and rather than getting ankle-deep in mud, we walked along 3 sides of this field to rejoin our route on Love Lane. It was at this point that we had our only few spots of rain but this lasted no more than 5 minutes and really wasn’t a problem. The walk wasn’t much shorter than planned at 6.6 miles with just 300ft of ascent.



Houghton & Harpley

Sunday 5 February 2017. Phil, having switched walks with Josephine, caused a little confusion to some of the 13 walkers who turned out today but as both of their walks are similar in length and start from the Dogotel, there wasn’t any real problems.

Our route took us north along the Peddars Way and through Bunkers Hill wood where we stopped for coffee. Houghton Hall stands on private land but we did get some distant views from the roads around the perimeter of its grounds. After “trespassing” on tracks through The Blackground, we stopped for lunch opposite Home Farm. A few members of the resident deer herd could be seen from here.

The route back took us through Harpley village and up to Cockyhoop Cottage where we rejoined the Peddars Way back to the cars. The walk was 8.2 miles with a total ascent of just over 500ft.



Pretty Corner

Sunday 29 January 2016. I was busy on a photography course at Wimpole Hall today but Phil has kindly sent me this report of his walk from Pretty Corner.

There were 10 of us today who turned up in glorious sunshine. We descended through woodland to Upper Sheringham, then on to Sheringham Park, taking a short coffee stop on the bridge overlooking the steam railway. Followed by a 3 mile stretch along the coast climbing 3 peaks including Beeston Bump.

Lunch was taken at Beeston Priory and well received. After, we made a gentle climb through the common, and then a steep wooded incline to the finish. Most of us agreed because of the gradients the walk felt a little more than the 8.5 miles advertised.

I’ve added Phil’s pictures of the walk and one of my own of a Redwing; taking on “point and shoot” setting before starting my photography course.


Aira Force

Saturday 21 January 2017. I’m on my own for the last two days of this holiday and, as I could do what I wanted to, I decided to give myself a leisurely day and become something of a tourist. There was a keen frost overnight but it brought a wonderfully sparkling morning. I saw a Tweet from someone in Cumbria this morning which read “Hello sun, we’ve ‘mist’ you. It sums up the last week better than ever I could.

I wanted to continue my experimentation with waterfall photography so I took myself off to the NT site at Aira Force. Car parking was £5 for up to 2 hours, £7 for up to 4 hours and £9 if you wanted to stay longer. As I’m a Scottish NT member it was free for me although I was only there for about 90 minutes during which time I walked a couple of miles with 500ft of ascent.

I think that I’ve just about “cracked” the waterfall thing and reverted back to my landscape and Herdy photograph in ideal, if chilly, conditions.