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I’m working near to Clapham Common for the next 12 days. I never knew it was so pretty.

Long Pond – formed after gravel pits were abandoned. Model yachts gave been sailed here since the mid-19th century
The autumn colours this year are quite splendid
Holy Trinity Church

This is going to be a relatively easy booking, but quite boring with nothing much to do. I may just get to start and finish (hopefully) my September blogs – it will all depend on whether or not my laptop is still operational.

From Wikipedia: At over 85 hectares in size, Clapham Common is one of London’s largest, and oldest, public open spaces, situated between Clapham, Battersea and Balham.

Clapham Common is mentioned as far back as 1086 in the famous ‘Domesday Book’, and it was originally ‘common land’ for the Manors of Battersea and Clapham. ‘Commoners’ – tenants of the Lords of the Manors, could graze their livestock, collect firewood or dig for clay and other minerals on the site“.

Whoop whoop, another Domesday Book place.

Lots of space for walking, and I’m planning on finishing the Ring Road Iceland by Wednesday next week 🤞🤞🤞 and starting the Romantic Road, Germany virtual challenge.

Tomorrow I shall go walkabout and look out for interesting architecture.

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Post Hike Blues!!! Who knew?? I didn’t think this was a real thing, but after reading a facebook post on one of the long-distance walking pages, it appears that it is indeed a ‘real’ thing and not just me being nuts LOL

I had it bad this time. I have been so down and so ‘blue’ the last 2 weeks and it’s been a real struggle to keep my head above water so to speak. Not helped by the fact that a couple of days after getting back from my marathon excursion, I found that the booking I was due to start a week later, had been cancelled. The client’s family had decided to keep the current carer on for the immediate future. Major panic!! That was a £700 booking. The agency were and have been unable to find another. So my already blue mood dipped into the red…

But I was comforted to know that having the blues post hike was something other people also experienced. I guess if you’ve been walking for 21 days and experiencing the freedom that comes with that; reaching and discovering new and exciting places as well as just being free of any real time-constraints, or responsibility, coming back into the insanity of ‘civilisation’ can be a huge adjustment.

I spoke to my daughter about it, and although I had forgotten, she assured me that I did indeed have the blues after my other walks….only this time, I think it was exacerbated by the loss of income, the panic of not getting a replacement booking and having to draw down from my savings to pay my rent etc.

But on the bright side, I fly to Ireland today to meet up with my sister and her hubby for her 50th birthday celebrations. Although this seems contrary to the previous paragraph, the flight and accommodation were planned and paid for (in full) before I lost the work booking. Fortunately I had come in £189 below budget from my NCP and HWW walks, and so that has covered the costs. I also received my new TMC which I had forgotten about and found that I have 189 euro in the account left over from my 2017 Camino. Quite a serendipitous co-incidence in the numbers there! I also found 84 euros in cash in my travel purse from 2017!!! LOL So Ireland is covered…thankfully, coz I really do not need that added financial stress.

Once I realised that what I was feeling was a real thing, I did some research and found a couple of really interesting articles “You have to acknowledge what your body just went through and will go through post-trail. If you’re a thru hiker, you just spent all day, every day backpacking! Burning calories, releasing endorphins, building muscles, nurturing your brain by being out in nature and having new, challenging experiences every day… and then?” And then you get back to the humdrum of life….which is what you do when you’re not walking!! read more here https://www.youradventurecoach.com/post-trail-depression/

I remember reaching the outskirts of Carlisle on the 17th September and crossing the M6. The traffic was horrendous…literally bumper to bumper for as far as my eyes could see. It filled me with a sense of panic and stress….I could not bear to face that. Thankfully I don’t own a car!!!

Traffic on the M6

But just the thought of the noise levels which were already increasing, and my whole being just wanted to turn around and head back to the fields and lanes, the quiet and peace. I would even have been happy to climb those dastardly ridges of Hadrian’s Wall Way once again – just to find the quiet.

Follow the acorn

So what did I do, once I realised it was a real thing…..? I started planning the next trail. LOL Yes, I bought a couple of notebooks, pulled out my Cicerone Guide Book and started planning for the South Downs Way for April/May 2022.

Walking the South Downs Way

I also pushed up my Conqueror Challenges km target for 2021 from 2600 kms to 3200 kms.

2,000 miles boots on
87 days and counting

Nothing like a bit of pressure then!!! So I’m out most days walking, walking, walking….my daily target 10.8kms. Some days I get in a little more, others a little less. But it gets me out my room and into the fresh air. And I do love walking.

I’ve also put dates into my diary to do another 4 stages of the Thames Path and the last stage of the north section of the Saxon Shore Way. I have however, postponed my next few stages of the England Coast Path till 2022, only because the days are shorter now and the path requires cliff walking and long distances. So I’ll save those for March 2022 when the days start getting longer. I thought as well that since the SDW is a 10 day hike at most; Winchester to Eastbourne, I will probably add on another few days and continue up the coast from Eastbourne to Rye – which is where I will have ended off my current stages, and easily done in 2 days of walking. This of course is finances dependent….but it’s part of the plan. And apparently if you state your intentions to the Universe, then it delivers….so, here’s to that then!

The Universe – delivering a rainbow 🌈

In this article the writer talks about feeling sad. About how we expect to feel exhilarated and excited to finish, but in fact we sometimes find that we are sad at the thought of the journey ending and returning to ‘real life’, and I can so identify with that. I remember reaching the 10km marker on the Camino in 2017 and sitting there for hours just crying…I didn’t want it to end. I know only too well the expectation of feeling exhilarated when I reached The Banks at Bowness-on-Solway at the end of Hadrian’s Wall….but I didn’t. I just felt flat 😑😑….so to fix that, I phoned my daughter! Seeing her on video and speaking to her cheered me up enormously and her humour soon restored mine. We laughed and joked and she took a photo of me via the phone…and yes, I was really looking forward to seeing her and my little family again. I had missed them all.

Crazy lady via WhatsApp video 😁😁

Oh, and I’ve also been binge watching Homeland from the very beginning. I missed a lot of episodes due to work, so I’m enjoying filling in the blanks.

Have you experienced post-hike blues? I’d love to hear more about how you deal with them! What tools do you use to overcome the flatness…? If you haven’t experienced post-hike blues, I’d also like to hear about that…what is different, do you think?

I love that I now understand that what I feel is not just me being silly, but that enough people feel that way for articles to be written about the subject.

Sorry I’ve been so tardy about writing up my walks, but I simply did not have the head space 🤪🤪 but I’ll get onto it soon.

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Hello 👋👋 I’m back. And it done. Yes, I reached Banks at Fort Maia (aka Bowness on Solway) at 15:14 yesterday 21.09.21 😀

Banks at Fort Maia

The first thing I did was phone my daughter and sob 😄😄 We had a lovely long chat and she did a photo of me at the hut via WhatsApp video. Technology eh!!

Crazy lady via WhatsApp video 😁😁 it looks like I’m holding the hut up!! 🤪🤪

So I guess this post is jumping the gun a wee bit since I haven’t really posted much about my journey since 1st September when I started my journey at the Scottish border near Berwick Upon Tweed…but I really wanted to share this with you now, and later I’ll jump back in time and update you on my adventures.

In summary it’s been an amazing experience. Hard at times with days when I hit a wall of exhaustion, but other days that were a sheer joy.

Oh the things I have seen and the places I have been….every day a new door to open on vistas and adventure. And have I had some amazing adventures….but all will be told in time.

Meanwhile, here I am at Banks at the end of the 84 miles National Trail of Hadrian’sWay, and finally I can legitimately wear my cap 😁😁 ‘I’ve Walked Hadrians Wall’.

😃😃

I have to give a shout out to Gemini, my walking poles.  Without them I would not have been able to complete the walk. They saved me from stumbling (many times), helped me haul myself up inclines, and steadied me going down vertiginous descents. They kept my balance on rough paths and helped me jump over muddy puddles. They are invaluable and I am so grateful for their constant presence…they are like an extension of my body now, and we’ve been walking together for 5 years. Unlike me, they’ve had 3 sets of new feet and still going strong.

I’ll get onto my laptop soon and catch up….from the Scottish Border near Berwick Upon Tweed on the east coast of Northumberland, to the west coast of Cumbria; Bowness on Solway – 421 kms (263 miles) North to South along the Northumberland Coast Path and East to West along Hadrian’s Way.

Done and dusted (except for 12kms between Craster Harbour and Alnwick…but more about that later 😄😄

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Yes, unbelievably it’s Day 17 of my walking adventure and Day 8 of my jaunt along Hadrian’s Wall, so I thought I’d pop in and give a quick update.

I had hoped to update you on a daily basis as mentioned before, but oh my gosh, the most I could manage was to eat (not even every night), shower, repack Pepe, and then bed. And repeat.

As per the title, I’m now starting Day 17 of my adventure, and Day 8 of my walk across country from North Shields; Segedunum Fort to Bowness-On-Solway, along Hadrian’s Wall. What an experience it has been. I’ve taken hundreds of photos and will share some of them in due course when I get the time, and energy to write ✍ 😁😁….so….here I am

Relaxing in bed in Brampton, watching a stunning sunrise and thinking back over the last 16 days.. it’s been a truly epic journey.

When I first planned on adding the Northumberland Coast Path to my Hadrian’s Wall adventure, I never for one minute doubted I’d be able to do it. But I also had no idea of what lay ahead. If I had, I might not have been quite so confident. But now that I’m near the end, and with the easy stretches ahead, I’m astounded I managed to get this far, and certainly amazed I’m still standing…well at the moment I’m lying down 😁😁😁

But, geez, I never imagined I would do quite as much walking as what I have. It’s been epic. Every day has brought its own joy, and pain, and laughter, and lots of “OMG that’s amazing” moments; reaching the border with Scotland, the dolphins off Farne Islands, seeing that bridge in Berwick Upon Tweed, traversing the bloody Blythe River estuary 🤪🤪, visiting St Mary’s Lighthouse, the wonderful beaches of Northumberland, the many castles – all different and unique in their own way, reaching Tynemouth, the bridges of Newcastle, visiting Arbeia Roman Fort, discovering the first section of the Wall at Heddon on the Wall, seeing the ascent and then descent as I climbed the first ridge on Hadrian’s Wall (I truly do not know how I did all those), seeing the tree at Sycamore Gap from the top of the ridge and suddenly realising what it was 😄😄, exploring the forts and carrying my backpack for 32kms on what was the hottest day of my whole journey…unreal.

I just wish I hadn’t been so tired at the end of each day, I’d have liked to write down the daily experiences…but it was all I could do just to upload some photos before crashing. I’m looking forward to calculating my distances. But one of the best aspects of this journey has been the many, many lovely people I have met along the way, especially on Hadrian’s Way…truly epic.

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Hi everyone, I’m still alive. Just such long days and soooo tired I just couldn’t face anything except bed.

But I wanted to pop in and say that all is well, I’m having a thoroughly good time. This country is amazing and I will have to share it all when I am not totally exhausted.

However I have to share today’s adventure which was totally unexpected…after I had visited Bamburgh Castle and Seahouses, I went back to Belford…

And then I set off along the next stage of the Northumberland Coast Path, from Belford to Fenwick… and enroute I ended up on a completely different adventure… All went well up until that pic with the gate…a sign that was meant to be there wasn’t and after a good 90 minutes of walking, and walking and wondering when I was going to see the next signpost, I ended up at a farm. I spotted a gentleman working on some machinery, so meandered over and said “excuse me, I’m so sorry to bother you  but am I on the Northumberland Coast Path?”….the answer was short and to the point “no”. Oh geez. Anyway after much discussion, he offered to drive me back to the gate where I was meant to turn off….and a teeny tiny plea from me “I don’t suppose you’d consider taking me all the way to Fenwick..only the last bus is at 6.45 ,and if I walk back, I’m going to miss it”. So blow me down if he didn’t actually drive me all the way!! It was quite thrilling actually, racing along the tracks at 60 kms per hour in a farm cart of sorts, scattering deer, and rabbits and pheasants as we went in my defence, he said that a signboard wasn’t where it was meant to be. So he took me all the way to the bus stop and we got there 5 minutes before my bus was due. The map shows where I ended up. In Holborn, and I should have been in Fenwick…which was miles away. When he dropped me off, I said “you Sir, are a true gentleman” to which he replied “I’ve been called many things, but never a gentleman “.

He also said I wasn’t the first, and probably wouldn’t be the last!! Clearly he’s had people ending up at his farm before!

Where I ended up…Holburn. where I was meant to be…Fenwick

Other than that, I’ve been to Lindisfarne (yesterday) absolutely fantastic. Didn’t get lost walking back 😂😂😂

And today I visited Bamburgh Castle – stunning place!! And the seaside town of Seahouses…so cute!!

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Day 1 done and dusted 😁😁 I had a completely uneventful journey, ever so quick from King’s Cross to Berwick…and boy are those trains fast!!

Arrived in Berwick to the most glorious weather and scooted quickly over to the castle ruins. I didn’t go right into the keep coz it closes at 4pm and I got there at just on 3.54…but I had a good look around and then headed back up the million steps I’d just walked down 🤪🤪 Google maps doesn’t show how steep some places are!!

The River Tweed
Tweed Castle
The Royal Bridge

The Airbnb is lovely and the host is amazing…there’s a gorgeous ginger cat and a beautiful golden labrador, so I have had lots of kisses and cuddles.

My bed for the next 3 nights

As soon as I had dropped off my backpack, I grabbed my day pack and headed north yo the Scottish border. OMG what a path!! The views were spectacular but the path was hell!! For the most part it ran right along the very edge of the cliffs with just a tuft of grass between the walker and the vertiginous cliffs that fall 100s of feet down to the sea. The North Sea in case you wondered.

Spectacular. The weather turned soon after and the clouds came in
Part of #notthecoastpath 🤣🤣

A local suggested I walk along the above ‘path’ because the real path “is a bit rough, and this is a lovely wee walk” – well he wasn’t wrong about the path, but this was no better and I crossed the edge of a potato field to the path as soon as I could. I’m thinking he’s never walked to the border before…

Now this was more like it…leading away from the Scottish border, it was a joy to see this…if only the whole route had been the same

However, despite the awful path and the daunting propect of a twisted ankle on a very narrow and uneven path, and the fading light, I’m so glad I made the effort to walk up to the border and back

Welcome to Scotland 😁😁
English border
It was so cool to cross through the gate into Scotland

The views are absolutely spectacular.

I’m standing on the path!!! A twisted ankle or a trip and you’d be in for a swim
Literally right on the edge

Once I got back to town I had a quick whizz around and walked a small section of the town ramparts, which are just amazing with awesome views of the river and estuary.

Town walls
Walking the ramparts
Fantastic views
Guarding the town

I got back to the b&b at just on 9pm and having missed the fish and chip shop, I had 2 cup a soup and a cup of tea.

In all a terrific start to my Northumberland Coast adventure. Just on 17kms covered.

My walk

I’ve added some of the history of Berwick in case you’re interested 😉

Berwick is just four miles south of the Scottish Border, but during the last 300 years, control of the town swapped 13 times between England and Scotland. Berwick’s Elizabethan town walls are the most intact in England, and were Elizabeth I’s biggest and most expensive project during her reign to keep firm control of this key town.

https://www.visitnorthumberland.com/explore/destinations/towns-villages/berwick-upon-tweed

Situated at the mouth of the River Tweed near the border of two kingdoms, the town of Berwick suffered centuries of conflict, as control of the town passed back and forward between England and Scotland until the late 17th century. Each crisis brought repairs and improvements to the fortifications, culminating in the great artillery ramparts begun in 1558. These survive largely intact and make Berwick one of the most important fortified towns of Europe.

Berwick’s town walls are its most famous piece of architecture and still stand strong today, hundreds of years after they were built. Berwick actually has two sets of walls, the first set (of which only fragments now remain), commenced by Edward I, was two miles long. The later Elizabethan Walls (which are still complete) are a mile and a-quarter in length. The ramparts completely surround the town, with four gates through which entry to the town is enabled.

Berwick’s Elizabethan Walls are the only example of bastioned town walls in Britain and one of the best preserved examples in Europe. When built in 1558 – designed to keep out the marauding Scots who regularly laid claim to the town – it was the most expensive undertaking of England’s Golden Age.

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Andddd….breathe!!! 🤪🤪🤪 geez, I don’t remember being this tense when I set off for my Camino in 2017!! Probably coz I didn’t fully appreciate what was ahead.  But now I do. 🤔🤔

My heart is racing and I’m on the edge of crying..copiously 😂😂 But I’m as ready as I can be. I’ve trained, I’ve packed and repacked, taken stuff out, put other stuff in, researched just about every inch of both routes, noted all dates, times, accommodation, excursions, reference numbers, telephone numberset etc etc so nothing left to be done, but 🚶‍♀️🚶‍♀️🚶‍♀️🚶‍♀️ Whewwww. Cor blimey!!

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Well, without further ado, the time to set off is just hours away….it’s incredible how quickly the months have flown by.

I’ve spent a lot of time working on this plan and sincerely hope it all works out. I think I have everything covered and haven’t missed out on any sections of either the Northumberland Coast Path or Hadrian’s Wall.

I was looking at the guidebook map last night and I noticed that the route out of Newcastle on Hadrian’s Wall is somewhat different to what I’ve planned. So that might need some adjustment. But I’ve got a week to decide and while travelling between home and Berwick Upon Tweed, I’ll read through the guidebook and try to determine why it’s different.

But, that aside…here’s a brief summary of The Plan 😉

Day 1 – travel to Berwick Upon Tweed, visit the castle, walk to the Scottish border and back, then walk the castle ramparts, cross the bridges, have supper and back to the B&B

Day 2 – visit Lindisfarne Island; the castle, priory, the parish church, and a few other places. Then back to the mainland and walk back to Berwick from Beal along the coast; basically the first stage of the official trail…

Day 3 – visit Bamburgh Castle, bus to Seahouses to explore, have supper and then walk to Fenwick where I’ll get the bus back to Berwick since I’ll have walked that section the day before.

Day 4 – bus back to Belford to drop off my backpack at the Guesthouse. Then bus to Seahouses and a visit to the Farne Islands then a meal in Seahouses before walking back to Belford.

Day 5 – bus to Seahouses, then walk south to Craster visiting Dunstanburgh Castle on the way. Bus to Alnmouth for overnight.

Day 6 – bus back to Craster, then walk south to Warkworth and visit Warkworth Castle, then bus to Newbiggin. Overnight

Day 7 – Bus back to Warkworth and walk south via Cresswell to Newbiggin and overnight. The official Northumberland Coast Path ends at Cresswell and the border between Northumberland and Tyne & Wear is near Hartley. From here I’ll be adding kms, but finished with the NCP

Day 8 – walk south from Newbiggin to Whitley Bay visiting St Mary’s Island and Nature Reserve. This is quite a long day in terms of kms, but I have the whole day, so just going to relax and take a slow walk

Day 9 – walk south to Tynemouth on the River Tyne and start Hadrian’s Wall walk with a visit to Segedunum Fort, official start of this national trail. Overnight Newcastle

Day 10 – metro to South Shields, visit Arbeia Roman Fort and visit South Shields lighthouse, then ferry to North Shields and walk back to Wallsend and walk to Newcastle. Overnight.

Day 11 – visit Newcastle Castle and Newcastle Cathedral; most northerly catheral in England. Then off to Heddon on the Wall visiting Benwell Roman Temple and various turrets along the way. Overnight Heddon.

Day 12 – walk Heddon on the Wall to Corbridge, visiting Vindobala Fort enroute. Supper in Corbridge, an authentic Roman Town, then taxi to Acomb for overnight. Not my favourite place for overnight but accommodation was scarce or very expensive.

Day 13 – Acomb bus to Chesters Roman Fort, visit and then following the Wall visiting Black Carts Turret, Temple of Mithras, a few milecastles, Sewing Shields Crags, a visit to Housesteads Fort depending on the time, then Sycamore Gap and finish at Steel Rigg Car Park where my host will collect me for overnight on a farm quite a way off the route. Again accommodation was a factor.

Day 14 – visit Vindolanda and possibly Housesteads if not visited day before and overnight again at Haltwhistle. Hoping the skies are clear because this is a designated ‘Dark Skies’ area and I’d LOVE to see the Milky Way and a few shooting stars.

Day 15 – back to Steel Rigg Car Park, then follow Hadrian’s Wall again passing Cawfield Quarry and visiting Great Chesters Fort and the Vindolanda Roman Army Museum, Thirlwall Castle and onto Gilsland for overnight

Day 16 – walking Gilsland to Brampton and visiting Birdoswald Fort and Pike Hill Signal Tower and Banks East Turret before heading off the trail again to Brampton for overnight.

Day 17 – visit Lanercost Priory and then picking up the path again from Hare Hill and passing Newtown enroute for Carlisle where I’ll be staying for the next 5 nights.

Day 18 – walk Carlisle to Burgh by Sands and bus back to Carlisle, visit Carlisle Castle and cathedral.

Day 19 – being a Sunday the transport is sketchy, so I’m going to rest and relax for the day. Maybe explore Carlisle City.

Day 20 – bus back to Burgh by Sands, then walk to Bowness on Solway and the end of the Hadrian’s Wall national trail, where I get my final passport stamp at the Promenade 👏👏👏👏 then bus back to Carlisle.

Day 21 – train to Gretna Green and Lockerbie. Two separate journeys, but both a must do. Final night in Carlisle.

Day 22 – relaxing morning in Carlisle and then train home.

So there it is. It’s not by any stretch of the imagination going to be a walk in the park, and some days are longer than I desire, but accommodation was very tricky and I had to completely change my schedule for a few days due to lack of, or expensive accommodation. One thing is for sure, this is not Spain where you can get reasonable accommodation for reasonable prices. Some of the places I looked at are extravagant with the relative exorbitant prices.

Will I complete both trails? Who knows. I’ve tried to plan reasonable days with fairly reasonable distances, but until you actually walk the trail, you simply have no idea.

I’m going to make sensible decisions if necessary and I’m not hung up on the semantics…if there’s any section/stage I can’t do for any reason, then like I did with the Pilgrim’s Way, I’ll go back at some stage and complete it. Of course the logistics will be somewhat different due to distance, but I have 6 other trails I am planning on walking over the next few years, so one way or another…I’ll complete the walks.

So from me, it’s goodnight. I’ll do my best to blog as I go, but if you don’t hear from me, it’ll be because I had a tough day and I’m sleeping 😴🤪🤣🤣

Meanwhile, wish me luck 🍀 and 🤞 it all goes well. Frankly, I think I must be absolutely bloody insane to even contemplate this, never mind actually do it…😁 but it’s there, it needs to be walked.

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Walking is the best…

The official Northumberland Coast Path starts in Cresswell and heads north to Berwick Upon Tweed, whilst the Hadrian’s Wall route from Wallsend, Newcastle Upon Tyne in the east heads west to Bowness-On-Solway in Cumbria, although a lot of people recommend starting in the west and heading east because then the prevailing wind is at your back and you don’t have the late afternoon sun in your eyes.

But because I usually like to do things in order (whatever order I decide on on the spur of the moment), it seemed like a good idea to buck the trend and walk from north to south on the Northumberland Coast Path; Berwick Upon Tweed to Cresswell and then continuing south to Tynemouth and west to Newcastle for the start of my jaunt along Hadrian’s Wall from east to west.

Thus, I shall be walking north to south and east to west….seems good to me 🙂

However, if you look at my daily plan for the NCP, I am doing a bit of north/south, then south/west, then west/east, and back again east/west, then south/north, and for a few days I’ll be going south, after which for a day I’ll be heading north, after which I go south again and then east to west. Confused yet? Imagine how I felt trying to organise all that!!!!

A little bit of zag and a lot of zig…it’s going to be really interesting looking at my daily route at the end of it all…

It’s been quite a lot of fun, and a certain amount of stress making sure I cover every mile of the NCP, but when all is said and done, I do believe I will 😁😁

When I started researching and organising my walk along the Northumberland Coast Path, I looked for accommodation that wasn’t too far apart. Ultimately I managed to find suitable Airbnb locations, at prices that won’t break the bank, but it meant I had to do a fair amount of back and forth that involved buses.

And just to be sure I didn’t miss anything out, I listed every single place from Berwick Upon Tweed in the north to Tynemouth in the south, including rivers and burns, car parks and caravan parks, a couple of cottages and a convenience store 🤪🤪🤪

After that I worked out my distance per day, and ticked off each place once I had decided on point a and z or b…

After that I got onto the bus services to schedule my trips from end to start, and start to end.

After weeks of working the plan again and again it is complete and I am satisfied I will have reasonable days with transportation to and from my accommodation locations and walking inbetween.

I’ll write up another post with my daily schedule in the next day or so…

Meanwhile…it’s now just 3 days before I leave….I treated myself to 2 new pairs of my favourite double thick socks. Time to go for a 🚶‍♀️🚶‍♀️🚶‍♀️along the NCP!!!

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Living in the south east of England, except for a brief visit to Durham a few years ago, the northeast feels quite remote, and although I wanted to visit Berwick Upon Tweed after connecting via twitter with someone who lived there, it may as well have been the moon for all the probability that I might visit.

However a number of factors arose over the years; my walking escapades with plans to walk Hadrian’s Wall and the two Saints Ways: St Cuthbert & St Oswald, and more lately the entire English Coast, suddenly it no longer seems quite so remote. Its 413 miles in fact from Ramsgate to Berwick Upon Tweed, so not as far as the moon after all.

As soon as I had decided to walk the Northumbrian coast instead of the saints ways, I started doing some research on the county. I had read a little bit about the history in a book by Neil Oliver that I read last year, and the history is amazing and intriguing.

So here goes, some facts and figures about Northumberland:

Northumberland has come out on top as being the quietest place in England! The county has a low population density with only 64 people per square kilometre, ranking as the 16th emptiest place in the whole of the UK.

Northumberland is a ceremonial county and historic county in North East England. It is bordered by the Scottish Borders to the north, Cumbria to the west, and both County Durham and Tyne and Wear to the south.

There are 7 castles in Northumberland, I will be visiting 5 during my walk

Northumberland is designated an AONB: area of natural beauty and has designated Dark Skies areas as well as which in some places you can, if you’re lucky, see the aroura borealis (fingers crossed) Northumberland is the best place to stargaze in the UK with 572 square miles of the county having been awarded Gold Tier status.

There are 70 castle sites in Northumberland, with 7 along the coast path, of which I will visit 5:

Berwick Castle – commissioned by the Scottish King David I in the 1120s

Lindisfarne – a 16th-century castle located on Holy Island, much altered by Sir Edwin Lutyens in 1901

Bamburgh – originally the location of a Celtic Brittonic fort destroyed by Vikings in 993. The Normans later built a new castle on the site, which forms the core of the present one, now owned by the Armstrong family

Dunstanburgh – a 14th-century fortification on the coast built by Earl Thomas of Lancaster between 1313 and 1322

Warkworth – a ruined medieval castle, traditionally its construction has been ascribed to Prince Henry of Scotland, Earl of Northumbria, in the mid-12th C, but it may have been built by King Henry II of England when he took control of England’s northern counties

Islands: 3 of which I plan to visit 2

1. Holy Island of Lindisfarne – This place of worship, tranquillity and breath-taking beauty was the home of St Cuthbert, who allegedly held the power of spiritual healing.

2. Farne Islands – St Cuthbert lived on the island in a cell during his time on the island. The Inner Farne is the largest of the Farne islands group and is home to many of the breeding birds during the season, Puffins,Shags, Guillemots, Cormorants and Razor Bills : read more https://farneislandstours.co.uk/the-farne-islands/ I’ve booked my ticket for this.

Coquet Island – Every spring, Coquet Island becomes bustling with birdlife as some 35,000 seabirds cram onto this tiny island to breed. Most famously, puffins whose cute and clumsy mannerisms have earned them the nickname of the ‘clowns of the sea’, visit in their thousands. You can only visit by boat, so if I have time on that day, I’ll try take a trip

Northumberland borders east Cumbria, north County Durham and north Tyne and Wear.

Northumberland’s unique breed of cattle are rarer than giant pandas. This unique herd of wild cattle are believed to be the sole descendants of herds that once roamed the forests of ancient Britain. It is thought they have been living at Chillingham for more than 700 years.

Historical sites –

Newcastle Castle is a medieval fortification in Newcastle upon TyneEngland, built on the site of the fortress that gave the City of Newcastle its name.

A number of Battlefields, priories and iron age sites dot the Northumberland landscape. I’m not sure how many I’ll get to see on my way south, but I’ll be sure to look out for them! Other than that:

Hadrian’s Wall – I’ll be walking the wall from 11th – 21st Hadrian’s Wall starts in what is now Tyne & Wear, follows through Northumberland and ends in Cumbria.

Vindolanda Roman Fort : a Roman auxiliary fort just south of Hadrian’s Wall which it originally pre-dated. Archaeological excavations of the site show it was under Roman occupation from roughly 85 AD to 370 AD. Ref Wikipedia

Chester’s Roman Fort : The cavalry fort, known to the Romans as Cilurnum, was built in about AD 124. It housed some 500 cavalrymen and was occupied until the Romans left Britain in the 5th century. Ref English Heritage

Temple of Mithras : The temple was probably built by soldiers at the fort at Carrawburgh around AD 200 and destroyed about AD 350. Three altars found here (replicas stand in the temple) were dedicated by commanding officers of the unit stationed here, the First Cohort of Batavians from the Rhineland. ref English Heritage

Housesteads Roman Fort :  built in stone around AD 124, soon after the construction of the wall began in AD 122

Corbridge Roman Fort : Corbridge was once a bustling town and supply base where Romans and civilians would pick up food and provisions. It remained a vibrant community right up until the end of Roman Britain in the early years of the 5th century. Ref English Heritage

UNESCO World Heritage Sites:

Hadrian’s Wall is a UNESCO World Heritage site, starts in Newcastle, Tyne & Wear, runs through Northumberland and ends in Cumbria.

The historic county town is Alnwick. And the biggest town is Blyth.

Earl Grey tea originated in Northumberland.

Northumberland was once the largest kingdom in the British Isles

Over a thousand years before Northumberland was affectionately known as ‘the last hidden kingdom’, it was known as the Kingdom of Northumbria.

Lancelot Capability Brown was born in the hamlet of Kirkharle.

Northumbrian (Old English: Norþanhymbrisċ) was a dialect of Old English spoken in the Anglian Kingdom of Northumbria. Together with Mercian, Kentish and West Saxon, it forms one of the sub-categories of Old English devised and employed by modern scholars.

At nearly 580sq miles, the dark sky zone, known as Northumberland International Dark Sky Park, is the largest Gold Tier Dark Sky Park area of protected night sky in Europe.

The famous detective programme ‘Vera’ featuring Brenda Blethyn, is filmed in various places in Northumberland and Newcastle Upon Tyne.

During my ‘research’ I’ve found so many interesting places, many of which are too far off the wall route for me to visit, but I guess I can always visit again someday.

And that’s it for now. There’s much else of course, but….

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