Sunday, 28 June 2015

Isn't Northumberland beautiful!

It's our second day in Northumberland today and we just had a short
We saw real curlews as well as mascot ones 
local walk from Low Hedgeley to Powburn to Branton and back around. Some of the walk was along the pretty River Breamish where there are bold yellow and purple flowers out in bloom. I braved crossing a seriously scary footbridge and we marvelled at the engineering involved in making a large salmon leap for what seems, at this time of year, to be a pretty small river. The footpaths are well signposted but have an odd habit of petering out mid-field and we found ourselves disagreeing with our Ordnance Survey map a few times! We have not yet set foot in the Powburn Emporium as we got back there just too late today. However, the Londis next door, which I expected to be just a petrol forecourt shop, actually has a good range of fresh food - meat, fruit and vegetables - as well as general groceries. Our local specialty of the week is the Border Tart - a mix of currants, sultanas, coconut and cherries in a pastry case and topped with white icing. The one we tried was baked by Trotters Family Bakers. In a change from many specialty dishes that aren't all that special, the Border Tart is really tasty and I think we might even splash out again!

Trotters' Border Tart

Yesterday was gorgeously sunny and we walked a good ten miles across
What a view! 
wonderfully varied landscapes in a big loop starting and ending in a nice free car park at the nearby village on Ingram. On the way there we saw a hare squeezing itself under a metal barred gate. Dave slowed the car right down as we passed and it stared back at us from only a few feet away! Huge eyes! Our later sightings of rabbits weren't nearly so exciting although they were remarkably chilled out about us getting close to them too. We also saw curlews, the emblem of the Northumberland National Park, skylarks and swallows, a couple of different species of bees and a few pretty butterflies. Most of the moorland here is bracken rather than the heather we saw in the North York Moors. Grouse are still raised here to be shot though and I startled one into making a loud and undignified escape!

Much of our route yesterday was over Open Access land, criss crossed
Dave's fort is a bit of a doer-upper 
with official footpaths and bridleways as well as random tracks in all directions. Fortunately Dave has got his phone GPS to work so our few wrong path choices were quickly rectified. Several settlements and a couple of forts were marked on the map and Dave is looking out for marauders from the ruined walls of one fort here. I am not exactly sure what all the stones are for in the picture below. The map indicated a settlement and perhaps the large stone in the centre was a doorstone or lintel. The ground looked to be hollow underneath it. Suggestions, if any, in the Comments please!

Not sure what this is or once was 
There are lots and lots of sheep here, mostly out on the open land
Another huge view -
my phone camera doesn't do this area justice 
together with herds of cows and their new calves. I found it much less nerve racking to pass the cows when they are not fenced in. Wide berths are easier! The Northumberland National Park is very green and lush which I wasn't expecting. I suppose I had imagined an even more rugged version of the Peak District and the North York Moors, however now we are here, I am reminded of our Scottish walks from Oban. The hills are rounded and there are boggy parts with coarse grasses. Dave kept his nice new boots dry, but I managed to sink almost over the tops of mine once. Fortunately the water wasn't muddy - just wet! We also passed small areas of managed woodland and a few incredibly isolated stone farmhouses. I love the building stone and the architecture used around here. The buildings look solid and eternal, but also elegant. There's a pretty cottage only a few minutes from this campsite which is only £115,000 ... !

We have two weeks here before we move on again and we are hoping to
see much more of the local countryside. Tomorrow I think we will have an easy day and just visit Wooler for a spot of shopping. Then off moorwards again on Tuesday with a picnic lunch. Weatherwise it is supposed to be a good week so I might even add to yesterday's sunburn! The guy on the next pitch lent us a book of short (5 mile) Northumbrian walks so Dave has noted down the ones nearest this campsite. Roseberry Topping was in there so we could already put a tick by that one in our minds. Happy Valley looks a pretty place to visit and we are also considering whether to to go to Lindisfarne and walk across the causeway. Having recently heard about the long-ago Viking attacks there, it would be interesting to actually see the site. There are so many places and so little time though. We are discovering the great paradox of travelling is that the more places we visit, the more we learn exist so, instead of slowly working through all the sites we want to visit and eventually finishing, we just keep adding more and more to the list!

The River Breamish 


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