Inn Way to Northumberland (Day 3 of 4)

On day 3 we knew we had over 20 miles to walk from Wooler to Alwinton, carrying our rucksacks.  So it was with a little trepidation that we set off, but with a slight spring in our steps as the forecast was for some cloud (importantly, no rain) and sunshine later.  What we hadn’t factored into the equation (once a mathematician always a mathematician 😉) was that the route on the ground wouldn’t be as clear as it was on our maps.  It seems that the Northumberland National Park is rarely walked and in a few places, not well signposted, so some paths were almost impossible to find.  Or, if we did find what looked like a path, we soon came across a fence with no stile.  Of course this could be our (OK, my) poor navigation skills but, I would venture to suggest (and, whisper this quietly*) that this area is one of the least discovered parts of England.  Indeed we saw no other walkers all day.
(*Actually I was told not to tell anyone, but you, my loyal followers and readers, are my friends… 😀)

After a couple of time-consuming detours before getting back on track, we again reviewed our position and decided to alter our planned route.  Instead of going up and down over the moors on unknown terrain, we took a much easier, but longer, set of tracks and roads in order to get us to the Rose and Thistle at a reasonable time.  Having set off shortly after 9am, we eventually arrived around 7pm.

With thanks again to Pete for some of the pictures below.

Mike’s Music Monday #13

My favourite number is 13.  I was born on a 13th (not a Friday, unfortunately) but I’ve never been superstitious.  I deliberately walk under ladders.  So for number 13 on my hit list, I had to pick a song which is very special.  It’s been viewed over 75 million times on YouTube, so there must be a few people out there who will like this.

For a while, there was phenomenon going around called Rickrolling, where this song would be played in places where you would least expect it.  Well, this is not one of them, (but I reserve the right to pop in a link to it in future 😉).

Watch out for the barman doing a jump where he touches his hands with his feet.  Incredible – just like the song!

Inn Way to Northumberland (Day 2 of 4)

The full Inn Way is normally completed in 6 stages, but my friends and I prefer to stick to a 3 or 4 day schedule.  So this necessitated a ‘short cut’ somewhere along the route.  This would be Day 2, where we would make our own way from Seahouses to Wooler – perhaps a distance of around 15 to 16 miles.   There were 2 or 3 options and we chose to take the most southerly route marked on the map (pic 19), which involved a short section of road before crossing the main east coast railway line.

Pete was looking forward to repeating his telephone chat with the Control office, as he had when we did the Northumberland Coast path a few years ago.  Then, he had said it would take us “just a jiffy” to cross the busy line.  However, despite the Ordnance Survey map showing a public right of way, the crossing was no longer there.  We could clearly see where it had been, by the posts which had held the phones and the severed wires, but our way was well and truly blocked.

We returned to the road and after another mile or so, we set off along a path to Warenford.  It was so overgrown with weeds, nettles and long grass that we were soon wet through from foot to thigh after all the rain the previous day.  So it was with great relief we emerged in Warenford and stopped for a refreshing cuppa at the White Swan Inn.  (None of us were in any mood for beer at that point).  A rethink was also required and from there we pretty much avoided any paths which might be ‘wet’ (i.e. the one over Chatton Moor) and a lot of road was used to get to Wooler.

The boys speculated that it would be difficult to produce a blog from the meagre, grey views on offer, but I’ve now discovered that one of the key skills of a photographer is in actually finding things to photograph…  I hope I’ve done this leg justice, with a little help from my mate, Pete (pic 15).

Footnote:  If you ever find yourself in or near Seahouses, you MUST go in the Olde Ship, which is just above the harbour, it’s a real gem.  Apart from some excellent beer, the bar is full (and I mean full) of seafaring artifacts and memorabilia.

Inn Way to Northumberland (Day 1 of 4)

Regular readers may recall that my mate Colin and I walked 4 days of the Inn Way to the Yorkshire Dales in 2017 and the Inn Way to the Peak District last year.  This year we were joined by our friends, Pete and Liam, to walk most of the Inn Way to Northumberland.  As you will see below, the weather wasn’t kind for our first day, heading north from Alnmouth to Seahouses.  But at least the going along the coast was relatively flat, if a little damp, as the rain fell, on and off, for most of the afternoon.   Thankfully, conditions did improve over the next 3 days…

 

Mike’s Music Monday #12

This week we’re back to the early 80’s with a disco classic.  It’s certainly a flashback for me to the ‘good old days’ and many of you will need some imagination to enjoy it.  Certainly my friends (who I’m currently walking with in Northumberland) will hate this song.   So it’s just as well we may well be out of wifi range!

Walk to the Col du Torrent (almost), Val d’Hérens, Switzerland

With recent temperatures rising into the mid-20’s (70’s F), even in Evolène @1,400m or 4,600ft, most of the snow has now gone from the lower mountain slopes.  So I was expecting to be able to reach the Col du Torrent (@2,916m or 9,567ft), perhaps with a bit of detouring around any snow that might be left in the gullies.  However, it soon became clear, as I got higher, that the late April snow had left its mark and I decided to turn back, maybe 400m, or around 70m in height, from the col.   So I never did manage to get a picture of the fabulous view into the next valley. 🙁  Maybe next time.

Another dilemma was how much time to spend chasing butterflies.  I knew I had a good 6 hours walking ahead of me, so I couldn’t wait around too long to capture as many as I would have liked.  At least six Apollos escaped my lens, as did a couple of Painted Ladies (spotted on the descent).  Apart from those shown below, there were numerous others, which I would only be able to name once downloaded onto my laptop.  Thankfully, the flowers are a little easier to photograph, if not to identify!

 

Mike’s Music Monday #11

I had the pleasure of seeing this group live at the Hammersmith Odeon many (blue) moons ago, while I was at University in London.  (I’m not sure how I could afford the ticket, but there you go…) They were on before the Four Tops and I have to say they outshone them by far.  I still have their LP on vinyl, though they were/are known as the Detroit Spinners in the UK, to avoid any confusion with another group called The Spinners.   Whatever, this is a great song, and the video from Soul Train is a classic!

 

Camino de Santiago, Triacastela to Sarria (via Molino de Marzan Albergue)

I couldn’t spend a week staying on “the Camino” without walking some of it.  So, last week, I set off to walk from Arthur’s gallery, which is just beyond Triacastela (if you turn right there, rather than left to Samos) and about 130km from the finish in Santiago de Compostela.  My goal was to get to Sarria, where I would be picked up late in the afternoon, but I reached there at 11:30am.  So I carried on…

One of the big attractions of the Camino is that there are signposts at least every 500m (I’m told) and usually at any junction, so you don’t need to carry a map or be very good at navigation.  Also, I realised afterwards, there are no gates to open, or stiles to climb over, (on my section anyway), which makes for a slightly smoother journey.  Many people don’t even book their accommodation ahead, so that they are free to stop, or carry on, as the fancy takes them.  Though this does mean that there is a tendency for quite a few people to set off at the crack of dawn (which must be delightful for other guests or walkers staying in the same albergue or hostel – not to mention people trying to sleep below a gallery on the Camino).

Clearly there are other advantages too, like it’s a good walk with some nice scenery and you will get to meet, or pass, looooaaaads of people.  But that, for me, even though I consider myself a very sociable person, puts me off doing the whole thing.  (I also get quite competitive, as nobody walks passed me!)   There’s quite a lot of road, or next to road, sections too, though they are often fairly quiet back roads.

For info also, I noticed quite a lot of cyclists taking on the route and I saw some specific signs in the road, so there must be a cyclist’s variation.  This must get you from A to B somewhat quicker but, then, you may miss a lot (of the point) of the journey.   In addition there are a few alternative routes to Santiago de Compostela, like one along the north coast of Spain and another up through Portugal, which you might like to consider to be a little ‘different’.

Anyway, I managed another 8km (5 miles) beyond Sarria before I turned back, covering the same ground, which made my walk about 30km (18 miles) in total.  Though I have to say, just in case you have a mind to do it in reverse, it’s not as easy to navigate as you might think – given that the signs are geared towards pilgrims on the normal route.  (And I think you will be fed up of saying “Ola” or “Buen Camino” to thousands of people).

Birds of a feather…

No sooner had we arrived at our friend Arthur’s place on the Camino de Santiago, near Triacastella, (N. Spain), he announced that he had a blackbird’s nest in the bush clambering over his terrace and that there were two wrens building a nest in the palm tree only 2 to 3 yards away from his kitchen window.   Not only that but we spotted a family of young blackcaps ‘playing’ in the elderflower bushes to the left of the terrace.  So this is their story…

Let me first ‘set the scene’ with a (very poor) panoramic picture below of Arthur’s terrace – the palm tree is on the extreme far right, the (dark) green ‘blackbird’ bush is also to the right and the elderflowers to the left. (The glass of wine was mine! 😊)

0 Terrace

The Blackbirds were clearly well advanced as they all fledged and disappeared within a few days of us arriving.  But I did manage to capture the one picture below of at least 3 beaks (at the centre of the image).

1 Blackbird beaks

The Wrens were having a hard time of it.  Their first nest had been destroyed (I forget how now), but they were busy building their second towards the bottom of the dead brown leaves hanging down from the palm tree.  Unfortunately a storm blew up and hail (yes, hail – in June!) knocked it to the ground.  Undeterred, they carried on building another nest further up the tree.  One can only admire the determination and industry of these tiny little birds!

Last, but not least, the Blackcaps entertained us all week with their presence.  Rather than fly away when we approached the corner of the terrace, they simply hopped behind a leaf or onto the next branch.  This allowed me to get a few good pictures, including a very interesting series (see pics numbered 9 to 14) where the male parent returned with a berry and offered it to 2 of the 3 chicks, but then gulped it down itself.  It was as if the parent was saying, “Take a good look, this is what you should be out there looking for, now get going…!”)  Alternatively, or as well, the ‘teenage’ young, were looking suitably grumpy and saying “Not berries for dinner again!”).