Shaftoe Crags, Northumberland.

Our midweek walk took us to a territory of Northumberland which was just north of Belsay, and for those who aren’t accustomed to Belsay, then Shaftoe is north of Ponteland off the A696. If you pass Belsay, then Shaftoe is literally the third major turn off but the only snag is, you can’t park there as it’s a private road, so we basically parked 100m from the private road on a lay-by.

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It does feel a little awkward walking up the private road as you begin to encounter property and it feels like you shouldn’t be walking round there, but lo and behold, if you turn right and walk round, there is a road which leads you away from the house and onto Shaftoe Crags.

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The cattle were alerted by our presence and probably wanted something from us, something we didn’t quite have, which was food.


The road basically ensures you reach the crags, but halfway up we decided to take another path through the bracken.

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The views were still breathtaking despite it being more than overcast.


You get a real sense of achievement reaching the summit and being able to take in the landscapes is an added bonus.

It also appears when you go round from the top there’s more routes to indulge yourself in, but on a wet overcast day, remember to take your wellies and waterproof’s! There’s plenty to explore and it’s another beautiful part of Northumberland which on a clear day  illustrates how expanse, natural and raw this land is. This walk was a good stretch and we probably spent an hour walking there and back. So for anyone who hasn’t been, get yourself there for a lovely walk.

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Allendale, Northumberland.

Our travels took us to South-West Northumberland, a place which i myself have not had the pleasure of walking around. There are many places round this beautiful part of Northumberland to walk, but for us we chose to walk round Deneholm woods which is literally right next to the small village of Allendale.

We parked in Allendale itself, which was easily accessible, parking places were crying out for cars. We decided to walk from Allendale town centre back over the bridge and up the hill which then took us to an opening to Deneholm woods. The woods have been well looked after, walks clearly sign posted and wooden bridges built to walk across the River Allen.

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Above are a few pictures taken from our walk at the beginning.


As we got out from Deneholm woods we began to approach a few houses/cottages, one of which had around 20 to 30 chickens casually exploring the local environs.

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I’m no expert but as the back of the car clearly states, this is a Rover, an old one at that but it has been kept in such pristine condition that it deserved to be framed. What an absolute beauty.


We decided to go back from the cottages as time was getting on and the route appeared exhausted as there were no clear visible paths so we walked and from this bridge i was able to capture some wildlife, or at least i tried to frame it.


On we went, back to the town of Allendale by going back the same way we came. The walk itself is about 2 miles long. Serious walkers need not apply but anyone who would like to enjoy a small but peaceful walk then this is the one. Once we were back at Allendale, this pub we were sure kept calling our names, so we thought it would be rude not to go in buy a pint!

Cragside, Northumberland – Part One.

There were a few options available to us during May Bank Holiday and we opted to feast our eyes on what Cragside had to offer us. One reminder, and it is quite important, ensure you have cash as they only accept cash unless of course you’re a member then you’re fine. We both wanted to experience Cragside outdoors and chose the ‘Gardens and Woodland‘ which was reasonably priced, please click on link to reveal current prices.

When you get to Cragside, parking is ample, enough for everyone and you can enjoy the variety of walks the site has to offer many of which provide their own stamp and personality. You can also pay extra to set foot inside Cragside House which can offer more in terms of entertainment for families and the walks are also fantastic too!

We tried to experience everything we could but in the time slot we had, we managed probably 75% which was a good effort and the main thing, i got to test my new lenses, one of which i probably need to learn how to use before i go snapping away in public. This also goes to show how much you probably need to plan before you go so you know which routes to take beforehand as there are many.


One thing to remember about Cragside this time of year is how beautiful it looks when all the tree’s and plants are in full bloom. Rhododendrons were out in force, as were the bluebells too.

The walk which led us through Cragside House and on our way to the gardens led us through a path which meandered through a patch of woodland which was beautifully preserved, almost untouched, of which the only things capable of touching and reaching were the birds.

The pump house has also been restored inside to reveal how hydro electricity works and how the water is pumped, and this can also be interactive, and especially for families who are going with children.

With one of my new lenses i was able to get within reach of things you wouldn’t often see with the naked eye, for example, this Robin flying close to the stream catching flies.

Bolam Lake Country Park, Northumberland.

So we decided to go to Bolam Lake to do some Sunday strolling and we were pleasantly surprised by the different species of tree’s and plants there. The walk round Bolam Lake is beautifully tranquil especially this time of year when everything is springing to life. We were hoping to see a Kingfisher lurking round the lake, either our eyes weren’t sharp enough or it had already had its tea!

Bolam Lake is a Country Park based in Northumberland, which is roughly 2 miles north of the historic village of Belsay and just off the A696. It’s surroundings are just as beautiful as the place itself, with nothing but farmers fields surrounding it. The lake itself is host to Mute Swans, Goldeneye Ducks, Kingfishers and Woodpeckers (although unfortunately none were spotted). As every place in Northumberland, i try to take some pictures that will hopefully encapsulate the true beauty of the place, and there are also some fantastic photos on google images, some at different times of the year.

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Although this photo has been edited, there were a couple of hand crafted armchairs and a sofa to sit on to view one part of Bolam. Fantastic for a much needed rest or for simply absorbing the beauty.

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The walk itself offered its own perspective of the lake. What’s also great about Bolam Lake is the parking itself is free and there are two car parks nearby, and if it also happens to be quite busy there are also lay-by’s nearby to park in too. If you’re native to Northumberland, and you’ve never been to Bolam Lake for a walk, can i recommend you go, it’s a great place to take the family as there are plenty of seats round the lake and also an open space for picnics. They also have a visitor centre with toilets which can be handy for those of us who don’t prepare ourselves or are nearly caught out!

The tree’s themselves had also been weathered into funny positions or perfectly poised in the lake, almost resembling camouflaged crocodiles. A goldeneye duck protecting it’s young from amateur photographers like me!


Again, another set of photo’s showing the different species of plants and tree’s. At this time of year Bolam is blooming beautiful.


The boardwalk is well built, maintains vegetation from us humans stampeding all over it and it creates another dimension to the walk.


Goldeneye chicks which were calling for mama and papa after I’d tried to take a stealthy picture of the both of them.

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This was an edited photo of the boardwalk.

So whether you’re native or not, go for a stroll round Bolam Lake and maybe take some sandwiches with you and listen to nature happening all around you. It’s definitely a place we’ll be frequently visiting for those walks where you need to unwind a little.

Hexham

So we decided to travel South-West of the County of Northumberland and into Hexham to explore the town’s offerings. Parking is quite easy and if you pop into the Queens Hall for a parking card, it means you can use it for up to 2 hours which we did and we parked opposite Queens Hall on ‘Beaumont Street’.

We went for a stroll through the market which was quiet, but Hexham do tend to have farmers markets every month, the next one happening when the Hexham Spring Fair is on, which happens to be in 2 days time on the 22nd April, 2017. They also have Great British Week on too so there is plenty to check out in Hexham this upcoming weekend.

Our 2 hours spent in Hexham were spent wisely, we stumbled across a restaurant which, luckily for us, was open and served a range of things from Coffee to Scones. We would like to say both were brilliant and the service was friendly too. Below are a few pictures of the Restaurant.


Due to time constraints and trying our best to see at least a couple more things before we got a parking ticket, we tip toed silently into Hexham Abbey. The Abbey itself has gone through some restoration work which they have done a fantastic job of doing. It would be a great place for families to come with children as there was loads of interactive things for Children as well as Adults. The arch was one of many things you can build, and although it might be made for Children to put into practice we gave it a good go ourselves.


The beauty of the Abbey itself lay in its magnificent architecture, history and religious stain-glassed windows. You really need to go to appreciate how beautiful it is inside but hopefully some of my pictures might do it some justice!


Hexham is steeped in History, and it was also interesting to find new information about a  place I’ve not been to very often but always appreciate when I’m there.  Although the 2 hours wasn’t enough to explore the place properly, we will back in the future to review a couple restaurants in the area as they’ve been given good reviews on trip advisor.  Hexham is also surrounded by beautiful Countryside, and there are a few walks which we’ll also be doing and writing about in the near future.

So for anyone who hasn’t been to Hexham or you have but haven’t visited in a while, make sure you go this upcoming weekend as it promises to deliver on so many levels.

Craster – Dunstanburgh Castle – Embleton Bay & back again…

It’s not every day the Sun comes out to dance with Northumberland, but when it does, it simply gives Northumberland the shine it deservedly needs after the Winter months. Therefore, my partner and I decided we’d visit Craster for some much needed peace and tranquility, and the idea succeeded and went beyond all expectations. The backdrop of Dunstanburgh Castle from Craster serves as a reminder for a land full of historic battles, defending ourselves from the Scots who would often invade Northumberland as a way of attacking the English.

Not much is left of Dunstanburgh Castle, but as it is an English Heritage Site, it thankfully attracts many visitors from around the Country and Abroad to visit. For full information of the site itself, please click on the hyperlink provided above. Despite there not being much left of Dunstanburgh Castle itself, you can still appreciate the scale of the Castle in its prime. The walk itself was enough to stretch our legs but it’s also a great way of inhaling some much needed fresh air, getting away from it all, and about being ‘in the moment’.


Below is a close up of the entrance to Dunstanburgh Castle.

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As you can see, the clear day enhanced the quality of the pictures ten fold. We were lucky to have such a beautiful day on the cards as it had been forecast for cloud all that day. Against all odds, algorithms, predictions… the sun prevailed victorious. We sat outside and had our lunch, taking in the view from Dustanburgh Castle back over to Craster, the landscape is absolutely stunning and it’s easy to see why this land is an AONB (Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty). Below is a picture of the view we had from the Castle with Craster in the backdrop. The sea glistening, flowering bushes and green fields as far as the eyes can see.

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After our much needed lunch, we decided to continue walking round the Castle from the outside, heading in the direction of Embleton Bay which we could see North of us lying in the distance. Descending the hill in which the almighty ancient ruins lay on, we took a couple of pictures of the rocks, cliffs in which sea faring birds have come to roost and of the Dunstanburgh Golf Course, luckily, all golfers were on form and we were able to stroll without being hit.

The path took us on towards Embleton Bay, meandering on the outskirts of the Golf Course we passed a couple pillboxes from the World War era, purposely built to defend the land from any attacks or to spot any potential invasions. Embleton Bay itself, is pristine, the dunes peer over and stretch for a good distance. There were all sorts of activities going on, from locals walking their dogs, people building sand castles which were close to emulating Dunstanburgh’s scale!!

We didn’t spend much time on Embleton Bay despite its true beauty, the only reason being, we were hungry and we needed to be fed so we headed back on ourselves to Craster.  As we’d heard so much about two things in Craster, one being how good the kippers are and how they’re famous for them, and the other how good the food is at ‘The Jolly Fisherman‘, we thought, it would be rude not to try both. I would definitely recommend their seafood platter, consisting of  fresh rolled herring which had been pickled, a slice of fresh salmon, crab pate, salmon pate, trout pate and a small serving of prawn marie-rose presented inside an oyster shell. The beef dripping chips along with the soup of the day did not disappoint either, and our complimentary pints in the sun went down a treat with the sun continuing to burn the back of my neck!

Please find a few pictures of the small beautiful fishing village of Craster, The Jolly Fisherman, Shoreline Cafe & Traditional Fish Smokers establishment and the lovely view from where we sat at The Jolly Fisherman overlooking Dunstanburgh Castle. If you visit The Jolly Fisherman, please bear in mind that it can be busy therefore you might expect to wait a little while but the service is fantastic and the food didn’t take long to find its way to our table. The smokehouse which is adjacent to the Jolly Fisherman smokes kippers to perfection, and it is easy to see why Craster is famous for them as we grilled them lightly back at home along with the fishcakes we bought too for a little treat.

Accessibility to Craster is excellent, there is plenty of parking available although it is quite popular when it’s a beautiful day and you might be surprised to see how many bays are filled so to avoid any disappointment, ensure you arrive early as possible in the day to seize it. Parking all day is relatively cheap and recommended if you wish to take in the sites and go for a bite to eat. Until next time Craster, the pleasure has been ours!

An evening stroll on a blissfully cold, beautiful and deserted beach…

I recognise the irony of advertising such a lovely beach as “deserted” may serve to advertise and possibly increase its number of visitors, but I think this beach is safe for the time being. There won’t be many tourists looking to brave the cold evening, sand whipped air carelessly hitting you in the face. These are some of the things we have to face whilst enjoying a stroll on a North-East of England beach, but I wouldn’t exchange the sand in my face, the cold piercing my skin and numbing my hands for any other beach because on a clear day the colours are simply amazing.

With living near these beautiful beaches, I want to be able to showcase my area for what it’s worth, and because I’m proud of this area, it’s stunning natural beauty never ceases to blow me away. This beach also possesses the power to alleviate any stresses or anxiety you may have and to appreciate the World in which we live in, when we’re away from our computers and televisions, we realise, the beauty comes from outdoors, being out there!! I’m still getting to grips with my camera too but I love taking pictures of landscapes with the intention of hopefully painting & drawing a few too.  The pictures below show that, when you think no one is looking the inner child will always take over.

Usually, with my blogs I try to link in local businesses but this stroll simply required no businesses, just petrol money, the know how local expertise and ourselves. We were virtually the only people on the beach and although it is cold and we prefer being indoors when it is, why not try being outdoors and experiencing this beautiful Northumberland coastline.  It is easy to see why our coast has an AONB (Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty) and hopefully it maintains this recognition.


South of Warkworth is Amble which you can see on the top picture above. Amble featured in previous posts, so for more on Amble please visit earlier posts.

When the boat comes in…

There is something about Amble, one of Northumberland’s oldest fishing towns in the region. Amble’s Marina has seen some restoration and investment over the years where much of it benefits the local region and helps to restore Amble as a cosy fishing town but to also Capitalise on visitors. Many of its traditions still remain, many of the old stone buildings on the Front Street are still going strong and this gives Amble it’s character and charm. Amble has also been chosen by the Council as one of the town’s in the region to be invested in, with new build houses being built.

As Amble is a fishing town, it’s also renowned for its Fish & Chip shops and also Fresh Fish can also be sourced in the early hours of the morning when the boats come in. Although many fishing industries have slowed down in many years, Amble still feels like it has the opportunities for those wishing for a career out at sea. Buying fish, it’s well advised to go in the morning to purchase as they’re normally sold out come the afternoon, as i found out, evidence in picture below…

L to R: Northumberland Seafood Centre x 2, Empty Lobster Pots.

I will more than likely cover the Fish & Chip shops in another blog, but i promise you, they are worth visiting and spending every penny. Amble’s front street is still quaint as businesses still inhabit the old stone buildings and there is still a uniqueness about that feature. You can bring your dogs here to walk, as there is a good stretch, playing fields too, to throw your dog a ball or even take your Children out for the day too. There is also a small beach at Amble which also comes with complimentary huts which can be rented out at £20 per day, which is a bargain for anyone who would like to pitch up for the day and take it all in their stride.


L to R: Beach Huts, Coquest Island and Walkway over the Sea.

Amble’s location is on the East Coast of Northumberland, south of Alnwick and north of Druridge Bay and Cresswell. If you look North on a clear day you can often see Warkworth Castle standing tall in full view. Due to Amble’s restoration of the Marina, there is some huts near the Marina, opposite the Northumberland Seafood Centre, which sell anything from local Cheeses, Ice-Cream to Paintings. Go to Amble to experience something different, the freshness of the Coast is likely to hit you first of all, and even better if it’s high-tide to witness the waves crashing against the pier, rocks and anything else in its path.

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Coquet Island is steeped in History and is currently the ownership of the Duke of Northumberland and is also a conservation site for Puffins as well as many other Islands off our coast such as the Farne Islands off Seahouses. There is also Puffin Cruises which run from Amble over to Coquet Island which last roughly an hour which is well recommended from Mid-March to Mid-July.