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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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!
Part Three is the last chapter of the album which I’d like to share with you all. We walked back from the Garden to the car park and followed the paths which took us further up the hill and away from Cragside House. The paths were great and i could imagine them being super fun for families to enjoy too.
The first picture is the cafe which you can find walking back from the gardens, and at the iron bridge turn left on your way to the other pump house. After the pump house, you go up some steps near a reservoir and the cafe is on your way towards the car park. As we began the walks, you get a different perspective of Cragside House.
The start of the trail pretty much sets the standard in terms of how beautiful the walk is.
Using the macro lense to take close up’s of moss and small tree’s, sometimes using it to take pictures of things further away which is a bit of a rookie error.
All of a sudden, you get ‘that feeling’ something could be moving so you look, and lo and behold a red squirrel was scurrying around the tree’s. Quickly, i tried to swap lenses so i could get closer to it, you can just about make it out through the branches as it was trying its best to disguise itself.
There are also fun things for Children to feast their eyes on and learn in the process, various animals and insects which have been made and planted on the trail. Due to my macro lense, there was a picture of a place in the middle of the trail which serves as a midway point, picnic benches, play area to sit and rest, unfortunately this picture was too blurry to illustrate. There was also a labyrinth which was brilliant and we pretty much got lost in it for a while which was good fun. This demonstrates the hard work that has gone in to make Cragside the place it is today, a place where you can discover despite getting lost along the way. Definitely recommended.
After we got to the lakes it was time to make our way back. Apparently, there is over 40 miles of walks to discover so we only covered maybe 6 or 7. Another 33 or 34 to go…
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Many people won’t associate this beach as being one of the best in the World, but for those who do agree, then it must be said, everything about Cresswell Beach is outstanding. From the imposing dunes when walking on the base of the beach to the miles of coastline stretching beyond the horizon, it’s easy to see why Cresswell Beach has a special place in people’s minds and hearts. Many Northumbrians and indeed those who have travelled the length and breadth of the Country flock to Cresswell to experience it’s beauty and with miles of coastline, there’s enough space for everyone to enjoy it. This beach also welcomes many wildlife to its shores and it has been known for Dolphins to swim upon its shores, often in the evenings where sightings have been made.
Those who are familiar with this beach will know it stretches for miles and in all weather, come rain, sleet, snow or sunshine, Cresswell Beach always retains its true beauty because of its natural features. North of Cresswell is Druridge Bay which is part of the same stretch of Coastline. To stand on this beach can transform any form of angst into harmony and peace and materialistic desires fade into pure simplicity of just ‘being’. This is the place where many people choose to walk their dogs, to surf, canoe, metal detecting, dune jumping or to simply sit and relax and watch the waves coming in or out.
Below is a taste of what to expect when you’re on the Cresswell beach. It is remarkably clean despite its popularity at times but people who come here respect the area and help to maintain its true beauty. Although this picture was taken in the depths of Winter it still encapsulates what a truly magnificent landscape it really is. Once more, when it’s low tide, the rocks are often exposed, which offer a different dynamic along with the concrete blocks from the War which remain on the beach to this day.
Accessibility to the beach is good with various car parks nearby, the largest being the one opposite the Drift Cafe where there are three separate car parks. There is also a car park near Cresswell Ices too which is roughly 300 yards south of the Drift Cafe. There is also another car park which is roughly another mile North of Cresswell. Drift Cafe has gone from strength to strength and continues to serve a range of foods and drink, notably a big fan of their hot chocolate and cake, which is not to be missed for those wanting to put their metabolism to the test. Below: A picture of boats and the Drift Cafe blossoming with business and a new car park, purposely built due to its increasing popularity and glowing reviews.
Cresswell Ices has been a long standing institution in its own right, a family run business which continues to make fresh ice cream. This ice-cream shop is often full when the weather is great but even when it’s not, people still find time to enjoy their favourite ice-cream. There are two benches for those who get there first or are lucky enough to find empty on a bright, sunny day.
There are also two caravan parks which are hugely popular in the summer (Cresswell Towers and also Golden Sands), with many people who come from the outer reaches of the planet, to those a little closer to home, but are after a much needed break. These caravan parks do attract many visitors which is good for the local businesses in the area and this is where Cresswell and the surrounding areas can thrive. Although Cresswell can become a hotpot of popularity in the summer months, because of its sheer size, there is always a place on the beach for everyone.
Cresswell epitomises the embodiment of a hug, at low tide, the expanse of the landscape is like its arms are open wide, and at high tide, the current can become quite hazardous. Please be aware of its dangers, but sat from on top of the dunes it can feel like the ocean wraps its arms round the beach. I recommend visiting Cresswell and experience the raw and rugged coastline of Northumberland.
Hesleyside Huts, Northumberland, England. The perfect surprise to celebrating what was an ageing milestone in my life. Turning 30 can, for a lot of people signal the beginning of the end of your youth but for me it signals the age of maturity and experiencing the finer things which life and nature has to offer, and more importantly, what Northumberland has to offer.
The breathtaking views from Hesleyside were amazing, as was the hut itself in which we stopped in. We had the pleasure of stopping in the Bracken hut which came with it’s own complimentary campfire to the right of it, perfect for toasting marshmallows on and looking up at the stars. The task of collecting additional firewood was equally as exciting as finding out the hut was well equipped with its own log burner, shower and double bed. Additional wood can also be bought for £5 which can be found near the fence next to the other hut.
If you go well equipped with food like we did, you can expect to cook your food on the stove by using the log burner which is a real experience. It takes you back in time to when our ancestors would have to cook this way and the stove can take some time to heat up, so be careful how you load and maintain the log burner.
The location itself was perfect, as it meant we were in close proximity to Bellingham (Roughly 2 miles) but still cast off from it where you felt isolated and very in touch with nature. Hearing the sounds of Owls during the night felt alien but it is a reminder of how great and wild Northumberland can be when you’re left alone with Nature.
There are many walks which you can do by using Hesleyside as a starting point, but one which we did manage was the walk from Bellingham to Hareshaw Linn Waterfall. We took our bikes thinking it would be a cycle route but after bumping into a few residents we were informed it wasn’t suitable. We chained up the bikes and left for the Waterfall. The walk itself was a pleasant stroll along Hareshaw Linn River in which we encountered many well crafted bridges, steep inclines as well as pleasant descents.
Overall, staying at Hesleyside was the perfect getaway, tucked away in the wilderness of rural Northumberland, sitting on the fringes of Kielder Forest. I would definitely recommend these huts to anyone who doesn’t mind feeling like a nomad and has a sense of adventure. Please be reminded that these huts are popular and it’s advised to book them well in advance if you’re planning on surprising someone for a special occasion.