Northumberland Coast Part 2: Alnmouth

After our impromptu trip to Seahouses on Saturday, we were inspired to head up along the coast again on Sunday. As we were driving home, we passed by Alnmouth, somewhere that I think I might have been to as a child, but haven’t explored properly. Also, Johan has never been up there, so it was settled.

The weather was beautiful again on Sunday, so we had a lovely lazy breakfast of croissants and coffee, and pulled ourselves together. The drive up was pretty uneventful; we came off the A1 at a random junction and headed East in the direction of Alnmouth, thinking “well, we can see the sea, so we’ll just head for that” and ended up pootling along a super windy country road. Coming into Alnmouth, we wound through the town and made our way to the large car park, overlooking the beach, parked up and made a beeline for the icecream truck (of course).

Icecreams in hand, we toddled off for a walk along the beach – it’s beautiful up there! I made friends with a dog, who I think was more interested in my icecream, as we made our way up the beach and along to the harbour where a  collection of fishing boats waiting obligingly to have their photos taken.

By this point we were getting hungry, and so turned our plod into a mission to find fish and chips (now you want fish and chips, don’t you). Unfortunately, we forgot that it was Sunday and nowhere was open/serving (the horror). Even after abandoning our efforts in Alnmouth and heading further along the coast. We were desperate for a bag of chips, but there was nowhere open! I mean, haway Northern coast chippies, sort it out!

We won in the end though; mama Imber made us a dinner and greeted us with a cider upon arrival…marvellous!

Northumberland Coast Part 1: Seahouses

We are so lucky to live so close to the beautiful Northumberland coast, and so last weekend we took ourselves on a couple of mini adventures, to explore the dunes and beaches north of my home town of Cramlington.

Johan had been away the previous week, and arrived back in Newcastle on Saturday morning. We had a wonderfully lazy late morning/afternoon catching up with each other after a week apart, but eventually we realised that we’d have to feed ourselves at some point! Neither of us could be fussed with cooking (that and there was nothing in the house) so I tentatively suggested a chippy tea. This then led to “Shall we have a look up the coast?” and “You haven’t been to Seahouses before, have you?”. And so we (I) packed the customary accompaniment of cameras, grabbed a couple of layers and headed for the A1. We decided to go the quicker, less scenic route on the way there as we were both getting hungry!

We arrived in Seahouses, found a parking spot (didn’t have to pay as we’d gone past the charge time – score!) and made a beeline for Neptune’s chippy, just across the road. We had only intended on getting some fish bites, but ended up with a full fish for me, and a battered smokey for Johan. Each with chips. The reputation garnered by this particular chippy is certainly founded in truth, as we sat and demolished our food in silence, punctured by “How’s yours?” … “Amazing, yours?”…”…muffled sounds of satisfied delight”. There’s nothing quite like chowing down on fresh fish and chips, sat outside with the dulcet tones of seagulls circling overhead.

Once we’d finished, we took ourselves for a lovely little wander along the dunes towards Bamburgh Castle, and down on to the beach.

 

Peak District Climbing Weekend

We recently spent a weekend in the Peak District, based at a bunkhouse just outside of Hathersage, dedicated to climbing, coffee and catching up.

It was a pseudo reunion for Johan and his Imperial University friends, who he doesn’t get to see as often as we would like. It was lovely to see them all again, and definitely made us realise that spending quality time with friends is the best tonic for a lot of life’s ailments.

…For a fella who professes to ‘not being a climber anymore’ he sure spent a lot of time hanging about on some grit…

https://flic.kr/s/aHskTMc1i1

 

Holiday Thoughts

I think I do this on a yearly basis…spend a lot of my time day dreaming and wanderlusting over possible holiday destinations, none of which tend to come to fruition.

This year’s current obsession of choice (among others) is Scotland’s North Coast 500.

Capture

After weeks of becoming gradually more infatuated with this route, Instagram stalking and compulsive pin saving on Pinterest, I think I have finally come to the conclusion that we simply MUST get up into the Scottish Highlands this summer. Johan has just come back from a trip to the Highlands and Islands (…I’m not jealous at all…) which he will be sharing with you over the next few days, and some of the photos that he’s shown me are simply epic.

I’ve been desperate to get up to the north of Scotland and mooch about on the islands, visit Skye and generally wander around the rugged landscapes that are on offer there, and so I think this summer is the time to actually realise my dream!

Be prepared for a run of posts detailing plans, maps and wishlists…!

Early Easter at Eskdale

The weekend before Easter, we had our annual weekend at Eskdale for Johan’s mum’s birthday. We have been doing this now for the past 4 years (where has the time gone?!) and each time I fall in love with the valley a little bit more.

We are lucky enough to be able to stay with friends when we are over there (Johan’s god parents, who went to university with his mum) and I am continuously envious of their fabulous lifestyle. I have picked up a tendency to take myself away with a camera while we are visiting and shoot the surrounding fields, hills and land. Although, I often enjoy simply wandering around their gardens and shooting the wonderfully diverse flora and fauna that can be found there. They are always working on something, and have made constant improvements/changes to their land.

I always feel at peace when visiting Eskdale, it’s such a beautiful place, and I truly hope that Johan and I can emulate Peter and Fionna in our later lives.

Below is a selection of the images that I took while wandering around their house and garden, and more can be found on my Flickr page: https://flic.kr/s/aHskUEbs7k

April 2017

Capture

I feel we owe you an apology for our lack of posts recently; we’ve been busying ourselves with one thing or another.

However, this does mean that we have a few things lined up to share with you, so watch this space for some upcoming adventures and reviews. We promise to keep you updated more regularly in the future!

Thank you for sticking with us!

 

Lucy & Johan

Scafell and Slightside via Burnmoor Tarn

Another Mother’s birthday, another trip to Eskdale with the family, and therefore another run up from Boot to Scafell. Only this time, I actually managed to get to Scafell.

It’s been a goal of mine for a year or so, particularly as I enjoy the tops between Eskdale and Wasdale a lot – possibly one of my favourite little bits of the Lakes, and an area which usually remains relatively quiet despite its close proximity to Wasdale – arguably one of the more popular valleys.

As a bit of background; we were staying with family friends – Peter and Fionna. Peter especially, is very familiar with the hills surrounding Eskdale, having walked a huge variety of routes from the valley, and as such, is always worth consulting before a run. In this instance I’d planned to head up Slightside, as of last year’s foray, before heading on up to Scafell and dropping back down to Burnmoor Tarn, but Peter suggested running the other way around as the descent from Scafell to Burnmoor Tarn is incredibly rocky. It was excellent advice, as the scree I encountered was just the wrong size for descending quickly; too big to surf, too picky to get through rapidly.

As it was a family weekend, I wanted to get out early to avoid taking over the daytime. A friend of a friend was attempting the Bob Graham (he managed it with time to spare), and it was suggested that I meet them at Rossett Pike to have a look at the route up Bowfell in preparation for my attempt (hopefully in late June/early July this year). However, without a lift up Hardknott, it was going to be a serious day out just for me as well, and I felt would take too much out of the day, so elected for a shorter, albeit awesome, route.

Setting off just after 9am, the sun was out, a light frost was hanging around in the shade from the night before, and there was a slight breeze. In a word, it was perfect.

The first stretch takes you up from Christcliff (which lies pretty much half way between Boot and the Woolpack Inn) to Eel tarn, and is characterised by gorse and bog-myrtle, resulting in a lovely fragrant first ascent. I’d decided to try and run as much uphill as possible, as my performance at the Causey Pike fell race had left a little to be desired for someone with my uphill pedigree.

IMG_2430

As it was, I managed to run all the way up to Eel tarn where I stopped to take in the surroundings. I can never get bored of that area, it’s just fantastic – wide open Lakeland tops, basking in sunshine; Eel tarn is small, but perfectly situated, and you get the hulking mass of Scafell lowering in the background, with all the famous tops around Wasdale thrown in for good measure. Brilliant!

Moving on, I tried to keep the pace up on the flatish section to Burnmoor Tarn. This whole stretch is rapid running on soft, even ground, rising slightly from Eel tarn before dropping you onto Lambford Bridge. Here, the bridge gate was stuck shut – not a problem for me as I just vaulted the gate – and I spent a few minutes trying to un-stick the latch. The chain had twisted around and moved to the far side of its tethering ring, and I just couldn’t budge it.

Giving up on the gate as a lost cause (or something which would take far too long to fix on my schedule), I pushed on towards Burnmoor Tarn. Losing the path, I ended up thrashing my way through some boggy long grass for about five minutes, until the path revealed itself to me, and I could yomp on to Burnmoor.

Burnmoor hove into view, with the shooting lodge peeping over the hillside; “ah, it’s good to be back”. Running up the length of the tarn, I double checked the path up to Scafell, had a quick drink and got shifting again, trying to keep my pace down below 5min/mile.

IMG_2431IMG_2432

It was time for the big ascent up to Scafell summit, and I decided to try and run as much as possible. I managed pretty much the whole way up Hard Rigg, but eventually had to slow down and stomp my way up. Hitting the boulder field which characterises the entire top of Scafell, I slowed right down and followed a narrow path which switch-backed its way up and up. I wouldn’t like to come down this unless I had to, nice local knowledge there Peter, cheers!

After a good 15 minutes of stomping and scrambling, I arrived at the top of England’s second highest peak. At 964m, Scafell summit stands 13m below the summit of its better known Pike. In the clear bluebird April sunshine this was an unexpected blessing; I looked over to Scafell Pike, and could clearly see a number of people hanging out on its summit. In comparison, I was on my own, on my own little piece of heaven.

IMG_2438

If you’ve never been, the views from Scafell are stunning (given that it’s a clear day that is), and I’d even go as far as to suggest the peak itself has more to offer than Scafell Pike. After drinking in the views for five minutes I consulted my map again, had a sip of my dwindling water, and set off picking my way down toward Slightside. I met the only person I saw on my run at this point, a young shepherd by the looks of him, and exchanging a brief “hello” we were both on our respective ways, him heading up, me heading down.

IMG_2439

From Scafell to Slightside, the terrain varies from picky and rocky, to a lovely sweeping grass slope, and back to picky and rocky as you hit Slightside summit. Another stop for reflection and to enjoy the views, and I was back on my way, dropping off the southern end of Slightside and contouring around toward Stony Tarn.

I managed to pick the wrong track between Slightside and Stony Tarn, but realised when Cat Crag and Dawsonground Crags appeared on my right instead of my left. More tramping across boggy ground ensued, and I managed to drop myself onto the track which skirts around the north of Stony Tarn.

The pace picked up again, and I bombed downhill past Eel Tarn and down toward Christcliff, clock watching the whole while. I’d said that I could do it in 2h30 before heading out; Peter had hedged at 3 hours, and my watch was showing 2h11 as I hit the top of the final slope where paths part ways to Christcliff or the Woolpack.

I can get under 2h15, come on.

Belting down the hill, I ignored the gorse and brambles as much as possible, and hit the track up to the house at about 2h12.

Go go go!

Sprinting up the track, I finally made it into their car space and stopped my watch. 2h13, get in!

All in all, including photo stops and gate fixing attempts it had taken 2h31, which was pretty much bang on. I’d managed to get a little sunburnt as well (always happens in the Lakes in April), and arrived home to a big mug of tea and some biscuits. Perfect.