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.

 

1st / 2nd October

This weekend marked the start of October, and properly felt like Autumn was in the air. The sky was bright and blue, and the air was crisp. I love Autumn; the smells, the colours of the leaves, the chance to wear umpteen layers and all of the wool. It was also the last weekend of the Alice in Wonderland Exhibition at the Laing Art Gallery. I love this novel, and have been fascinated by all things Alice since I was a child, and so we made it the aim of the weekend to get ourselves to the exhibition – and it didn’t disappoint. We were treated to an indepth history of Lewis Carroll, and shown how he came to write Alice’s adventures; his influences, techniques and where it all began, as well as what came after the success of Carroll’s publication of his grand work.
And, of course, I bought a mug from the gift shop; depicting the Cheshire Cat, naturally.

This weekend has generally been dedicated to exploring my home city and playing with my cameras (I make no apologies for the amount of cactus spam which will be following this text…) Yesterday, I showed Johan around some of the oldest parts of the city, taking up through Stowell street, to the Chinese Gate, and along the Old City Walls. This was all topped off with a coffee at the fabulous Settle Down Cafe (I can’t understand why it’s taken me so long to visit here!)

Most of today, as I’ve already mentioned, was given to faffing about with my cameras – namely my Canon 450D. I’ve forgotten how much I love this camera, having been using others for a while, and decided to have a proper play with it today. This mainly consisted of documenting a cat turf war (between Vince and the neighbourhood cats) and taking multiple photos of my growing collection of cacti and succulents. I had a mint time faffing about with perspective and focus, taking quite a few shots of the blackberries in our garden. I appreciate that these are probably not the most exciting of subjects, but I thought I’d share my efforts with you anyway. I hope you enjoy!

We ended up paying a visit to Exhibition Park again this afternoon – its quickly becoming one of our favourite places to go for a wander (and an icecream), and we have vowed to start exploring the green places in Newcastle more, especially the Town Moor.

Lumley Fee Bunkhouse

A couple of weekends ago, we stayed at Lumley Fee Bunkhouse, just outside of Kendal, with a group of friends for a weekend of walks, drinks, catching up and good food. It was fabulous! We can’t recommend the bunkhouse enough, it was simply stunning!

Wainwrights Challenge – (almost) The Dodds

On our continuing mission to seek out new hills, far from civilization, the next target was The Dodds – the fells making up the northern end of the Helvellyn range. Fortunately we know people who live in Threlkeld, which removed difficult parking issues, and provided us with a BBQ to come back to in the evening.
Setting out a little later than planned, we crossed the A66 with ease (not something you hear every day), and started the climb towards Threlkeld Knotts. If you haven’t explored this area I’d really recommend it. Although part of its appeal is that it’s much quieter than many of the surrounding areas, so don’t all rush at once…
Threlkeld Knotts is a hidden gem. Much like my other favourite Lakeland fells, it’s not the biggest, but offers excellent views just off the beaten track. It also provides an interesting route up Clough Head, passing a couple of disused quarries. The higher, smaller quarry contained a couple of locals pissing about on dirt bikes which looked like a cracking way to spend a sunny Saturday morning. From then on we saw no one until the final traverse onto the southern flank of Clough Head.
Neither of us have previously explored these fells, which is where a large amount of the appeal of The Wainwrights lies. Clough Head provides unparalleled vistas across to the Northern Fells, with bonus views of the Eden Valley and the Pennines. What’s not to love? We also bumped into a group reccying the Bob Graham round – good luck to them for their attempt at the end of the month.
The joy of the Dodds is that once you’re up, the hard work is pretty much done. There’s a bit of a sting getting onto Great Dodd, but really it’s comfortable yomping the whole way along. The problem is that it’s totally exposed, with Lucy being blown all over the place on the summit of Great Dodd.
Watson’s Dodd is, by comparison, nice and gentle – an extended plateau protruding between Great and Stybarrow Dodd. Unfortunately due to the BBQ in the evening we had to turn around. Skirting around Great Dodd, we dropped onto Mosedale Beck to join the Old Coach Road back to Threlkeld. At Mariel Bridge we were treated to a parade of green-laning Landrover Series who kindly offered us a lift to Dockray. It’s a shame that was the wrong direction as it looked awesome.
It looked like there was a quick cut from the Coach Road back to the track to Threlkeld. It doesn’t exist. We took a bearing which should have dropped us right on to the cut, but found nothing. Before accusations of crappy navigation are thrown around, my nav is not that bad, and Chris backed me up when we got home; obviously he’s had the same idea in the past, with the same result.
Finally we were tramping back up past the little church in Threlkeld to enjoy a well deserved BBQ. Nipping back into Kewick we availed ourselves of the excellent beer selection in Booths, and rounded the day off with a tasty 7.5% bottle of Halcyon.

Wainwrights Challenge – Little Mell Fell

We have given ourselves the challenge of bagging all of the Wainwrights within a year. We’ve already been up a few, bu decided to start from the beginning and do it properly.

We started on our 3 year anniversary and ticked our first one off: Little Mell Fell. Straight from work, we headed over the A69 and took the Alston road, over the top. It was a lovely evening, we were so lucky.

We turned off the A66 on the way to Keswick, and headed to the Lowthwaite where we parked up just opposite the footpath onto the flanks of Little Mell Fell. Following this up until it started to contour and then drop, we turned off the path up the gentle(ish) hill to reach the trig point.

Standing at a mere 505 meters, Little Mell Fell isn’t large by Lake District standards, but holds a situation shared only by its larger sibling Great Mell Fell – way out on its own, completely separate from any of the nearby large ranges. This isolation means that even with its diminutive stature, the views from the top are just awesome! Ullswater, the Helvellyn Range, Blencathra, the Solway Firth, and the Northern Pennines surround you with views even Scafell Pike would be proud of.

Reaching the top, we took in the views and got the stove out to start boiling the water for our boil-in-the-bag Extreme Food. Tucking into our meals, we watched the clouds begin to boil dramatically over the far eastern fells. By the time we had finished the temperature had begun to drop, plus it was passed 9.30. Time to head back down from our idyllic eyrie and towards home.

Little Mell Fell is surely a hidden gem within the National Park. Everyone drives by it; if you’ve been to Keswick you’ll have seen it sitting there in isolation, nestled behind its larger sibling. It is however, well worth a visit, giving vistas far in excess of the moderate climb required to reach its summit. But enough for now, it’s time to let the pictures do the real talking…

Harlow Hill round

A few weeks ago, we decided to take ourselves out to an area of Northumberland that we hadn’t been to before, and found ourselves exploring the area around Harlow Hill. I’ve driven past this place countless times on my way up to Kielder, but never actually stopped to explore.

After checking out the OS maps, Johan stumbled upon a disused airfield which looked worth exploring, so off we went.

The walk itself was eerily quiet, with barely anyone around. And most of the footpaths were disused and overgrown, which made it feel like a proper little adventure. We made our way to the airfield, to find that it is now being used as a MOD base and is inaccessible. But it was still pretty cool to wander around the outside and have a peak.