Five exceptionally hot days in England's northernmost county - July 2006
Northumbria Walks with a Camera
Walks with a Camera © Geoff’s Pages 2011
The weather had been warm over the weekend - and it was forecast to get warmer, with Wednesday possibly being England's hottest July day since 1911 - not ideal weather for walking in the hills, though we already had some ideas for coping with the heat. In the meantime, a little entertainment for the outward journey... We parked at Housesteads and joined the wall for a stroll along perhaps the most scenic stretch - armed with the bus timetable
(the appropriately-named AD122 service), we would head east, and return by public transport. Hotbank Crags certainly earned their name on this afternoon; the rocky outcrop above Crag Lough provided a fine breezy place for a break. By the time we descended from Steel Rigg, the gentle stroll down to Once Brewed seemed infinitely preferable to our initial intentions to walk on to the Milestone Inn. We'd have time for a cool drink before the bus arrived too! Our overnight accommodation for this trip was near Ingram, where the Breamish Valley leaves the hills and begins to broaden. The fine warm evenings provided some excellent opportunities for photography - so I'll end each day with a selection of the results
Day 1: Hadrian's Wall
The view to Sewingshields Crags Housesteads - view to the west Milecastle 37 near Housesteads That view! Housesteads Crags from Cuddy's Crags View to the south, Cuddy's Crags Highshield Crags and Crag Lough Crag Lough and the view to Hotbank Milecastle 39 on Steel Rigg Evening light on the Breamish Sunbeams over Reaveley
Day 2: Longhoughton to Seahouses
The Cheviots will have to wait - it's going to be much too hot! We took the car to Seahouses, and joined the coastal bus service for a ride down to Longhoughton, where a short stroll along a quiet road would take us to the coastal path. Not that we needed to follow the path all the way - the low tide meant we could walk on the shore where that was possible. First place of significance on the route is the little fishing harbour of Craster. Smoke billows from the roof of Robson's - and the aroma on the breeze reminds you that it's supposed to - sadly, none of the famous kippers appeared on any of the menus we were to see during our trip. A gentle - and very popular - stroll from Craster leads to the dramatic remains of the isolated Dunstanburgh Castle. Photography is obligatory here! Northwards again - now along the fine sands of Embleton bay. I have to admit that, for half-an-hour or so, the boots and socks
came off and we had a paddle! Well, it was rather warm, despite the pleasant sea breezes. The aforementioned breezes, wafting in off the North Sea, gave some hints as to what lay in store for tomorrow, as mists began to form and drift eerily across the sands - a phenomenon that would accompany us for most of the route back to Seahouses. After Low Newton-by-the-sea, to give it its correct title, the path leaves the shore, instead winding through the dunes, with their acres of ragwort and cinnabar moths. The separation from the sea, and that breeze, meant that we began to feel the heat now, and it was with some relief that we were able to rejoin the shore for the last stretch to Beadnell. We perhaps should have caught the bus from Beadnell - the last stretch, to Seahouses, despite a section of shoreline, was not the highlight of this walk. I think we'd walked far enough! We've had a shower, and eaten - time for a few snaps before a well-earned pint. This evening we ventured a little further up the Breamish valley, where we were rewarded by this sight of a dipper - a young one, we thought, enjoying the evening sunshine
Headland near Sugar Sands Near Howick View to Cullernose Point Kippers! Can you smell them? Robson's at Craster Craster The view north to Dunstanburgh Dunstanburgh Embleton Bay and Dunstanburgh The path to the sands, Beadnell Bay mists began to form... Beadnell Harbour The dipper, Breamish Evening light in the Breamish Valley
Day 3: Farne Islands and Lindisfarne
runs along the North Sea coast, and we followed this to the quiet coves to the north. Here, on England's hottest July day ever, the beautiful sandy beaches were quite deserted, little over half a mile from the public road. The sun had now more- or-less burned away the remains of the sea fret, and it was a very pleasant, not uncomfortably warm afternoon. This was a "shortie", perhaps 4 miles, and we were soon back to the car. We had, I felt, made a pretty good stab at getting the best out of this extreme weather (I was confident that tomorrow would be cooler). This evening's photos were taken in the quiet, gently hilly country between Eglingham and the main A697 road, as the sun went down behind the Cheviots.
With the highest temperatures promised for today, we decided to take a trip out to sea - across to the Farne Islands, to see the noted colonies of seabirds. We almost didn't - yesterday's mists had turned into a sea fret - it was cold and foggy in Seahouses, to the extent that the far end of the harbour was lost in the mist, never mind the Farne Islands. But even at this early stage, there were signs of the sun trying to break through - we decided to go for it. It wasn't warm - I suspect we were the coolest people in England as we wandered around Staple Island, the National Trust bird reserve. But it wasn't cold either, and the main assaults on the senses came in other forms - the noise of the nesting birds, and the stench! A group of teenage schoolchildren were visiting - several staggered around clutching handkerchiefs to their noses, in an exaggerated display of disapproval at being brought to such an appalling place! The birds didn't seem to mind, and did their utmost to pose for our cameras. On returning to Seahouses, we drove the short distance up the coast to Lindisfarne. Low tide would be mid-afternoon, so there would be no problems crossing the tidal causeway. I had last visited the island some 20 years ago, again in July, and thought what a quiet place it was. Now, tourism has really taken off, and the short walk into the village, out past the priory, then around to the castle, was probably one of the busiest to have appeared on these pages. Beyond the castle, the trackbed of an old wagonway
Plenty of these fellows around the Farne islands Puffins on the rocks Longstone Light Inner Farne More puffins on the rocks Kittiwake, with young and egg Guillemot & young Puffin amongst the burrows About to nip out for some more sand eels Puffin in its burrow Kittiwake and young Shag on its nest Trio of shags Back from the shopping trip Brownsman Island Lindisfarne - view to the castle Lindisfarne - boat sheds (shed boats?) and priory Lindisfarne - ragwort and a misty view to Bamburgh Lindisfarne (anyone out there know what this is?) Lindisfarne - deserted bay Lindisfarne - beautiful deserted beach Low sun and logs, Beanley Moor Evening light over the Cheviots Ridges and recession The sun's getting lower...
Day 4: A Cheviot Walk
A dull, grey morning - the mist was down on the nearby hilltops as we had our breakfasts. Nevertheless, the forecast wasn't too bad - so we headed for the hills. The river Coquet follows a long, winding course from its source high in the hills - we would follow a similar long, winding course on the road to Blindburn, where this walk would begin. From the small car park (one other car...) we began perhaps the steepest part of today's walk, following the "Border Country Ride" past sheep and (wild?) goats, onto the grassy slopes of Deel's Hill, and beyond to the Scottish border and the Pennine Way, perhaps a bit of a misnomer in these parts. We followed the border northwards in the cool, damp air - a light drizzle had developed, but it never really came to anything,
hardly worth the waterproofs. The border summits sound edible - there's Lamb Hill, then Beefstand Hill, then (perhaps a reversal of roles) Mozie Law. These are lonely hills - we saw just one person throughout the entire walk, a poor chap with ski- sticks looking desperately for some snow (and his skis). I would say quiet too - but that's not strictly true, for the MOD ranges are just the other side of the Coquet, and the distant artillery fire added a certain je ne sais quoi to the walk... Shortly after Mozie Law, an old (Roman, I think) way - named on maps as "The Street" - crosses the ridge. We joined this as the weather brightened for our return route towards to the Coquet, finally turning right and descending to Blindburn and the car. A most enjoyable expedition. Our last evening in Northumberland - the sun lowers towards the Cheviots, seen not far from Hedgeley
Looking back to Blindburn Funny looking sheep in these parts... Far more of these than people A remote corner of Scotland... Peaty pool on the border The Pennine Way Cheviot crossroads Descending on The Street Looking back to the border ridge Tups beside the Coquet Almost back at Blindburn The setting sun ...and the afterglow
Day 5: Homeward
The weather was warm for our return journey, and we needed a little leg stretch (and perhaps some photographic opportunities). Neither of my colleagues had been to Brimham Rocks, near Pateley Bridge in Yorkshire, so we called in there for a wander and a few snaps (and an ice-cream) before heading westwards for the joy that is the M6...
A craggy face! Rocks amid the trees View towards Nidderdale The "Dancing Bear" The path to the rocks

View Longhoughton - Seahouses in a larger map

View Cheviots in a larger map

View Hadrian's Wall in a larger map
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