DATE                           04.02.18

DISTANCE                  5.5 MILES

WEATHER                  MOSTLY BRIGHT BUT COOL

START / FINISH        FORESTRY CAR PARK

 

 

For today’s wander I would be joined by Edwina the intrepid explorer and of course Bob dog, Edwina had even saved me the hassle of picking a route by suggesting a trip up to the crags at Harbottle or more precisely a trip to have a mooch around the famous “Drake stone” which is fine by me, Times and dates where sorted and that was it and so on a lovely sunny but cold morning we found ourselves driving up to the free car park at Harbottle forest (forestry commission) , The weather couldn’t have been better , bright with a very cold wind just as I like it , driving up to wards the hills we could both see the snow laying on top of the higher fells giving the whole area an almost magical feeling .well I thought so anyway , the only problem was the forecast was for cold sleet and snow showers later on during the day , not that really mattered as we wasn’t going on any high fells today but as you know it’s no fun plodding along with sleet falling on you especially when it’s being driven by strong winds but saying that it really didn’t matter as we had the right gear with us  just in case.

Parking was in the forestry commission car park right at the start of the walk , gear was sorted out , Bob dog was dressed in his coat (which he hates) and warned not to roll in anything smelly , then we was off ,

And we are off looking back towards the car

 

Our route (see map ) took us straight up a rather steep track which had both of us puffing  and panting and out onto the hillside onto a very well used path that weaved its way upwards through mostly overgrown heather , despite the path being well used there was still several icy patches where the snow had frozen and turned into ice but nothing to get concerned about , what was surprising was the amount of people out we must have seen at least half a dozen which may not seem a lot but I have never seen that many folk out in this area before , it seemed almost crowded , anyway we slowly made our way up the path towards the top stopping to take the odd photo.

Part way up looking back down at Harbottle

 

One of the things I like about the climb up is the locals have placed a couple of benches where weary walkers can stop and have a seat to take in the views ,

Bob dog waiting at one of the seats

And they are nice views looking down towards the small village of Harbottle with its old ruined castle plus the surrounding hills ,however with the cold wind it didn’t pay to hang about and before we knew it we had reached the top of the climb and spent a while snapping photos and generally playing silly buggers.

Playing silly buggers

Then it was off along the path to the Drake stone itself , now this stone or rock has loads of folk law surrounding it , none of which I can remember so if you want to find out I suggest you use the all-knowing Goggle .

The Drake stone

 

After inspecting the drake stone it was time to head down across some seriously boggy ground to Harbottle lake , now this lake seems dead I have never seen any wildlife on or in the lake , it has no plants growing in it and to be honest with the heather and bogs surrounding it ,

Harbottle Lake

 

well it seems rather dull BUT just as we reached its shores the sun came out and we was treated to what I can only describe as a “show” the wind dropped , and with the lake partly frozen and still it seemed to light up the area with a brilliant blue reflecting the sky and its white fluffy clouds.

Then nature shows us a thing or two

Which just goes to show even in the most dull situations nature can still surprise you with a show of sheer beauty , of course we got the cameras out and took loads of photos , but sadly I couldn’t catch the pond in all its glory but then I never can catch the moment with a photo but it did lift me and prove that I should never take anything for granted and all the boggy ground was forgotten about , as quickly as the lake lite up it disappeared again once the sun went behind the clouds and it turned back to its dull existence  again , we by this time was heading up into the “West woods” following the path to our next part of the walk , once again we bumped into several walkers who all warned us that there was several wet boggy bits up ahead and to watch out for the detours where the trees had been blown over causing the footpath to be blocked.

The Footpath in West woods

 

I found that walking this section to be hard, the boggy ground with the hidden slippery tree roots and the frozen icy patches made it very difficult for me to get into a good walking gait it seemed that I just couldn’t get into some sort of stride and to be honest I was feeling rather tired but pleased when we burst out of the trees and onto a track for the next part of our walk but (dare I say it I was feeling rather smug because I didn’t slip and fall over ) I think that was more because the Orion3 knee did some serious stuff in keeping me upright when I should have stumbled and fallen , getting out of the trees we once again was greeted with some stunning views looking out into the Cheviots hills.

Bursting out of the trees to see this.

 

With a covering of snow on the higher fells which just added that something special to look at,

A light covering of snow on the distant higher fells

 

Our route took us down the track heading to the church at Low Alwinton where we crossed over the river Coquet, it was at this point that one of the promised snow / sleet flurries headed our way,

Time to get our butts into gear and find some shelter bad weather heading our way

 

Fortunately we made it to the old lime Kilns just as it hit us and sat under shelter eating our lunch whilst the weather gods did their best to get us wet. Naturally Bob woofed his roast Beef slices down and was busy demolishing his treats when Edwina got out some roast chicken out for him (talk about a spoilt dog) which he woofed down just in case she changed her mind, we decided that we would “sit the shower out” after all we was nice and dry and to be honest we only had a couple of miles left to go so why rush. After a while the sleet stopped and the sky started to clear so we moved on, our path now took us along the river Coquet all easy walking, we could see across to the Drake stone on the other side of this valley and to be honest the whole area looked good,

Looking across towards the Drake stone

Looking further along the valley towards a distant Rothbury we was treated to what looked like a cloud inversion, of course we took photos but it didn’t really do it justice.

Cloud inversion?

 

I did say that if it was still there when we finished we should take a drive up towards Simonside to get above it and see if we could get some photos but sadly by the time we finished this walk it was long gone.

Following the well-used but very muddy footpath we crossed over the coquet and entered the village of Harbottle snapping a few photos of the snowdrops that seem to be growing almost everywhere.

Snowdrops

 

Then it was up to pay the old ruins of Harbottle Castle a visit and once again the weather god smiled upon us and we was treated to some glorious sun shine , isn’t it funny how good everything is when the sun comes out , both Edwina and I snapped loads more photos.

Harbottle Castle

And slowly made our way back down savoring the moment , I don’t know about Edwina but at some point this walk turned into one that I didn’t really want to end , the hills looked almost magical the views where particularly good with the higher fells covered in snow and the air looked perfectly clear , however all good thing must end and we found ourselves back at the car , once again Edwina produced a cup of tea and a tray of Tiffin all for me .( did I tell you all how much I love Tiffin ?)  Now this is how a walk should end.

As normal a few photos enjoy:

 Edwina striding up the hill

 

Tree with lots of water drops that caught my eye

 

The path up a bit heavy going in places (for me anyway)

 

The Drake stone

 

Bob Dog in his coat not looking impressed

 

Playing silly buggers (I can’t take her anywhere)

 

The views that greeted us

Looking towards the Drake stone

 

The path to Harbottle Lake

 

Just as we get there the wind drops and the sun start to come out

 

And we get treated to this

 

In the west woods (Edwina is going to let me know the story about the concrete post that are here)

 

Leaving the woods

Heading down towards the church at Low Alwinton

 

Lime kiln and where we took shelter and had lunch

Dog statue

 

Looking across

 

Bob dog rolling in something that stank (bath for him when we get home)

Locals

 

Well? In Harbottle

Heading up to the Castle

 

Looking towards the hills and Fells

 

Drake Stone

 

Bob and Edwina, note I have had to remove Bob dogs coat (stinky dog)

 

A few more photos looking all over the place

 

We had decided that when we are up this way in the summer months we will call back and have a cup of tea sitting here looking at this tree we both recon that it will be something outstanding when the leaves come out (I think that it is a beech )  but what a place for a cuppa eh?

Part of the moat?

 

A couple more as we make our way down

 

Info board

And another sort of info board (dont know why the photo is on its side)

Day after thoughts

Home, gear sorted, bob dog bathed after his roll around in something really stinky then it was time for me to get sorted, I felt quite tired after the walk even though I really enjoyed it, I think it was a case of more of a mental strain walking along some of the route as it was hard going in places, however after a hot bath and a relaxing evening I was feeling ok in the morning so all was good and once again I will write this up as a success

ABOUT ME      NORTHUMBERLAND     WALKS 2018