DATE                         07.01.18

DISTANCE               6.78 MILES

WEATHER              COLD BUT BRIGHT

START / FINISH      FREE CAR PARK AT BOLAM LAKES

 

For the first walk of the New Year I would be teaming up with my “old” walking buddy Edwina her good friend Jan and a huge amount of walkers from the Northumberland walking group (  https://www.meetup.com/Northumberland-Walking-Group/  )for a wander around Bolam Lake and Shaftoe Crags , and to be honest I was looking forward to it , it seemed like ages since I had got out anyplace and despite being a miserable old git I do like to get out with a group every now and then and I wanted to see if I could keep up with the pace of this group, I had walked with them several times in the past but today I would be walking with my Orion3 knee which should help me with a bit of extra speed if and when I need it , times and meet up places had already been sorted and so I found myself driving up towards Bolam under the careful supervision of Edwina and Jan who were acting as chief navigator and assistant , the weather couldn’t have been better , bright clear blue sky with a nice icy cold layer on the ground , of course this meant that the smaller back roads that we had taken had a few icy patches on them but seeing as we wasn’t in a hurry the slippery conditions didn’t bother us. In fact you could say that it was almost perfect conditions for walking …….well for me anyway but today I wouldn’t be bringing Bob dog along so I felt like something was missing, I get used to having him around, but he had only just got over the doggy flu and had a visit by his hairdresser the day before and had a good grooming session so I really didn’t want him to come along and get cold or wet so I decided to leave him at home for the day , naturally I informed him that it was Yvonne’s fault that he couldn’t come but judging by the looks he gave me as I left the house I don’t think he really believe me , but it was for his own good I kept reminding myself ………………and it was only for this walk and he had both Munchy and Flynn for company and Yvonne was at home all day so he would get lots of attention and smaller walks along the beach …………but I still felt guilty.

Anyway under Edwina’s brilliant navigating we found ourselves pulling into the car park with a bit of time on our hands, I like arriving a bit on the early side so I can sort my gear out and get ready without having to rush around & having a bit of time to spare I popped down to the lake and snapped a few photos of the frozen lake.

Frozen lake

However by the time I got back and  had all got our gear sorted Margaret (Today’s walk leader) had arrived and was busy sorting out the groups , it was decided that there was too many of us to stay in one group so we split into two groups , each group heading off in different directions & hopefully passing somewhere during the walk , Naturally with my good looks I opted to walk with the “good looking group” (not there real name btw) and so after a quick chat we all set off , our route (see map above) took us out of the car park past Bolam Ho (I don’t know what the Ho stands for) then across a grassy field (well several grassy fields ) all easy walking but only because the ground was frozen otherwise I think we would have ended up with wet feet

Easy walking over grassy fields  

 

Passing shortflatt tower (old building) which we couldn’t really see as the sun was blinding us, over a broken stile which everyone managed without any problems

Edwina showing how to get over the stile without falling

Then along an old track till it was time to head up towards East Shafto Hall passing a couple of small unnamed streams on the way

Two small streams (they might have a name but I don’t know it)

 

From there it was up onto the Crags , there was a small amount of uphill to climb but nothing to get worked up about or even get out of breath for that matter either , however with the clear blue sky it did give us all some really good views of the surrounding countryside . Lunch was had by the sandstone crags which I think is known as the Devils punch bowl were we met up with the not so good looking group that had set off in the oversite direction.

After lunch Edwina got her camera out and I posed on one of the sandstone rocks

Me posing on one of the rocks (I think that Edwina was hoping I would fall off to make a much better photo)

Then it was time to set off again following the well-used footpath

And we are off

Our route took us along the back of the sandstone crags past Shaftoe Grange where I just happened to pass another walking group and I bumped into Dorothy who I have shared several walks, naturally we both stopped for a chat whilst my walking companion’s just carried on and before I knew it they were all disappearing over the horizon, so after a kiss and a cuddle and a promise that we would get out for a wander sometime  it was time to catch up  with my group , after a short burst of speed I found them all waiting around and I did my best to sneak in amounts them without anyone noticing , then we carried on back to Bolam lake and to the car park , it was whilst we was heading around the lake I met up with some people walking there ferrets , from what they told me they are all rescue Ferrets and they have a “meet up” once a month at various places and today it was at Bolam Lake , well after asking I gave the ferret lots of strokes and I have to be honest it brought back childhood memories of when I used to look after one.

Ferrets day out

Then whilst I was making a fuss of the ferrets mate he decided that he would take a bite of my leg, naturally he decided to sink his teeth into my real leg not my false one, luckily he didn’t latch on so it was just a quick bite but it did come as a bit of a surprise as we had been getting on so well, I think that he was getting jealous of the attention his mate was getting.

Real blood (its ok I didn’t cry)

Naturally the Ferrets owner was very apologetic but there was no need after all I stopped and made a fuss of them and they are wild animals after all so after saying our farewells it was time to head back to the car.

We had walked about 6.8 miles all easy with very little of the ups and downs on what was a really good day weather wise and to make things even better we stopped on the way back home at the forge at Belay for coffee which is the correct way to end a day’s walking .

A few photos

Bolam Lake with a covering of ice on it

 

Crossing grassy field

 

Edwina crossing the broken stile …and I am waiting with the camera just in case she falls

 

One of the small burns we crossed

 

Looking back

 

Another small burn looking good in the morning sun

 

Looking towards the crags

 

Looking at the walled garden

 

The “good-looking “group heading up towards East Shaftoe Hall

 

Heading up towards the crags

 

Sandstone rocks

 

Made it now its lunch time a few photos of the area

Lunch finished and we are off again looking at the sandstone crags as we make our way along

 

“Wait for me”

A couple more photos of the rocks

 

Looking towards the distant Simonside Hills

 

Heading back, big old trees

Gate post

 

Back at the lake

 

 

Sea gull

Hungry ferret

 

Its mate

 

Day after thoughts.

No aches or pains when I woke up but then I didn’t really expect any as it was all easy walking, however my better half Yvonne aka “the rat / snitch” informed my doc that I had been bitten by a ferret and after they finished laughing she insisted that I go straight to the walk in centre for a tetanus Jab, 4 hours and one jab later I walked out with a box of antibiotics wishing that I hadn’t told Yvonne , but all is well so that’s good as for the ferret I am pleased to say that it hasn’t suffered any ill effects or caught anything  after sinking his teeth into me so all in all a good start to the year.

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