DATE                                13.03.07

DISTANCE                      4.6 MILES




Today I found myself heading up to the woods at Simonside; no real reason just wanted a day out someplace where I could get a bit of practise walking on different types of surfaces and different types of terrain and to be honest Simonside just about covers it all from easy forestry tracks , muddy boggy bits , hard rocky paths , wet slippery mud with lots of tripping hazards such as tree roots , with a few steeps up’s and downs thrown in ……yes it makes a good area for just getting out and getting a bit of practise in and I love the area , it’s quite , peaceful , and offers up some really good views but one of the reasons I like it I can make it as long and hard or as short and easy as I like plus there is always a good chance of getting to see a few deer or some other wildlife .

On the drive up I didn’t really have a set route as such just a “let’s make it up as I go along” of course the weather could play a big part on how far and where I go but so far it was just cold , damp and grey but as always I was hoping that the weather would stay dry and the wind wouldn’t pick up , it’s one thing I really have trouble with and that’s walking in strong wind , of course the forest would shelter me but I was already thinking about the exposed ridge on the crags , it can and does get a bit windy up there , but in my mind I had already decided I would cross that if and when it happened .

I parked up in the main forestry car park and was delighted to see that I was the only one there , (it’s not that I’m grumpy or anything ) but when I’m practising I do like to be alone , if I went up or down across a section of path and I wasn’t happy with how me and Arty leg did it I will often go back and redo it again and again trying different technics to see what works out the best for me , sometimes there is a fall or stumble or two involved and I really don’t like people either thinking or asking that a) I’m mad or B) “are you all right “no I am far better off on my own.

Gear was sorted and off went , my route took me past the notice board which has a few forestry trails marked on it , I had a quick look and decided that I would most likely do a bit of the red and orange route and just see how it went . I had packed full waterproofs along with food and a flask of coffee so I was set for the day ………….and you know something I was really looking forward to it, I know this puts me in the weird group but I simply love being out someplace in the wilds on my own….. yes I know Simonside isn’t exactly in the middle of nowhere but on days like this the woods and crags can have an almost prehistoric look and feel to them and as I had the place to myself so I can let my imagination run riot for the day .

My route took me along the forestry track for a while then I cut up towards the bottom of the crags, coffee and slice of cake was had whilst I sat enjoying the views, then it was time for the hard work to start a small but hard climb up to Simonside Crag at 429 meters it might to be that big in the grand scheme of things but believe me I knew that I would be puffing and panting with a bright red head by the time I got to the top , I know that it was going to be a hard slog for me to get up to the top but I loved it even when I think that my lungs stopped working and I had funny coloured spots dancing in front of my eyes .

On finally reaching the top I just about managed to get to the edge of the crags where I promptly sunk down onto the sandstone and just took in the views whilst my lungs started to fill with air again and my pulse started to slow back down to something like normal and of course my head returned from a funny bright red to its normal colour ………….Hard work ….yes but so worth it.

I think that somehow having my accident has made me really appreciate little things like this ……….just sitting on the crags taking in the views I can’t explain how good it makes me feel ………yes it’s a dull grey day but to me it’s absolutely fantastic ……..I really struggle with the right words here I guess it’s a case of if you have to ask why  ……… would never understand and an old memory comes back to mind “on a good day you should make the shops and back” the doc told me …Make the shops and back again my Arse (does this make me a bad person gloating that I can do so much more ?) I don’t mean to but I do take a great deal of pride in myself that….. Today I’m here on my own sitting here just enjoying the moment feeling very pleased with myself.

However what do that say about pride and a fall? , time to get off my arse and continue on my walk, the next section will take me over some very hard rocky bits along with several sections of “bog hopping” as I make my way to Dove Crag where if all goes well I plan to stop for lunch , then it’s time to head back down and get back on a section of forestry track till I leave that and cut back onto a foot path that will take me back down towards the car park , this last section it down a very steep , muddy section with millions of tripping hazards in the form of tree roots both visible and hidden , plus there is a lot s of sandstone rocks laying around that will hurt if I fall and land on them , but this is the reason why I’m here today , I will learn to come down paths like this in a safe controlled manner otherwise I will never progress to bigger steeper more remote places and once again I find myself looking forward to the difficult task of coming down this trail not only in a safe control manner but one that I’m happy with none of this nice and slow one step at a time grabbing hold of the trees to control the decent , no me and Arty leg will do this in a way that I am happy with or I will simply turn around go back up and re do this section till I’m happy with it .

Eventually I got to the bottom of this rather tricky section, perhaps not as fast or as good as I would like to, but despite a few slips and the odd stumble I stayed on my feet and really couldn’t think of a better technic of getting down, after all I do have an Arty leg and there are limits in what I can make it do so I’m happy with how things went …………..for the moment!

To finish the walk off and to stretch out the cramping muscles in my good leg I decide to do a small loop towards the car park , one thing I have noticed that coming down hill my good leg really does come under some strain and my calf muscles need a short ”normal” walk to get it back to normal , on reaching the car park it was a case of boots off , stow the gear and simple sit down and finish the coffee off …………..a good day .

As normal a few photos:-

Taken whilst I get my boots on and the gear sorted, great just me parked up here today


My route starts of on one of the many Forestry tracks, easy walking which is something I like to start with as it gives me a chance to “settle” into Arty leg


After a while the “track” starts to de grade into a pathway, still it’s all easy walking so far


This  little fellow flew down to beg a few crumbs of cake , after a few minutes he even took them from my hand ,it’s  little things like this really make my day and just go to show how we and the wildlife can get along with a bit of trust and respect .


Starting to head up and the path starts to change, it’s time for me to keep my eyes open and concentrate or I will end up on my arse


Now it’s a slippery stony path as I pass some of the huge sandstones that live around here


Some even bigger stones


And now the path starts to get really wet and slippery …….but that’s why I’m here today to get some practise in


Getting out of the trees and I’m greeted by this view, pity the weather isn’t at its best


Looking up that’s where I intend to go next


The foot path that heads up


Nice info board at the bottom


Part way up and one of my many rest stops


A few steep sections, not a problem as I will use my hands to help


At the Sandstone crags, time for a sit down and take in the views (really I can’t do anything till I have got my breath back)


Looking down, it’s a lot steeper and higher than what it looks


My route towards Dove Crag


A bit further along the path and it starts to get a bit stony

Then it changes to all sandstone rocks, I have a great deal of trouble walking along this type of path, but it’s one of the reasons that I’m here today


Taken at max zoom looking down toward a distant Rothbury


Heading up towards Dove crag ………and my lunch spot


Strange shaped sandstone rocks


Looking back and the sun decides to come out


Lunch time at Dove crags


Again taken at max zoom looking down towards Rothbury


Looking back along the route


More sandstone rocks


Starting to head back down now


Making my way back towards the forest


Looking back up “I was up there earlier”

 Heading towards a forestry track


Linking up with the track

Time to head down back to the car park, this woodland trail is a lot harder for me, it’s slippery and full of trip hazards

Part way down looking back up (I have stopped screaming by this time)


Made it to the bottom and now I will do a small loop back to the car park to stretch out my leg muscles


Nice easy path back to the car park


Day after thoughts.

 I will admit to stiffing up a bit during the drive home, and unloading my gear from the car was a bit on the painful side as my good leg really didn’t want to do anything , but one hot bath later things where good , no problems with the skin on my stump and I was pleased with how the whole walk went so once again I will put this down as a good day .