Wednesday 27 November 2013

The Return of Bowman

Forgive me if today's post is mostly related to a dog. Not just any dog but Bowman who has returned to The Last of the Summer Wine Walkers after an 18 month absense due to a knee injury to his master David. It was just like old times with Bowman immediately back to his roll as Walks Leader in the front and occasionally looking back to see we were all following him. I should add it was good to have David back with us as well and we look forward to regular walks with him and especially his Birthday Walk at Selkirk next week.
Bowman looking back to see if the walkers were keeping up with him.
Toffee time from Tom, but unfortunately not for Bowman.
While we were walking in Langholm the rest of the group were taking part in Elizabeth's Birthday Walk by walking the Duchesses Carriage Drive at Bowhill in Selkirk. This is a 7 mile walk round the estate following a route that used to be a popular Carriage Drive for the Duchess of Buccleuch. I had to take Gaye to a Hospital appointment in Dumfries, Tom had back problems and could only manage an easy 4 miles and David has to keep on relatively flat ground to protect his knee so that was the reason we could not make it. Sandria was hit by a flu bug and had to call off as well so we hope she recovers soon and will see her for next weeks short walk along the Ettrick at Selkirk.

Sunday 24 November 2013

Fiona and Leo Celebrate 4 + 0 Party

Fiona and Mario held this party in the Rising Sun Country Park in Newcastle and their friends turned out in force to celebrate Fiona's 40th Birthday and Leo's 4th Birthday.
The kids along with Mums and Dads took part in a Treasure Hunt which had been set by Mario. This took us on a walk through the lovely Country Park with various clues to keep us on our toes. 

Plenty of food for hungry kids after the Treasure Hunt.
Birthday Girl Fiona with Captain Raggiebeard the Children's entertainer. He did a great job and kept the kids amused for almost 2 hours.
Hannah tries not to smile while being tickled with a feather by Captain Raggiebeard. She was eventually forced to smile.

Gaye with Fiona's University friend Helen from Edinburgh. 

The Birthday boy with the Birthday Girl.
The Birthday Cake.

Wednesday 20 November 2013

The Sunken (and Muddy) Lanes of Cumbria

Having spent some time researching new walks in Cumbria I found what looked to be a hidden gem in a booklet called Solway Coast Rambles. I was unable to get the information I required from the internet so contacted Solway Coast ( area of Outstanding Natural Beauty) office in Silloth and they very kindly sent me the booklet containing 5 walks. The walk planned today was no 5 starting in Burgh by Sands and called the Solway Villages Trail. A lot of the walk was along the Sunken Lanes with high hedges or "Kests". These old lanes are a snap shot in time and are living examples of what highways looked like in Medieval times. We made the fatal mistake of doing this walk in the early part of winter when we should have done it during a dry summer. It was horrendous but it was a mile before we really hit the bad bits and by then it was too late to turn back. It took us almost 2 hours to do 3 miles and at times we thought it was impassable but Peter lead us with great bravery and we managed to make it to the village of Thurstonfield and then made the decision to return to Burgh by Sands along the B roads.
The Statue of Edward 1st in Burgh by Sands (Longshanks). 
John and Peter smiling at the start but they were not smiling for long and my name was mud for most of the walk just like the conditions under foot. 
In the Sunken Lane.
This was the driest part of the Sunken Lane but it was very difficult walking. We were sheltered from any wind but we saw very little of the surrounding countryside due to the very high hedges.
It's getting wetter and muddier. 
This was the worst part with the lane flooded to a depth of about 2 feet and the only way past it was to creep along the newly cut hedgerow with Peter bravely leading the way.
John is not a lover of water especially when it is as muddy as this.
This is Thurstonfield Lough which once upon a time provided water to several corn mills.
From here we decided to return to Burgh by Sands along the easy B road and miss out the final Sunken Lane. This was a good decision and enabled us to have a nice bar lunch in the Drovers Inn. If we had continued along the Sunken Lanes it would probably have taken another 2 hours to do the last 2 miles.
I should add that Tom had decided not to accompany us today as he was unwell but maybe this was an excuse as he knew what we were heading into. Looking back on it after completion it was an adventure but this booklet will remain in a drawer until next summer when we may attempt the other 4 walks in dry conditions, although I doubt if it will ever be that easy.
These photographs were taken on my I phone and uploaded to the blog from my I Pad so the quality is probably not as good as if they had been taken on my camera but I hope they give people the feeling of how hard the walk was.

Wednesday 6 November 2013

A Lochmaben Walk

Today's Wednesday walk took us to Lochmaben for a walk round Castle Loch via Marlake. There was 3 of us this week as John was down from Edinburgh so with good weather forecast we headed off at 9.30 am.
John and Tom overlooking Lochmaben Golf Club where Tom has played many times. He was keen to show us the 15th hole which is a par 5 and is going to be dramatically restructured at a huge cost next year. Both John and Tom were very critical of the existing hole but I as a non golfer could see nothing wrong with it. I am sure the restructuring of it will still make it a difficult hole and if you play it well it will be a good hole but if you play it badly it will be a poor hole. That is the nature of golfers. They are rarely happy.

Burnswark in the distance from the Golf course.
Our next point of interest was the ruins of Lochmaben Castle by the shores of Castle Loch. 
From here the route took us through some very marshy ground but fortunately there were loads of boardwalks in place to help us through the wetland area. 
The board walks provided good access through the marshland area to the bird hide by the shore of the Loch.
Castle Loch from the bird hide.
A swan seen from pathway near the bird hide.

The section of the walk at the south end of Castle Loch was very wet and in some places almost impossible to get through without water going over the top of your boots. In the spring it must be a superb habitat for wild birds but today it was just a boggy marshland.
On the way home Tom insisted we stopped at Crowdieknowe where Langholm poet Hugh MacDiarmid  used to visit an uncle many times and it is mentioned in one of his poems. 
The old cemetery and the new one below.
A lovely walk spoiled only by the very wet marshy area but ending with a lovely plate of soup in the Bakery Cafe in Lochmaben.

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