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September so far in the Forces-of-Nature Diaries
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Member#: 6644
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Registered: 27-05-2007
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1st July 2017
Hiking - Walking: Duddo Stone Circle and Berwick pier
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Weather: sunny periods but windy.
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Friday 30th June – travel then Walk **** Around Berwick – upon – Tweed – cloud and drizzle :(

Our second night in Wylam was good and woke again to cloudy drizzle, now getting fed up of the wet! Left after breakfast and headed to find Ovingham castle then Hadrians wall spotting neither, not bothered either as the further we drove north the lower the cloud came down:( Had a job getting on the A1, topped up with diesel before turning left up the A697 just skirting the Northumberland National Park, not tempted to stop until we saw a sign for Chillingham Castle so head there but found an uninviting drive into parkland so gave it a miss. Then just up the road came across a Wild Cattle Park up a very steep wet track with a nice wooded carpark surrounded by lovely pines and foxgloves, a top place for our sandwich. Then we tried to find the cattle not sure if you had to pay or not? Met a couple who managed to see them without paying so headed across a very wet field in the middle of nowhere with the cloud now very low and on reaching the gate saw a man in a hut and no cattle in sight so chickened out and returned to the van. We stopped and talked to a nice couple on holiday from Lancashire who said it was £8 to get in, so we are glad we gave that a miss and the only thing we gained were very wet feet!
We are very close to the Scottish border now and the houses are large imposing dark stone as we reach our destination, Berwic –upon–Tweed. We cross a big bridge into the town with the brown Tweed gushing out to sea! Through the narrow streets, under the town wall to a harbour carpark, the first good news, it is free but no sleeping overnight:( I turn on the laptop hoping to find some free wi-fi but the computer plays up so switch it off! Then we look for a place to park, squeezing under a low arch in what turns out to be Elizabethan (Elizabeth I) walls towards the long pier. There are nice cottages one side and a drop into the sea the other with no fence. We found a small carpark that leads to the beach, but I spoke to a local lady, who was dressed up for winter for a walk, and I asked what we should see here and she recommended walking on the town walls, also she said we could park on the road in. We moved back to the harbour wall which offered fantastic views of the pier with its lighthouse, rolling surf on the far beach and in the distance Holy Island and Bamburgh Castle but they were difficult to make out in the gloom!
Hearing on the radio that it is National Cream Tea Day we decided to take part and use up the last of our clotted cream, the scones were delicious:) The weather was still rubbish with fine drizzle so read, then at about five it stopped so put on hat and coats and went for a walk. First out to the end of the dog leg pier seeing the first of many noticeboards depicting pictures by Lowry who loved the area. It was a good afternoon for wildlife as we saw several seals, some Eider Ducks in the waves, herons, curlews, swans and for the first time in this country Goosanders:)
We had left our van mat in the beach carpark so went to retrieve that then up the hill to the golf course behind the cottages and back to the van as the tide was reaching the wall. We decided to take a look at the town wall so walked the short way there and did the River Tweed section back towards the main town bridges. We read how first Elizabethan soldiers defended the town and then later in the 17th,18 and 19th century defences to protect against the Scots, Napoléon etc! We walked across the original low stone bridge, up onto the newer road bridge and back to town with the high train via duct an impressive sight up river! We soon found the second section of town wall up a hill with several places where artillery was placed. The highlight was seeing two young Swallows sitting on an electric wire waiting to be fed by their parents:) We completed the second section of wall and back along the harbour road with the tide now in and the many swans making a move looking for supper! We were starving as it was nearly eight but Mag soon knocked up filled pasta. I then tried to turn on the laptop - it refused to start, but computer whizz Mag with the help of information from her mobile phone managed to reset it to a week ago and fingers crossed it is working fine:) The only drawback is that after sorting out todays pics and diary its now 12.30, way past our bed time, the plus being it’s pretty with the lights from the far bank reflecting on the water. The last time we checked the weather the rain is moving away and we might even see the sun again, its been a while!


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Saturday 1st July – Sightsee travel + walks ***** Duddo Stone Circle and Berwick pier - sunny periods but windy.

Considering we didn’t get to bed until 12.45 Mag was still up bright and early, leaving me in bed with a fantastic view over Berwick harbour. She went for a walk on the beach at 8.30. I read some more ‘Vera’ which is based in these parts while Mag had a long chat to a local dog walker who told her of some good places to visit:) Breakfast at 10.20 then move off with the intension of going just down the coast to Holy Island. Over the stone bridge we turned left to check out the carpark opposite us by the surf beach where the campervans parked last night. It was lovely looking back across at Berwick old town from the carpark which boasted a large sign saying no overnight sleeping with a £70 fine but they were taking no notice!
We did a circuit of the beach which is covered in kelp and trees washed out of the Tweed and everything looks so much better with the sun out:) Mag said there were standing stones at Duddo, a little way inland towards the National Park so headed there next. We actually spotted the sign to the Stone Circle straight away parking at the farmers fence with the stones a 15-minute walk away. It was a very pretty, first with loads of daisies and then through a couple of ‘Rapeseed’ fields that had gone to seed, it would have been stunning a few weeks ago as we would have been walking in a sea of yellow! Still this was lovely too with the circle now visible on a small hill ahead surrounded by big skies:) The rape was so tall and the path so narrow that you nearly disappeared at times and we met a nice couple who had been enjoying the peace and quiet of The North’s answer to Stone Henge. I set up the tripod for a shot and we had a bit of fun hiding behind the impressive fluted stones that are supposed to sing when the wind blows.
Back at the van our run of things going wrong continues when the control panel for the interior van electrics had gone into error mode and was beeping. Mag read the Bilbo manual to try and find the fuses, even ringing their office for help. The four fuses were, we thought, on the electric box panel but no, there are 4 ‘main’ fuses in another box somewhere! We narrowed it down to probably being in the boot, where the leisure batteries are so, of course, that entailed taking the bikes off to open the boot door!! We were horrified to discover our second leisure battery was in the way of the door where we thought they must be. I was just going to try and disconnect it when Mag had an idea – to check her bedside small book cupboard and there it was, a tiny box tucked in the corner right at the back on an inner wall, a really crap place to put them! Invisible and virtually unreachable without a torch and a mirror!!! I removed the fuses and left them out for ten minutes while we oiled the bike chains - going rusty in the wet. I replaced the fuses which sorted out the control panel :) we couldn’t believe we had fixed it. So, we were off again, finding some nice tourist things at Etal, Heatherslaw and Ford including a castle – a fiver a head so we passed but managed to fill our water bottles up at their outside tap – then down to the fast-flowing River Till, in full flood with the place where the road crosses the ford like a torrent! Watched another bit of village cricket – past a watermill and huge house before heading to the hills of the National Park.
At Wooler there had been what looked like some fell running and we found another Co-op to stock up on mainly cake, we must make more effort to eat something healthy soon but with all these things going wrong we only want comfort food!! On our OS map, there is a long dead-end road leading high into the wilds by the Harthorpe burn which we managed to find. It was an amazing narrow tarmac road leading nowhere! It followed the burn for miles in a valley surrounded by big hills, over cattle grids to a large parking area full of Northumberland Mountain rescue having an exercise but although there were some fantastic places to park, overnight parking was not allowed:( We found a nice place to park by the burn for another cream tea and our run of bad luck continues! This time when Mag tried to fill the kettle the pump didn’t work, she checked and the leisure batteries were completely dead which was odd as they were full this morning? Used the van battery to fill the kettle and were worried that with only the van battery to power us we would have to go to a garage or even head for home:(
With nowhere to park in the hills we drove back to our spot at Berwick and rang our friend Neil Hurrell to ask his advice but he was out so decided to check the fuses I had played with earlier. This time, knowing where the bloomin box was we accessed the cupboard by putting the bed down. Mag soon discovered that because they were so hard to reach the fuses hadn’t gone into the allocated slots but slipped down the side so after a lot of fiddling around with torch and mirror she had everything up and running again :) What a star she is – last night the computer and today the van electrics!!! We could relax again.
To celebrate we ate nearly our whole box of crackers and cheese as couldn’t be bothered to cook anything – what a terrible day for eating this has been!!! With the tide coming in we had all the usual suspects in front of us, huge seals, Goosanders, Eider Ducks, Curlews and Herons but then I spotted hundreds of diving Gannets in the bay so we went for a walk along the beach ending up at the lighthouse at the end of the pier watching the amazing great Gannets franticly diving for fish as the sun was setting behind Berwick. It was very windy offshore but I don’t think there is anywhere suitable to windsurf here so will head to Holy Island tomorrow:)

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