Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Another way to avoid a media event.

Over the Royal Wedding and Mayday bank holliday weekend I headed, with friends up to Scotland.

Staying in the Arrochar Hotel, just a stones throw from Loch Lomond, Friday was taken up by driving north and packing.

Saturday morning at 9.30 we arrived at the Cruise Loch Lomond ferry at Tarbet, for the 10 O clock ferry across the Loch to the foot of Ben Lomond, one of Scotland's 283 Munros (mountains over 3000ft).

On arrival we had the chance to see some of the runners competing in a 53 mile race up the west Highland Way.

Once everyone was ready we set off up the trial towards Ptarmigan ridge, keeping away from the tourist route and heading for the steeper slightly harder climb. As we were relying on the ferry for the return journey back to Tarbet we had a farily reasonable time limit to get to the summit and back. We eventually climbed out from the lee of the main ridge and the wind, which we would have to put up with started to make its presence.

After a quick stop for lunch near Ptarmigan ridge we set off for the last climb up the steeper side to the summit, this was quite hard going and required some rest stops, but after a short and tiring haul we arrived at the summit.

This is me at the summit of Ben Lomond with the southern end of Loch Lomond in the background. We did not hang around at the top, as the wind was really uncomfortable, so we found some shelter on the descent on the easier, but less spectacular tourist route back down the mountain.

This is the view from the Carpark at the base of Ben Lomond, waiting for the ferry.

The following day we set off around Loch Long to climb up Ben Arthur, which is more commonly called The Cobbler. This mountain is often overlooked by hardy walkers because it is just short of being a Munro, but is probably more interesting to hike up than its neighbor Ben Narnain.

After a steep initial climb of around 1000ft you get to a more gental slop which glides you up to 2000ft before the steep steps up to the summit. There is another route, which is listed as being a bit of a scramble, but most of us chose to take the steps.

Like Ben Lomond, The Cobbler has that last steep and hard climb to get to the top. Unlike Ben Lomond, instead of being a single peak, The Cobbler is a short ridge with a number of peaks.

At the top of the central peak is this rock, if you check the Wikipedia page ( it will inform you of how to get to the true summit.

With my fear of heights and the wind I opted not to go all the way to the summit.

This is the view from the Central peak to the Northerly peak with Ben Narnain in the Background.

The return back down the moutain was by the same route, and then back to Ben Arthur's Bothy for a well earned cider, before an excellent meal at Ballyhenna restaurant.

We had a short walk along the Loch Lomond on Monday morning before setting off on the return journey back to Newcastle.

And here is a cuddly toy from Kentucky that I pulled from a geocache on Ben Athur, with the hope of helping him on his way to the London Olympics.

Main achievement this weekend: my first Munro.

Thursday, March 3, 2011

Craster & Local Area 26 Feb 2011

With nothing better to do on Saturday I got the bike out and headed up to Craster, with the intention of having the crab soup in the Jolly Fisherman in Craster.

The weather was lovely day, cloudy skies, but warm.  Hard to believe that it was only the end of February.

I set off North following the Coastal cycle route one, through Longhoughton, and up the main coast road, although I stayed on the B1339 as the cycle route headed off towards Howick.  This route follows a slow 150 foot climb before descending down to sea level quite rapidly into Craster.

Turning right on Windysidehill and climbing the last slope before the downhill run into Craster I passed through a narrow archway, where the road goes down to a single lane.

From there its downhill, getting up some speed, before the road junction at the bottom of the hill, turning right and straight into road works.

I arrived in Craster way too early for Lunch, but the search and rescue helicopter was practicing off the coast, so I watched them practicing and took some pics of the harbour, and then headed back out of Craster to the north to kill some time.

Craster Harbour wall with the SAR helicopter in the background. 

Craster Harbour

Heading back out of Craster I climbed the short, but steep hill up towards Embleton, turning right and heading down a gentle slope towards the villiage.  Just on the outskirts of the village I came across 'Eleanor's Byre' which announces on the wall that they do 'Coffee Cake and Gorgeous things'.  What better place to stop and kill some time?

Heading around the back to the more than ample car park I found the entrance, parked the bike and stopped for a coffee, and picked up some 'Ginger & Sticky fruits cake' to take home.  The cake was amongst some rather strange combinations of cake and it went quite nicely with a coffee on Sunday.

Eleanor's Byre 
It turns out that they opened the coffee shop late 2010, just before the really big snow falls in November.

After a nice cup of coffee I headed back to Craster returning on the same route ready for lunch.  After parking the bike up against a skip in the pub car park I heading inside.  Although I didn't have the crab soup, opting for the Smoked Salmon sandwich instead, along with some of the best chips that I have had in ages.  The Jolly fisherman is on the coast just opposite L Robson & Sons Ltd kipper smoking so the has a nice warming fragrance from the smokers.   There is a nice raised area which looks out over the coast, but I stayed in the main lounge near the roaring open fire.

After relaxing and finishing the meal I made my way back home following coastal route one completely back towards Longhoughton, through Howick, passing Howick Hall Gardens there was a sign advertising the snow drop walks this weekend.

If you visit the Craster area, just to the North of Craster is Dunstanburgh Castle, which is a castle ruin run by English Heritage, and is a short (just over 1 mile) north up the coast from Craster.

Monday, February 28, 2011

Cycle from Longhoughton to Amble

19th Jan 2011, having the Wednesday off I decided to set off for Warkworth Castle.

Setting off mainly by road, south into Lesbury, staying on the road before getting onto the coastal cycle path just south of Alnmouth, which travels parallel to the A0168 on the eastern (coastal) side.

Just short of Warkworth the cycle path ends and you are directed up a small lane past a camping site, and towards the golf course.  Its worth heading away following the signs at this point as it leads to a nice viewing area that overlooks the River Coquet and Warkworth with the Castle atop the opposite hill, although the trees may block this during the summer.

A short downhill road leads you back to the 1068, where it crosses the river, before heading into Warkworth where its a climb up to the castle.

Unfortunately due to winter opening hours the castle was not open so I decided to head into Amble, the road to Amble follows the River Coquet before entering the town.  Heading through the town and past the harbour industry gets you to the mouth of the Coquet, which has an old harbour wall, out to which a walkway has been built in more recent times.  I walked along the old wall and came back using the modern walkway, whilst not getting in the way of the few fishermen who were casting their lines into the river.

As I was feeling peckish I started making my way back up towards Warkworth, as I was now heading back up hill I took more time to take in the views of the river.  After a short ride through the village I came to the Mason's arms, and their friendly staff.  After finishing off a nice baked potato stuffed with chilli I started my return home, firstly back up the same route that I had come down, but this time staying on the coastal path all the way through Amble and up to Foxton.

Just after Foxton, climbing up one of the steep hills the rear hanger on my bike gave way throwing the rear mech into the spokes, which bent the mech.  After a few minutes pulling the mech from between the spokes I resigned myself to walking the rest (3 miles) of the way home, although that was helped somewhat for the first 1/2 mile by freewheeling down the slope to the coast.

Fortunately there was time to get the bike up to cyclelife in Alnwick, who sourced and replaced the rear hanger and mech.

When I picked the bike up I managed to get a staple through the tyre & get a puncture, fortunately when I picked the bike up I also bought a spare inner tube.

Some stats:

Total mileage cycling: 17.81     time:  2hrs 20 mins Climb: 932 ft
Distance walking:        2.92      time:  43mins

First post


Ever since I arrived in the North East of England I have made it a goal to get out off the house at least once a weekend and get into the country side or do something different, basically keep myself active.

So here are my experiences of getting out, hopefully by blogging this it will help motivate me, give others something interesting to read and maunder motivate them.

I might also ramble on about things that are just on my mind at any time.