Photographer of Families, Small People and Delightful Places. Travel and Lifestyle Writer and Blogger. Lives in Newcastle, Loves the North, Often Accompanied By A Beagle Named Holly Bobbins

Monday, April 12, 2021

Northumberland, 40 Coast and Country Walks, Part 1

There's a book called Northumberland 40 Coast and Country Walks and it's been the saviour of my mental health since the pandemic started. Last year just as restrictions were tailing off, my lovely friend Li and I started going on a weekly walk together, first, we went to Northumberlandia and then as we were talking and looking for ideas for other walks I realised I had bought the Coast and Country book years ago with the intention of doing all of the walks and blogging about it.  Life, of course had gotten in the way and I never started but now it was the perfect time and so we began.


The walks in the book are all between 2-10km and have varying degrees of difficulty, however, none are for professional level hikers and so Li and I thought we would be okay.  Now I must admit that I intended to blog about this from the start but I'd lost my motivation to write in the middle of the pandemic so bear with me as I do a bit of a catch up to where we are up to today.  We're not doing the book in any particular order, we both just take turns to pick a walk from week to week.

Walk 1 -  Hareshaw Linn 

Our first walk from the book wasn't actually planned from the book, it just so happens that it is actually in there but we walked to Hareshaw Linn, a beautiful waterfall in the village of Bellingham, a 5km walk through beautiful woodland, it's 10km there and back, dog-friendly but not buggy friendly and over all kinds of lumpy and bumpy terrains but well worth a trip, the book tells me that it was a big hit with the Victorians.

Hareshaw Linn, Northumberland 40 coast and country walks, mandy charlton, photographer, writer, blogger


Walk 2 - Brizlee Tower, Alnwick


I'd seen mention of Brizlee Tower in a few books and guides about Alnwick and really wanted to find it, the walk takes you through Hulne Park, the Duke of Northumberland's Park, it's buggy friendly but there are no dogs, cars or bikes allowed and when I say buggy friendly, it's on the top of a hill and parts of the walk are quite steep, we did it on a warm day and at one point had flies flying around our head, yes, that is how fit we are!!  It's a splendid 14km round trip and honestly, I loved it although Li did curse me (she's since had her revenge though).

Brizlee Tower, Alnwick, Northumberland, 40 coast and country walks, Mandy Charlton, Photographer, Writer Blogger


Walk 3 - Black Middens and the Reivers Trail


It was upon this walk that Li and I decided we should both order walking boots, we were proper walkers now and also we'd stood in a wet field and consequently had wet feet the whole of the walk.  This one is only a 5km round trip although we got a bit lost and did 8km!! Definitely not buggy friendly but dog friendly as long as they're on leads as it's on farmland, there are sheep and partly it's owned by English Heritage.  It's a collection of 2 Bastles, the old fortified houses found all over the borders of England and Scotland.  It was a walk where it was dry when we got there and then it rained a lot, a weird walk as it's not particularly scenic and one old ruin is much like another but we enjoyed the exercise.  It's one of the walks from the book that I probably wouldn't do again but I am glad we got to check it off from our list.

Black Middens and the Border Reivers Trail, Northumberland, 40 coast and country walks, Mandy charlton, photographer, writer, blogger

Walk 4 Lindisfarne, the Holy Island


I absolutely love Holy Island, it's such a special place and I needed no encouragement to go on this walk, it's a circular 5km walk and there's always the promise of homemade crab sandwiches at the end of the walk.  It's a joyful and easy walk, child friendly, dog friendly, no real massive hills but do bear in mind that we get 4 seasons of weather in one day in the north of England and so pack a coat. If you only do a couple of walks from the book or if you're on holiday and can only fit in a few this is one of my top recommendations, you can do it in half a day and combine it with somewhere else on the Northumbrian coast as we did and I promise you will have joy in your heart when you have completed it.  Don't forget to visit the distillery and also pick up the coffee which is made on the island.

Holy Island of Lindisfarne, 40 coast and country walks, mandy charlton, photographer, writer, blogger


Walk 5, The Bamburgh Circular


This is a shorter walk which is why we decided to combine it on a day when we did the Holy Island walk, it's only 3.5km very little in the way of inclines except for crossing the sand dunes, great for kids, and bringing along the dog and you can always combine it with a trip to Bamburgh Castle which in my opinion is the best of the regions castle's, it's privately run and might not have the popularity of nearby Alnwick Castle but it's fun and I highly recommend going to see the implements of torture in the dungeons.

Bamburgh Castle, the Bamburgh circular, Northumberland, 40 coast and country walks, mandy charlton, photographer, writer, blogger

Walk 7 - Morpeth Loops


This is another of my favourite walks you can do in Northumberland, it's fairly low effort, a couple of inclines, especially if you want to climb to the top of Ha Hill in the park in Morpeth but just a lovely wander, a 6km circular walk which we did early one Sunday morning but combined with a meal out or a trip to the shops and you could make this a full day out.  Morpeth is one of the friendliest towns in Northumberland with regards to taking along your dog so it's the perfect place for a pooch and you day out.

Morpeth Loops, Northumberland, 40 coast and country walks, Mandy Charlton, Photographer, Writer, Blogger

So, after the Morpeth Loops walk, it all got a bit tricky, I went off to the Highlands to find myself and then Abigail took me to Poland before she started uni, I shot some weddings and got back into shooting family portraits and before we knew it we found ourselves gradually becoming more restricted again due to the second wave of the pandemic.

The winter came and we ended up back in lockdown and I didn't see Li again until the restrictions started to lift, we've started walking again and done another 2 walks from the book and if you want to read about those, you'll have to wait for part 2, coming very soon...

If you'd like to get your own copy of the Northumberland, 40 Coast and Country Walks book, it's available on Amazon and you can let me know which walks you've enjoyed.

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Tuesday, April 06, 2021

Catching up


So this is the first time I've sat at my desk catching up with blogging for the first time in, well, really, over a month.  The reality is, the lockdown has been a pretty standard and unexciting experience.  I've now earned £625 this entire year with photography so thank goodness that Philomena's Boutique has at least allowed me to pay most of my bills.  The last help from the government was in November and the halcyon days of the bounceback loan last June are well and truly over.

This month is a new month and I've decided to surrender myself to the universe, I had a chat, the universe and I and these were the things I've put out there into the universe - 

  • I want to buy a caravan on the northeast coast called Philomena's Hideaway that I can run as a, not for profit giving low-cost breaks to families who are enduring mental health issues
  • I want to find myself a bearded Scotsman with feelings
  • I want to book some weddings for the next couple of years so that I can have some certainty in my work calendar
  • I want to be able to support my daughters and me after all of the turbulence of the last year
  • I want to go to the Highlands and stand on a hill and breathe without anxiety 
So, just 5 things and I don't think I'm asking for the earth really, I continue to work hard towards all of my goals but with anxiety and the current state of my mental health, always constantly trying to plan 2 moves ahead is not without difficulty.

I have in exchange for the materialisation of my requests promised to only think positively in the next month to see where it gets me.  When you live with anxiety and depression that can be quite a challenge but it's April, it's spring and the world is opening up again.  I should get my second dose of the vaccine towards the end of May and that in itself is something that should be a game-changer for me as it will definitely help with my underlying agoraphobic thoughts.  it's hard to focus on the future when you are constantly worried about the world outside.

So, I am surrendering myself to the universe knowing it has a lot more power than me and I think back to January 2008 when I first made a vow of positivity to the universe, it really changed my life back then and every time I fall off my positive plan I act surprised when I find it again and change things around and miracles seem to occur.  I really should just keep the faith and that's a lesson I'm sure one day I'll finally learn.


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