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Sunday, 16 May 2010

Long gap but no inactivity

Since I posted last the walking festival has been and gone, as has the Haltwhistle Challenge.  I was very busy with both. Life became more complicted when my Mum was "rushed to hospital" while I was out of Ouston Moor on the Isaac's Tea Trail walk. That meant I could not lead the Botany walk the next day. The good news was that she "only" had pneumonia not a heart attack, and the industrial dose of antibiotics worked like a dream.  Hopefully this means that she will get the same stuff if and when the need arises again.
I loved the festival and the Challenge although it has taken me days to get back to normal again.  I also have withdrawal symptoms from walking every day.
My garden was neglected and I've been trying to put that right this week.  It's amazing how forgiving it is, although the weeds have enjoyed being ignored for a while. The compost area is so large that it is hard to get in there and to dig it out and barrow it to the borders. I've begun to do it.

On Friday I went on a water vole day at Langdon Beck. I now know how to look for signs of water voles and, in particular, their latrines!! Can't resist showing an example!

They leave their droppings in the open to mark their territory. They are as big as rats but look like large hamsters, and they are herbivores. Why have I never seen one??

Friday, 16 April 2010

Walk with Park Ranger

This proved to be an excellent walk. We set off from Steel Rigg and walked east until we met the Pennine Way. This is one of the best bits of the Wall trail - lots of  ups and downs, but the views are stunning.

It was very dry today, but the Pennine Way always manages to be boggy in places.

We walked north until we came to Greenlee Lough, then turned west to walk along the north shore, returning south on the new boardwalk. There were bumblebees on the pussy willow. Lots of plants are very late. It's a 7 + mile walk and a good, varied one. I think I'll offer a version of it for the Wednesday walkers soon.
This was my third day of walking in a row. Tomorrow I'm north of this space.

Walk with Park Ranger

It's a glorious morning, cold but very sunny.  Today's pre-walk is with Sally the park ranger. We start at Steel Rigg and go to Greenlee Lough to hear about the changes made there in order to preserve the environment. Must remember binoculars for the birds.

Thursday, 15 April 2010

Singing walk

Carol and I set off this morning to do the recce for the singing walk.  It was a grey and cold morning so we set a good pace in order to keep warm. We are a bit concerned in case we have slow walkers on the day; it will be no problem in good weather, but rather difficult if it is cold or raining. (I don't want to think about raining really........) We went up the Haltwhistle Burn and found some good places to sing. The landslide is problematic because it is uneven and muddy. (On the way back we met Eric who told us that someone has the contract to clear the landslide away, staring tomorrow, so we should be OK for our walk.  Good news indeed.)
We thought about singing at the quarry opposite the Milecastle but would need to use the stile there so crossed that off the list. There is a lovely path to Cawfields off the road, but it is a bit steep in places. We've decided to assess the walkers' ability as they go up the Burn. Cawfields is our site for lunch, toilets and more songs. I think the walk will be fine. An article about it should be in the Newcastle Journal any day now.

Wednesday, 14 April 2010

SFP, journalists, Photo Club

An action packed day. Spent the morning transcribing Ye Banks and Braes for the Singing for Pleasure group. Had long conversation with  Tony Henderson from The Journal. I hope he will have a good article on the Festival in Thursday's paper.  He was very interested in the Singing Walk, Bachhan-ale walk and the Bumblebees (now sadly cancelled).
The choir sang very well. It is still very hard work because of the booming acoustic and the number who are deaf. The acoustic makes life impossible for many of us, but the hall is big and we don't pay extra for it......
I did a big supermarket shop at Aldi and Tesco and was very tired when I got home. Quick evening meal and then we were both off out: Mum to NADFAS and me to Photo Club. I saw the prints from Istanbul - what a high standard they achieved. Scary. Always a good sociable night out.

Monday, 12 April 2010

Monday: committees, walking, tree surgeon

Glorious weather today. Spent the morning at the walking festival committee meeting, finalising plans. My Botany and Bee walks have not booked well, but we are still going to run them and cut our losses. We're also trying to boost the numbers for the Vindolanda visit so that we have the talk from the archaeologist - he will speak only if we have at least 15 bodies there (so to speak).
Extra Challenge bookings came in today, probably the result of leafleting at the Allendale Challenge. Colin says they had 800 walkers and 200 runners for their event last Saturday.  Mind boggling. We'll do well if we get to 200 I reckon, but the numbers are creeping up slowly.
Thought I'd do a recce this pm but got embroiled in editing photos. Then went for a short walk down the village in my new boots. They feel very odd because they are higher around my ankles than previous boots. Fingers (and toes) crossed (not that I am in any way superstitious).

Sunday, 11 April 2010

End of the day

I did go out walking, but it was a bit of a muddle. First of all I could not find the new permissive car park I was looking for, and I drove around the roads near Steel Rigg twice.  I gave up and decided to put my car in a layby and walk on a new permissive path. Then I realised I'd left the maps at home - so I had to rely on my shaky mental map of the area. Then I was too hot/too blown about.  I nearly gave up.  Glad I didn't. I eventually found the car park (on foot by now of course) and the path to Greenlee Lough. Two fields along and I saw a ewe who had just given birth to twins. One lamb was on its feet and being cleaned up. It was trying to suckle. The ewe was ignoring the other lamb who sat crying pitifully but could not make it upright.  Both lambs were bright yellow so I assume that one had passed meconium in utero.  I took a few photos on the long lens - too far away but I didn't want to upset any bonding. I walked on towards the Lough, ran out of time, and on my return was delighted to see the second lamb take its very first steps towards Mum. The ewe still looked rather disinterested but both lambs were working hard to find the spot to feed so I think they would be fine.
Suddenly very tired and glad to have company on return along tarmac to car. Walked with the man who looks after the A69.  I would never have guessed his occupation.  He might come to the festival......