Easter in Alnwick, Northumberland, wasn't as cold as I thought it was going to be!
I'd assumed that the biting wind and snow in the south of the country in the previous few weeks would still be prevalent in the north east during Easter. Certainly that was my understanding from the weather forecasts. Well it wasn't. In fact it was warmer when we arrived in Alnwick than when we left London, mainly due to the lack of wind. And while the temperatures were around 4 degrees Paul and I could wear our shorts to delight the others on the walks!
Good Friday's walk was a 21 miler from Almouth train station, a few miles from Alnwick and the coast. Thought I'd break them in gently. Before long, our route stalled as our path was crossing a river, a rather deep river with no easy non-wet way across. A detour ensued, of about a mile, taking us almost back to Almouth train station. After that though, the paths for the rest of the day were ok. Signing sometimes poor (we're spoilt in the Chilterns), as were the stiles. The feeling that we might be the first people walking some of these paths for quite some time was consistent with the lack of people we saw on our walk. The quiet and space was wonderful. We reached the Northumberland Coast path just before lunch which we had along the coast at Boulmer before continuing south to Warkworth for posh afternoon teas in a hotel. We left the coastal path for a 4 mile walk home reaching Almouth about 6:20pm. Weather a mix of sun and cloud, but no wind or rain.
On Saturday, a few less of us (6) started a 22 miler from Longhoughton, again a few miles from Alnwick. The first half of this route was inland through woods and fields before reaching the coast mid afternoon. Weather was better than Good Friday, more sun, certainly as the day went on, and when it shone we could feel it. We saw remnants of old castles and stopped for lunch in a Norman church which had heaters (and Emma and Abde soon put them on, slightly taking the holy water I do think). Post lunch and we continued north and then east to again reach the coast, this time at High Newton by-the-Sea, where we stopped for tea in the local pub (clientele quiet posh - we stood out). Then for what turned out to be the best walking and views of the weekend. South along the coastal path with blue sky and sea to our left and the sun to our right and front and beautiful coast line, mainly clear sand, around us. Everything, the feeling, just continued to surpass expectations. Then we reached Dunstanburgh Castle, which we'd seen in the distance ahead of us for about 3 miles. No entry as National Trust owned and closed, but just being there in late afternoon blue skies was fantastic. With light fading - ironically with only 6 of us we'd managed to take a bit longer for our breaks and walked a bit slower on the paths - we knew we had to crack on to finish before too dark. We returned to Longhoughton about 7:45pm, well into dusk.
Sunday, and Carol led the wind down walk for the trip, non coastal, 12 miles, in the Cheviot hills. We started from Wooler an hour later than previous days due to the clocks going forward and followed some of the St Cuthbert's Way. The terrain was very different to the previous two days; hill ascents into snow which was 15+ cms around the top. We saw plenty of horny cows who like us, weren't any more turned on by the sight of Paul stripping to his bare chest and diving into the snow. He said he was hot, need to cool down. Weather mainly cloudy today. We finished mid afternoon.
Accommodation wise, Alnwick YHA is excellent, modern rooms and facilities, run by two guys who look like the Hairy Bikers. And right in the centre of the historic town, meaning visits to the shops, many independent, and attractions were easily accessible on foot. During our four nights in town we sampled many of the restaurants, a few of the pubs, and the Co-op store.
Really enjoyed, weather, walking and views exceeded my expectations based on the recent cold weather. Thanks to Emma, Erika, Jane and Maria (girls) and Abde, David, Paul, Phil and Tim (guys) for joining Carol and me for another wonderful trip away with the group, and to Paul for driving the minibus up, around and back and for showing us all the delights of his upper torso!
Report by Steve R
Walking along the beach towards Alnmouth - Photo by Phil
Heading south from Alnmouth - Photo by Phil
Walking in the Cheviots - Photo by Phil
Paul needs to cool off! - Photo by Phil