Tag Archives: cycle

Bluebells and stone skimming in Plessey Woods

26 Apr

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Like the blue sky, breaking up through the earth”

The bluebells are just starting to flower in Plessey Woods so I’m going to make sure I head back again next week, as I’ve heard it’s a wonderful sight.
Spotting signs of spring is a popular past time in our house at the moment. “Mummy, mummy, come and look at THIS!! Look NEW LEEEAVES!!!” And our walk to school takes twice as long as they fill their pockets with fallen blossom.

 

 

 

 

 

wpid-img_20150426_175024.jpgI may not get as excited as my four-year-old but I do love spring and those first hints of the summer to come.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

wpid-img_20150426_173400.jpgAnother past time I also never seem to grow out of is stone skimming. There were some crackers down by the river today, dare I even say I think I found the perfect one?! Although I still lost out to the other half in the distance competition.
After much coaching and a few near knock outs (of me as stones came whizzing past my head) Charlotte managed to skim her first stone too, even if just two hops.

Her sister meanwhile looked more like she was auditioning for the highland games and was happier hurling small boulders in to the water, I kept my distance.

 

 

 

 

We then headed home via the play park, which is next to toilets (always handy!) and a small cafe.

There’s a good size car par that is now free too!

Plessey Woods Country Park (Bluebell Woods) is located near Hartford Bridge, off the A192, mid way between Bedlington and Cramlington and about 5 miles south of Morpeth.

The Park offers 100 acres of woodland, meadow and riverside to explore. The woodland is home to many birds such as the great spotted woodpecker, nuthatch and tree creeper, as well as animals including red squirrel, roe deer and fox. The banks of the River Blyth are also an important habitat for wildlife, such as kingfishers, dippers and otters.

http://www.northumberland.gov.uk/default.aspx?page=1892

 

Apparently our beloved bluebells are facing a fight for survival… read more here:

http://www.independent.co.uk/environment/nature/britains-bluebells-now-face-a-fight-for-their-very-survival-10204300.html

 

Other Bluebell Walks:

  • I grew up in Middlesbrough so naturally Roseberry Topping has to be my number one. The walk through Newton Wood to the top is simply stunning  http://www.northyorkmoors.org.uk/visiting/enjoy-outdoors/walking/our-walks/walking-routes/roseberry-topping-and-cooks-monument
  • The National Trust recommends Allen Banks, Northumberland and
  • Dunes behind Embleton Bay, Northumberland
  • Ratcheugh Observatory & Bluebell Walk, Alnwick http://www.visitnorthumberland.com/outdoor-event/ratcheugh-observatory-bluebell-walk
  •  Longacre Wood Hidden between the A1 at the Angel of the North and the main railway line this is Gateshead’s best bluebell wood with three ages of woodland to explore.
  • Northumberland Wildlife Trust suggests Goose’s Nest Bluebell Bank – This small site lies on a steep bank above the Ray Burn near Knowesgate and possesses a swathe of bluebells forming a magnificent display in late spring.

A few facts about Bluebells:

  • In folklore, bluebells are also known as ‘fairy flowers’. It was believed that fairies used bluebells to trap passersby particularly small children,
  • Other folklore tales would have us believe that by wearing a wreath made of bluebell flowers, the wearer would be compelled to speak only the truth. Or that if you could turn one of the flowers inside out without tearing it, you would eventually win the one you love.
  • Bluebell plants are poisonous.
  • 25-49% of the world’s population of bluebells are found in the UK.
  •  Bluebells can also be white. These rare individuals lack the pigment that gives bluebells their distinctive colour.
  • The bluebell is being studied for its medicinal qualities because it contains things called water-soluble alkaloids that could be useful in developing drugs to fight cancer.
  • “We love native bluebells for their wonderful scent of cooking apple, mango, lychees, ginger and freshly mown grass,” said Dr Trevor Dines, a botanist for Plantlife.
  • Alfred, Lord Tennyson described bluebells as ‘like the blue sky, breaking up through the earth’.

Plessey Woods

15 Feb

There’s over 100 acres of woodland, meadow and riverside to explore in Plessey Woods. No signs of otters or kingfishers on this trip, but plenty of good sticks and water to poke…

http://www.northumberland.gov.uk/default.aspx?page=1892

Taste of summer: Druridge Bay and Morpeth

20 May

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The merest hint of sunshine can see me scramble for the picnic rug, bucket and spade and mandatory cheese & pickle sarnie and head off like a woman possessed in the direction of the beach.

More often than not, the end result is a progressive drop in the car’s thermometer, a gathering of cloud and a pick-up in the wind until I arrive at the coast to unload my swimming cozzie-clad youngsters shivering onto the sand, while waterproof and welly-wearing dog walkers glance at them in pity.

But not this weekend. To my relief it actually got warmer the closer we got to our sunny destination and I even began to think that it might even be “busy” and “would I get parked?” in our usual spot right above the beach.

I found myself thinking “oo it is quite busy” – but that was because there were actually one or two other families scattered sparsely across the sand, whereas usually we have almost the whole beach to ourselves and even though I never need reminding, I did think quite smugly how lucky I am to live so close to such a beautiful and peaceful coastline.

Children’s inability to feel the cold never ceases to amaze me and I was quite jealous that while I was slightly chilly in my jeans and cardie, my two girls lolloped around in the water as if we were in the Coast del Sol.

Roll on summer.

Making the most of the weather on Sunday we headed down to Carlisle Park, Morpeth, where the grassy banks were filled with picnic spreads, families took rowing boats out on the river against the backdrop of the busy bowling green, (and Dunkin Donut van) in an almost idyllic vision of Englishness, A dedicated chap was also hard at work painting the brilliant paddling pool, so I look forward to that being open soon.
We then headed along the riverside path, great for scooters and small bikes towards the “Steppy Stones”. Whilst it’s not as scenic with the current flood defence work underway, the shallow river is great for paddling, fishing and like a big kid, I love navigating the Stepping Stones. I also love having a nosy at the beautiful picture-perfect riverbank houses with their terraced gardens that lead down to the river.
If you are out without bikes/scooters/pushchairs you can cross over the stones and the path leads back up to town centre, where you can then walk back to the park.

Cycling, squirrels and fairies at Kielder Water

4 Mar

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You don’t head up to the far north of Northumberland in February expecting to be basking in Mediterranean sunshine. Yet when I saw a week of heavy rain forecast for our trip to Kielder Water in the half term holiday I did start to panic about the potential for “cabin fever” and being trapped in a confined space with a five and three-year-old for the duration of our four day trip, being badgered for cbeebies.
But as soon as we arrived I realised I had forgotten one basic thing about kids, they love to get mucky. And within seconds they had piled out of the car and were knee deep in a muddy squelching puddle, laughing their heads off, oblivious to the misty drizzle. (Of course a few minutes later, one of them was face down in said puddle her wails echoing around the otherwise peaceful valley. But with holidays with young children you have to think of the bigger picture and enjoy those brief blissful moments don’t you before the idyllic swiftly descends into chaos..?)
We had visited Kielder Water a number of times on day trips but had long been planning to stay over so as to have more time to explore the area and many cycle routes around the lake.
Our log cabin at Kielder Forest Park was a perfect little hideaway, like a mini alpine chalet on a hill above the lake, and from the front you could just see the water, especially beautiful in the early morning sunrise.

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It was equipped to a really high standard, with a really attractive and practical layout with very comfy beds, dishwasher and even washer/dryer (very handy for muddy clothes.)

Trip 1: Walk along the Lakeside Way to the wildlife hide

From the cabin you can set off straight onto the Lakeside Way, a circular route around the water. My children tend to walk around in circles rather than in a forward motion, so we weren’t expecting to get far, and the little bird/squirrel hide in the forest was a perfect distance (about five minutes for an adult, or twenty minutes for us).
And we were lucky enough to spot a red squirrel, (it is red honest!) as well as dozens of birds at the feeding station.

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The walk back through the forest takes you back past little huts and art installations which the children loved hiding in.

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Trip 2: Cycling on the Lakeside Way

With my five year old on her new birthday bike and the three year old on the back of dad’s bike we set off for our first cycle, once again on the Lakeside Way, but this time on two wheels we were able to speed past the hide and continue on around the lake.
Emerging out of the forest and looking across the expanse of water, with not another soul around gives you such an amazing sense of freedom and space and my daughter loved it, tearing off into the distance.

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Trip 3: Walk, cycle and the maze at Kielder village

We took the bikes to Kielder Village to try out another route earmarked as easy that starts in the car park of the Anglers Ams pub and passes through the campsite taking you onto the path of an old railway line. Unfortunately, the very rough surface made it much to hard work for my daughter and we had to come back, although for adults it would have been an easy and pleasant route.

Instead we went for a walk around the castle, where there is a maze and a playpark. From here there is also a flat walk along the river, which we were tempted to try but ended up opting for a pub lunch instead at the Angler’s Arms.

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Trip 4: Walk along the Lakeside Way to The Mirage

We cheated and took the car to one of the many car parks around the lake and then set off in search of The Mirage, a wooden structure deep in the forest, which my children now tell me is in fact a fairy kingdom…

The path winds around the lake and up into the trees where from a wooden platform you get a stunning view of the lake.

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Despite our four day stay there was still plenty more we didn’t get to do.
There is a Bird of Prey Centre on site
Stargazing at Kielder Observatory – which was unfortunately fully book, so plan well in advance
And numerous other car parks around the lake where you can head off on more walks

If I had spent the week at home, I would never have dreamed of heading out for a walk let alone a bike ride in the rain and the cold, but with so much literally on your doorstep, we just got out waterproofs on and headed out to stomp in the puddles.

One bit of advice though is to bring plenty of food, as apart from a very small and pricey shop on site selling absolute essentials (and luxury biscuits) there is no supermarket for miles around.

If you want to eat out, then the child-friendly lakeside Boat Inn restaurant serves high quality food and we had a really enjoyable meal.

If you want a shorter stay, the grandparents joined us for a one night trip stopping at the nearby Pheasant Inn, and highly recommend it.

useful links:

http://www.visitkielder.com/
http://www.hoseasons.co.uk/lodges/kielder-water-lodges-KIEL
http://kielderobservatory.org/
http://www.kwbopc.com/
http://www.thepheasantinn.com/

Cycling and brambling in Rising Sun Country Park

29 Sep

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the stag

Who would have thought all this was just behind the Asda?

http://www.visitnorthtyneside.com/dbimgs/risingsunleaflet.pdf

A cycle by the Wansbeck in Morpeth

17 Feb

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Took the balance bike for a spin along the river in Morpeth. The path by the Wansbeck from Carlisle Park to the Steppy Stones is nice and flat, great for cycling and scootering. There is a car park opposite the park in the town centre, just a few minutes walk from the playground where there are two separate play areas for younger and older children. There are also plenty of side streets around High Stanners, near the the Steppy Stones. If you cross over the river by the stones the path leads you up into the town centre where there are plenty of cafes. If you have a pushchair, there is a bridge a little further up that you can use to cross instead. The independent Appleby’s Bookshop has a great children’s section with an ideally placed cafe inside right next to it, handy if your little ones don’t want to keep still while you finish your cuppa.

http://applebysbookshop.tbpcontrol.co.uk/tbp.direct/customeraccesscontrol/home.aspx?d=applebysbookshop&s=C&r=10000078&ui=0&bc=0

http://www.northumberland.gov.uk/default.aspx?page=8280

Hamsterley forest

1 Jan

New years day bike ride

Pine forests, rushing rivers, waterfalls and mud, Hamsterley Forest is my new favourite cycling spot. OK so maybe as we arrived, in a misty light rain and the temperature dropping to 4.5oC and the road more like a stream, I was not so impressed. But after a mini domestic it was agreed we would give it a go and I am glad we did.
A well known destination for hard core mountain bikers the moderate blue route was perfect for family cycling. Katie started off in the cycle carrier, but she’d soon had enough being prodded by Charlotte and we swapped her into the back carrier on my bike, where she was much happier.
The full route has a guide time of one hour and a half but has options to make a shorter loop back, which we took, given the chilly, wet weather (my pessimism hadn’t quite worn off). It starts off on a quite narrow riverside path through the forest, but was easily manoeuvrable with the wide carrier and although uphill, even after my xmas bingeing I could manage to keep going without too much puff. The scenery is beautiful and the river and birds kept the kids entertained. The route then joins the forest drive, and you can head back two miles to the start or carry on along the tarmac and then wider footpath for a longer journey following the river. If you wanted to miss out the first part, there is car parking at The Grove, which leads straight onto the forest drive.
Parking is ‘c2’a33 and there are plenty of facilities like toilets, a baby change and when we were there a bike hire shop giving away free hot soup.

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