Tag Archives: river

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.

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

Morpeth Steppy Stones

19 Sep

Park at High Stanners and follow the riverside walk round to the Steppy Stones. Great for picnics and fishing nets, as long as there hasn’t been too much rain!

Fair weather camper

30 Aug

 

So apparently the first mistake I made was thinking our camping trip was a “holiday”. As I later discovered in my Art of Camping book, it should not be looked on as leisure, but a sport. I also learned that I was one of those categories of people you should not choose to take with you on a trip, a “fair weather camper.” I was hopeful this was going to be more successful than last year’s one night stay as the forecast at least promised dry weather in contrast to the deluge that washed us out last August. As we drove across a decidedly murky North Yorkshire Moors on route to our destination at Rosedale Abbey and lightning flashed across the gloomy sky it soon became clear this was not going to be the case. Driving into the campsite, barely visible through our window wipers going into overdrive, all I could think of was my nice warm dry house two hours drive away. As we discussed/argued over where to pitch our tent I could see the smirking expressions on our new neighbours’ faces, smugly already under canvas, thinking, “ha ha this should be fun”. Anyway we launched ourselves into the downpour, kids and all, and by some miracle managed to put our new home up without any major disasters. Maybe I had just been emotionally broken down, but as the rain eased off and the sun came out, I hate to admit it but I started to almost enjoy myself and the girls couldn’t have been happier diving in and out of the tent and running around with the other children on the site. My biggest fear before hand had been my two-year-old waking screaming in the night. There were a couple of whelps, but thankfully nothing too bad and whereas at home where the windows are plastered in blackout material they wake at 5.15am, out in the wild they somehow didn’t wake until almost 6.30am. Don’t get me wrong, I slept badly, woke with back ache and the shower under little more than a dribble didn’t seem to do the trick, but somehow those few blissful moments of sipping wine under the stars, the sound of the stream at night next to the tent and the kids diving around on the grass without even whining for TV once seemed to make it all worthwhile. Nevertheless perhaps in the pursuit of balance and fairness, my next holiday review should, as a colleague advised, consist of hotels, indoor pools, posh suppers and in house-childminding. I think maybe that could be good for the soul too. As a campsite Rosedale Abbey must be about as perfect as you can get: stream, tarzies, village, pub, woods, walks, a playground and beautiful. We arrived the Wednesday before August bank holiday and while it was reasonably busy, there was plenty of spots to choose from. We were told however that the bank holiday weekend was fully booked. It is a large site, stretching back along the river. There are several tea rooms, a village shop and a pub yards from the site and a shop at the reception too. It was very family friendly, most people were there with children, but a really good atmosphere and nice and quiet at night. As mentioned on some review sites, the showers were a bit poor – hot but very weak pressure. The whole area was kept quite clean however. There is so much to do nearby -from steam train rides to moorland walks. My favourite childhood spot is the stepping stones at Lealholm, just about 20 minutes away.

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