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Sussex Scrapbook ~ Wildlife walks throughout the year
Green Man
22nd - 29th November 2014

We knew it was late November, we knew the weather was likely to be bad and we knew that Northumberland was a very long way north but we also knew that we could handle it. Everyone seemed to think we were mad but we've been this stupid many times before (oh yes) and are well used to the repercussions of that stupidity by now. As it turned out we had an almost perfect 360 mile ride up to the small village of Longframlington with only a bit of drizzle along the way. It took us eight very pleasurable hours to get there and when we arrived we were still in really good shape. More importantly, the bike seemed to love it too.
The next day we kept as a rest day and used the opportunity to make sure we had everything we needed for the week, including firewood for the log burner in our cottage.

We had a small cottage in a small terrace on the outskirts of a small village in the middle of a
bloomin' HUGE county. I'm not joking, it goes on for ever!

Very few neighbours but all very friendly looking.

Monday 24th November 2014
Craster to Seahouses

Our first jaunt was a 12 mile walk along the coastal footpath heading north from the small fishing village of Craster up to the slightly bigger fishing village of Seahouses for fish and chips and the bus back. The walk was beautiful the whole way and is so easy to navigate we didn't even bother with a map, just a compass.

We hadn't got out of the village and we were surrounded by birds. Mostly they were chaffinches and sparrows but we spotted something special amongst them. A Snow Bunting, one of the cutest birds you can hope to find and they are often very tame. We didn't manage a photo this time but here's a vid we took a few years ago when we saw one on the Sussex Downs.


I finally manage to get Gill walking before sunrise! Mind you it was 8am. Hardly the middle of the night is it?

Dunstanburgh Castle is our first target. You do not need to be a navigation specialist to find it.

At the castle lived two Kestrels and as we approached they were seeing off a Peregrine that had the nerve to perch on one of their turrets.

Another one for the collection.

And another.

Beyond the castle and the terrain turns into wetland...

with watercress growing in the streams.

Then there are miles of sandy beaches and grassed over sand dunes, some of which have been purloined by
men with small dimpled balls (golfers).

Huge expanses of sand and just us. You don't get that in Benidorm!

A festive welcome to Seahouses at around 4pm and a superb fish supper.

Our recommendation for this hike would be to do the 'golf club section' of the route via the sandy beaches instead of the inland route taken by the coastal footpath. This is easy enough to do. Just be sure to make sure you check the tide times.
Also some of the chip shops shut early on Mondays, although we were still able to find one that was open and the cod was fantastic!

Tuesday 25th November 2014
Holy Island (Lindisfarne)

I hadn't been to the island since I was a young man of about 14 when I stayed there for a week. At that time it was a place renowned for its peace and tranquility and had no tourist shops or anything like that. I explored every inch of it and even watched the Aurora borealis from there one night. It is of course the place where St Aedan based himself when he went about restoring Christianity to Northumbria in 635AD. He founded a monastery with an abbey on Lindisfarne and was buried there in 651AD.
We got to the island via the causeway and parts of it were covered in sand and pebbles with the potential for a slip or slide. There's no curb, just a drop onto the sands and if you get stuck on them when the tide comes in then your vehicle is finished. This made us very wary of crossing back again in the dark at 8.15pm which in turn meant we only had a few hours to explore. This was not what we had hoped for but what could we do? Our shortened mission was: to explore the village, priory and castle, buy some Lindisfarne mead, eat one of the island's renowned fresh crab sandwiches and cross the causeway again before 2:05pm.
The most famous feature of the island is of course the castle. It looks as if it's grown directly out of the bedrock of the island and would make a perfect base for a Bond villain. On my last visit we weren't allowed to even approach the castle as it was privately owned and inhabited, presumably by some evil warlock or witch or  some such who did not relish contact with casual visitors and smelly kids. This time I wanted to do what we'd all dared each other to do the last time - go up and hammer on the door!

The causeway can only be crossed at low tide which adds to the remoteness of this very special place.

We managed to catch the place in a particularly tranquil mood. Not a puff of wind and very few visitors.
Just what we had hoped for.

A parhelion on a 22o halo above the two pyramidal markers at Guile Point.

Lindisfarne castle, now owned by the National Trust (not Sauron).

Finally did it. No one home though.


2:02pm. Going back across the causeway and it's easy to see the problems that having a small slip could create.

After a very slow journey back in the fog we finally made it back to the warmth of our fire.

We found Lindisfarne very much as I saw it almost 40 years ago. There are a few more houses than there were then and there are a few more shops now but the main difference is the proper footpath out to the castle and all of the signs that the National Trust like to put up everywhere. I expect it can get quite busy sometimes but on this day we found it almost as quiet as I did before. We would have loved to have spent the whole day there and walked right round the island but it was not to be. It's a very long way for another visit but next time we go to Scotland I think we will have to drop in on the way home.
Oh yes, the crab sandwiches we bought at the post office were perfect.

Hadrian's Wall and more to follow soon.

Take the time to read the countryside code for yourself and please stick to it at all times.