Summer Walk No 12, Rothbury Carriageway Circular - Sunday 21st August 2016.

    

A walk above Rothbury brought the Morpeth Camera Club summer programme to a close on Sunday 21st August 2016.
Club members met at the Cowhaugh car park next to the river Coquet and headed north over the footbridge and past
Model Buildings, a terrace street of stone houses built by Lord Armstrong for estate workers in 1890.
On reaching the main street we turned right and walked through the centre of the market town on a fine afternoon. At
the Queens Head public house we turned left into Brewery Lane and after a few hundred yards stopped to photograph
the grade II listed Addycombe Cottages, again built by Norman Shaw for Lord Armstrong's estate in 1873.
Leaving the town we followed the public footpath up a steep incline and across fields to Hillside Road. A further short
climb saw us enter woodland above Addycombe Farm and join an old carriage track that led us through a huge area of Rhododendrons. This area was once part of the Cragside estate and the solid tracks were laid out as carriage drives for
use by the Armstrong family and guests. At several points this carriageway passed rugged crags with great views over
Rothbury and south to the Simonside Hills. A small section of this exposed woodland had recently been devastated by
fire, leaving burnt trees and charred rocks that gave us interesting subjects to photograph.
Moving on, the carriageway then left the woods and took us through a gate and out onto open moorland. Here the ling
(Calluna vulgaris) was a beautiful purple colour as it approached full bloom. Known as common heather it is a ground
cover low-growing perennial shrub ranging from 20 to 50 centimetres tall on acidic soils in open sunny situations.
The group continued west on the solid track passing large rocks as our gentle climb saw us reach Ship Crag that was
our original destination point. Continuing on a few hundred yards saw us reach an open terrace with stunning views of
the Coquet Valley and north to the Cheviot Hills, making our efforts worthwhile.

        

After a brief stop we followed the carriageway back across the moor to the Coplish Burn and took a series of paths that
led us rapidly down through the undergrowth and eventually to tarmac paths and steps that led to the nick, a narrow
alleyway that brought us out into the centre of the town again. Crossing the main street we returned to our start point
by the river to finish an enjoyable afternoon on a walk not previously visited by the club.

Davy Bolam.