Thursday, March 7, 2013

An Invitation Part 1 - The Reccy

It was some time ago that I meet Jon and Jane Monks of Shepherds Walks. I knew about their walking holiday venture before I even knew I would be living in Northumberland, through research for diversifying what I could offer alongside my French accommodation. I have been lucky to get to know them since moving here as a "consumer" of their walks and their lovely Capricorn Socks!

I was absolutely thrilled to be invited to take some photographs for them to help with the promotion of the initially the challenge walks and then the Nordic Walking Courses that Jane runs. Being a keen Nordic Walker myself I thought this was a great opportunity to be outside and learn some new routes used by Shepherds Walks for their walks and courses.

The first shoot was to start at Bolam Lake near Belsay. So I thought I head up there and go for a pootle with Welly and work out some good points for making pictures. Jane rang while I was at Bolam and let me know the exact route which was out of the country park and up a bridle way to Shaftoe Crags. I made a mental note of the route, but decided a walk with the dog around the lake first in case I needed to put him on a lead up to the Crags (thinking there might be livestock up there).

I got a bit distracted from the walk by the lake wildlife! 

I did not know there were so many swans at Bolam Country Park! I took the chance while I was by myself to take a few pictures of them. My favourite ones were when the swans were against the dark backdrop of vegetation. The swans were very obliging in the most but the opportunity didn't last long at this spot as they were agitated by Welly barking at them. To him swans are very, very scary. 

It was also minus temperatures and lying on my belly taking pictures of these majestic birds was getting nippy. So Welly and I made our way on the two mile walk up to Shaftoe Crags.

The first part of the trail was easy enough. The farmyard was a disgusting mess of slurry. But the onward walk gently uphill rewarded Welly and I with a marvellous Northumbrian View (despite the fog) for very little effort.

The highest point was marked by the triangulation marker, but the interest was really the sandstone rock formations that created this relatively small hill.

I am sure the pathway must be an ancient track; there are lots of rock shelters here and I understand archeological digs have found bronze age flint weapon heads, from when hunter gatherers moved through the area.

I was on the look out for interesting curves in the path or places which would make my pictures for the Nordic walk the following day have a little bit of flare. I hoped to capture the walkers in the landscape, not just the walkers.

We headed back down the hill, through the slurry, and back to the car. The forecast for the walk day was to be sunnier than this day so I hoped for some good images!

Of course isn't possible to go home easily when the blasted dog refuses to get in the car. He had thoroughly enjoyed scrambling over the rocks and the open space of the moors, which were surprisingly sheep free
A classic Welly refusal to admit the care is the next move.
Part 2 - The Nordic Walk to Shaftoe Crags Next.

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