Stats for first leg: distance covered, 86.09 miles; 14.3 miles per day.
Here at Park End, Charlotte is busy with one of her Horse Camps for all levels and it is great to be invited to drop in and out of the sessions over the next couple of days covering dressage in the outdoor arena,
pole work in the indoor arena,
and cross-country training in the park.
Charlotte is a brilliant teacher and communicator and its no wonder her courses are fully subscribed. It is also lovely to meet her husband Nick who returns from a trip to Barcelona. He runs a business selling fuel for bio mass boilers as well as the boilers themselves. The girls that help keep this machine well oiled, not only make up a wonderful team but are also very helpful to me, both in terms of looking after Tommy as well as helping me find accommodation for our next stop as we have been let down at the last minute. In fact, I have been overwhelmed by kindness and hospitality.
Here is Kelly checking the weather station whose results get sent to the Met Office. And that is how I know we had 16 1/2 mls rainfall on Friday night! It was originally set up by Nick’s ancestors in 1846 and has been recording the weather on and off ever since. It measures the air pressure – maximum and minimum, and rainfall. For instance, we had 3 mls of rainfall last night. Kelly was part of Charlotte’s team throughout her Badminton days.
This time also gives me a bit of a chance to catch up with my blogging, confirm stays ahead of us as well as reflect on our adventures over the last few days. We’ve actually made it through the first week and Lindisfarne seems so far away now. The beautiful picture of Tommy in his field on the Holy Isle was sent to me by Judith, a fellow retreat guest, and it reminds me of a Constable painting
I am so impressed by all the people I have met whilst in Northumberland that I am lost for superlatives. They have all been cheerful, warm, friendly, helpful and genuinely hospitable. As for the landscapes we have travelled through, I can safely say, it has been one of the most stunning I have ever seen. No photograph can ever do justice to this place or give a flavour of its open, wild nature. The air is filled with unfamiliar bird sounds. It is a land of Ospreys, Herons, geese and Swans, red squirrels, hares and wilderness survival courses. Timber lorries and more timber lorries, sheep farmers on quad bikes, more sheep farmers on quod bikes and sheep dogs, Saints Way walks and numerous cycle routes.
It has been a Border ride too as we have never been very far from the divide between Scotland and England and we have ridden over the hills of the Cheviots and Northern Pennines. My abiding memory, however, will be a Northumberland as a land of waterways: riding down beautiful river valleys like the one that follows the Coquet river in the stunning Coquedale Valley, or along the River Rede on the way to Bellingham, or staying at Boat Farm that sits beside the North Tyne fed by Kielder Water, or the memorable dunking in the swollen Elsdon River. Not forgetting the numerous fords we have crossed, and the hundreds of gates we have gone through. And sheep, thousands and thousands of sheep with their adorable lambs, the hills alive with their constant calls.
As we head off today into North Yorkshire and the Dales, I shall be sorry to be leaving this county behind, its people, it’s wilderness, space and its hills.