St Oswald’s Way: Day 6 – Bamburgh to Fenwick

(24th March 2014 – 12 miles + 1 mile off route)

Studying the map, and between mouthfuls of a ‘Four In A Bed‘ winning breakfast, we discussed the day’s walk.  Neither Jim, Tracy nor I fancied going back down the road into Bamburgh and plumped instead on cutting across country on a lane through sheep fields (sheep, sheep always sheep).  This short-cut sliced a mile or two off the official path, including the only stretch of coast today but hey, paths are of our own choosing. Right?

Bamburgh Castle

Bamburgh Castle

Politely backing away from Glororum’s friendly, chatty hostess (who probably carried on talking long after we disappeared over the horizon), and with Bamburgh Castle now on our right, we headed off northwards under another clear sky.

St Oswalds Way Day 6 (3)

A few hundred yards later, the SOW from Bamburgh met and crossed the lane and, turning west, we were back on track and heading away from the sea.

(Image courtesy of stoswaldsway.com)

(Image courtesy of stoswaldsway.com)

The route veers away from the coastline to avoid the bulge of Budle Bay and heads towards Belford, before swinging back for a reunion at the Lindisfarne causeway.

St Oswalds Way Day 6 (4)

This big loop led us over rolling farmland, past baby cows

St Oswalds Way Day 6 (5)

and through small woods.

St Oswalds Way Day 6 (6)

I missed walking on golden sand by the brine but this was nice birdsong-walking – if lightweight compared to the fells and mountains Jim, Tracy and I normally tackle on our group walking holidays.

St Oswalds Way Day 6 (7)

In the spring of 2014, I wore black, the lambs wore red.

Belford

In the small town of Belford we stopped in another sunny pub garden for another morning coffee, pressed our noses against The Wooden Toy Shop window, wished we were 6 years old again, grabbed sandwiches from the Co-op and trooped out again within the hour.

St Oswalds Way Day 6 (9)

Today was pleasant if unchallenging: an easy route to follow,

St Oswalds Way Day 6 (10)

through a pretty, gentle landscape … but with no real sense of adventure.  Occasionally – and only occasionally – I miss a howling gale or a blizzard; a high peak or even horizontal rain just to, you know, jazz up my life a bit.   But then there’s no pleasing some people:  moan when the way ahead is lost under snow, visibility non-existent or a mountain blocks the way; moan when you’re blessed with a perfectly charming spring morning, on a simple byway.   Tsk.  But, to avoid a too close encounter with a 100 mph train, we had to phone the signal box for permission to cross the East Coast railway, so that was a bit exciting.

St Oswalds Way Day 6 (11)

At midday, near Swinhoe Farm, we sank on the path’s verge for those sandwiches and water glugging

St Oswalds Way Day 6 (12)

and shortly afterwards (with the aid of my 300mm zoom lens) looked down at Lindisfarne.  The end is nigh.

St Oswalds Way Day 6 (13)

One long distance footpath I had considered for this year’s trip now joined us from the west.  The St Cuthbert’s Way, on a 62 mile amble from Melrose to Lindisfarne, merged with our path for the final flourish.  I had, briefly, considered including Cuthbert on this holiday; latching him on to the SOW, Hadrian’s Wall Path and Cumbria Way to create an almost 300 mile traipse.  Sadly, self-employment = zilch holiday pay = couldn’t afford an extra week off work.   Cuthbert must wait.

St Oswalds Way Day 6 (14)

Because we were walking a half circle, and even after several hours, Bamburgh still wasn’t very distant.  (Though we had missed the coast today,  I was relieved to see that we had also avoided a caravan park.  Phew).

St Oswalds Way Day 6 (15)

We turned due north once more,

St Oswalds Way Day 6 (16)

though red squirrel-less woodland and back towards the North Sea.

St Oswalds Way Day 6 (17)

At about 3.30 pm, following a small country road (and a too close encounter with a dog for Tracy – she’s not keen) we arrived in our destination, Fenwick.

St Oswalds Way Day 6 (18)

Old barn with dovecote, Fenwick

But once again we had an extra mile before loosing our boots and dumping our sacks.  On virtually every day of every distance footpath, I face an extra mile at day’s end.  It might be law.

St Oswalds Way Day 6 (19)

Our 20 minute stomp out of Fenwick along a farm road followed the SOW for a little before the ‘Way struck off to the left for a final sprint to Holy Island.

St Oswalds Way Day 6 (20)

We however stuck to the road, recrossed the main railway (by bridge this time) and headed for ‘home’.

Fenham Farm (2)

And what a home from home it was.  Tracy had chosen another excellent B&B, Fenham Farm.  She’s become accomplished at arranging our sleepovers and, after a whispered discussion, Jim and I agreed we might invite her to come walking with us again.

Fenham Farm (3)

Twin room, Fenham Farm

Our room in a converted outbuilding was large, comfortable and welcoming.  Later, our host, Waltie, offered to drive us the couple of miles to The Lindisfarne Inn, West Mains for our nightly celebrations, face-stuffing and pop … and pick us up again afterwards.  It was a good pub, with good food but the appeal of any pub food was paling after two solid weeks.  Tomorrow, our last day and the shortest of my trek, would leave the St Oswald’s Way behind to continue along the Northumberland Coast Path to Berwick-upon-Tweed and an unexpected party.

But, as ever, the finish of a path filled me more with regret than elation.

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13 thoughts on “St Oswald’s Way: Day 6 – Bamburgh to Fenwick

  1. Walks in New Mexico almost never involve pubs. Something very wrong about that. What a lovely day, though I see your point about wanting a little more adventure on a walk. It’s always disappointing to find yourself doing something you could just have easily done at home–sheep, cows, pubs, and all.

    (What a very dashing lamb–it almost has a piratical air.)

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  2. Getting all excited that I might be able to do some of these walks soon. Will definitely need some tips from you. Just back from a five day hike in New Zealand; my first ever multi-day hike (involving sleeping bags, camping stoves and everything!) and I loved it. We’re off on my second multi-day hike on Friday; booked a few hours after returning home!

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    • You’re going hiking on Christmas Day? That will be very memorable. I was in the Lake District last year and did a smashing 18 mile walk up and back down Ennerdale – before returning to the cottage to cook a late Christmas lunch. This year is running a mundane second to that. D

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      • We fly to Tasmania on Christmas Day, starting the hike on Boxing Day. A bit strange, I know, but having only booked it on Sunday we had to go with what we could get. But Christmas in hot countries is so like any other day of the year. I am super, super, super excited about 25/12/16 already; my first cold Christmas since 2007. I’ll need to work out where in the UK I’m going to walk that day!

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        • Oh dear, Janna. Please don’t get your hopes up re a cold Christmas over here. It’s been warm and very wet (and ultra miserable). Sorry to pop your bubble but last year was similar. But who knows? Next year might not be. Have a great walk over your smashing sounding Christmas. Dave

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    • Hi Rachel, glad to be of service. Funny you should mention the South Downs Way. It is on my doorstep and I’m planning on walking it in the next 2 or 3 months. Though I’ve walked some of its sections many times and have done all of it, I’ve never walked the whole length in one go. I’m really looking forward to it. Dave

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