Tuesday, 7 August 2012

Day 42 begins


Day 42 begins

The morning was breezy but warm and the sun was out to help dry off the condensation collected from me breathing too much during the night. It obviously collects on the inner side of the outer tent, and despite the vents both ends of the tent it collects depending on ground and air temperatures. I had to leave the tent for a while to air as I went to use the bathroom and have my daily strip wash which consists of copious amounts of cold water and a flannel. OOOOOHHHH….AARGHH....

Still it is very bracing and the sunny day was going to help ward off any thoughts about suffering permanently. I got packed away and headed off, Val wasn't about to say a thank you again.
The road was short to the next corner where a choice of directions was here to confuse me. Rothbury to the right, and something called Simon-side to my left. Intuition said go left so I went left. I was sure that directionally I was still going in the correct direction. Along the road I met a couple sitting in their car looking for rare opportunities to see the bird life here. They had a camera with a whopping big lens to get some pretty close up shots I guess. James and Vee were local people and came here many times to view the beauty of the natural world and its wildlife. We chatted for a while but the car was in the way as traffic wanted to get passed so they eventually moved on. I had learned a lot about catching the bird life and all manner of subjects, world peace and starving people in Africa too.

Vee had recently been to the east of Africa to find out for herself just what the state of the countries were still in. I wondered why after so long since Band-aid that these peoples' situation had not been improved or that they were still not able to feed themselves adequately. Where had all that money gone? And what had been done with what had been sent out to them? It is repulsive that there are still people starving to death in this 21st century with so many people having wealth and luxury coming out their ears.

The Simonside Hills certainly have their place in Northumbrian legend with various folk tales about dwarves and fairies being set in the area. Local people even told of a band of malicious dwarves called the Duergar who would prey on unwary travellers.
Simonside, with its stunning views over Rothbury and the Coquet Valley, is very popular with walkers. The Forestry Commission manages parts of the hills and there is a small picnic area near the main car park.
From the car park you can try either the Simonside Ridge Walk, which will lead you to the top of Simonside where you can take in a view stretching to the Northumberland Coastline, or the Ravensheugh Walk which leads to Ravensheugh Crag.
Regular events take place in the summer months including an evening solstice walk where you can watch the sun set over Coquetdale and enjoy stunning midsummer evening views of the Cheviot Hills.

The Simon-side hills are a group of hills with a beacon that dates back many generations. Opposite the beacon is an Iron age site, Lordenshaw that was once a hilltop village settlement. Several old stones that are carved can still be found here, indicating their technology and astral timekeeping and stargazing occupations. I must admit walking around here was very interesting and more than once I felt that I was being watched by someone, maybe from another time and space. I sat and meditated for a while on what life would have been like for the people before our modern view of technology and lifestyle came into play. They certainly had been masters of the natural world and materials unlike many trades people of today, who know a throw away mentality with regards waste and building products. People of those eras used everything and everything had a use.

Archeologists believe Simonside's high number of burial grounds and cairns without any sign of nearby settlements point to the fact that Simonside was a sacred place only visited at particular times of the year. The hills are also home to a fine set of cup and ring rock carvings at Lordenshaw.

It was a haunting and serene settlement with the wind blowing through. I fascinated over a project to come back here with a group of maybe a hundred people and try to reconstruct the village and work the surrounding land to see what could be achieved with a community that had none of the mod cons of the present world. Trades people that could work with materials properly and create from the simple materials shelter and industry and a lifestyle made from mother natures gifts, without plastic and ipods, laptops and communication technology. I think other such projects have been tried but I still wanted to give it my attention right now. If only I had a backer who wanted to also see this come to fruition, so that we could learn thoroughly what we have lost over time that could help us slow down the overall pace of life that has made us miss such important things as smiling and community and helpfulness and relationships built on total trust and sharing.
Eventually I set off down the valley side towards Rothbury below, across fields and rivers and the wilderness of heather. When I came near to Rothbury, I found Sharp's Folly, a tower built as an observatory. It was dated from around the middle of the 18 century and was built by a priest, Rev. Thomas Sharp. Presently it overlooked the mobile home chalet site and though in a state of good repair was locked to tourists such as I.

It was raining as I entered Rothbury so I found a place to have a drink and sit and watch the Olympics for a while, and tune out of walking and talking and meeting people and being alone. It rained for a long time but I needed to get going if nothing happened here soon. By about 5.00pm I set off between storms and got out of the village where Raoul Moat blew his brains out a two years ago. I felt that it was beyond anyone to talk about that horrible event, and I didn't want to ask anyway, but there was a depression over the atmosphere but possibly nothing to do with that.
On the way out I met a man and briefly chatted before his brother collected him for an evening out.

The road out of Rothbury was narrow and winding for the first mile or so. I passed the entrance to something hall and walked along the edge of the lake before climbing a long shallow hill out onto the moors.The climb made me sweat quite a bit despite my only having a tee shirt on top. Cars found it hilarious to try to soak me with the puddles, or the drivers, but I managed to survive until I reached the top where I got wonderful views over the long straight open roads towards Alnwick. I wasn't sure if I actually wanted to walk to Alnwick today anyway so when I spied a man in the road ahead who had stopped to chat with me I felt an intuitive voice telling me to stop soon. 

John had been passing, noticed my bag decorated with my fund raising cover and stopped as he was curious as to what and where I was headed. He took a few of the photos here displayed (thank you John) and we chatted for a while as he accompanied me along the road almost to a cross roads. John had been out looking to photograph the wildlife and if the sun was setting pretty soon, shots of that too. He was able to tell me a lot about Rimside moor and the goings on of past centuries. Apparently the road ahead was intersected by the new and a few metres nearer the very old England to Scotland highroad. It had once been a toll road and on the hill to my right he pointed out a few things. A bordello that had been for the passing gentry and a toll bridge that had collected tolls for the upkeep of the single lane highway. It would seem that it dated back to the time of the highway men, and even Dick Turpin the infamous highwayman had stopped here a few times according to legend. John left me to go and catch a few shots of the setting sun and I made a detour to go and see this old road and see what I could feel of the energy around the place. 

I set up my tent on the top of the hill, in amongst the trees and I had a wonderful view towards the coast and Alnwick as my evening landscape. I had a feeling that the sheep would be very inquisitive about my presence so I set up a perimeter fence so that the tent wouldn't get trodden on during the night, and so that if any werewolves came calling they would get a nasty fright. The moon was sitting on the opposite horizon and it was totally full, so all good sense told me to prepare for the worst. I had a brief walk along the road towards Framlington and saw what there was to see of the old bridges, then returned and ate my provisions, before settling in for the night.

Beneath a full moon I slept lightly and day 42 came to an end.

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