12/05/18 Ford & Etal Circular ‘A’ Peter Gilliland ‘B’ Ken Nevin
44 members set out on a dry, warm and sunny day heading to Northumberland, stopping for coffee at the Heighley Gate garden centre. The coach parked at Etal Castle’s car park where the surrounding woodland was carpeted with bluebells. 23 members set off on the ‘A’ walk walking back through the village, passing en route the village pub with its thatched roof that was undergoing refurbishment and was due to open the following week. The ‘B’ party, 21 in number, set out initially following the same route as the ‘A’ party, passing through Etal village and ascending a minor road to a small hamlet with a smithy and large farm. Stony tracks and field edges were followed to Heatherslaw on the River Till. Further on, we stopped for lunch alongside the river, sitting in glorious clear blue sky and sunshine. We carried on, crossing the river via a road bridge to walk into Ford. There was a herd of belted Galloway cattle with lots of calves in an adjacent field. The adults were all sheltering in the shade of trees but some of the youngsters were frollicking around. We stopped in Ford for refreshments and admired the surrounding buildings before continuing on through woodland and field edges to Hay Farm then descended into Shipton Dean and picked up the track back to the smithy and Etal. Both parties had time for refreshments in the local cafe before travelling to Morpeth for the evening stop. Flowers: bluebells incl white and pink, crosswort, gorse, greater stitchwort, green alkanet, ground ivy, ladys smock, red campion, sweet cicely, white dead nettle. Other: deer, hare, heron.