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  • Chris Jones

Day 36, Tues 14th Feb. Bamburgh to Belford.

I thought I'd found the perfect pitch, I'd walked up the beach for the entire day from Craster and from around 4.30 I started looking towards the dunes for a decent pitch. It was nearly dark when I thought I'd found the perfect spot, a clearing behind the dunes just off the beach. I loitered around for a bit waiting for last light but there seemed to be a continuous flow of dog walkers... 🫣 they were coming from every direction and the fact that it was nearly dark wasn't stopping them.

You've got to avoid dog walkers at all costs, it's dog walkers after all that are always the ones that find the dead bodies !!! 🙄

Anyway, I'd set my tent out on the flattest piece of grass I could find, I was just about to start erecting it when 2 blokes came out of nowhere and we're heading strainght for me. Thinking I was about to get turned over, I grabbed for my walking poles and presented myself ready to let the bigger one of the two get the good news from the spike on the bottom of the pole. They clearly realised they had startled me so both threw their arms up and the smaller one assured me they were not looking for trouble. He asked me to step a few paces towards him and look up to where he was pointing... I was quite literally, right underneath Bamburgh Castle and clearly on land I shouldn't have been on... unbelievably, I hadn't seen the castle because of the large sand dunes and the fading light !!! It's not like it's a small structure either !!! 🙄 they politely explained I'd have to move on and couldn't wild camp anywhere near the castle so I had no choice but to walk into the village and book into a hotel !!!

This was the next morning, obviously, after I'd had a good sleep in a nice warm bed and a lovely big breakfast. Possibly a trip to spec savers when I get home, how the hell did I not see that ??? 🤓

The walk was non eventful, a lot of road walking as the coastal path is forced inland due to the tidal area leading out to Holy Island. I knew that I needed to be somewhere with WiFi for a Zoom meeting that evening and another at 1pm the following day, the FreeWheelers Committee meeting. The committee could have carried on without me but as WM until May, I still want to be involved as much as possible, even if I am 400 miles away living in a tent...

I found a campsite, closed until March but there was a notice board with a number for another site, a bit more inland than I'd wanted to walk but I called anyway. They were also shut but the lady said that she had a bunkhouse I could use which had WiFi and would only cost £20 for the night. I arrived in Belford at about 3pm and walked into The Blue Bell Hotel to see if I could find somewhere in the village to eat later. I got chatting to Nicola, a lovely lady who runs the hotel and as she had lived in Blyth, she knew the nice people I'd met at Oddfellows. Nicola offered me dinner for that evening, on the house and when I turned up, she'd also cleared it with the hotel owners for a free room for the following night. What a diamond.

Only one night needed in the bunk house...

It reminded me of being back in a barracks, obviously without the snoring, farting squaddies occupying the other bunks and that unforgettable smell of damp, musty army kit !!! 😮‍💨

I checked out in the morning, dropped my kit at the Blue Bell and took the bus into Berwick for a swim. The second time I'd managed a swim since leaving Lincs and the facilities were on a par with those in Bridlington, a superb new leisure centre with an excellent sauna, steam room and jacuzzi. I did my 40 lengths and then relaxed for an hour in the wellness suite, just the tonic for a aching weary body....

The committee meeting started promptly at 1pm, the guys were all together in the Lincoln Masonic Centre and I joined them with a zoom link. As usual, it didn't end promptly, they do go on bit some of them there Masonic chaps you know... 🫣 after 2 hours, Nicola could see I was struggling so refered to her 'zoom meeting first aid guide', I didn't know but the prescribed remedy was a beautifully poured pint of Guiness... 😁, closely followed by another.... possibly the best committee meeting I've ever attended....

Dinner was served and I have to say, Nicola takes a lot of pride in the food she prepares, the meal was excellent, I'd highly recommend a visit if you are ever in Belford.

A good nights sleep rounded off a perfect day, interrupted by the committee meeting admittedly... A huge thank you to Nicola and her team at The Blue Bell. I will return, one day. 🥰

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