Walk your way to fitness in good company!
These Heath Walks take place every Monday afternoon from 1.30 to 3.00 p.m. The walks are designed for people who want to gradually increase their fitness and stamina. The gradients of the paths are flat or gently sloping, and the distance covered is about 3 miles. The walks start off at a gradual pace, become a little brisker for the main section, then are slowed down towards the end.
All new walkers are welcome. All you have to do is to turn up at the start point at 1.20pm and register. There is a Health Walk Leader who will outline the walk and any known hazards along the way, a Support Leader and a Back-up Leader who carries a first aid kit. There are frequent stops to observe a variety of wildlife and landscape along the walks and, hopefully, observe red kites. Here is one seen recently at Far Pastures.
Image courtesy of Paul Duncan
The walks take place in the Derwent Valley. There is a regular group of walkers which is usually about twenty to twenty-five people.
The locations change each month and all details are given on this web-page. Hopefully, we will see you out walking.
Health Walks update (Jackey Lockwood)
At this mid-point in the year it is good to be able to report on a successful programme of Health Walks thus far. Gateshead's "Year of Walking March 2015-16" proved to be a motivating and inspiring initiative across the Borough. Our contribution in statistics looks like this:
· number of walks = 42
· number of participants on those walks = 1145 (often the same people but including 65 new walkers to our group)
· total distance covered = 135 miles.
We closed the year with a ramble of approximately 4 miles on the Clockburn Circular Trail (orange way markers) in Gateshead's stunning Derwent Valley.
The regular Monday afternoon Health Walks have gone ahead at each of our walking locations along the course of the River Derwent. In January the start point was the Sands Road car park for the lower Derwent section. In February we started at Winlaton Mill and walked in the Derwenthaugh Park to the Nine Arches viaduct and beyond. March saw us walking from Stirling Lane to Lintzgreen and back; then, in April, we used the Derwenthaugh Park and Derwent Walk before returning to Sands Road in May. Each location gave us a variety of wildlife to see and hear which changed with the seasons. The number of walkers has steadily increased and now stands at an average of 35 people out each week.
Each year we do a few longer walks in a different location. This May we did one of our favourite walks along Northumberland's outstanding coast from High Newton via Dunstanburgh to Craster and on to Cullernose Point. 33 walkers enjoyed fine weather, good views of a variety of birds and flowers as well as the spectacular scenery.
Friends of Red Kites have 12 trained Health Walk Leaders who volunteer on a rota basis to lead the walks. I would like to take this opportunity to thank them for their continued commitment and enthusiasm. Their knowledge of the wildlife and the area adds to the enjoyment of the walks. I would also like to thank the regular Health Walkers themselves who help make the walks a pleasure to organise and who do so much to support our activities. Thank you and enjoy the walking in the rest of 2016.
Gateshead's Year of Walking 2015
On Wednesday 7th October the Friends of Red Kites Health Walkers met at Winlaton Mill car park. The forecast was for a wet day but, as always, the walkers turned up raring to go. This was to be our second 6 mile walk inspired by Gateshead's "Year of Walking" initiative.
We arrived at Souter Lighthouse to find a rather misty coastline and a rough sea.
This made the walk along the cliff top even more dramatic on this stunning section of coast. On arriving at Marsden Grotto we had a welcome cup of coffee. The waves were breaking around the stack of Marsden Rock which still had cormorants and gulls on it.
We had the footpath mostly to ourselves as we walked north.
There were views of beaches and caves along the way, and still we stayed dry! Once in South Shields we really appreciated the delicious fish and chip lunch at Colmans which we felt we had earned. From there we walked past the redevelopment in the town centre and on to await the ferry.
From the ferry we had good views along the River Tyne. It was a pleasant stroll through North Shields and on to Tynemouth.
We had time to look around before we were due to leave. Only then did it start to rain. This was not a problem as there are plenty of tea rooms and shops to frequent! The coach trip home went quickly and ended an enjoyable day at the coast.
Derwent Valley Explorers
On Wednesday 19th August a group of 22 keen and enthusiastic Health Walkers met at the Swalwell Visitor Centre. They were all set to follow a 6 mile way marked trail through the Derwent Valley. The event was inspired by Gateshead's "Year of Walking" initiative.
The first section of the trail was a gentle stroll south along the attractive Derwent Walk. We then headed steeply uphill on the Hollinside Manor loop. The ruin was interesting to explore and has an interpretation board as well as splendid views along the valley.
After crossing over the Nine Arches viaduct and walking beside the River Derwent the trail took us uphill to the View Point path then on up to Thornley Woodlands Centre. There were quite a few challenging flights of steps along the way so a refreshment stop at the café was very welcome.
The return route took us through woodland and beside the river in the Derwenthaugh Park and so back to Swalwell. The weather was fine and all the walkers enjoyed the fresh air and exercise in our local area. Well done to all who participated.
February 2015 Health Walks
This month the Health Walks have started in Stirling Lane car park in Rowlands Gill. Each week between 30 and 36 walkers have gathered to enjoy fresh air, exercise and the company of others. The walk is about 3 miles long and the route follows the Derwent Walk Railway Path in Co. Durham. At the first viaduct which crosses the River Derwent and at the View Point red kites have been seen regularly. We always have a rest stop at the old Lintzgreen station so all walkers can chat and catch up.
For those keen to walk further we have gone on a short distance to the viaducts near Hamsterley. The views have always rewarded the effort. Along the way, many woodland birds such as robin have been heard singing their spring song. However, large numbers of wintering thrushes are still present and feeding in the fields. The return route has the advantage of a slight downhill gradient! Refreshments have been enjoyed at the Vale of Derwent Social Club.
The Health Walks in March and April start from the car park in Winlaton Mill.
Looking back at our Health Walks during our Anniversary Year, 2014.
October Health Walks
October had 4
Health Walks. The attendance at each
walk was 7, 30, 28 and 26 respectively, making a total of 91 walkers-equivalent
out enjoying the Derwenthaugh Park and the Derwent Walk. The low number of walkers on the first Monday
reflects the weather conditions that morning which had seen torrential
rain. Each week the skies were grey but
we stayed mainly dry in the mild, breezy weather. There continue to be regular new
walkers who join us; many as a result of seeing posters. Refreshments were enjoyed at the Red Kite
The wildlife seen
by the group included mallard, grey wagtail, moorhen, robin, magpie, jay, seen here:
Image: Harold Dobson
July had 4 Health Walks. The attendance at each walk was 31, 36, 29 and 33 respectively, making a total of 129 walkers-equivalent out enjoying the walk starting from Winlaton Mill car park heading north to Swalwell Visitors Centre and up onto the Derwent Walk crossing the River Derwent at the Butterfly Bridge. From there the extension goes around Clockburn Lake, or walkers can make their way to the pub or back to the car park. The weather was warm, cloudy and humid most weeks, then hot and sunny for the final walk. Refreshments at the Red Kite pub were much needed.
Red kites were rather distant this month, but there were good views of common tern , heron, seen here:
Image: Harold Dobson
and cormorant around Clockburn Lake. Grey wagtail and buzzard were seen by some of the walkers. Flowers included willow herb and cranesbill.
There has been a slight changeover of Health Walk leaders. Jan Sawdon has moved to Leeds. Joanne and John Davison no longer want to lead Health Walks. All have expressed their thanks to me and to FoRK for their time as Health Walk leaders. We have two new volunteers who will start their training in August: Fiona Clapham and Lori Smith. They will soon feature on the rota!
June had 5 Health Walks. The attendance at each walk was 20, 29, 27, 21
The vegetation had grown rapidly since our last walk here in April. There was still woodland birdsong and plenty of insects about.
Around Clockburn Lake there were regular sightings of heron on the water's edge or platform. Also swifts and sand martins were present in large numbers as they hunted for insects over the water.
Having walked around Kite Hill and crossed the Nine Arches viaduct, most weeks we went down on to the Meadow. There was a profusion of wild flowers throughout the month which included common spotted orchid, yellow rattle, buttercups and thistles
The climb back up the steps was well worth the effort. Each week we had clear views of red kites flying in this area. Deer were seen on one occasion. Refreshments were enjoyed once more in the Red Kite pub.
Report and images by Jackey Lockwood Health Walks Coordinator
During May the Health Walks started from Stirling Lane car park in Rowlands Gill. The steep walk up on to the viaduct there led us on to the Derwent Walk Railway Path in County Durham. The first stop at the view point gave walkers time to observe red kites.
With Spring in full swing there were so many shades of green, the may blossom and broom were stunning to see and the birdsong from blackbird, robin, great tit, blackcap, willow warbler and chiffchaff were a treat to hear.
Each week we made a stop at the old Lintzgreen station. It has an interesting past including an unsolved murder. For us, it was a welcome chance to rest and catch-up with fellow walkers. Some people stayed there whilst most of the walkers carried on.
The extension to the walk led on to the two viaducts at Hamsterley. The views over the Derwent valley were extensive. The return route on this linear walk has a slight downhill gradient which was welcome in the warm spring sunshine.
Image courtesy of Ron Hindhaugh
Red kites can be seen from several vantage points.
The Derwent Valley from Winlaton
or three Red Kites enjoying the thermals in the sky above your head!