Southern Spotlight

The hard winter seems to have brought about a bumper spring with an abundance of wild flowers and sunny days up here. I have spent most of the first part of this fruitful year exploring and revisiting the southern part of Northumberland, including Amble, Morpeth and Rothbury.

This part of the county is less familiar to me than North Northumberland where I lived for about nine years. However it has been interesting to get to know the area more, revisit older walks and create new ones.

Morpeth

This town is accessible from Ashington, Newcastle and Sunderland. It is therefore well served by public transport and has a good selection of facilities. I wanted to create a new page for walks in and around Morpeth as there weren’t many available from the Tourist Information Office. Morpeth Mooching has resulted in a selection of short and longer walks from around the town centre.

St James the Great
St James the Great Church from Newgate Street, Morpeth
Bothal Castle
Bothal Castle

Amble

Amble is a bit further up the coast on the main bus route from Newcastle to Berwick. It has a reasonable selection of shops, cafes, and facilities, as well as a busy harbour from which there are boat trips to Coquet Island. Amble Ambles features long and short walks and a trip out to Coquet Island.

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Coquet Island, Northumberland seen from the boat.

Neither Morpeth or Amble was very familiar to me so I have felt like an explorer trying to create walks with only the maps and local chat to go on. I am not able to write about these areas as intimately as a local person can but I have enjoyed learning more about them.

Rothbury

Rothbury is the site of some of my earliest walks as a teenager and one of my early Rucksack Rose trips in 2012. I have a soft spot for the town which benefits from good facilities, a regular bus service and a great path network radiating from the town centre. My aims here were to add a new walk to my Rothbury Rambles page, and to improve the existing photos and videos on a better camera. It has been a pleasure to revisit these walks and I am quite pleased with how much better the page looks.

Across Coquet Valley
Rothbury across the Coquet Valley
Cartington Castle
Cartington Castle, Rothbury, Northumberland

Hopefully it won’t be long before I can get further afield to bring you more walking during this peak season.

Rucksack Rose at 5

On 17th September this year it was 5 years since I began to create Rucksack Rose on this blog and YouTube. For those who don’t know, Rucksack Rose was originally dedicated to my mum, and was intended to share the good and simple things in the outdoor world such as beauty and kindness.

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Rucksack Rose 5th Birthday

I had great plans for this fifth year but, without going into details, bullying by a small group of trolls laid waste to some of them, which was a very sad moment for me and for this blog. Anyway, having taken advice, I am pressing on. Can I simply ask that if you don’t respect me, my content or my aims, you just unfollow. It’s really not that difficult.

Anyway, I always try to end on an up – I know you’ve all heard this stuff before, but to those who have stuck by me for all or some of the last five years for the right reasons, I would like to say a big thank you for over 101k YouTube views, 103k blog views, as well as your advice and inspiration. I genuinely appreciate all these things and I will continue to try and keep to the original intentions of the blog which are outlined in the About section.

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Rucksack Rose Thank You

Happy Hiking. Rose🌹

My GPX Routes

I have been gradually adding day routes onto Viewranger 👣 for some time. As long as the routes don’t seem to involve any hazards, I have made them public and free for people to download on an ad hoc basis. As I have realised how helpful good quality downloads can be, I decided to start adding GPX files for all my day routes and publishing some routes retrospectively to replace the slightly vague descriptions I had been giving on early YouTube and blog descriptions. I have also been improving and standardising the route information provided with the downloads.

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My Viewranger profile

There are now over 40 free, downloadable routes on Viewranger. I am pleased to see that there has been a steady interest in downloading these routes, so I have added links to Viewranger from my blog posts and YouTube. I hope you will find them helpful if you are considering walks in this part of the world, and that they will work well in conjunction with the blog posts and videos.

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Hartside to Salter’s Road route map on Viewranger courtesy of Ordnance Survey ©

If you or your company enjoy my routes or use them for groups and / or for profit, I would be really grateful if you would consider supporting me so that I can increase the number of routes which are available to download.

Happy Hiking. Rose🌹

Environmental Escapades

Living in a town as I currently do, every walk now begins and ends with a rail or road journey which has to be considered and planned for, which is why I include a discussion of transport here. Since I began walking in the Scottish Borders at the time of the foot and mouth epidemic, I have become aware of the fragility of the environment I enjoy so much. My earliest walks involved swilling my boots in troughs of chemicals aimed at halting the spread of the disease and some paths were completely sealed off, but the farmers were keen to encourage outdoor people to continue visiting the countryside.

Through my walking I have experienced up close the effects of things like disease, invasive species, erosion, flooding and climate change, as well as confronting the realities of threatened species such as elm, ash, red squirrels and bees. As a result of this experience, I have learned to respect the places I visit and to minimise the traces of my being there. Without shouting about it, I have also tried to make this blog consistent with the development of my environmental beliefs.

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Leaving early by train for the start of the Pennine Way

When I created the blog, I was lucky enough to have a car which I was able to jump into at the first sign of good weather like a true weekend warrior. When resources, transport and time are available, it is easy to write prolifically and pleasurably about the things I love. However when running a car became more costly, and I began to become aware of the environmental contradictions of my outdoor pursuits, I did my utmost to make my blog work using public transport. I am proud to say that I got to and from all my long distance walks on public transport.

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Setting off for the start of the Dales Way at Ilkley

For my shorter walks and trips, I really have battled with the logistics of trains, coaches, taxis and buses, which often don’t visit the places I want to reach, or run once or twice a week at most, but I have achieved less in the way of interesting blog posts. Because large areas of my local stomping grounds are inaccessible by bus, I tried car hire for a while, but found it a bit inflexible. After much deliberation, I have finally opted to join a car club to enable me to reach the wilder places and trails I love with some degree of spontaneity.

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The end of the Berwickshire Coastal Path at Cockburnspath

I won’t be abandoning public transport (where it is feasible) any time soon, but using a car club seems the ideal way of achieving the best of both worlds; minimising my environmental footprint and exploring wild places. I hope that this will find some kindred spirits among my readers.

Sprucing things up

As I have been attempting to study for the last year, I have been unable to improve Rucksack Rose much. However now that I am back in the world, I am seeking your feedback and implementing several plans to spruce things up and show that I have been thinking about it while I was away. To keep you posted these currently include:

  • Creating fresh content
  • Refreshing all the content and some of the pictures on my blog
  • Giving more opportunities for feedback
  • Improving my existing and forthcoming videos.
  • Introducing ways to allow people to give financial support or advertise if they want
  • Re-establishing contacts and catching up on Twitter
  • Re-evaluating YouTube, Google+, Instagram and Audioboom profiles (See section at the end of this post)
  • Seeking adventure collaborators and walking companions

Feedback on any or all of these plans would be welcome so please respond to this poll, add comments or use the contact form if you have any suggestions or criticisms.

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Sprucing things up

Rucksack Rose social media thoughts:

I am delighted by the popularity of some of my platforms but I recognise that some have been more successful than others. This has been due to my tendency to spread myself too thinly between different media and my lack of integration into some of my online communities. Also some social media platforms have simply fallen out of favour in the last 4 years and I try to move with the times without becoming too slavish about it. I am beginning to feel that quality is more important than quantity online which is partly why I am looking at it all afresh.

Blog – Knowing I am niche but realising that I have something worth sharing with other like minded people has been key to creating this blog and profile. I am gradually refreshing all the content and some of the poor quality, older pictures on my blog, and to actively seek feedback about the type of posts I include.

Twitter – I christened my new blog and YouTube account on Twitter. It was my first social media and has always been my most popular. Apart from the spam, I have felt a better fit with Twitter and it’s community than with Facebook (which I don’t use). I can’t see this account changing at present, although it is sometimes hard to keep up with my older followers.

YouTube – It is hard for walking videos to compete with the new generation of Red Bull™ extreme sports type videos on YouTube, so I have tried to create videos which are an antithesis to these and instead show the peacefulness and beauty of walking in wild places. I accept that the quality of my older videos isn’t good due to my poor camera and editing software. I have therefore been working through the old videos to improve their metadata and investing in new software to improve the quality of future videos.

Google + – I have not integrated very well to Google + or it’s infrastructure for various reasons, so I have not felt that I am providing a good ‘service’ to my G+ followers. I am therefore considering abandoning this profile

Instagram – I enjoyed this profile for a while and found it very moreish, but it doesn’t presently have a good interface with Twitter unless you use IFTTT. Twitter has become an increasingly visual platform but it doesn’t show pictures or even thumbnails of Instagram pictures.

Audioboom – I enjoyed producing audio content for a while, but I admit to never really understanding the conventions of AudioBoom so it has faded out to the point where I haven’t used it for some time.

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Rucksack Rose – Avatars