Within easy commuting distance of Newcastle, Gateshead, Sunderland and nearby Ashington is the town of Morpeth, the largest town in, and administrative capital of Northumberland.
With the aid of the Tourist Information Office and a map, I explored a selection of varied short and longer day walks around Morpeth town centre and the surrounding areas. Take a look at Morpeth Mooching and download the routes from ViewRanger if you are interested in these walks.
East Coast mainline viaduct
Rickety bridge at Bothal
Steppy Stones from Lady’s Walk, Morpeth
Arriving back into town over the Chantry footbridge
River Wansbeck in Morpeth
Lowford Bridge over the Wansbeck, Morpeth
St James the Great Church from Newgate Street, Morpeth
As National No Smoking Day is coming up on 14th March, I thought I would include a post about giving up. On or about this time of year a few years ago, I finally gave up smoking using nicotine patches and healthy nibbles, after a couple of failed attempts. I am not trying to preach about the dangers of smoking, because any smoker would be hard pressed to ignore the warnings emblazoned on cigarette boxes.
If you decide to give up, focussing on a physical activity you enjoy helps to remind you how much better you feel by not smoking. I started with easy walks and built up over the course of a year or so to more challenging routes. Getting fit again was not an overnight achievement and I had to work at it gradually.
If friends find it hard to accept your decision to stop, maybe it’s best to broaden your circle to include more non smokers. Try not to worry, as I did, about making smokers ‘feel guilty’ as that is for them to weigh up in the end. Since I gave up smoking I have met new friends through my hiking who have made me feel like a reasonably normal person without a cigarette in my hand. I may not be an elite athlete, but this doesn’t matter as much to me as having restored my health.
I am happy to support anyone who tries to give up, having seen the damage it can do to a member of my family. Statistically many of us are likely to have friends or family affected by lung disease, so please donate to the British Lung Foundation if you have a few pounds to spare.
As a digital immigrant, I didn’t really know much about online safety when I started Rucksack Rose using a pseudonym in 2012. My aims were to celebrate the life of my late mother and to remind myself, after her long illness, that beauty and kindness still existed in the world. I wanted to connect with other outdoor people, particularly people who are normally excluded from outdoor debates. Naively I thought that is what the internet was for. Because of this, I didn’t know how to react or who to turn to when my sites were targeted by cyberstalkers, malware and organised trolling. For the last 5 years I have made repeated attempts to refer people to my personal site for information and news, but the main thing I have learned is that trolls can’t, or won’t, read.
After my Masters in 2016, issues from the same people flared up again when I mentioned that my application had been accepted for a well known challenge event, and their sheer unpleasantness resulted in my withdrawal from the event. This was soon followed by another outburst from a couple of people from the same group (without even knowing the circumstances) when I mentioned that I had made a call to Mountain Rescue for advice during a walk in memory of a relative.
This group seem to have nothing better to do with themselves than to wreak emotional devastation on Twitter. After haranguing me for over two years, they eventually pressured me into disclosing private information which was really off topic on this blog.
All these experiences have changed my approach to blogging and social media, which is ironic on a blog intended to share beauty and kindness. As a result I have put Twitter on hold for the moment as I’m not sure it is the right platform for remembering people, beauty, kindness, survivors or fledgling businesses. When I try to balance out the positive contribution it is making to Rucksack Rose against the emotional damage being caused by trolls, and the lax safety responses from the company involved, the option to come off Twitter is becoming an increasingly tempting one.
Otherwise all is good, and everything else will hopefully carry on with improved productivity in a less toxic environment. Thanks again to the people who have stopped by. It means a great deal to me.
The answer is probably not, so I’m keeping it short and including lots of pictures. Like most years, 2017 has had it’s ups and downs for me. I have achieved many of the aims for Rucksack Rose that I set out a year ago; completely updating all my sites, introducing a way to support me and producing more regular content, which includes ‘talkie’ videos and GPX links.
In April, under pressure from trolls, I wrote a bit about my childhood experiences of aggression, and the ways in which I learned to cope with them, in Fear. I can only hope that writing about this may help others who have had similar experiences.
In September I celebrated the fifth birthday of this blog and passing the 100k views mark on both my YouTube channel and my blog. I am proud to say that views currently stand at 108k+ on YouTube and 107k+ on this blog.
In spite of these successes, responses to supporting me have been muted although I realise that competition is pretty fierce in this area. Thanks to the companies who have sent products for me to look at and try out and I hope it is onward and upwards for you in 2018.
My achievements over the last year included completing my first solo wild camp in January to Shillhope Law in Upper Coquetdale, Northumberland.
I did two shorter camping trips; Pitcarmick on the Cateran Trail in June, and Bealach Cumhang on the Rob Roy Way in August, both of which featured a lot of rain.
In between these trails and camping trips, I also managed some lovely day walks in North Northumberland and the Scottish Borders when I began experimenting with ‘talkie” videos. This featured some very loud wind drowning out my speech, until a friend suggested a microphone.
For those who like to keep count, I did a total of 11 wild camps this year before Lyme disease took hold. The second half of the year was quieter, as the prolonged symptoms required two courses of antibiotics.
In order to have some off-grid time, I did some outdoor volunteer work at North Perthshire in October. During this rewarding trip, I learned a lot about the ecology, history and stewardship of the three sites where I worked, as well as meeting some great people.
Since then I have been focussing on writing, photography, editing, adding to and improving my GPX routes, various site improvements and spending less time on social media.
This year I have realised that my outdoor life is essentially a reflective place and a sanctuary in which to recover, recharge and renew. I therefore wish my supporters and my genuine followers and readers a happy and tranquil New Year filled only with positive people.
If, like me, you are a last minute seasonal shopper, these are 25 gift suggestions under £25, for walkers of all abilities – from first timers to experienced hikers. They are all items which are in regular use in my kit.
Buff – A versatile item available in a wide range of colours and designs to suit the person you are buying for
Head Torch – Very useful to have in your rucksack during winter walks when the days are short so you don’t get caught out
Gloves – Available in a huge range of colours, styles and fabrics
Mini Tripod – Popular items available for smartphones for those outdoor selfies
Drink Bottle – Possibly the most important item of kit. Available in plastic and metal
Flask – For that timely brew on the hills
Maps – One or two local maps could encourage a novice walker out on a walk
Waterproof Phone Case – Another increasingly popular item to protect your phone from getting wet
Lapel Microphone Clip – The perfect present for anyone wanting to vlog about their walks using their phone. Stops you being drowned out by wind
Beanie – Economical, versatile and easy to shove in your pack or your pocket when not in use
Compass – Another ideal gift for a newbie walker. Worth getting a decent one on a lanyard to attach it to a pack or jacket
Pen-knife – A good quality pen knife is a permanent part of many kit lists. Obviously it must conform to knife laws wherever you are.
Hand Warmers – Nice to keep hands warm at this time of year and available in a wide range of prices
Cheap Poles – My first set of trekking poles were pretty cheap and lasted for ages
Dry Bags – Always useful and available singly or in sets
Socks – A good outdoor shop should stock a good range of these for different times of year. Available in different sizes, colours and designs to suit the person you are buying for.
Outdoor Wallet – A useful gift available in synthetic or cuben to replace a bulky purse or wallet on outdoor trips
Head Net – An essential item in some parts of the country at certain times of year. Light and compact enough to stay in your rucksack during the summer months.
Gaiters – Excellent for wet and boggy terrain
Walking Guide Book – A good book of routes is a great present. The best ones have OS maps, are pocket sized and resilient.
Guided Walk – In this age of things, experiential gifts are a growth market. A good experience could be to take someone on a guided trip or walk.
Lunch Box – Along with the drinks bottle and flask already mentioned, a good, robust lunch box is always nice to have and can last for years.
Attachable Accessories – You can get great drink bottles holders and cases in cuben and gridstop fabric which attach to rucksack shoulder straps and hip belts for extra space.
Anemometer – There are a range of hand held anemometers available for measuring temperatures and wind speeds during a walk
Gift Card –Available for high street stuff, digital maps and routes on most route apps
The dark evenings are great for watching films, whether it’s from the comfort of your sofa or tucked up inside your tent on a hill. These are ten great new and classic outdoor films for some wild watching.
Wild Watching: 10 Recommended Outdoor Films (In alphabetical order).
127 Hours. Directed by Danny Boyle (2010).
Everest. Directed by Baltasar Kormákur (2015).
Force Majeure. Directed by Ruben Östlund (2014).
Into the Wild. Directed by Sean Penn (2007).
Koyaanisqatsi. Directed by Godfrey Reggio. Music by Philip Glass (1982).
The River Wild. Directed by Curtis Hanson (1994).
The Way. Directed by Emilio Estevez (2010).
Touching the Void. Directed by Kevin MacDonald (2003).
Walking Out. Directed by Andrew and Alex Smith (2018).
Wild. Directed by Jean Marc Vallee (2014).
You can find reviews of all these films arranged geographically in my Reviews section.
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.
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.