Northumberland’19 Weekend – Jalapeno woes – Day1 – 30th March 2019

 

 

 

** DISCLAIMER ** For the viewers of our Blogs and our 4×4’ing ventures around England and Wales, we are sure that everything we do is legal.

I wanted to ensure that everyone is aware that we promote Legal Green Laning through these organisations:

  1. All Terrain UK (All Terrain UK) – https://allterrainuk.com/
  2. TRF (Trail Riders Fellowship) – https://www.trf.org.uk/
  3. CALM (Countryside Access for the Less Mobile) – http://www.calm-uk.org/

Join GLASS:     https://www.glass-uk.org/join-glass.html

Who is GLASS

Formed in 1995, GLASS is the National User Group for those who enjoy using the Country’s network of ancient unsurfaced public roads and vehicular rights of way. We are a not for profit association dedicated to driving, protecting and researching our unique heritage of unsurfaced public highways. We promote legal and responsible driving as a way of enjoying the countryside, campaign against irresponsible use and aim to keep them open for all to use.

What we do

On a local or county level, we meet for ‘Laning’ trips that are organised in accordance with our code of conduct. We campaign against illegal obstructions and for all routes to be correctly signed and recorded.

GLASS attempts to keep you informed of what’s happening to our rights of way up and down the country by means of our monthly bulletins, web forum and through an organisational structure of area representatives. We also publish a magazine twice a year.

GLASS helps educate all users to utilise the network sensibly and sustainably, where problems do exist, we take an integral role in rights of way management. We provide a voice for users of unsurfaced Rights of Way either through our area representatives talking to local highway authorities or our national officers getting our point of view over to the Government, the Press and others.

Member benefits

Glass offers its members access to information and advice, a bi-annual magazine, monthly digital bulletins and full access to TrailWise, our comprehensive on-line database of rights of way in Great Britain.

We also have a network of local representatives who can offer local knowledge and ideas on route planning to our members.

Plus… Members website and forum; Member discounts on selected suppliers; Member of LARA, with a voice at government level; Legal challenges; Knowledge base; Lane based projects.

 

Join All Terrain UK:                https://allterrainuk.com/join-us/

ABOUT All Terrain UK:

All Terrain UK promotes responsible, sustainable and enjoyable green laning. We are approachable and 100% accountable to our members, operating to highest levels of transparency at all times.

Our network of local representatives regularly arrange family friendly meets and provide members with local knowledge, as well as hosting other events such as map reading workshops, smart trail tutorials, and green lane awareness days.

Membership gives you access to our forum, where you are able to share or download routes from our library of GPX files. Our financial activities are also published on the forum for all members to see, with details being updated regularly.

Members also have access to our maintenance fund, from which, they can apply for project funding. Our projects to date include; lane clearances, gate and fence repairs and provision of way marking signage. Funds can be sought by members, for any project that helps keep our green lanes open and accessible to ALL users.

Smart Trail- Our exclusive mapping database is available to members. Smart Trail will help you to research routes, ensure their legal status and share information on the condition of specific lanes.

OK, that’s our disclaimer and our promotion for any Green Laners be they 2 wheels or 4 wheels should get behind an organisation to ensure that our past-time stays intact!

 

So, back to the really important stuff … The Blog …

Our 4×4’ing Planner, Brett Dukes, keeps everything ship shape by saving upcoming trips on a monthly published spreadsheet, sent out to anyone who might be interested in joining us on our various trips around England and Wales. We all have busy work/family lifestyles, and this means we can only get out once per month.

Normally, around September of each year, Brett will shout out that we need to be thinking of dates for the following year, and he will produce a new years’ spreadsheet by pencilling-in various dates for each month.

January’19, was meant to be Oldham/Holmfirth, but Brett had a shoulder operation in early January so he would not be fit enough to go 4×4’ing, and also his Mr. Blogger (Dave Jones) was seriously ill (hospital bound for 3weeks) a splinter group was formed, and they went to the Peak District, but didn’t write a blog.

February’19 and Brett was “sort of fit” to go laning bur Dave Jones was still not ready, so the planned trip to Shropshire took place and the Blog can be found here at  Shropshire Blog

March’19 was planned for another weekend in Northumberland – this Blog.

After our first venture up to Northumberland in 2018 (08-09 September) and viewers may remember that everywhere we went, it was mostly DRY, so Brett asked Richard if he would fancy making us up another route for March’19, when we might expect the river crossings to “have more water” in them. Richard kindly obliged and set to work with liaising with the respective Council and his GLASS Rep (Darren Clark).

As Northumberland covers a huge area Brett knew this would take some serious Time and Effort…so Riccy set to it in impeccable style.

Day 0 Riccy Planning

Route planned, Councils responded, GLASS responded and a Memory Map or an OS Map GPX file was created and distributed to attendees.

The weekend was planned as Saturday 30th March and Sunday 31st March (as luck would have it – lol) this was the weekend where the UK changed its Clocks Forward, so we lost an hours sleep on Saturday.

The meeting place for Saturday was to be Haltwhistle, Northumberland at 8:30am. This wasn’t so bad for Riccy/Joel (only 1hr away), not so bad for Phil and Stu (40mins away) and for Dave and Ellie (1hr 40mins) … not too bad then …. but as Brett lives in Heswall, Wirral which meant a 170mile and 3hr journey, not something thrilling in a highly modified Jimny.

So, Brett got “management” approval from his SWMBO to leisurely drive up Friday afternoon and stop in a previously found B&B, so to be fresh as a daisy for the Saturday morning meet. Oh, little did he know!!

Brett’s journey up to Haltwhistle on a warm Frida afternoon was plagued with lots of other people leaving work early to get away North-bound to enjoy the sun and a great weekend… so that expected 3hr journey turned into a 4hr journey – still a lot quicker than his return journey on Sunday evening – much more on that later!!

Brett arrived into Haltwhistle after filling up with fuel at the SHELL garage in Low Row. About a mile West of Low Row is an infamous Byway that Brett drove once, where there was a “wooden door on the floor” that seem to aid driving a very tight UCR, with a huge drop-off to the left into a wide and deep river. Anyway, with many people spotting him over the “door on the floor” Brett and Jalapeno gingerly crept across to the other side. It was then someone (I think it was Phil Summerfield) looked under the door and discovered not only was the “door on the floor” riddled with dry rot, but also there was a huge gap underneath showing nothingesss! Strangely, no one else was brave (*ahem, stupid enough) to drive over the “door on the floor” … anyway, back to this Blog.

After Brett had fuelled up for the day ahead, it was a simple 9miles drive across the A69 into Haltwhistle to find his bed for the night at Belford House

 

Day 0 Entering Haltwhislte - Town Signage.JPG

Day 0 in Haltwhistle - Belford House

Jalapeno was parked right outside the hotel (and for free too) and once unpacked and the SWMBO was called, it was time to find Beer and Food, as recommended by Phil, the owner of Belford House, The Black Bull which was a whopping 40yards away. Black Bull, Haltwhistle  where Beer was drunk, and food was eaten, and excellent value too. Steak and Wolfe pie, mash and vegetable and 3 pints of locally brewed beer, all for just £17.

Day 0 in Haltwhistle - parkingDay 0 in Haltwhistle - parking2Day 0 in Black Bull, Haltwhistle (2)Day 0 in Black Bull, Haltwhistle (1)Day 0 in Black Bull, Haltwhistle (3)Day 0 in Black Bull, Haltwhistle (4)Day 0 in Black Bull, Haltwhistle (5)

Obviously after food and beer the toilet was needed, and the Black Bull had some humourous door signage, that was worth showing here:

Day 0 in Black Bull, Haltwhistle (6)Day 0 in Black Bull, Haltwhistle (7)Day 0 in Black Bull, Haltwhistle (8)

So back to the hotel room and get some sleep after watching a movie on his iPad. For some reason (maybe thinking of the day ahead) Brett woke early and within 10mins Kev Duckworth had pinged our Northumberland’19 WhatsApp Group that he couldn’t find his wallet at home, and as he had already fuelled up he didn’t want to waste any more time “wallet hunting” so he asked if any kind soul would lend him cash for the weekend. As Brett had just got paid, and he was awake he agreed that the best course of action was to meet Kev at the SHELL garage on Low Row. So, with the ATM robbed and Brett in Jalapeno drove back to the SHELL garage to wait for Kev.

After about 5minutes, Riccy/Joel arrived at the SHELL garage and duly filled up and about another 5minutes Phil/Stu arrived and also fuelled up.

Then after about 10mins Kev arrived. The cash (sadly, not in a brown paper bag) was handed over to Kev who had also fuelled up, and then FOUR Jimny’s (Brett/Billy no-mates, Riccy/Joel, Phil/Stu and Ken/Freja (his faithful dog) all drove onwards to Haltwhistle to meet Dave/Ellie at the Gulf petrol station, as agreed.

Day 1 group start.JPG

Day1 group start.jpg

From this angle is easy to see who is the highest …

Group photograph, in traditional order, Left to Right that is Brett in Jalapeno, Riccy/Joel in his Huge Gun Metal Grey Jimny (J999MNY) Phil/Stu in the Black FUN Jimny, Kev/Freja in the Blue Rinse Jimny and on the far right we have Dave/Ellie in his unusually coloured Jimny (enough said).

Dave has a habit of painting Jimny components before they get fitted … here is a close-up of his front bonnet and GoPro camera.

Day1 Dave Tate front Camera

His Axle are Red, His Callipers (I think) are Red, …. blah blah blah…

Anyway, we all have met each other before, except for Stu, Dave/Ellie so after the shaking of hands and a quick natter, we set off from the GULF petrol station only to discover the first breakage of the Day, Brett’ CB Radio wasn’t Transmitting (not too bad as he wasn’t leading today, but it was working only 5 minutes ago as we were driving into Haltwhistle … but not anymore!)

So, in order of leaving the garage, it was Riccy/Joel (Plotters are Leaders), Brett, Kev/Freja, Dave/Ellie and bringing up the rear Phil/Stu.

Of course we are old dogs, and can’t do new tricks, so here is Brett’s traditional “intro video” or is it a vlog??

We had only got around the corner, and we had pulled into a car park, as it seemed that Joel need to “offload” something … the toilet block was right new to this view:

Day1 Joel Toilet break.JPG

From here it was a bit of tarmac for the FIRST LANE of the day going through Henshaw Common. As you can see it was quite “dusty” these nice stills taken by Riccy:

Day 1 lane 1 dust 1Day 1 lane 1 dust 2Day 1 lane 1 dust 3Day 1 lane 1 dust 4

Here is Brett’s video of going through Henshaw Common

Before the next Lane, Riccy and Kev came over the CB that a FORD was approaching, so Brett captured this amazing “footage” at Coldcotes

After everyone tested their brakes to ensure they were safe, we carried on to the next and first of many Byways  What is a Byway I think like Shropshire, Northumberland has loads of Byways and like Shropshire and Cumbria, Northumberland have great Rights Of Way Officers and great lane signage.

So, a few miles of tarmac to find the next lanes Low Moralee and Ravenshaugh only about a mile apart, and both Byways:

After Low Moralee is Ravenshaugh

After leaving Ravenshaugh on more tarmac and ahead of the weekend we had been warned of an Enduro event in the area, and this was our “first sighting” of many motor-bikes:

At that time we kept stopping for a few more “groups” of these Endruo Motor-bikes, but funny that as we were pulling over to let them pass, they didn’t make any attempt to let us through, so we all agreed not to pull over next time, but share the one track road to both Jimny’s and motor-bikes …they soon got the message!!

The next lane was Bent House to Redmire

After Bent House and on the tarmac towards Slaty Ford, we came across these wonderful children

Duly waited for the huge and friendly creature to amble on their way, we were looking for the next lane (maybe trouble ahead?) at Slaty Ford.

On the following video, Brett had reported that he was having problems steering and it looked serious …

Brett caught up with the group (he had stayed until last to get video footage of Phil/Stu and Dave/Ellie … not knowing what was about to be discovered …

Lane008c Thats Boke - Panhard Mount .JPG

A few pictures taken by Riccy of Brett struggling to get to the group. It’s now around 11:30am on Day1

Lane008c Slaty ford Brett struggling up with broken panhard

Riccy taking a selfie whilst waiting for Brett to struggle up the hill.Lane008c Slaty ford waiting for Brett

Of course, these breakages ALWAYS occur when your’e in the Middle of Nowhere. The closest town was Bellingham, about 7miles back the way we came, but driving in a straight line was hard enough, let alone attempting a 180 degree turn around in a very boggy, rutty, and muddy lane.

So out came the ratchet straps, and the broken-off Panhard Mount Bracket with Panhard still attached was strapped up good and tight – or so we thought – and carefully Brett drove onwards, about another mile off-roading towards tarmac.

After a few hundred yards on tarmac, the ratchet strap needed tightening up, but still Brett could only do around 6mph before HORRID Death Wobble sprang into action, and then the only cause was to stop and start driving again. As we didn’t turn around on the Byway, Bellingham was now 11miles away.

Brett was happy to slowly get to Bellingham and call out for a Recovery Flatbed, but the rest of the group were NOT HAVING ANY OF THAT RUBBISH, and they were hatching a plan. Kev was using his smart phone and Google in an attempt to find a garage who might have a welder and would look at the broken Jalapeno. Kev was now driving off on his own, into Bellingham as Google said there were two garages in town, but neither of them were answering phones. At the first garage that Kev got to they were closed, but the second garage was open, but he didn’t want to help us … another plan was being hatched …

In Bellingham, and parked on a slope outside a pub, we had agreed and decided to drill and hole through the Mounting Bracket and the Chassis and put a long nut and bolt through … in an attempt to get Brett going again:

Lane008c in Bellingham

Lane008c in Bellingham-2Lane008c Panhard Mounts (1)Lane008c Panhard Mounts (2)Lane008c Panhard Mounts (3)Lane008c Panhard Mounts (4)

With all this commotion on Jalapeno, a fella approached and when watching says to us, shall I ring my Boss who owns and runs a garage in Otterburn to see if he will have a look at this today, as he a damned good welder – SIX amazed faces stare at him and say YES!!

So he rings his Boss and he says come up, he can’t promise anything, but it’s worth a look. So, the Nut and Bolt (temporary fix) is tightened up, wheel back on, and then the slow trek onwards to Otterburn proceeds.

Sadly, even with the Nut and Bolt “fix” the dreaded DW keeps occurring, so Jalapeno is still being driven at 5mph – with 11 miles to go, that’s SLOWWWWW going …

The DW is happening more and more, so we stop in a gravel layby to have a look and we discover that the bolt is loose and tightening it up isn’t working as we have run out of thread. So, Brett finds some thick spacer washers and we remove the nut, add the spacers to the front of the bolt allowing an easier spanner that end and adding more spacer washer at the Nut end and do it up Joel TIGHT!!

Driving Jalapeno now is dramatically improved so much that Jalapeno gets up to 30mph.

A wrong turn at a cross roads, we went right instead of straight on and drove for a good 3 miles before we realised (Kev was on the phone speaking to the garage owner, who told us where we should be – just a half a mile from the cross roads with erred on.  So, it was a 180 on the road, but immediately after that the DW reappeared (Brett thought that the 180 had caused the bolt to come loose) but it’s now not far to the garage.

We get there and the Owner, Aaron, was working inside the garage and said he would be 30mins. So, his work done, he looked at the damage, and said that was fixable. Brett asked him if it was possible to weld a plate onto the chassis first, and then weld the Mount Bracket onto the newly welded plate – Aaron agreed that was a great plan, and gingerly drove Jalapeno into his garage, ably guarded by a huge Doberman – say more.

We all waited, and waited and waited, until around 3pm Aaron was done and Jalapeno (aka Phoenix) rise from the ashes again.

Brett paid Aaron *gulp* just £55 for the repair … he couldn’t believe his ears, so he gave Aaron and his side-kick mechanic some Beer Tokens.

It’s now raining, and its 3:30pm and we have lost around 3-4hrs off-roading and Berwick-upon-Tweed (our overnight B&B is 52miles away by tarmac, but maybe 75miles by 4×4’ing …but we carry on, as we’re there to off-road…

The next planned lane was Haing Head or Monkridge, so here is Brett’s and Riccy’s videos of this cracking lane, which sadly (or luckily for us) turned out to be a dead end, so we had to drive the FORD twice (lol)

After Haining Head, and some tarmac to get to a village called Warton, where Riccy had marked on the route, that we should go take a look at a river crossing (River Coquet) that he understood to be impassable / not drivable all the way across  …

Here are Brett’s videos:

On our way back to the road, Brett saw this unusual concrete thing …

Lane012 after FORD Crossings .JPG

So back towards the “C” road and to Warton and the next UCR, Warton to Trewhitt

Immediately after Trewhitt it was onto the next UCR, Trewhitt to Trewhitt Moor

Time was pressing on, so we missed a few what Riccy called boring and flat lanes to get to the long UCR known as Prendwick. As the lane was good and the scenery and view from up top, we stopped to admire the view … NO not the countryside, those five amazing Jimny’s. I’ll let the videos and photographs do the talking (writing)

Lane015 Prendwick Group (1)Lane015 Prendwick Group (2)Lane015 Prendwick Group (3)Lane015 Prendwick Group (4)Lane015 Prendwick Group (5)Lane015 Prendwick Group (6)Lane015b Jimnys in a line (2)Lane015b Jimnys in a line (3)Lane015b Jimnys in a line (4)Lane015b Jimnys in a line (5)Lane015b Jimnys in a line (6)Lane015b Jimnys in a line (7)

Immediately after Prendwick, it was Ingram Mill

and then Brandon FORDs, a popular haunt for “paid for 4×4 Trekkers” who can’t be arse to discover these FREE LANES, but instead pay £75 a day to be led around the countryside in their 4x4xFars … (rant over)

So onwards after Brandon FORDs onto the next and immediate Lane, Brandon to Heddon

A short stretch of tarmac onto the next two UCRs at Illderton and Illderton Moor to Middleton

Again, not much tarmac until crossing Coldgate Mill FORD, I’m sure these £75 a day people are happy driving these lanes … hardly any tarmac.

Here is Coldgate Mill FORD, I am well impressed with how many FORDs there are in Northumberland

Onwards, and time is cracking on and darkness is approaching (and Kev knows I don’t like Night Laning – on purpose that is), so next lane is Haugh Head

and just around the corner (or block to my American friends) is Fowberry Mains (spookily, this isn’t the only Fowberry in Northumberland)

After Fowberry, its onto Weetood Hall and FORD

As you can see in the Weetwood video we are loosing the light, and Brett is scared of the dark (lol) .. So it’s onto the penultimate lane of Day1, Doddington.

For those who know and lane with us, we NEVER do the Last Lane, as typically things go wrong on Last Lanes, so we only do the “penultimate lane”…

Here is Doddington.

Doddington completed, so its Northerly bound through Lowick, East to get onto A1 North at West Mains (just north of Fenwick) and up the A1 into Berwick-upon-Tweed and our B&B at The Castle Hotel. https://www.thecastleberwickupontweed.co.uk/

As we got to the A1 Phil and Stu head off home as hey are not stopping overnight as they have Mother’s Day commitments tomorrow. I did my Mother’s Day present, card and flowers to my Mother last Sunday – 4×4’ing is important!

Lane027a Day1 evening Phil at Holy Island

When Phil got home, the following day there there was a present for him …he found oil leaking out of his Rear Off-Side … a sure sign that the Wheel Bearing needs replacing.

Lane027a Day1 Phil Tristram REAR Wheel Bearing

As expected the small hotel car park is full, so we park in the Berwick-upon-Tweed Railway Station Car Park, where we understand there are cameras protecting our beloved Jimny’s.

For anyone unaware of the History of Berwick-upon-Tweed, this might be enlightening for you …Berwick-upon-Tweed

There just one thing to do, and that the traditional Closing Remarks video

What a DAY… 141 miles from Haltwhistle to Berwick-upon-Tweed, Jalapeno nearly didn’t make the end of Day1, only with a massive to Aaron at Old Town Farm Cottages and Garage ….

 

A quick shower, then off into Berwick to a curry and a couple of Cobras (Indian Beer) and then off to bed early, until Joel looked at me and said do we want a quick drink … a insipid glass of Shiraz later, we moved onto the G&Ts (Liverpool Gin as well) … I think we left the hotel bar around midnight, but it was ok as there was loads of other “serious” drinkers still in there for the duration!!

 

 

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