This trip was a great success, I thoroughly enjoyed it. Northumberland is beautiful and full of interest, Will is an excellent leader and he and Senan ran a slick operation. Having two drivers, although a bit of a luxury, made a big difference to the trip, allowing us to do lots of linear walks. I was afraid, especially after looking at the Active England website, that it was going to be horribly hearty, but not at all, Will judged everything very well for all abilities. I was slow, but always felt part of the show and did all the walks very happily apart from the ascent of Deadwater Fell, which only one of us did. His various tweaks could easily be reversed if the next group consists of professional hill runners.

We were lucky with the weather, I wouldn’t have wanted to do all that walking in weather like this week’s. We had one wettish day, at Cragside, where it didn’t really matter. It was a good decision to reverse the order of events on Day 2, Hadrian’s wall. Will also omitted Low Force on the first day which again was sensible, we had plenty of walking without that bit. Parts of Cragside were closed which was a pity but unavoidable in the circumstances. Again, the afternoon walk was tweaked – we still saw the trenches but on a shorter walk. They aren’t that thrilling, but it was interesting to know about them. It was a good walk.

I was interested to see Bamburgh Castle, but it isn’t the most exciting in the world. The beach was lovely, hot sun, the sea looked like the Mediterranean. Lindisfarne was as always busy with tourists but we did a pleasant walk which avoided them, and took in Gertrude Jekyll’s charming garden which I didn’t know about. I was glad we didn’t plod across the muddy causeway to get there, I can't see any point in doing that. College Valley was a delight, and we had lovely visits also to the Hay Heavy Horses and Heatherslaw Corn Mill, both recommended.

Highlights were two evening picnics, one near Amble on the sea and one by the Tweed. We saw a barn owl hunting over the dunes. The Beaumont in Hexham was very good, and the food was excellent. Sung Evensong in the Abbey was a peaceful experience - 4 of us went of very mixed religious persuasions! The Sun in Warkworth was fine, I had no problems but others had no water in their rooms, they will tell you all about it I expect. I had a beautiful room at the Collingwood Arms. The food was OK/good although two of us had very expensive “rib eye steaks” one night which were not rib eyes at all. There was a slight air of tension in the place, I expect they have every reason for it. They made great efforts to accommodate us however.

There were some comments about travel arrangements. I stayed overnight at the start at the Premier Inn, just a 4-5 minute walk away from the Radisson Blu over a footbridge. At the end some people would have liked to do what I did, which was to travel home from Alnmouth rather than doing 2 hours in the bus back to Durham. It was a good group and we had lots of laughs. Will and Senan are excellent company and were also very efficient, resourceful and helpful. We had a happy time. I thought it was quite expensive but can see where the money went. It was such a joy to get away somewhere at last - in more ordinary times I probably wouldn't have spent that amount on just a week.