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Craigside Spring Residential 2015

Our Spring residential of 2015 was held at the breathtakingly picturesque Craigside in Northumberland. Take a look at what our volunteers got up to...

"The second of our SUCVs residential weekends did not disappoint. The journey up there was marked by questionable singing and stop offs in service stations at the back of beyond.

Kat, our residential officer, took the initiative and had lasagnes premade (which one person accidentally sat in, we ripped on her for it) so when we arrived we whacked them in the oven, ate and chillaxed ready for the weekend.

Our ranger, Richard came by Saturday morning and was pleasantly surprised to see us all up and ready to go. Richard took us on a walk of the grounds, around the outside of Cragside Manor and of the upper gardens. Our main job of the trip was rhododendron clearance around the North Lake on the estate, the rangers admitted that even though rhododendron is generally regarded as a problem it is seen as an asset to the estate when in bloom. Our job was more management of the shrubs so it does not envelop the whole estate rather than removing all of it.

We split into teams in order to tackle the shrub in separate sections and make sure we were not treading on each others toes. A huge fire pit, a war dance and few trips along a zip line later and we had successfully removed a huge segment of the rhododendron. Richard walked us back to the bunkhouse down a different path taking us along the lakeside and through the estates labyrinth, dotted with statues and carvings along with a tree house in the middle.

In the evening, it was tome for our famous conservation Olympics consisting of blindfolded eating, find the midget gem and ice melting challenge. There was no consensus on a winner but there was a general consensus of embarrassment post [some] challenges.

On Sunday there was the normal buzz about the morning making sure we had the bunkhouse back in order before our early departure. Because we had no task booked for that day, it was a case of exploring the North East.

The first stop was Bamburgh (with a minor detour in the completely wrong direction which was only realised when we stopped to let her get in the front to ail her car sickness). Bamburgh is dominated by the HUGE castle on the outcrop overlooking the North Sea and the village, and although we did go and take a closer look at the walls and inner gatehouse, our overall goal was to head to the sea.

After a race to the waters edge (3rd place woo!) we all came together to make our own Bamburgh castle in the sand. It was a huge team effort and we did manage to make a massive castle complete with moat, walls and a gatehouse.

Moving further down the coastline we stopped off at Seahouses for a proper chippy dinner in the recommended Neptune’s place. We did not linger here for too long as there was one more stop along the way home that we wanted to make: Dunstanburgh.

The castle was about an hours walk from where we parked through fields and along the windy and wild North Sea coastal path. Like Bamburgh, we did not go inside, it was more a case of wanting to explore Northumberland and seeing what it had to offer.

On the way home, we did not want to stop off solely at the generic service station stop offs. So to add a bit to the mix we pulled off at Gateshead and had our packed dinners in the shadow of the Angel of the North at sunset.

In all it was an amazing weekend [Admittedly, I am bias] but I think its quite self explanatory and speaks volumes when people were asking when the next one will be!" - Chris (SUCV Chair)

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