Saturday, 3 September 2011

Reservoir Blog  September 2nd

    Six gadgies out today, the usual crew plus John Lockey who lectures in just about anything to do with electricity. He once changed a light fitting for us, it took four hours. It wasn't as if he had to rewire the house, just take two lamps off the ceiling and put two back. I had looked at it myself but thought there were too many wires. Also a welcome return to Ben, motor mechanic (retd.), wine lover, art lover and FTA.

   This walk starts near Hallington and is a fairly flat 11 miles some of it on road. It is easy to get to Hallington from Newcastle; take the A69, turn north on the A68, turn off for Bingfield, go through Hallington and after a little more than half a mile pull in to the side of the road by a gate. Using OS maps OL43 or LR 87 this point is easy to find at GR 983769 and is conveniently marked with a spot height 176.* Don't park in the gateway, you might get John Deered.
   Go through the gate and walk down the track to Hallington Reservoir, turn left and walk on the paths round the edge of the water, admiring the water birds, the flowers and the trees. It is used by anglers who have some huts for weighing whatever they catch and practising their exaggerations.  I have the suspicion that this reservoir is home to a pair of Ospreys but that the various protection agencies keep quiet. We saw several varieties of ducks and geese and a solitary grebe.
At the North West corner of the reservoir take the track on the left which joins the minor road just north of Colwell. Turn right and after about quarter of a mile cross the stile on the left and follow the path to Little Swinbourne. Through the farm, which has a beautiful walled yard, turn left and follow the path to Little Swinbourne Reservoir . To make it a really good Gadgie Walk it is important that we see a heron. Dave spotted one flying slowly across this pretty little reservoir. Cross the weir and struggle through the Lauder grass** in a North Westerly direction and across an old field system (isn't Dave useful for explaining bumps)  to a point on the wall of Colt Crag Reservoir where there is a rightangled corner and a gate. Through the gate and follow the path round the side of Colt Crag across the strange spillway  to a very minor road. Turn right and the at the sign post for Thockrington turn left.
  In Thockrington there is an old church Norman according to Nicholas Pevsner, possibly built on the site of an earlier Saxon Church.
  In the graveyard there are several Shaftoes and also the grave of Lord William Beveridge, founder of the welfare state, eugenicist and MP for Berwick on Tweed for 282 days.
  Thockrington Church, built on the Whinsill in Norman times.

Lord William Beveridge's gravestone. His wife lies in the plot next to him.


Leaving Thockrington church go through the farm and follow the road, turning right at the next junction. After a few hundred yards on the left side of the road is a small gate in the corner of a field. Go through it and make your way up the hill to the Dovecote at the top.

The Dovecote. We think this ruin is too ornate to be a dovecote. I found a photograph of it on the internet but no explanation of its purpose or date. Possibly it was a bastle house.

Take a bearing a few degrees East of South across the fields and you are back on the track to Hallington Reservoir. Turn left, through the gate and hopefully your car is still there.

* There are some little poppins who find laminating amusing and a suitable pastime for slightly loony elderly parents who are bored playing "I Spy" in the car.
OS maps are expensive and outdoors can billow up like a square rigged ship or get wet. And I failed my NVQ Level II on map folding so I photocopy the section I am using for a walk, laminate it, use it and keep for when I do the walk again.

** Named after Alan Lauder, gadgie and FTA as opposed to FP. He dislikes walking across tussocks or heather.