Wednesday, 12 October 2011

The Invisibles   October 7th

   My wife had three maiden aunts who lived together in a large house in Gateshead. They once told me how wonderful it must be to go walking with my friends in the Lake District, what with all those tea shops and fascinating philosophical conversations. I am often reminded of this, for example when Ray describes the new secretary in his department, when Brian reminds me of the time, (about 11.30 pm) when I rang my wife to boast I had managed a whole gallon of Jennings Bitter.She was as pleased to get the news as I was to give it. Couldn't do it now, sadly.
As the Wise Philosopher* once said,
 "When we were young men with families we could drink but couldn't afford to. Now as old retired men we can afford it but can't drink"
   Today's deep conversation was about ALDI stores, famous for their relative low prices and weekly special offers. They occasionally do a good line in walking, cycling and running gear and often have a sale of sledgehammers, bevel grinders and the like.  But today Dave said he had once bought two lavatory brushes for the price of one there.  "The original BOGOF offer "** quipped Brian.  The aunts would be perplexed.
  After last week's long and hard climb we chose a much easier walk today, centred on the National Park Information Centre at Ingram.  From Newcastle take the A1 north, just beyond Morpeth take the A697 and about one mile north of Powburn take the minor road signposted Ingram After three miles turn left to the centre. The centre is open from April to the end of October, sells sweatshirts, maps, books and ice cream as well as providing information.  (LR 81   GR 020164)

  The National Park Information Centre at Ingram.
Post walk ice creams cool you off before heading to a pub.

  Ingram is rich in the remains of prehistoric and Roman settlements. Almost every hill has a fort, there are the remains of medieval villages and much evidence or ridge and furrow agriculture. Read it all in Pevsner. This walk is a Dave the archaeologist walk.
 Leave the car park, past St Michael's church (old with lots of rebuilding) and when you reach the road turn left. Stay on the road for about a mile until you reach another car park on the right. At this point an unmarked path leads off on the left, follow it and after less than a miles walk you arrive at Brough Law. As we walked up the hill a group of sixth formers were being addressed by a bearded, ear ringed young man, not a teacher I suspect. The sixth formers looked suitably bored, some of the young ladies waited by the fence, possibly worried there phones weren't working out here or just waiting.
  Brough Law is a fine example of a bivallate Iron Age hillfort, 4th Century BC. looking North West you can see another of Dave's favourite Northumberland spots, Cunyon Crags, where he lost a pedometer.

This splendid view of Northumberland includes Cunyon Crags. A special place for some.

 Heading south from Brough Law the path follows the ridge until you come to a spot which offers a good view of Chesters, a marker on another favourite walk. Down the slope we found a good Herbie spot and had an early lunch. At this point we wandered off the track a little, but heading east you eventually reach a well made farm track above Fawdon Dean. Turn right and stay on the track until you are about 120 yards from a fence line. Here a path on the left leads down to the dean, follow it. Once through a gate you have a choice, either follow the path off to the right or trudge directly up the hill. As Dave wanted to see a settlement below the hill he and I followed the path, Harry and Brian went up the hill, partly so that Harry could photograph the settlement from above.  I can't find a name for this particular settlement but it is at GR 024135 and is quite an impressive one. Grassed circular mounds outline the walls and it is possible to make out some hut circles.
  Leaving the settlement Dave and I followed the footpath to Fawdon to meet the other two. On the corner of a plantation, used for rearing pheasants we found this delightful scarecrow.

A pheasant plucker from Fawdon.

Harry and Brian were on the path ahead  but we decided to head North West over West Hill and rejoined them on the path above Ingram Mill. A short walk along the road brings you back to the Information Centre and an ice cream.
   This walk is about 8 miles, relatively easy going. At the time of writing I haven't got Dave's all important readings and I have left mine on a piece of paper at my mothers!
   On the way home we stopped at the Village Inn in Longframlington for a beer. One of the bar staff was busy on the phone, the other was busy watching him being busy on the phone.  Not a word was spoken, except by the busy one on the phone.  We were the invisibles.  After a few minutes we looked at each other, nodded agreement and went to the Anglers Arms at Weldon Bridge. IT SOLD TIMOTHY TAYLOR'S LANDLORD, the second best thing to come from Keighley. ***We shall return.

The Wise Philosopher A book of assembly stories written by my good friend and pub team quiz mate Jim Cunningham. His other books, novels, include  Bar 8, The Heights and Starballs in Space. He doesn't mention drinking in the assembly stories.

** My Russian reader may require some explanation; BOGOF means "Buy One, Get One Free" and is a favourite supermarket ploy to make you buy two of things you quite often don't need. And "Bog" is an expression used mainly by boys and men for a lavatory.

*** My family is the first.

Look carefully and even on this small section of map you can see several forts and settlements around Ingram.