Sunday, 7 October 2012

The Magical Waskerley Way..... October 6th.

Another extra gadgie walk!
This walk is almost 13.5 miles long and is linear so if you wish to do it you must organise to have cars at either end or make a careful study of buses between Stanhope and Consett.

Or do as we three gadgies did and do the walk on a Saturday as this is the only day the X21 runs from Newgate Street in Newcastle to Stanhope in Weardale. A coach, rather than a bus it must leave Stanhope about 8.30am on a Saturday morning and arrives in Newcastle full of Weardale shoppers ready to have a great day out in the city. It returns from the last bus stop on Newgate Street, almost on the corner with Clayton Street at In case you thought this didn't give the Weardale shoppers much time to spend their cash there are two other trips home much later in the day. And yes, you can use your gadgie pass.
The bus arrived in Stanhope about 11am. Stanhope is a pretty little town, warm stone built houses, a "castle" and a church with a Norman tower and a fossilised 300 million year old tree in its yard. The town also has a fine visitor centre selling books on the north east and souvenirs. It also has a cafe.

                                              300 million years ago it lived!

                                                         St. Thomas's church, Stanhope

You could probably do this walk without a map but should you want one go for Explorer 307 and the walk starts at the visitor centre GR996392.
   Having looked in the visitor centre the three of us, Vogel, halfmarathon and blog meister, walked past the church and immediately turned left up a side street. Turning left at the top we past the Methodist Chapel, the oldest operative one in England. Just before a bungalow  a narrow footpath leads up to what was once a source of employment for the town, the limestone quarry.
  The quarry used to supply limestone for the iron and steel works in Consett. It closed in the 1940s
The climb up from the town and for a short way beyond the quarry is the only steep part of the walk.
There is one junction on the footpath, take the right fork and continue uphill past a rather dilapidated building and join the dismantled railway which runs parallel to a road. The road is quite steep as it climbs out of Stanhope: I know, I've cycled up it. But look back at the magnificent views of Upper Weardale, farms scattered on the hillside, clumps of trees still in full leaf.
After a mile the railway line reaches a B & B which is also a cafe, popular with people doing the Coast to Coast cycle ride. Opposite is an interesting piece of art.
                                             The outdoor gallery at Fell Haven.
For the next few miles on the Waskerley Way are pretty level as the rail bed curves gently round; it is after all an old railway line. The ease of walking is conducive to conversation and the playing of childish games . today it is my job to count cyclists, Dave will count walkers and dogs and Ben has the difficult task of keeping a tally of bells. Score to be announced at the end.  We also discussed The Times top 50 pointers to being middle class. I scored a half point for having a beard but not the whole one because I don't support Arsenal. Nor do I have three holidays a year including a winter one snowboarding, no vegbox, no dinner parties and my daughters would look pretty silly on the back of my bike as they are both very grown up.  Working class lads, the three of us, but with pretentions.  This is another walk with spectacular views. To the far north the Cheviots can be seen and south, well beyond Waskerley Reservoir the North Yorkshire Moors stand out clearly. This section of our day out crosses moorland; there are some shooting butts and sheep but little else. Not many birds out today. At Waskerley we stopped for lunch. There is a small picnic area protected from the wind by a belt of trees. No guesses for lunch.

                                                   Waskerley Herbiespot.
 About a mile from Waskerley the old line turns south and reaches a junction with another disused track. It is a tight junction and we headed north again towards the farm at Red House There is a change in land use too, moors giving way to fields. Two miles from Red House the track turns east and  approaches Rowley.The old station at Rowley was dismantled and rebuilt at Beamish Open Air Museum.* We crossed the road and continued in a northerly direction towards Hownsgill Viaduct.
                                       Woodlands below Hownsgill Viaduct.
Just beyond the viaduct Hown's Farm has a pond which supports several species of geese and some black swans. Visible in the long grass a photograph was not really possible.
The Waskerley Way now continues as the Consett and Sunderland Railway Path and has what is becoming an old friend on our winter walks.
         Until the 1980s Consett produced steel. This acts as a reminder.
And beyond, as we got nearer the town we passed another work of art.
                           Beats a smelly tent or bed any day. Real Art!
Rather surprisingly, once we had reached the town centre Dave had no trouble finding a Wetherspoons**. Sadly the Abbot Ale was off so we had to wash down our fish and chips with Directors. It's a hard life.
Refreshed we caught a bus back to Newcastle and made our separate ways home.
Another Great Gadgie Day Out.
And I counted 83 cyclists, (I was a bit worried about the tandem but decided I was counting people, not machines so they both went in, even the one behind not peddling.) Dave collected 40 walkers and 19 dogs and for Ben there was only one bell.

The Matrix
                                          steps                           miles
ASDAPED                     27008                            12.79
LIDLUSB                       26535                            12.56
HIGEAR                         27333                            12.409
LBN                                24610                            11.46

OUTDOORSGPS                                                  13.4
BRAGOMETER                                                    13.57

Measured at 13.3 miles. Those pedometers are getting better!
* Beamish Open Air Museum. Museum of northern life with a town, trams, coal mine school and farm. Worth every penny of the entrance fee.
** Wetherspoons. A chain of pubs famed for low prices for good beers. Well worth visiting and they appear to prosper at a time when many pubs are struggling.

                                               24 miles in two days