Saturday, 27 October 2012

The Three Consetteers      by Mr. Xanadu Saleed.
October 26th.

There are only three of us out today, route, vogel and blogmeister. The weather forecast is not too promising so we have opted for a railway walk that we have covered before but are more than happy to follow the dismantled railway line again, which is an oudoor museum of modern art. This walk is linear and, as buses are used, is a true gadgie walk. It is along the Consett and Sunderland Railway Path and we joined it at Birtley.
To get to the start take the 21 bus to Durham from Eldon Square Bus Station in Newcastle. The service runs nearly every ten minutes and if you get one about 10am you can get the upstairs front seats and pretend to be the driver. The child in us lives on. Stay on the bus through Gateshead, Low Fell and Birtley. Shortly after Birtley High Street a railway bridge with large crosses painted on it goes over the road. There is a pub on the right called The Wheatsheaf. Get off, the walk starts here.
 You could do this walk without a map but should you wish to acquire one the walk is covered by OS Explorers 307 and 308,Consett and Derwent Reservoir and  Durham and Sunderland. Climb the steps at the far side of the bridge  (GR274536), turn to the west and off you go!
The walk follows the Coast to Coast cycle track, it is worth watching out for the little blue signs with C2C on them. It is also worth keeping an ear open for riders, not many use bells.
The area, like much of Durham, is on a coalfield and evidence of its past remains. Not long into the walk we came across this modern reminder of the past:


You may feel this is out of focus and you are right but in truth it is a piece of performance art. I set the timer on the camera and swung it round by the cord until I got this effect. It represents man's inability to see his past clearly, especially when it resonates with his darker days and a time of  servitude. Or just a memorial to coal.
Moving on along the line we passed close to Beamish. The Beamish Open Air Museum is one of the best in the country if not the world.It is a celebration of northern life in the 1930s and before. There are trams, buses, a chapel, school, farm, drift mine, railway, town street and even a masonic lodge. It costs about £16 to get in but the ticket is a bargain, you can use it again and again for a year. Best visited in summer, but interesting anytime.
Beyond Beamish the line continues to rise gently on its way to Stanley. At one point on the track is a small herd of cows.

There are four, made from old JCB parts. I like them, they illustrate how man has moved from agriculture to industry to scrap!
The next part of the walk goes through another old mining town, Anfield Plain, which has no connection with Liverpool as far as I know. The path here is not too obvious, it crosses roads  and goes close to industrial units  so watch out for those C2C signs. Out of Anfield Plain the walk continues on its most pleasant section as it is the only bit that is really out in the country. Looking south over County Durham the track goes in a large semicircle to Leadgate. On the way there is more art to see and admire. Works by David Kemp called Transformers. And nearby there are some lime kilns to admire.                                                                                                                                    

Transformers, created from just that by David Kemp.
Shortly after these magnificent creations is another work of art which is a sort of earth maze, difficult to see as you pass by and too large to photograph at ground level.

Be careful with the traffic at Leadgate, the walk passes a closed pub, always a sad sight to us gadgies, and the passes several industrial units and the cricket ground. There is a small but interesting looking workshop too. 
Being an engineer, and a very good one too, Harry finds this workshop very interesting. So do I.
Beyond Leadgate  the path runs close to a road until there is a footbridge. We used it, walked down a couple of streets and spotted The Company Row, Consetts Wetherspoons and enjoyed Fish and Chips, washed down with Ruddles and Directors fine ales.
There is a bus to Newcastle from the nearby station every fifteen minutes and soon we were on our way. Another good walk on a cold day which also offered  the first snow flurries of the year.
The Matrix
                                           steps                             miles
HiGear                               26526                          12.042
LBn                                    15675                           7.3    Another day like that and back in the drawer
Curvyped                            25769                          `12.62
USBLIDL                           25785                            12.61
These last two, from Dave are remarkable for their closeness and accuracy. OUTDoorGPS behaved itself very well and claimed 13.02 miles for the walk and it has been measured at 12.96.
                                              AMBULO, ERGO SUM