Saturday, 17 November 2012

To the Boathouse................................................. By North Carolina Foxx. November 16th.

  Ebchester is a small village in County Durham. If you have been paying attention you will remember that a place in England ending in chester/caster had Roman connections. Ebchester was once a services (Vindomora) on Dere Street, the Roman road to Hadrian's Wall. Most of the fort has been converted into slightly more modern buildings, including the church which is dedicated to Saint Ebba. It does not have a tea shop for bacon butties.

 Ebba was a 7th Century princess, daughter of Aethelfrith, king of Northumbria,  who lost his throne, only to have his son regain it. His daughter, Ebba, was so pleased she founded  a nunnery in what is now called Ebchester. She also set up a religious house at Kirk Hill near present day St. Abb's Head just north of Berwick. This house eventually evolved into the religious house at nearby Coldingham. St. Abb's is a good walk,watch out for it. St  Ebba is patron saint of tidal fishermen .Like many a dedicated nun she was pursued by a suitor and to protect her from his attentions the tide did not go down for three days so he went elsewhere to press his suit.
 A quintet of gadgies are out today; Pun, vogel, route, who devised this walk, blogpie and Cornish Johnny.
 To get to Ebchester we caught the 46 bus from Newcastle Eldon Square at 10.10 am and got off at Ebchester post office and bureau de change. These and other buildings sit on top of the Roman fort so there is little to see there. St. Ebbas Church is across the road, Norman with possible earlier foundations.

St. Ebba's church, silhouetted against the morning sun.
                                A plan of the fort Vindomora, possibly.

The walk:   A map is useful on this walk and as a true gadgie walk it needs two OS sheets;
Explorer 307 Consett and Derwent Reservoir
Explorer 316 Newcastle upon Tyne.
You can of course photocopy the relevant sections and, if you are prepared to put up with the sarcastic comments of your children, laminate them for future use or just put them in one of those transparent pockets students use for their essays before filing them away.
The walk starts at the Post Office, bureau de change which is at GR103555.   We walked south west past the post office, turned right and continued down the road until we crossed the River Derwent and found, on the right hand side of the road a footpath that enters Park Wood. This is a deciduous woodland, very different from the coniferous plantations with their regular rows of trees, and although it is late  some of the trees still have their autumn colours.
                                  Autumn in Park Wood.
We followed the footpath through the trees, well marked but muddy, in a north westerly direction until we came to a gravelled track where we turned right. After a couple of hundred yards we turned off the track on the left and continued the walk through Westriding Woods until we emerged on a minor road, turned right and walked uphill to Hedley on the Hill. An information board just before the village pointed out the distant hills like the Cheviot, Simonside and so on and there was a well made stone bench that made an excellent Herbiespot. We had the usual, sandwiches, Melton Mowbray pork pies and Sainsbury's apple pies for afters.  Not quite as sharp as last week's from Morrisons. Perhaps we should start a new category awarding apples for pies!
                      A happy  Herbiespot at Hedley on the Hill
  Lunch time discussion again vacillated between the ridiculous and the serious.At one point the routemaster announced he would give up talking about politics as he had become too much of a cynic. The punmeister claimed to be able to help him recover as he had a sinecure.

Lunch and witticisms over we walked through the village. It is another pretty Northumbrian village.
The pub, the Feathers organises a beer barrel race every bank holiday Monday when teams of two are invited to run a 1.5 mile course carrying an empty 9 gallon beer barrel up the hill to the pub.
After a mile walking on the road,always the worst part of a walk, we turned left at a small plantation that partly hid a water tower, crossed a couple of fields, skirted Hyons East Wood until we came to a rough track, turned right and followed the track to a minor road. (Moor Road). Across the road there was a polite notice advising that although the land was private we were welcome to cross provided we stuck to the footpath. The next stretch was through Low Guard Wood on more muddy winding paths that eventually took us into Stanleyburn Wood, a really well  maintained walk, footbridges over the stream, steps up the hills (not very high!).                                                                              

In Stanleyburn Woods. And we saw a heron
 Having crossed the road Stanleyburn Bridge we continued down the right hand side of the stream,past the golf course, under a high road bridge until we emerged near Bradley Hall Farm. Should you follow this walk go straight through the farm yard, not past the "Overeaters Chip Van" and John Deere tractor (Type 551) and find the stile to the left of a gate. Once across the stile we went through a gate, downhill across a field and through a short stretch of wood, another field and came out on the road, turned left and walked to paradise.

                  The Boathouse Pub, Wylam.
  This pub had fourteen (14) hand pumps. Granted two of the beers were not on but the remaining dozen include:
Tyneside Blonde, Alnwick Ale, Cumberland Corby, Sonnet (2 types), Anarchy sublime Chaos, another from the same brewery, Everards, Fair Comment, Coast to Coast and Stoker.It sells food too!
I enjoyed a pint of Tyneside Blonde, Anarchy and Stoker, because the last one was brewed  in Oxenhope, a village near Haworth in Bronte country where I spent many a happy holiday as a child.
And I had steak ale pie and chips. Forunately the railway station is next to the pub so we were able to catch a train back to Newcastle and buses or metros home. A grand gadgie day out and at least 5 barrels.
 The Matrix MMVIII
                                                         steps                  miles
Higear misbehaved again
New ASDA slim                            23998                   11.27
ASDA Curvy                                  19230                  8.8
LIDLUSB                                       24721                   10.9

OUTDOORS GPS said 9.9 miles and it has been measured by the vogelmeister at 9.6

ps. At the moment I have more American readers than from the UK and coming third,much to my surprise are the Russians! I would love to hear from some.