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Saturday, 10 November 2012


We're going to Blanchland..............November 9th

  Blanchland is a pretty village in south Northumberland, almost on the border with County Durham, land of the Prince Bishops. In 1165 an abbey was founded for Premonstratensian canons,sometimes called  Norbertines after their founder Norbert who established the first abbey at Laon in France. Norbertines are often called White Canons after the colour of their robes.
 The abbey, like many in the north of England was bashed about a bit by the Scots and finally dissolved by Henry VIII in 1539. The building became a house and the village grew from the other monastical buildings. The village church St.Mary the Virgin was built from the ruins of the monastic chapel and has a 12th century chancel, 13thc transept and tower and 14th c belfry plus 18th and 19th c repairs. That;s nearly all the history for today.
 A quartet of gadgies out today, pun, vogel, route and blogpie.  Blanchland is not far from Newcastle along the A69, turn off at the A68 going south, drive through Riding Mill, Slaley and at the end of that stretched out village turn left for Blanchland. There is a car park with an honesty box, £1 for a day. As usual we started the day with bacon and tea at the White Monks tea rooms. I may well be wrong, I often am according to the gadgette, but the tea room seemed to be in the old village school and was very attractive, inside and out. The bacon arrived in a toasted flat panini style bread and was good, as was the tea, but expensive for retired gadgies; a score of three flitches.

The walk; a map is useful and I used OSLR sheet 87 Hexham and Haltwhistle. The car park is at GR964504.
Blanchland. The walk starts by turning right at the end of the row of houses on the right.

                             The church of St. mary the Virgin, Blanchland.
Leaving the car park we walked down the village street and turned right. Almost immediately a footpath took us across a football field and along to Beybridge. Passing through this small community we continued to Newbiggin to admire the large house there and its topiary.
  The green deer of Newbiggin Hall. Too far away for a decent photograph.
                                              Newbiggin Hall Remodelled in the 18th c from an earlier house.
 The footpath is well marked and crosses fields and goes through plantations where we watched a kestrel hunt until we came to a dilapidated farmhouse at the end of a grassy track. The ruin is called Riddlehamhope and one of its outbuildings provided shelter from the wind as we indulged in one of our favourite pastimes, namely eating at a Herbiespot.Lunch was the usual, sandwiches pork pie but as another little pre Christmas treat William Morrison's Bramley Apple Pies, and pretty good they were too.
The punmeister entertained us with his Christmas Cracker joke*  that a man who travelled the world studying earthquakes was probably an international tremorist which was almost as bad as somebody else's  story about Sherlock Holmes;
Dr Watson observed the master painting their front door on Baker Street a bright yellow.
"Why are you doing that Holmes?" asked Watson.
"It's a lemon entry ," answered Sherlock. Dreadful.

                                        Ruined Riddlehamhope.

                                   Herbiespot in a hemel**
Lunch over we continued westward in the wind and light rain for a short time before going through a gate (Just as a check it has a sign saying Heatheryburn) and almost immediately found a signposted style on the right of the track. This footpath is difficult to follow as it meanders across moorland past the remains of some mine workings and glacial scenery until it joins a more solid track, the Carriers Way. After  a short walk we came across a small, stone hut which is a shelter for grouse shooters.The beaters sit outside with a bottle of Guinness as the hunting party tuck into veal pies, whiskey and the beneath stairs maids. We sat inside and had another snack as we admired the military style map for beaters on the wall.
                                         Chez Grouse.


We thought this could have been a military map drawn up by Jonesy the Corporal in Dad's Army***
In truth it is for the beaters working on a grouse shoot.

Leaving the hut we continued on the track leading slightly east of north. If you follow this walk take care, you need to take the third signed path on the right and follow the track south east until you come to Pennypie House. Legend has it that when this track really was a carriers way the farm sold pies for a penny. Not today, unfortunately,or we would have stopped again.

                                               Pennypie House.
From the house a well made road leads down a wooded valley to Shildon where there are the remains of a lead mine. The area has been mined for its metals since medieval times and the remains are an 19th c engine house and chimney stack

 
                    Shildon Castle and stack. Once a Cornish style engine house, then flats and now a ruin.

From the castle it is less than a mile to the car.park.
Changed we headed to Edmundbyers and the Punchbowl Inn. This pub had Deuchars, Farne Island and Wacky Dracy on offer, plus a welcome log fire. Five barrels.
Designated driver; me

The matrix MCVII

                                                       steps                               miles
LIDLUSB                                       20122                             8.88
ASDAPED                                      18514                             8.88
LBN                                                 18393                             8.56
HiGear was so badly behaved it is in danger of being cosigned to a drawer.
OUTDOORS GPS claimed 9.4 miles which is exactly what Brian had said when he set the route up on MemoryMap. and Dave measured it on his 1:25000 spliced map (but not laminated) as 9.36 miles.



* For overseas readers not too familiar with life on our island. At Christmas we pull paper crackers which go pop and release a tatty paper hat, weird plastic toy and a dreadful joke.
** A hemel is a farm outhouse in the north of England,usually with several arched openings.
*** Dad's Army was a much loved British comedy show about a small group of old men charged with defending their town in World War II.