Saturday, 5 January 2013

This walk is becoming a tradition:
Lanchester to Durham January 4th 2013
When we were Primary School children in the 1950s we would cross the road to look at a foreign car because of its novelty value. (Having first looked right then left then right again as PC Deacon, the road safety bobby advised us. Of course for people living in other countries than Britain it could well have been "Look left, look right then left again" because these people drive on the right which is wrong but we drive on the left which is right and jolly useful for unsheathing your sword too which would be worn correctly on the left so that you could get to it with your right hand!)
We would also admire the more exotic British cars like Rolls Royce, Bentley, Daimler and Lanchester.
The three Lanchester brothers built the first 4 wheeled petrol driven car in Britain in 1895. Their original works were in Birmingham but they moved to Coventry and Lanchester cars were built until 1955. The name is now owned by Tata who also own Jaguar and Land Rover. Today small boys would cross the road to see a British company owned car
As far as I know the Lanchester brothers had no connection with the small County Durham town of the same name although as a habitation name their family could have some connection.
Today we are having the first gadgie walk of the new year, coincidentally it is the same as the first walk of 2012 (SeeThe Railway Gadgies by Ben Stein  January 6th 2012)  and six of us, Music, pun, vogel, halfmarathon, route and blog meister will be walking along the Lanchester Valley Railway Line to Durham.
 The walk starts in the centre of Lanchester and as a true gadgie walk requiring the use of a bus pass we started out from Eldon Square bus station in Newcastle.
I have mentioned this place so often I decided readers might like to see it.

              Eldon Square bus station from the outside................

            .................................and inside.
We caught the 10.15 X31 which should have got us to Lanchester for 11.20 but unfortunately at some point the engine overheated, the driver stopped the bus and we had to wait for a replacement.
A little late we arrived in Lanchester and headed for breakfast at Country House Gifts on Front Street.
Downstairs there is a gift shop selling a whole variety of items aimed mostly I suspect at ladies. Upstairs is a very cosy little coffee shop that produces a mean bacon sandwich.
Offered white or brown bread or, because they were small, two bread rolls and of course, a large pot of tea we ate a late but quality breakfast. Good price too, five flitches and a commendation.

                   Country House for gifts and bacon sandwiches.
The walk at last: Easily done without a map but should you want one the walk stretches over OS Explorer Maps 307 and 308, Consett and Derwent Reservoir and Durham and Sunderland.
    All Saints Parish Church in Lanchester.

Leaving the tea shop we turned right along Front Street and into Station Road until we found the signpost claiming that Durham was 9 miles away down the Lanchester Valley Walk.
The walk follows the Smallhope Burn which eventually joins the River Browney which finally flows into the River Wear near Durham.
The path, being on  an old railway line, goes gently downhill and is used by cyclists as well as walkers, listen out, not many cyclists have bells and have a tendency to creep up on you. Most of this section is through fields and is quire pretty as well as being easy going. The vogelmeister spotted several species hanging around in the trees but nothing too exciting. After a couple of miles we reached Langley Park, famous for being the birthplace of Sir Bobby Robson and the home of Diggerland, the summertime paradise for boys of all ages where you can ride an assortment of JCB excavators and Land Rovers. I think the grandson Alex will enjoy this in a few years. I will.

 Top; the entrance to Diggerland. I don't think the machinery in the bottom photograph is part of the fun set up. They look too business like. Shame, could be fun.

The next site of interest is a couple of miles down the track. In the first place it provided a Herbie Spot and we hadn't eaten for a few hours. We consumed, after sandwiches of course, the last of the Christmas Season's Mince Pies, and Pork pies too. Nearby and accessible is Bear Park, built several hundred years ago as a retreat for the prior of Durham Cathedral and named as a place of Beaurepaire, or good resting place, hence its corruption to Bear Park. It was finally ruined in the English Civil War, probably too flash for Oliver Cromwell and his men.
 A mile or so after Bear Park is a junction on the path. Straight ahead is the Brandon and Bishop Auckland Railway Path.(The Bishop of Durham has his Palace at Bishop Auckland) to the left a footpath leads through the farm at Baxter Wood. Once across the River Browney another footpath takes you through woodland alongside the stream emerging at Quarry House Lane.

                                     The River Browney just beyond Baxter Wood. The footpath is on the left bank.
 The road at the top of Quarry House Lane is quite busy but it is easily crossed by a footbridge which has an information board giving somedetails of the Battle of Neville's Cross.
As a side show in the Hundred Years War the Scots invaded England in 1346. At Neville's Cross they were defeated by the English whose army was led by the Archbishop of York.
 The road crosses the railway, the main East Coast Line from London to Edinburgh and beyond,and the footpath leads through what is obviously a student area down to the bus station. Across North Road from the bus station is a Wetherspoons but we opted to walk a little further, cross the River Wear and partake of liquid refreshment in the Bishops Mill, a larger Wetherspoons. It was serving Abbot and Ruddles among others.  It was Brian's birthday and he very kindly started off a new gadgie tradition by buying us all a drink. My birthday is on a Friday this year. Curses
For those of us recovering from colds and the excesses of Christmas this was quite a long walk; as Brian said, the next team T shirt should have Bowlegged and Buggered" printed on it.

                    Durham Castle and Cathedral in the evening.
The Matrix
                                         steps                                       miles

ASDA Curvy DK                 17452                                      7.99
LIDLUSB      DK                 17715                                      8.10
ASDAPED ME                     16295                                      7.65
HIGEAR                               17902                                      8,33
OUTDOOR GPS                                                                   8.4
Ben's Bragometer                                                                   8.34

Brian had a pedometer but the battery was flat.

 The top map gives most of the walk, the bottom the last mile through Durham.