Saturday, 2 February 2013

The Deerness Valley Railway Path.  February 1st.

  Thanks to a rapid rise in temperature and some heavy rain last week's snow has vanished but we gadgies considered that the hills would still be very soggy underfoot so opted for another railway walk in County Durham.
 Four of us, vogel, pun, music and blog met on the now familiar Eldon Square Bus Station and caught the first bus that went to Durham. At Durham we decided to catch the first bus that left for either Crook or Bishop Auckland. The first was for Crook.
Crook is a small town in Durham, the name means "land in a secluded area" and the settlement was first recorded as "Cruketan" in 1267.( For Anonymous; cf Crook with the Crook of Lune near Lancaster). The town is in a valley, a tributary  to the river Wear and the walk is on the old railway down the Deerness Valley.
It is possible to do this walk without a map but if you insist it crosses three OS Explorer Maps; 305 Bishop Auckland; 307 Consett and 308 Durham. Not because it is long, it cuts the map corners.
But first we needed a late breakfast. In the town centre there is a square and on the north side we spotted Cafe J's, a small but popular tea room.  We were asked if we wanted the bacon butty in bread or bun, white or brown and opted for buns. They were like mini plaits, full of bacon, HP sauce was offered and the tea was fine. Five flitches and a recommendation for friendly staff and a very reasonable price.

The gentleman in the picture is admiring the menu in the window of Cafe J's.
                                               Downtown Crook in County Durham.
Leaving the cafe, rather late too, it was 12.50 we turned right and turned right again into Hope Street which is very interesting being like the town streets of 30 years ago, small individual businesses including one shop dealing in material and associated items with the title Sew Impressed.
At the top of Hope Street we turned right onto the B6298 and followed it for a short way until we came to the start of the Railway Path.
 The first part of the walk climbs steadily out of Crook. It is too steep to have been an ordinary railway line, perhaps it was a rope railway, using gravity to come down and an engine and rope to pull up.
At the start of the track is a piece of art made from old railway sleepers,
                            An interesting use for old sleepers.  (cross ties)
The walk passes Temperance Terrace and Billy Row before it  crosses a road at Stanley Crook and joins the Deerness Valley Railway Path proper.
  A memorial to a local footballer at  Stanley Crook.
From this point the walking is easy, gradually going downhill all the way to Durham.
Almost entirely in open countryside the path is lined with birches. the surface seems fairly new and it is firm,making it a cycle track too, listen out for the bells.
We  made a Herbie Stop at Waterhouses, even though breakfast had been late, at a small playground with a picnic table . No mince pies but some homemade chocolate covered peanut brittle to round off the usual pies and sandwiches.
             One of a series erected for the Queen's 50th year on the throne.
On the road again we passed Esh Winning although the birch lining made it difficult to even realise we were walking through a small town.
The usual high level of conversation eventually turned, as it always does to music. Some highbrow mentioned Tchaikovsky's famous overture with the guns.
"What do you call a person eating eggs at 6.12 pm/" asked the punmeister.
Answer; An 1812 ova chewer!
A wasted talent teaching IT

                                                On the Deerness Valley Railway Path.

                         A grey day, but isn't it good to be a gadgie and out on a Friday near the Deerness River.
 We walked near Ushaw Moor. Close to this small town there was once a Catholic Seminary, now closed.  More important to us was a sign saying the walk was closed because the way was blocked by trees blown over by the recent winds. A few horizontal trees are not an obstacle for a determined gadgie.

                  A small step for a determined gadgie.
And in this area we saw one of the few small birds of the day so he wins the Bird of the Blog Award for this week.

                                       Bullfinch  (Pyrrhula pyrrhula) Resident to UK and widespread.
Shortly we came to a junction. Turning right would have led us onto the Brandon Bishop Auckland Railway Path.Turning left the footpath led  alongside the East Coast main line for a while before leading through  Quarry House Farm, turning right onto a footpath next to a stream and emerging at the footbridge close to the site of the Battle of Nevilles Cross.  (1346)
   The Battle of Nevilles Cross explained in one easy lesson. England 1 Scotland 0

Once over the road we followed a footpath through several streets before  reaching Durham Bus Station.

                                            An interior view of the Cathedral for a change, looking towards the altar.
Aren't those columns beautiful? And yes, on one there is a mistake, but not in this picture!
We caught the first bus to Newcastle and headed for The Five Swans Wetherspoons but it was packed with young  men in suits and black ties so we crossed the road to the Hotspur Hotel, a real pub with real ale for real people. A friendly welcome and a couple of pints of Wylam Brewer Red Kite Ale ended another good walk.

                                                                     steps                          miles
Daves ASDA                                              22540                         11.03
Daves LIDLUSB                                         22633                         11.08
My ASDAPED                                           23488                          11.03
Higear                                                          23350                          10.834

OUTDOORGPS                                                                              11.15

Pretty good