Sunday, 26 May 2013

Saturday Club...................May 25th
The good people of Upper Weardale have a bus service that runs two or three days a week bringing them to Newcastle for a few hours shopping, eating and wondering at the sights of the city. It is possible to catch this bus on a Saturday as it returns to Stanhope at, giving the driver a few hours break before he returns to the city to collect the passengers.  The X21 leaves the bus stop on Newgate Street and is often used by gadgies and the like so they can walk in Weardale.
So four of us, making use of our bus passes and thus making this a real gadgie walk, caught the bus but only as far as Wolsingham. (The settlement of Wulfsighe's people)
Strictly speaking three gadgies and Brian the punmeister's wife Margaret who qualifies as a gadgette.
                                                     Almost a car park, inspite of the yellow line.
                                                  Wolsingham. Number 10 is at the far end
                                                  of the street on the right.

 One of the glories of England is that we have weather, not a climate. Yesterday on Helvellyn we were wrapped up and protected from the wind. Today we are lightly dressed, likely to suffer sunburn and there is hardly a breath of breeze.
One of the glories of Wolsingham is the Number 10 café which is large and airy and serves good bacon sandwiches except they come only in bread. Nice though the wholemeal was, we prefer buns, four flitches only even though the service was first class.
The walk;
You could get away without a map but the walk is covered by OL31 North Pennines and Explorer 307, Consett and Derwent Reservoir. Number 10 is at GR 076372.
 Leaving the café we walked down the street towards the Bay Horse pub but turned left before reaching it.
On the right hand side of the road is a Holy Well and yards beyond it is a metal kissing gate that led us into fields.
                                              The Holy Well of Wolsingham.

 From the gate the path took us across several fields full of friendly lambs, curious cows and at least one totally disinterested bull. Eventually we saw Tunstall Reservoir and followed the path down towards the weir  at its southern end. Here the path, on the east bank of the reservoir took us through woods, wearing their fresh spring green coats, to a bridge at the north end which separated the reservoir from a small nature reserve. Although early it was such a pleasant spot we made a Herbie Spot there. No pies, no chocolate, no ginger biscuits, but some amazing sights. On the lake we saw a pair of Crested Grebes, one of them carrying two chicks on his or her back. Then an armada of Greylag Geese and their goslings paddled into view. A wonderful sight, adults shepherding the young, if that's the right word, perhaps it should be goosing. Several adults rode point, some rode at the front and some at the back. They went under the bridge and headed for a small spit of mud where all the birds scrambled ashore. I should send a photograph to the BBC Look North studio for the jolly Scot.
                                       The woodland walk alongside Tunstall Reservoir
                                                       The reservoir from the Herbie Spot
                                                       Come on kids, stick together
                                                       Tunstall Reservoir

Leaving the reservoir and the geese we took the footpath across several boggy fields to the north of Quarry Wood until we came to the track built on the old railway line. We turned left and walked along a good track  to Saltersgate Plantation. The plantation on the left, Drypry , has been recently cut down and is an expanse of stumps. On the right hand side is the site of what was probably a WWII ammunition dump, still surrounded by those ugly concrete posts familiar from childhood. A notice said Private Woodland Keep Out but we can't read. The dump appears now to be used as a cemetery for old coaches and trucks, it really could do with being tidied up. Eventually we came to the spot where two old railway lines meet. One the Waskerley Way which we have walked before. (See The Magical Waskerley Way)  We took the right fork and followed the track in the direction of Consett. This is a popular track for walkers and cyclists, it was my task to count the latter, Dave the former and Margaret was left counting dogs. There are problems with this. What if a cyclist passes and returns later. Is he counted twice? What about the man walking his bike, is he counted on both lists. And what about the one who was pushing his bike and had a dog on a lead? Life is difficult for philosophical gadgies.
We stopped for a brief rest near a place with the lovely name of Charlton Howl, had a snack and admired the view over to the equally well named Muggleswick. Shades of Harry Potter.
At Rowley the track crosses a road but it is well worth pointing out that the old Rowley Station was dismantled stone by stone and rebuilt at Beamish Outdoor Museum of Northern Life. Well worth a visit but take my advice and don't go in the first two weeks of July as it is crawling with school children out on a trip, complete with worksheets and  worried teachers. Not far from Rowley is a farm which has a small pond that is home to at least four black swans.
                                                    Poor picture, they are hiding in the shadow.
Continuing on our way the next point of interest is the viaduct over Hown's Gill. It is quite high and has been given a protective fence to deter would be jumpers.

                                          A view from Hownsgill viaduct.
    Soon we reached the spot where the Waskerley Way meets the railway walk from Lanchester.
The now familiar reminder of the days when Consett was an iron and steel town still stands rusting a short distance from a shiny work of art, a telescope.

                                                                        New, look at the feet
The walk really ends here as we were almost in Consett itself. Naturally we headed for the Wetherspoons pub which had some excellent Abbott at a mere £1.99 a pint. Nice glasses too.
 Refreshed we caught a bus to Newcastle and made our separate ways home.
Bird of the blog.
It was a good day for birds:Swallows, House Martins, Whitethroats, Chiff Chaffs, Willow Warblers, Moorhens, Heron,  Grebes, Chaffinches, Lapwings, Thrushes and Magpies. One gentleman we talked to had heard and seen a cuckoo but the birds of the blog must be the armada of Greylags and their goslings.

Matrix MMVI
                                                  steps                                        miles
Higear                                       18002                                       8.57                      poor
LIDL3D has been shot
Dave's LIDLUSB                      24210                                       12,22
LIDL3D                                     24649                                       11.35
OUTDOORGPS                                                                          11.2
Measured on map as                                                                     11