Saturday, 22 June 2013

Looking for the Lambton Worm........June 21st.
  The North East version of an almost universal legend relates the tale of Sir John Lambton who went fishing in the River Wear on a Sunday some hundreds of years ago. He caught a strange fish and, not wishing to keep it, threw it down a well and promptly went off to Palestine to fight in the Crusades. Meanwhile the strange fish grew into a huge serpent which had a nasty habit of eating the local peasants, and their sheep and cattle too. So Sir John returned and slew the mighty beast, like a good medieval knight.
The tale was turned into a folk song , The Lambton Worm, first performed by its composer, C.M. Lumaine, at the Old Tyne Theatre in 1867. It has remained a favourite since. The full version is too long to print here, Google it if you wish, but the chorus goes;

Whisht lads, haad yer gobs
Aa'll tell yer aal an aaful story,                                                                                                        Whisht lads, haad yer gobs,
An Aa'll tell yer bout the worm.

For all you American readers who can't suss this out Whisht means be quiet and is not confined to the north east of England. Many a time in my native Yorkshire village I was told:
"Had tha whisht, lad, thas nobbut a bairn. Speak when tha's spoken to."

For today's walk their are four of us, vm., rm., hmm., and bm.
 The walk is a true gadgie walk because transport is entirely by bus and also, we saw herrons.
We caught a bus to Durham from Newcastle and then a bus to Willington to the start. You could do this walk without a map but most of it is covered by OS Explorer 305 Bishop Auckland.
We got off the bus on Willington High Street. A café here sells a "fifteen item" breakfast for a mere £5.50. Assuming all items are different there are 1307674368000 *ways of choosing them, which would take a long time. We ignored the café.

                                              Willington High Street

Turn left off the High Street by the Library. The path is a section of the Brandon to Bishop Auckland Railway Path.  Follow it to the first road and  and then turn left. Soon you come to the Brown Trout pub, walk past if you can and soon you come to an open space which has a monument to the Striking Miners of 1863. They struck over the misweighing of their coal trucks, miners being paid by the weight of the coal they loaded. Their strike was a success.
                                                              Monument to the Striking
                                                           Miners and also to men and boys
                                                          killed working in the pits.
From here a footpath leads down to the River Wear, turn left  and you are on the Weardale Walk to Durham. This part of the walk is currently undergoing improvement by Durham County Council and hopefully one day it will be of the same high quality of the other Durham Railway walks. At the moment it is variable but always interesting as it follows closely the north bank of the river. At this time of the year the land either side of the footpath is full of flowers making a spectacular and colourful display. The vogelmeister identified several species: Dames Violets, Meadow Cranesbill and a field of poppies that even I recognised.
There were butterflies too, Speckled Wood, Orange Tips and we also saw Damsel Flies. Oh the things to report back and take to your nature table in school.

                                             Swans on a pond near the river
                                                   Dames Violets.

                                                   The River Wear near Willington.
                                              No pits, no derelict shipyards and run down
                                              factories. Can this be in the North East?
                                              No worm either!

We declared a Herbie Spot at a bend in the river near Page Bank and sat on the grass above the water, sadly there were no ginger biscuits or chocolate although Dave had brought a tooth rotting concoction of shortbread, caramel and chocolate. As we ate we watched swallows, martins and wagtails and two herons flew overhead.
The next section of the walk passes Page Bank, the fairly new road bridge was opened by Tony Blair, MP for Sedgefield at the time, years before he became Prime Minister or a Peace Representative for the Quartet.
Somewhere on this stretch we were given a brief fashion show by Ben;

                                                   Ben wears Rohan Bags and a Rohan Jacket.
                                                    Shades by Rohan and boots, sadly out of
                                                    sight, by Berghaus. Shame about the hat,
                                                   but such style. I felt ashamed in my Hi Tec Boots!
Moving on and following the river still the next point of interest, after passing under the railway viaduct,  is Sunderland Bridge, a beautiful pack horse bridge with a modern road bridge beside it.

                                                       The old Sunderland Bridge.
Across the road is the gate giving access to the road that leads to Croxdale Hall. This beautiful old country house has been in the same family, the Salvins, since 1402.

                                                                Croxdale Hall

Across the road from the hall, but unfortunately inaccessible to the public, at least today is a 12th century chapel. A listed building but in poor condition, it was built as a chapel of ease for St. Oswald's Church at Elvet. Above its door is a tympanum which supposedly depicts the Tree of Life but to our untutored eyes looks more like a carving of dogs, horses and a hen. There is also a magnificent but dilapidated hemel.

                                                             Above the door.....
                                                         ....of the chapel.
This section of the walk is along a road between fields. Turn right at the farm, look out for the donkeys, and then look for the entrance to Croxdale Woods at High Butterby Farm.

                                                  Jack and Jenny

The path through the woods leads downhill until it is back on the river bank. Follow it to Shincliffe and cross the road. It is possible from here to take a footpath on either side of the river back to Durham. We chose the south side which turned out to be a mistake as the path was officially closed  near the city as it had been badly damaged by a land slide. Not for nothing are gadgies known as tough, we climbed one fence and scrambled round the second.
Back in Durham, tired after a long hard walk on a hot day we headed for the Wetherspoons Pub called The Bishops Mill and quenched thirsts with a few pints of Abbott Ale before heading for the bus station and the return journey to Newcastle and home.

                                                Can't resist a picture of Durham Cathedral

            Bird of the Blog.
Quite a good day, we spotted swallows,house martins, herons, swans, a greater spotted woodpecker, oyster catchers, wagtails and the usual collection of lbjs., but the award goes to:

                                                           Sand Martin
Matrix MMMIV

                                                              steps                               miles
   Higear                                            25567                                 12.1
LIDL3D                                            12525                                   5.6 It worked well, then   stopped  
Daves LIDL3d   was ridiculously accurate
LIDLUSB            was also very good but I have lost their results, they were similar and gave a distance of about 12 miles. Makes you sick.

OUTDOORGPS  said                                                             12.7 miles
Ben's Bragometer                                                                    12.1
Measured at                                                                             12.2

                                  Contains OS data copyright. Crown Copyright and database right. 2013

* obviously not if you don't choose them all.
But we never found or even saw the worm.


Saturday, 15 June 2013

On the Boardwalk, Boardwalk.... June 14th

This weeks outing is a near repeat of a gadgie favourite, first blogged  as The Henhole  24/9/11.
(Remember all you nice Americans we do date, month, year the proper way of course!)
The rotund weatherman promises a reasonable day with the chance of a heavy shower in the afternoon, so three gadgies and a very junior apprentice set off for a walk in Northumberland's Cheviot Hills.
The team consists of b,., vm., rm. and his youngest son Paul, out for a bit of bonding with his dad.
The walk starts at what now must be a very familiar spot in the Harthope Valley but just in case......
From Newcastle take the A1 north, A697 north of Morpeth, turn into Wooler, turn left almost immediately into Cheviot Street, take the right fork, turn right at he signpost for Langleeford and drive about four miles before pulling into the grassy car park on the left. There is a polite notice asking you not to drive beyond this point unless you have business at the farm beyond.
A map is useful on this walk, the best is OS OL 16 The Cheviot Hills and the car park is at Grid Ref  954224.
The walk, at last (and did you notice there was no bacon sandwich?)
Almost directly opposite the car park there is a path which goes alongside Hawsen Burn.

                                          Langleeford  car park, a gem, and free!
Actually there are two paths and you can take the lower one which is a bit boggy as it goes alongside the stream or the slightly higher one which is drier. Hoping to see a Ring Ousel we took the lower path and got a glimpse of what we thought was one of these birds bu could not swear to a positive hit. Nor did we see any adders. The two paths soon come together on a good track. A signpost at a junction directs walkers towards Broadstruther  but for this walk take the left fork and continue steadily uphill to the fence line. We have never found the path that leads directly to a stile but at the fence we turned right and walked for a couple of hundred yards to the traditional crossing.
                                       An example of a common stile, not very interesting but functional.
We continued along the path until it reached a forest track, turned right along the track until it reverted to a footpath, went through a small plantation and emerged high above a meandering stream, ox bow lakes of the future no doubt. The plus side is the view, looking west over the College Valley beyond.
                                         Looking west on the approach to Goldscleugh.
The footpath led us to the farm at Goldscleugh. The original farmhouse has been replaced by a more modern building.

                                                 The old farmhouse, could make a lovely country let
                                                      Weather gauge near the farm.
                                                        Rainfall, wind speed and temperature.
From Goldscleugh there is a metalled road that leads for several miles to Hethpool and out of the College Valley. We walked it as far as Dunsdale, the next farm along the way and now a holiday let. Nicely isolated you could take a supply of food and drink there and write a book.
We merely called a Herbie Spot and settled with our backs to the wall for lunch, after only four miles.
                                                Typical Cheviot view, the Bizzle.
The usual lunch but to make life a little more exciting I had brought some LIDL chocolate for a change. Amazingly it was just like ALDI chocolate.
Lunch over we walked through the farmyard and headed southwest across a couple of fields with plantations on the right. The plantations had been cropped and in part replaced with deciduous trees. At the end of the plantation we had a good view of Mounthooly Youth Hostel and bunkhouse. To its left a narrow plantation with the remains of an ancient homestead and terraces clearly visible.
                                                        Mounthooly YH and bunkhouse
                                                Not the best of photographs but the outline
                                               of the settlement is just visible to the left
                                                of the plantation with the terraces above.
We ignored the ladder stile that leads through the birch wood and went down the bank to a track, turned left and headed for the stream (College Burn). Once there was a footbridge but it was washed away in the great rains several years ago. Fortunately, for us anyway, it has been dry recently, the water was low and we crossed easily with dry feet too. Turning left we walked along a good track heading slightly west of south until it petered out into a footpath.
                                               North along the College Valley
                                                   The Henhole, a good scramble.
At this point we made the decision not to scramble up the Henhole but to take the footpath up the right hand side of the burn and join the Pennine Way long distance footpath near Red Cribbs.
When we reached the Pennine Way we met two ladies who were almost at the end of their trek along the longest walk in England, looking forward to a refreshing drink at the pub in Kirk Yetholm no doubt.
We followed the path roughly west, pausing at the Mountain Refuge Hut looking hopefully for Dave's compass that he left here several years ago. It had gone. Nice to see some walkers had obligingly left their plastic cutlery on the ground outside the hut and that some had grafittied the interior to let us know they woz here. There is a book for comments too! Still it shows not all education is wasted, at least they can write.
                                                  Hoping to find his compass Dave enters the hut!
Leaving the hut we headed east up the steep slope towards Auchope Cairn.Quite a pull too so we stopped for a mini Herbie Spot and to admire the views, although the clouds were heading in ominously from the west.

                                                Young Paul waits for the gadgies at Auchope Cairn.
Because the many boots that tramped the Pennine Way caused some erosion and also because the Cheviot plateau can be a boggy peaty morass which is difficult to plodge* through, a boardwalk was built across the Pennine Way some years ago. It is currently being replaced by flagstones from old Lancashire and Yorkshire mills. The sound of clogged feet can still be heard on a moonlit night and the distant clatter of a thousand looms, turning out miles of cloth for the empire.
                                                         The boardwalk leading from Auchope Cairn to the Cheviot.
                                                Flagstones on the left, ready to be installed. They are brought up
                                               by helicopter although in our younger days we always carried a
                                               couple in our rucsacs to help.
                                                  Flagstones of True Yorkshire grit.

We followed the boardwalk which later becomes a flagged path to Cairn Hill. Just off the path are a few remains of a Boeing B17 which crashed in World War II.
On the summit plateau we saw three Golden Plovers, nicknamed "the squeaking gate" because of their strange cry
Eventually we came to the trig point which marks the bleak summit of the Cheviot which is 815 metres high or 2674 feet. From the summit we continued along the flagged path to a stile, crossed it and continued in a north easterly direction downhill.
                                                 The Cheviot summit trig point, and footpath.
                                              The Harthope Valley looking north east.
After a slight climb to the top of Scald Hill we continued until we came to a fork  and took the right
footpath which went downhill to  the road near Langleeford Farm. On the way down we met a young man running up!

                                                           Langleeford Farm
Turning left on the road we were soon back at the car. We sat around for some time, enjoying the views. The young man came running back, he was out for a training run, getting fit for the Chevy Chase, an annual walk/run in these parts of about 20 miles. He had also run the Berlin Marathon.

                                          The Harhope Burn at the car park
Changed we headed home, calling at the Anglers Arms for beer, Directors, Speckled Hen or Theakstons' Bitter, not to mention a very warm welcome.

Bird of the blog.
We saw wheatears, willow warblers, skylarks, a family of grouse chicks waiting for August, mistle thrush, oyster catchers, possibly a ring ousel and a host of lbjs, but the bird of the blog is the Golden Plover.

                                                     This week's bird, a Golden Plover
The Matrix MMMII

Things are getting worse;
                                                              steps                              miles
Higear                                                    13310                              6.3
MyLIDL3D                                           21203                              9.54
Dave's LIDLUSB                                 29654                               14
LIDL3D                                                22923                               10.54
OUTDOORGPS                                                                             12.8 (sounds right)

plodge: Northumbrian dialect for "wading in water"

Friday, 7 June 2013

A case of Deja Vu or a walk on the art side........................June 7th
First a word about data, those lies, damn lies and statistics beloved of Mark Twain.
By June 6th this blog has been visited 24096 times. Small compared to celebrity blogs but interesting to me. The top scores are:

United Kingdom      9837
United States           8980
Canada                    1084
Russia                      634
I can understand that most hits are from the UK, we are almost cousins to the US and I have relatives in Canada. But Russia. Why ?   почему
 The most frequently read walk is It might as well rain until September June 2nd 2012. A short walk in Durham city. Very strange.

It is summer at last, we have had blue skies for four days on the trot! Several gadgies have gone away for a few days and the remaining four have opted to walk along the north east shore of Kielder Water hoping to catch sight of the Ospreys that spend their summer on the lake.
The walk has been blogged before: Kielder Sanction I, December 2011 but a walk deserves a blog.
This is a part gadgie walk because to get to the start you need to take the A69 from Newcastle, turn north on the A68 near Corbridge and turn left at the signpost for Bellingham. Through Bellingham and turn right for Falstone, a village just south of Kielder Dam.
From Falstone catch the bus operated by Howard Snaith that runs from Hexham to Kielder. This bus runs only on Tuesday Friday and Saturday and it leaves Falstone at 10.35. You are advised to ring the company to check it is running. The journey terminates in Kielder by the castle which has grid reference NY 631934 . It is possible to do the walk without a map but use OS Landranger 80 or get a map of the area from the information office at the castle or Tower Knowe at the south end of the lake.
(Before you catch the bus obviously in the case of Tower Knowe)
A depleted team consists of vm., mm., hm., and bm.. and we arrived in Falstone with time to change into boots before the bus arrived. Without Brian to lead us astray there was no bacon sandwich in the Falstone Tea Rooms. Hungry, we caught the bus and got off some fifteen minutes later at Kielder Castle.
 Kielder Castle was built in 1775  for the Duke of Northumberland as a shooting lodge, obviously long before the reservoir was built. (Do you build a reservoir?) It is now a tea room and visitor centre with a good display of the things to see around the lake and in the forest.
                                   Howard Snaith's Kielder coach. Lovely friendly company.

We left the castle and walked down the path past the Minotaur Maze, a change from Maize Mazes, and at the road turned right for a few yards before spotting the unmissable sign post that points you on your way to either the north shore or the south shore. However we chose to follow the north shore by first crossing the Kielder Viaduct, a reminder that once a railway ran down the valley taking coals to Newcastle and people going about their business.
The viaduct was built to cross the River North Tyne, now it is a bit of an open air art gallery.
 One of the panels on the viaduct. The art , in this case a fish, represents local industry and past times.
At the end of the viaduct there is another choice, follow the well built cycle/footpath that encircles the lake (about 24 miles) or follow the old footpath along the side of the lake for a short distance.
                                            Stick to the old path and admire the horses that were brought in to keep the vegetation down.
Once past the horses scramble up the bank and rejoin the official pathway and keep on it to the dam at the south end. As simple as that.
The first thing to come to is the weir at the point which separates the old Bakethin reservoir from the present Kielder. Not very interesting but not far beyond it is Gowanburn
                                         Memorial to the Gowans. I need to research this.
About a mile beyond Gowanburn a footpath on the right leads to the first work of art on the walk: Silvas Capitalis or wooden head to non Latin speakers. (Alright, Forest Head fussy)

                                         Two views of Silvas Capitalis. It is 5 metres high or roughly 14 feet.
                                       Beautifully made from wood you can go inside and climb stairs to peep out of his eyes.   I like this one, great workmanship and fun.
Back on the path the route follows the shoreline turning north at this Viewpoint which is also reached  by taking a short trail of the main path.
                                             Ben thought it was pieces from a giant Trivial Pursuit game
                                              or cheese. It is actually a concrete representation of the "Viewpoint"
                                             symbol on Ordnance Survey Maps. Pretty dull really.
                    Back on the trail: the path heads round the bay that the Plashetts Burn flows into. There is a good photograph of the area taken some hundred years ago when a coal mine was here. A railway took  coal tubs down to the station and goods yard. All gone, under the water.
The next art work is the Janus Chairs. These are three large chairs that can swivel giving a view over the lake or the rather boring forest behind. We arranged them to face lakeside and declared a Herbie Spot. The pie situation is getting desperate, something must be done but at least we had Ben's ginger biscuits and some ALDI chocolate to help the sandwiches go down.
                                          The Janus chairs, quite comfy and a good picnic spot.
                                            Interesting work of art, and functional.
 Beyond the chairs, which are off the path, the next work is "Salmon Scales". Four cubes representing the life of the salmon.

                                                 Salmon scales, they rustle in the wind and sparkle in the sun.
                                                 Not very good.
Further along is Robin's Hut, a wooden construction that looks across the water to Freya's Cabin. A sad tale of Robin and Freya is on the hut wall. A touch of the Johnny Tillotson hit about Little White Dove and her lover Running Bear but in this case Robin, smart lad, rowed across the lake and spent the aft0ernoon with Freya in her cabin talking about trees and flowers. Oh come on!

                                                 Robin's Hut. Beautifully constructed from wood and shingles
                                            but on a windy day the draught would blow straight through.
About a mile further along is an interesting work, Belvedere. Constructed of stainless steel from the lakeside it looks like a giant loudspeaker. It would provide good shelter on a wet day and it has a large window giving views across the lake.

                                               Three views of Belvedere, nice one!
Next stop on this tour of art is 55/02, so called because, to the nearest whole numbers it is at 55 North and 2 West. A steel construction with a sliding section we were not impressed and moved on.

The final offering in this outdoor gallery is the wave chamber, which is well off the main path but worth a visit. Built from stone like a beehive a simple system of lenses and mirrors projects a picture of the moving waters of the lake onto the floor, provided you close the door.
At this point we spotted a large bird over the lake. Hoping it was an Osprey we watched it for a while before it flew over a distant wood. Definitely a bird of prey but not clearly identified.
                                                        The Wave Chamber. Pretty good.
Returning again to the main path we soon reached the dam. Some swallows were flying through a window into the gents' toilets but their nests were outside. They would be looking for flies!
                                     The Queen declared the Reservoir open some years ago.
                                         This assembly commemorates the opening.
On previous visits we have spotted deer on the grassy slope of the dam but not today.
Back in Falstone we changed and headed down the North Tyne Valley and along to Wylam to visit the Boathouse Tavern. Fourteen different beers but I settled for the familiar Tyneside Blonde.
An excellent walk on a warm day but a word of warning. If you choose to walk the north side of the lake there is no escape route and vehicular access is limited to a forest road  which is restricted to forestry vehicles. So you walk the full length or a short distance and turn back.
We saw chaffinches, yellowhammers, siskins and the usual collection of small birds, plus some stone ducks, silent warblers and a Gosprey, but the bird of the blog is the female gooseander, three spotted together looking for mates.

The MatrixMMMIII
                                                                 steps                                    miles
Higear                                                     29523                                    13.96
myLIDL3D                                            19539                                      9.02                         ridiculous

Dave's LIDL3D                                      29318                                     12.48
Dave's LIDLUSB                                   28688                                      15.39!!!!
OUTDOORGPS                                                                                     13.4
Ben;s Bragometer                                                                                   13.4

Last time the walk was only 11.5!

                                     Contains OS data Copyright Crown Copyright and data right 2013