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.