Friday, 17 January 2014

From Longovicium to Durham...January 17th.
     A lengthy debate in the pub last week came to the conclusion it was about time to have a railway walk so today we are repeating an old favourite and following the old line from Lanchester to Durham.
A true gadgie walk as we are using bus passes to get to the start and to get home. This also means we can all have a drink.
To get to Lanchester from Newcastle take the X30/31 from Eldon Square bus station. The journey takes just over an hour.
                    No car park this week, but you do get a bus station
                                    (Eldon Square)
Lanchester, as the name implies, had Roman connections.
It was a Roman fort, Longovicium, on what is  now called Dere Street, the Roman chariot way that went from York to Bo'ness in Scotland. Longovicium was between two other forts, Vindamora (Ebchester) and Vinovia (Binchester).
The stones from the fort were used to build All Saints Church in the village in the 12th century Norman and Early English in style. The church is Anglican as you would expect but the Roman Catholic church, built in 1901 is also called All Saints. This could lead to some confusion, you could finish up not knowing what on earth was going on or have to do a spell in Limbo. There is also a Methodist Chapel.
Dere Street takes its name from Deira, the Anglo Saxon kingdom that was established after the Romans went home. Part of it is now the A1 road from London to Edinburgh and another part is the A68 from Corbridge north. And you can spell it Deere Street if you like.

                          All Saints C. of E  Lanchester

The walk:
  You do not need a map for this walk but should you choose to take one you need two. OS Explorer 307  Consett and Derwent Reservoir and OS Explorer  308 Durham and Sunderland.
 From the bus stop in Lanchester head south west on Station Road for a few hundred yards to find the start of the walk, on the left hand side of the road. (If you chose the right hand side you finish up in Consett. This rather fine piece of work stands at the entrance to the railway walk to Durham.
                      Salve Caesar ad Longovicium.
There is also this piece of interesting woodwork.
                        Creepy crawlies in Lanchester.
All you have to do now is follow the railway path for nine miles to Durham. After a couple of miles the track passes on the north side of Langley Park, like many of the villages in Durham it was once home to a pit but Langley's main claim to fame is being the birthplace of Sir Bobby Robson, international footballer and successful manager of several teams, including England and Newcastle United. The late Sir Bobby was a much loved and respected  gentleman, unusual in footballing circles these days.
The other thing of interest in Langley Park is Diggerland, a delight for boys and girls of all ages. It is possible to ride on a variety of machines used in the construction industry. Fortunately it was closed or we may never have finished the walk.
                         Diggerland, Back hoes and fun

Two miles beyond Langley Park the path is on the north side of the village of Bearpark. On the left a sign tells you that a track goes to Bearpark Hall farm. Take it and cross the bridge over the River Browney before taking a muddy path up to the ruins of Bearpark.
  Originally Beaurepaire, or fine retreat to us Anglo Saxons, this park was one of the largest in medieval England and the Prior of Durham Cathedral chose the site to build himself a retirement home which eventually became a holiday home for monks. Started in 1258 it was destroyed by marauding Scots and rebuilt in 1346. After the dissolution it remained part of the dean's estate but suffered under the Scots again in the first English Civil War in 1640 and the buildings fell into ruin.

Two views of the ruins at Bearpark.
A weekend retreat for up to forty monks who
sat around playing Monopoly and Scrabble.
 Back on the railway path for about another mile and half to a junction. It is possible to continue along the Brandon- Bishop Auckland Railway Path or do as we did and follow the sign that points left to Durham by way of Baxter Wood Farm.
                             Seventeenth century Baxter Wood Farm
Once through this beautiful farm the track goes down to the River Browney. Cross the bridge and take the muddy path on the right hand side.
                         River Browney near Baxter Wood Farm
The path becomes a road that serves a few houses and the joins the busy A67. There is a footbridge across the road, it has an information board giving some details of the Battle of Neville's Cross which took place here in 1346. An English army beat a larger Scottish army and sent them home, to think again.
Look it up on Wikipedia or some other site. The Battle  of 
Neville's Cross took place here.
There are several ways to get to the centre of Durham from here, we took what I think is the best. Cross the road and follow the A67 for a few yards east and spot an opening between the houses, unmarked. Turn right at the end of the path and go up the street of quite large houses. At the top, on the left another narrow alley (or ginnel as Yorkshire folk say) leads to a sports field. Follow the path to the right which eventually becomes a road past The Durham School. On the bend take the left fork and very soon come across the magnificent view of Durham Cathedral
The west front of Durham Cathedral on a greyish day.
Durham Cathedral always knocks me for six. The Cathedral Church of Christ, Blessed Mary the Virgin and St. Cuthbert it dominates the university city. The second cathedral on the site it was started in 1093 and the main body of the church was finished in a mere forty years. The west end, the two west towers and the massive central tower, along with the nine altars chapel at the east end of the church were added over the next 360 years. Oliver Cromwell, who was not too keen on cathedrals had several hundred Scottish prisoners incarcerated inside during the English Civil Wars and they did some damage inside. It is a World Heritage site and a must if you come to Durham. It is possible to climb to the top of the central tower too. (And it was used in the Harry Potter films).
                           The Sanctuary knocker on the great door 
                            of Durham. (A replica, the original
                            is kept inside)
 Cross the river by the old bridge below the castle and go through the market square. Head for the Gala Theatre but make for the Bishops Mill, a Wetherspoon pub which had some fine Abbot Ale to drink. 
Then we caught  buses home. A true gadgie day out.

The Matrix MMXIVC

                                               steps                    miles
Hi gear                                   10032                  4.74  (used to be
LIDL3D                                  21300                 9.5
Dave's LIDL3D                      20763                  9.56
LIDLUSB                               20456                  9.68
OUTDOORGPS                                                  9.68
Ben's Bragometer                                                9.78
Gadgie total  30.2 miles

A final word:
Last week I past 30000 hits which pleases me anyway
Top score goes to the UK    with 11875
Second is the good ole  US with   10651
Third Canada with                        1361
Troisieme Canada avec                 1361
Fourth Russia with                           939

Thank you, merci, cпаcибо