Friday, 10 January 2014

Reservoir Blog II.....................January 10th.
Today's walk is a repeat of Reservoir Blog way back in 2012. Another easy winter walk and not too far from home. It starts near the village of Hallington in Northumberland and is completely covered by OS Map OL 43, Hadrian's Wall. It would be useful to  carry the map,or at least a laminated section. To get to the start take the A69 west of Newcastle, turn north on the A68 near Corbridge and look out for signs. Just beyond the village at the point spot height marked on the map as 176 (GR NY982769) there is a space for a couple of cars.
Five gadgies out today, John, Harry, Ben, Dave and me, and we have chosen, in Brian's absence to go without bacon or tea, such has been the effect of Christmas feasting.

                                         Car parked, gadgies almost ready.
The walk:
Look carefully at this weeks photograph of a car park and you will spot a nice wooden signpost. It directed us through a gate and along a track until we reached Hallington Reservoir East, built in 1863 for the Newcastle and Gateshead Water Company. Turning left we walked along the footpath on the side of the reservoir  until we reached Hallington West Reservoir, built for the same company in 1880.
                                       Cheviot Farm on the edge of the reservoir
                                            Reflections in a reservoir

                              She sells sea shells on the reservoir shore doesn't quite have the same ring.

Continuing round the perimeter of this splendid Victorian piece of engineering we walked to a gate at the north west corner and exited left as they say, onto a service road which led to a minor road. Turning right we walked north up the road to a bend. On the left, almost hidden by bales of straw a rickety stile sent us across a field before turning right on a track which rejoined the road. At this point however we headed up a farm track marked "Private; No access for Vehicles" which brought us to the farm at Little Swinburne. A large farm with a beautiful walled garden and the remains of a pele tower to the north.
                                               "Oh wall, fair wall,
                                                  Show me thy chink                     
                                                   That I may blink through
                                                      With mine eyne"
                                                              I had to say these words as Francis Flute the bellows mender in a school production of A Midsummer Night's Dream in 1959

                                                 Fuzzy view of the pele tower at Swinburne.
We walked through the farm yard, turning south west then north west to follow the footpath that took us to Little Swinburne Reservoir which was home to a collection of ducks and swans. Crossing the causeway we crossed two muddy fields in a north west direction.
                                                     Little Swinburne Reservoir

                                                                                                      The fields are shining examples of ridge and furrow farming and also had the remains of long boundary walls. Rather than slug it out across the boggy Folly Moss to the gate into  Colt Crag Reservoir we headed north and climbed a fence  into the grounds, stopping at the old boathouse for a well deserved Herbie Spot. Sitting with backs to the wall of the house we dined as well as ever. John had mini mince pies to share, Dave had Yorkshire Flapjacks (How Much?), Ben had ginger biscuits and I had Czech Chocolate Christmas Tree Decorations. No wonder we are FPs. (See Glossary) We had sandwiches too.

                                                 Colt Crag Reservoir, home to ducks,
                                                  geese, cormorants and a murmuration.
We continued  north around the edge until we came to a gate, turned right and then after a few hundred yards we turned left on the road to Thockrington.
The striking thing about this village is the church, St Aidans, built on an outcrop of the Whinsill. A pretty little Norman church, once the centre of a fair sized parish. In 1296 Thockrington had as many as 18 taxpayers, and this before income tax. In 1666 there were 11 houses paying the Hearth Tax, 17th century equivalent of today's council tax and bedroom tax!. The village lost its population at the end of the 19th century, now all that remains is a large farm and the outline of several old buildings.
Lord Beveridge, architect of the British Welfare State is buried in the churchyard, with his wife and her daughter by her first marriage. Her daughter wrote a jolly good book on anthropology, but I forget her name.
How happy would he be with the way his welfare idea has grown?
                                                             Lord Beveridge, one time MP for Berwick
                                                    East end of St.Aidan's Church

                                                        St Aidan's, Thockrington

Leaving the farm we headed east before turning south east on a road. At the end of the road we turned left, but after a few yards we pretended to be foreign and ignored the sign on the gate that said "Private, No Public Access" and headed uphill to look at the Dovecot, built as a folly in the centre of some ancient looking earthworks.
                                                    The Dovecot, and gadgies.
Heading south east we meandered across several muddy field until we reached a corner on the road. Turning right we returned to the car.

                                                 The last stretch!
 On our way home we stopped at the Boathouse in Wylam which had its usual large selection of good beers, plus Staropramen lager on draught.

The Matrix MMXIVB

                                                                            steps                                miles

LIDL3D                                                            21749                                    9.78
Higear                                                                15287                                    7.23  (on short time)
Dave's 3D                                                         20824                                     9.57
LIDLUSB                                                         20016                                      9.47

OUTDOORGPS                                                                                               9.7

A good day for the birders too. Cormorants, tufted ducks, other ducks, blue tits, finches, nuthatch ,heron, pheasant, fieldfares, redstarts and lots more.

                                          AMBULO ERGO SUM

Gadgie total 20.5 miles