Saturday, 10 May 2014

From Palace to Cathedral................May 9th.
     To continue with the  list of juvenile classics my favourite book about English children as a child was The Family from One End Street by Eve Garnett, who also did the line illustrations. First published in 1937 the book told of the adventures of the seven Ruggles children and their washerwoman mum and dustman father. They survived without an uncle who was a scientist or worked in an office, had adventures and were always hard up. I bought a copy a few years ago, it was still a good read. Wait for next week's recommendation.

The weatherman said Friday could be very wet, especially in the west and Pennines so the proposed walk to High Cup Nick was postponed and we opted for a railway walk from Bishop Auckland to Durham, easy going and the possibility of finding a bus back if it got too wet.
 The four of us out today, John, Dave, Ben and I caught the X21 from Newcastle Eldon Square to Bishop Auckland, a gadgie walk with bus passes and the opportunity to sit upstairs on the front seats and drive.
                                             No car park this week; Eldon Square bus Station.                                        The circular building is a car park though, quite exciting 
driving all the way to the top and down.
                                          Bishop Auckland Bus Station, where the walk starts.
 The Prince Bishops of Durham were almost as powerful as the king in medieval times and ruled most of northern England. The Bishop's Palace was first built in Bishop Auckland in the 12th Century, knocked about a bit in the Civil War and rebuilt after the Restoration in the 17th Century, although a fair bit of the original remains.
                                              The gatehouse, 1760, and snapped from the bus.
                     The Bishop's Palace. I think he now lives in something a little more modest.

   It is possible to do this walk without a map but should you wish to use one it is covered by OL 305, Bishop Auckland and OL 308, Durham and Sunderland.

We started the walk from the bus station, heading just west of north to the top of the station, turning right and crossing a couple of roads before heading downhill to to Newton Cap Viaduct.
A low level bridge,  Newton Cap, built possibly in the 14th Century crosses the River Wear at a low level. The viaduct was originally built for the railway but when that closed it became a footpath before being widened into a road bridge.
                                                          Commemorative plaque on the bridge.
        The Wear from the Newton Cap Viaduct.The path on the left bank is the Weardale Way.
(See Where there's a Wear there's a Way, even if it's muddy)

  Once over the bridge we joined the Brandon - Bishop Auckland Railway Path and set off to stroll on a good solid track to Durham. Full marks to Durham County Council in these days of austerity, the path is well maintained, the drainage ditches have been recently cleaned, trees have been lopped if too close to the foot/cycle path, don't want any Health and Safety issues. The sides of the trail have gone quite wild over the years, the banks at this time are covered in a variety of wild flowers, not that I can recognise many apart from Celandines, anemones, Jack by the Hedge, wild garlic and bluebells.
Ponies off the track

                                                        It used to be a railway
 The railway connects a number of pit villages, although none of them produce coal anymore. The first one we passed through is Willington, just beyond its boundary is a working factory but there is nothing to tell from the path what it produces.
                                                       Willington Works
  The next few miles are in open countryside, fields and woodland, not spectacular but pleasant enough.
Just beyond Stockley Bridge we called a Herbie Spot and made use of one of the path side benches. (Note to Durham CC, there could be more of these). We could just see Brancepeth Castle to the east. Today's goodies included Ben's ginger biscuits, Fabulous Bakin Boys flapjacks, Golf Biscuits and home made flapjacks from Kate. ( Go to for a display of delicious cakes and witty comments)
Struggling on (190 pounds) we came to Brandon, another ex pit village. It has a beautiful cricket field and a fine looking all weather football pitch and sports centre.
                                                    Cricket pavilion at Brandon.
Just beyond the cricket field is a wildlife meadow, built on top of the old pit yard. The are is called the Ponderosa.
                                A long way from Virginia City, Ponderosa information board.

  Beyond Brandon the path joins the Deerness Valley Railway Path. A few yards on as the paths go alongside the main east coast railway we took the footpath on the left that leads up to the road, turned right and walked downhill to Stone Bridge. Here we turned left then right onto Lowe Barn Bank, left at Darlington Road, right on Clay Lane and eventually found a footpath that led across fields (with cows and stiles!)

                                                        Dave faces Buttercup
   At the bottom of the fields we walked briefly down a track to a road, crossing the road we walked through a white gate and followed the path to Prebends Bridge.

                                    The Cathedral from Prebends Bridge

                                            Behind the cathedral

                                                 Central Tower

                                                      East End window

 Once across the Wear we walked through the pretty back streets of Durham, found the Wetherspoons pub at Bishops Mill by the river and enjoyed some Abbott Ale before catching a bus to Newcastle.

Birds seen on the walk: Swifts, martins, swallows, cormorant, several lbjs, a robin, wren, possibly a garden warbler and a heron to make it a real gadgie walk on two counts.

The Matrix  MMXIVP
                                                            steps                              miles
ASDA PED                                          17954                             8.26  (needs attention)
LIDL3D                                               24987                              10.99 (set for height 5' 8")
Dave's LIDL3D                                   24349                               11.69
Dave's USB                                         24018                                12.50
Ben's bragometer                                                                           11.85
Garmin                                                                                           11.9
Gadgie distance 199 miles

For all three maps; Contains OS data.Copyright. Crown Copyright and Data Base Right 2014

Bird of the blog
And the weatherman lied, it was a dry, warm day.