Friday, 9 January 2015

Jennifer, Juniper..................January 9th
  Jennifer Juniper was a hit for Donovan in 1968. The Jennifer of the title being the sister of Patti Boyd who was married to George Harrison and later to Eric Clapton. This has nothing to do with today's walk.
  The jovial weatherman on local TV promised us a day of wind and rain and so the planned walk across the moors of Blanchland was postponed and substituted by a more sheltered ramble around Devil's Water.
  Six brave gadgies out today, Brian,  Ben, Harry, Dave, John H and me. We met in the car park at Hexham,(free as most of Northumberland's now are) and breakfasted in the Wentworth Cafe which supplied Brian with the best bacon sandwich seen for a long time, the tea was good too.
                                     Now that's a car park; Waitrose in Hexham
Fed and/or just watered we headed for the start of the walk, the hamlet of Juniper. Head  west up Hexham main street, turn left at the narrow junction just before the Tap and Spile public house, follow the signs to Juniper, drive through it, cross the bridge and on the right is a space which will hold 4 cars.
                                                  Juniper from the off road parking space.
The walk is on OS OL 43 Hadrian's Wall  (and I would say a map was essential)and the parking space is at NY937585.
We crossed the bridge back towards the village but turned right immediately and followed the footpath alongside the Rowley Burn for a short distance before emerging onto the road. At the junction near Lee Grange  we turned right and followed the track  down towards Peth Ford, headed north east to Pethfoot Bridge and turned through almost  180 degrees to follow the muddy path alongside Devil's Water.
                                                Rowley Burn
                                               and a placid looking Devil's Water.
At some point along the stream we came across the Dukesfield Arches, remains of an old lead smelter currently being restored by a local group and funded by the National Lottery. Lead was mined throughout this area of Northumberland and there is plenty of evidence to be found if you are an industrial archaeologist, or just interested.

At some point in Steelhall Wood we declared a Herbie Spot, set up camp and tucked in to: sandwiches, Mrs A's homemade mince buns, Hobnob flapjacks, Ben's ginger biscuits, Bakewell slices and Almond  and peanut Roca
                                                    Cathy from Goole, you are not forgotten
                                            Dave tries his hand at mole catching.
Lunch over we headed south east across the fields to the farm at Steel Hall, turned south west through more woodland, crossed footbridges at Rawgreen and headed north  towards Moss House.
 Just one of the many ant heaps we walked past in the woods. I think they were all asleep.
 Approaching Whitley Chapel  we stumbled through the Quakers' Hole Wetland. A very boggy short stretch of the walk. None of the creatures on the information board seemed to be at home. It is named Quakers Hole as there was a 17th C Friends Meeting House nearby.

The walk continued past St. Helen's Church (originally a chapel of ease for Hexhamshire built in 1742 although some of the stonework could be from an earlier 13th C building and named for the mother of the Roman Emperor Constantine) in the village of Whitley Chapel, along the road past the first school and then we took a footpath  across fields to Mellersteads, turned east  and followed the footpath along Rowley Burn until we emerged from the wood by the car park.
The weatherman had the forecast right, although the rain was never heavy the showers failed to dampen gadgie spirits and the wind was not too strong. Determined to end the day in the usual way we headed for The Dipton Mill pub, which was closed so we drove back to Wylam and called at The Boathouse which boast 14 hand pulled beers, several local brews and some from Orkney.
For the birders it was a good day, fieldfares, buzzards, kestrels, robins and bullfinches but the bird of the blog goes to the turkey who had escaped Christmas and was strutting his stuff at Westerbyers.

The Matrix MMXV B
                                                             steps                               miles
LIDL3D                                               15816                                   7
HiGear                                                  12927                                  5.9
Dave's 3D                                             16705                                  6.51
Dave's USB                                          16049                                   6.33
OUTDOORGPS                                                                                6.8
Brian's GPS                                                                                        6.8
Gadgie distance   13 miles
Contains OS Data copyright. Crown Copyright and Database right 2015