Friday, 12 February 2016

Baybridge, Blanchland, Belmount and Bolt's Law (Northumberland and Durham)...Feb 12th
   Another bright crisp February day, as promised by the local forecaster after the latest storm, Imogen, had blown herself out. Six of us setting off for a walk that starts in Baybridge car park near Blanchland on the Northumberland/Durham border.
  Blanchland (From French, white wooded vale) is a very pretty village which owes its existence to the ruined Premontstratenesian canons who founded the abbey in 1165. Knocked about a bit by the Scots and finally dissolved by Henry VIII in 1539 the abbey crumbled but in the 18th century the Crewe Trust used its remains as the base of the village that exists today. The church of St. Mary the Virgin began as a chapel built against the ruins. Today it has bits from the 12th, 13th, 14th, 18th and 19th century.
The Lord Crewe Arms hotel utilises bits of the abbey too. The hotel is popular with visitors and in the past entertained such luminaries as Auden, Larkin, Benjamin Britten and Peter Pears.
  The six gadgies making up the team today are John H., John C., Dave, Harry, Ben and me. To get to Blanchland take the A69 west, go into Hexham and turn left by the Tap and Spile pub on the B6306 and follow it to the village. Just before the   bridge in Baybridge  park on the right-hand side, free and a nice picnic spot on a summer's day.(Alternatively try A69, A68 and look for signposts)
The whole of the walk is covered on OS Explorer 307 Consett and Derwent Reservoir.

This week's car park by the River Derwent in Baybridge   GR NY958498 approx
Once booted and wrapped against the cold (2C) we set off. Leaving the car park we turned right onto the road and crossed the bridge. There are signs for two footpaths on the left, to follow the walk take the second one, it has a bar to prevent horse riders using the path.

  It wouldn't stop a Shetland Pony but the message is clear.
This part of the walk is on a dry path through conifers and is a pleasant start. On the left across the river you have a good view of the village of Blanchland, developed in the 18th century by the Crewe family utilising much of the old monastery.

                                                     Blanchland, the white dale.
                                  Considering the recent weather the waterfall is a bit of a trickle.
                                                  But the path is firm and dry.
  The path emerges on to a road at Stonyburn Bridge, we turned left and after a few hundred yards spotted a well disguised stone stile on the right. Having climbed it, and it is getting more difficult with age, we walked uphill to the deserted and dilapidated farm at West Ruffside.
                         The tenant of Ruffside Farm lived here once. It would have been a great northern farmstead once. Surprised it hasn't been snapped up by a TV programme  for renovation.
  The only inhabitants were a number of sheep and like many farm animals they had churned the earth round the buildings into a sea of mud. Climbing steadily across  fields on a grassy path we were soon on rough moorland (mile 2) and headed south towards Pedamsoak, passing this, another interesting gatepost:

                                           Another interesting gate post.
                         .... and another moleskin trouser factory
                                                      Proper dogs at Pedamsoak
                    Surprisingly Pedamsoak   Farm is a grade 2 listed building! The name comes from a local thief who apparently frequently hid in an oak tree nearby, a bit like CharlesII. Eventually he was caught and hanged, possibly from the same oak. I owe this gem to      with whom I am in competition. (friendly I hope. One of these days we might meet on a walk. He has a dog which looks very friendly and probably pinches your sandwiches)
Across more fields to Belmount (mile4), another deserted farm house with an equally deserted outside netty. (Dialect for toilet)
                                    The Cherokees were around somewhere      
                 Presumably it once had a door. It had a hole in the side for the night soil man.
  At mile 5 we hit the road to Stanhope, it was a ribbon of sunlight at the time. We turned left and after a few hundred yards, at the finger point, turned on to a path heading up Bolt's Law.
We decided to call a Herbie Spot and sheltered behind a grouse butt before climbing the hill and feasted on Yorkshire flapjacks, Hobnobs, ginger biscuits, malt loaf and some fantastic almond roca from www.cakepoppins.

                             Pretty posh grouse butt.
Lunch over we continued to the top of Bolt's Law which has little of interest apart from a trig point and a cairn.
                       Chimney near Herbie Spot, left over from the days when the area was mined for lead

                                        Bolt's Law Trig Point. The device on the top is for something like orienteering and there was a polite notice asking we didn't damage it or remove it. As if

                       And a cairn on Bolt's Law.
The path down from Bolt's Law is invisible  but we headed north across Lauder Grass (qv) until we spotted a new footbridge across a stream, made use of it and carried on down past the ruins of old mine works until we came to Ramshaw. From here we walked a very minor road until mile 8.5. A finger post here on the left  took us through the wooded valley of Bolt's Burn until we came to the road, turned left and in minutes were back at the car park
                                                  Bolt's Burn path
 A trap for weasels and stoats.
Once changed we headed for the Lord Crewe Arms in Blanchland. A beautiful hotel/restaurant/pub built in part from the ruins of the monastery. They sold Crew Brew and Red Kite, both fine ales.
                                   Lord Crewe Arms, Blanchland. Walkers welcome.

The Matrix MMXVI F
                                                                    steps                     miles
NAKO                                                       26664                    11.36
LIDL3D                                                    24579                     9.59
Dave's LIDL3D                                        22724                     10.22
  "        USB                                              25233                      11.54
   "        NAK                                            21436                      9.81
etrek                                                                                         10.27
OUTDOOR GPS                                                                     9.5

Settle for 10
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