Friday, 4 March 2016

HALTWHISTLE AND THE WALL  (Northumberland)...MARCH 3rd
The local TV station has promised a day of light showers, a possibility of snow and some sun. So seven gadgies have heeded their forecast and set off for Haltwhistle. Haltwhistle is a small market town in the Tyne Valley. Reached by heading west on the A69 for about thirty miles. There are several car parks, we chose the one that serves the town's Sainsbury's supermarket and started our walk from there. Haltwhistle sounds like a railway station but the name comes from Hautwisel. Hau comes fro Old English Heafod meaning hill and twisel means confluence, so Haltwhistle is the place where streams meet by the hill.
There are seven of us, Me, Dave, Harry, Brian, Ray, John H. and John Ha.. We had a morning tea or bacon sandwich or toasted teacake in the Pillar Box cafe, the tea was fine and so was the bacon, a good start to the day.
A map is useful, use OS OL43 Hadrian's Wall.
                                             Today's car park and thumb.
  Leaving the car park we turned right and headed up Willia Street, past the old school house and what presumably was the old schoolmaster's house, now remained "Elevenplus". This reminded me of a favourite chapter in my favourite childhood book, The Family from One End Street  by Eve Garnett.  For foreign readers not familiar with our island story, the eleven plus was an exam taken at the age of eleven+ which decided a child's education, pass meant grammar school, fail meant Secondary Modern. The practice has just about died out, everybody goes to the local comprehensive except for the pupils in one or two areas.
Back to the walk;
Not far up the street is a small parking area with three information boards explaining what lies ahead on the Haltwhistle Burn.

                   Once a hive of industry with a coal mine, brick works and a mill Haltwhistle Burn is now a pleasant uphill walk with some interesting industrial remains. 
        The old brick works, now a bit of a scrapyard for washing machines which I have carefully cropped
                 The Haltwhistle Burn, the path was once a railway.
                                      The Fell Chimney, all that remains of the former East End coal pit, a drift mine.
   We also passed a lime kiln and some other brick lined construction before we reached the B6318, usually called the Military Road. Nothing to do with Romans it was built in the 18th century to allow troops to march from Newcastle to Carlisle if the Scots got a bit stroppy.
Turning right we walked a few hundred yards along the road before following the finger post on the left. We crossed a field, the outline of a Roman camp being plainly visible, standard playing card form.
Crossing another road and passing two Roman Camps we were soon on the wall near Cawfield Crags and Milecastle 42.
                          Cawfield Crags, until relatively recently a quarry
                                    Milecastle 42. (They are numbered from East to west and between each pair there are two turrets, named Turret 41a and 41b for example.
                                   And a bit of wall
 We walked along the wall path which goes up and down quite a bit in this area, for about two miles before hunkering down behind a wall beyond Turret 40b for a Herbie Spot. Surprisingly we only met two people on the wall, usually it is very popular. One was an American and the other a young lady out for a run along a section of Hadrian's edifice. She carried a rucksack too. Tough lass.
Herbie spot for Kathy from Goole and Sue from Forest Hall. Today's feast consisted of Mrs A's scones, malt loaf, flapjacks, flapjacks and pork pies. (178 pounds or 12 stone 10 this morning)
Lunch over we headed south east across fields away from the wall and downhill to Winshields Farm, Bunkhouse and Campsite. It was very muddy but we survived and reached the B6318 again about a half mile west of Twice Brewed, pub, YHA and currently being rebuilt information centre.
Crossing the road we headed for the farm at North Seatsides, walked round it, and continued uphill following the yellow arrow markers across fields in a south west direction  until we came to a minor road. We turned right and walked along the road for about a quarter of a mile before spotting the finger post on the left that said Haltwhistle, 1 1/2 miles.
                                             Proper stile
The track here was grassy but raised like a road. We passed a ruined cottage and came to Hollincrag where we were back on another minor road.

                       The ducks of Hollincrag.
We followed the road down to Oaky Know, passing this radio mast disguised as a tree. I have seen it from the A69 for years, at last though I have seen it close too. Never fooled me.
                                            Radio tree (Arboretus frequencium modulatum)

                  And one of its branches which had fallen off.
              Soon we were back in Haltwhistle. Rather than walk on the road we followed a footpath alongside Haltwhistle Burn which eventually came out on Willia Road.
                             Haltwhistle claims to be the geographical centre of the island of Great Britain.
Some say the centre is Meriden which is in the midlands. I think they ignore Scotland.

Changed we headed for the Boathouse Tavern at Wylam. This ale drinkers paradise usually has fourteen different real ales on tap. Today's offerings included Tyneside Blonde, Village Idiot and Speckled Hen. As designated driver I enjoyed a half and a cup of coffee.
One of the joys of being a gadgie is that you buy everybody a drink on your birthday, today was John Ha's turn.

                                                                                      steps                         miles
NAK                                                                             23542                        8.91
LIDL 3D                                                                      22983                         9.04
Dave's 3D                                                                    20734                         9.74
  "  USB                                                                       19941                         9.44
  "  NAK                                                                      19651                         9.3

etrex                                                                                                                9.1
GPS                                                                                                                 8.56
Brian's GPS                                                                                                     8.75

Walking time 3 hours 18 minutes    stop time 1 hour 23 minutes  Stop time is not just for feasting, it includes looking at all sorts of things that interest gadgies.

Contains OS data copyright Crown copyright and database right 2016