Wednesday, 2 March 2016

Hwaesingatun. Wascandun, William de Wessyngton................March 1st (Durham)
  An extra mid week railway walk for Dave and me, from Birtley along the River Wear to Sunderland. A well marked route but a map, should you feel it necessary is OS Explorer 308, Durham and Sunderland.
To get to the start we used a bus from Eldon Square bus station in Newcastle, catching the 21 service that runs regularly to Chester le Street and Durham.
                                   Eldon Square Bus Station
       We got off the bus at Birtley Vigo, near the Wheatsheaf pub. On the south side of the bridge by the pub we took the footpath up to the old railway line that has become the Consett and Sunderland Railway Path, turned east, adjusted pedometers and set off.
                                   Starting point, the Wheatsheaf in Birtley, and the bridge
                  The first part of the walk is like this, foot/cycle path on old railway, and slightly blurred.
 We follwed the railway path for about three miles, to the north is Washington. Washington is famous for being the home of the ancestors of George, general and first president of the United States. His ancestors lived in the Old Hall which still stands, but his great grandfather left from the south east of England to set up home in Virginia.
  Nobody seems to know the exact origin of the name Washington. some say it comes from Hwaesingatun, meaning "the settlement of Hwaesa's people." (Hwaesa meaning Wheatsheaf). Some think it comes from Wascandun, meaning "the washing place on the hill". Regardless the manor was once held by William de Wessyngtun.  How different if they had come from Pocklington, or Keighley. And had George not been victorious against the British maybe they would have had the Queen on the dollar bill and known how to spell "colour".
                         Washington Old Hall. Jim Callaghan took Jimmy Carter there and maybe Tony Blair took George W, I can't remember.
  Leaving the railway we walked downhill past some allotments (Where we once met the author of a booklet on Isaac's Tea Trails) and headed for the River Wear Trail on the north bank of the river. At Glebe House Farm we crossed the river by a footbridge and continued on the south bank.  This part of the walk carries a mud warning and is now part of the Weardale Way. On the north side is the Washington Waterfowl Centre, a good place to observe water and other birds. Currently under construction is a Hexadecagonal bird hide, due to be finished for Easter 2016. It will offer views on the land side, over the river and onto the salt water lagoon, carefully built so that it receives salty water at high tide.
                                 Hexadecagonal hide at Washington.
  The footpath follows the edge of the river around Offerton Haugh. (Haugh = flat round near river bend). Another walker told us there were some otters on the river but sadly we didn't see them.
              Penshaw Monument.  Officially the Earl of Durham's monument. He was also known as John Lambton and was the first governor of the province of Canada. One of his ancestors went on the crusade, came home and fought "The Lambton Worm"
  When we reached the viaduct that carries the A19 over the Wear we took the footpath nfrom river level up to the bridge and crossed to the north side. We followed a footpath across a field before heading back down to the riverside path.
We declared a Herbie Spot and sat on the river bank watching cormorants and curlews. It was not a day for exchanging goodies! Across the river Dave pointed out a yellowish cliff, sandstone layed down millions of years ago in desert conditions.
                     The Wear from the A19 viaduct
                             Shiprights pub on the banks of the Weat at North Hylton.
                                      Ancient sandstone on the south side of the Wear.
We continued along the river path to Pallion. A new bridge is under construction and we were redirected on to the C2C cycle path (NUMBER &, easy to follow.)  It appeared to be another old railway line converted into a foot/cycle path and we followed it to The Stadium of Light, the home ground of Sunderland AFC. The stadium is built on the site of the Wearmouth Colliery.
              Stadium of Light and Sunderland Aquatic Centre in front of it
 Pit head wheel from Monkwearmouth Colliery
                                           Men of Steel sculptures near the football stadium
  The Fosters tree at the stadium of light, which is more tasteless?
 Map of the colliery workings set into the pavement. Much of the mine was under the sea
                               This amazing device was to load coal from trucks to ships.
 We scrambled down the bank to the riverside walk, passing the Foster's tree above and walked on to Saint Peter's Metro Station where we took a train back to Newcastle. Another interesting walk out and good for birds, we saw: herons, robins, dunnocks, cormorants, goosanders, mallards, teal, lapwings and blackbirds.
The Matrix MMXVI   I
                                                                steps                              miles
NAKOSITE                                           30796                             11.66
LIDL3D                                                 26165                             10.30
Dave's LIDL3D                                     23447                              11.49
  "        USB                                           23060                              11.64
NAKOSITE                                          22778                               11.50
Etrex                                                                                               10.8

Walking time 3 hours 36 plus ! hour 6 minutes stop time

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