Thursday, 17 November 2016

Tuesday Walk...(Northumberland) Nov 15th

Another mid week walk for Dave and I, and another favourite, walking from Bolam Lake in almost a clockwise circle.
Bolam Lake is a popular spot north of Newcastle, a small lake frequented by swans and ducks and geese and woodlands frequented by chaffinches, robins, wrens, nuthatches and a variety of tits.
To get there take the A696 through Ponteland, fork right just after Belsay and follow the brown signs.
The walk is covered by OS OL 42 Kielder Water and Forest. Thanks to Northumberland County Council parking is free BUT in winter the car park is closed at 4pm.
The lake through the trees at the car park.

Information board for the lake area

Looks cold today

Shortflatt Tower,dating back to 1305, shame about the house in front.

We have a theory about symmetrical Sandiford farm. It was built by two brothers who had been left the farm, couldn't decide exactly what to do so built a farmhouse each. They never spoke to each other and they married sisters.
The footpath arcs across the land, much of it on a metalled track but watch out for the sign post which sent us across fields to East Shaftoe Hall. This footpath crosses Dere Street, Roman road, and it is possible to make out the line of the road when the crops are tiny.Not much to see but a definite line across the field.
Look to the right of the two walkers (gadgies from another tribe). A light line crosses the field, it's the line of Dere Street

  East Shaftoe Hall farm has 14th century origins although much of it is early 19th century. The left hand side as you look at the picture is the old bit.
East Shafto Hall, goes back a long way
                               And it has a beautiful walled garden, plus rival gadgie from another tribe.
We turned left at the hall and headed for Shaftoe Crags area. The Shaftoes are not the ones who had a habit of going to sea wearing silver buckles. They come from Durham but are related to the Northumbrians.
Shaftoe Crags is an interesting area for archaeologists. There are the remains of a chapel and an Iron Age Fort, ditches plainly visible but overgrown even at this time of year with bracken, which is slowly dying back. Also there is a strange  rock formation, outcrops of sandstone above steep cliffs which would have been a natural defence for the fort.
Tradition has it that one of the local gentry held his wedding feast here and filled one of the circular hollows on the top of the Piper's Chair Rock with punch.
                            Punch bowls on the Piper's Chair
                                     Gadgie on the Piper's Chair. My wife thought I was past silly things like this.
                                       Ancient Ditch, filled with bracken
It is an atmospheric place and as we scrambled about a rider on a white horse passed by.
          Health and safety laws prevent the elf lady riding in her long white dress, tresses flowing behind.
We followed the path down to a concrete road that passed Shaftoe Grange. By the next wall we turned right to Salters Nick, a gap in the rocks that supposedly was used by carriers on the Salters Road between England and Scotland, salt one way, cattle and whiskey the other. After crossing one field we turned off our path and settled down in the shelter of an overhang for a Herbie Spot. Sandwiches and racer bars today, only two of us, no big exchange.
                                                 Salters Nick
                                                   Herbie Spot, well out of the wind.
    Back to the track. Just beyond a wall a rather strange double gate, one wood, one metal, sent us across a field in a northerly direction to Middleton Bank Top Farm. The signpost here points directly through the farm yard but once in the yard it is not too obvious how to get out, so we went a little off piste, crossed a couple of fields before finding the track again and a footbridge over the River Wansbeck near Middleton Mill. The river is a tiny stream here and we jumped across, turned east and followed the water across fields, some with a crop of turnips (or swedes) across a disused and scrapped railway line until we hit the road just north of Low Angerton, where we turned right.
                             Once they built a railway...........................
The farmhouse at Low Angerton appeared deserted. A few yards beyond on it, after a barn, a sign post pointed the way back to Bolam. We ignored it, naughtily, and walked round what appears to be a training track for horses, heavy going today and in need of a mower.
                                       Separated by a fence
More fields past Angerton Steads. It is possible at this point to use the footpath and walk to St. Andrew's Church in Bolam, well worth a visit, or, as we did, take the permitted access route across fields in a south west direction, turn left at the road and walk back to the car park at Bolam Lake.
We arrived about 3.30pm, not too much time to spare. Another good walk out. fine weather for the time of year too.

                                                                               steps                                miles
NAK                                                                    30629                               12.56
IPhone                                                                 23605                               10.6
Dave's 3D                                                            25115                               11.8
  "         USB                                                        23693                               11.59
NAK                                                                   23550                                11.52
etrex                                                                                                              10.9
walking time 4 hrs  10 mins                      talking time 1hour 20 mins.

Contain OS data Copyright. Crown copyright and database right 2016.