Friday, 27 January 2017

From All Saints church to the Cathedral of Christ, the Blessed Virgin and St. Cuthbert. (Durham Jan 27 )
  A greatly reduced team has decided to go on a railway walk, along one of the old tracks in County Durham. And the chosen one is the walk from Lanchester to Durham which runs alongside the River Brownie.
A proper gadgie walk as we are catching a bus to the starting point in the village near the old Roman camp of Longovicium. A pretty village, its church (All Saints) is Early English and Norman, much of the stonework taken from the nearby fort. Some call this recycling, others call it vandalism.
There are five of us out today, John H., Ben, John C., Dave and me. The walk is easy to follow, can be done map free but for purists:
OS Explorer 307 Consett and Derwentwater
OS Explorer 308 Durham and Sunderland
cover the journey.
The wee jock on local TV promised us a cold day with a bitter breeze blowing in from frozen Europe and he was spot on, if the temperature climbed above zero the "feels like " factor kept it below and kept us clothed in fleecy jackets for the day.

We met at Eldon Square Bus Station in Newcastle and caught the X30 to Stanley from where we caught the 30 to Lanchester.
Eldon Square bus station and car park on the right.
        All Saints, Lanchester. It was not only cold, it was misty all day too.
From the bus stop in the centre of the village we walked down Station Road in the direction of Wolsingham until, not far away we found the start of the walk, The Lanchester Valley Walk.
There is a large stone at the start with an engraved Roman soldier, easy to find.
 The sign has fallen over for some reason. 14 refers to the number of the cycle route, not the distance to Durham.

                                 Nil carborundum illegetorum, an old Roman military saying.
The path is easy to follow from the start, it is a well made walking/cycling/riding path built on the top of the old rail bed. Mud free and pretty level for the whole route. In the beginning it passes houses in Lanchester and then comes into open country but because of the heavy mist there were no views today. Shame, to Langley Park the track follows the River Brownie with fields on both sides. The path is lined with trees and brambles, not many birds venturing out on a cold day. Neither would I if I thought about it.
          Easy walking all the way.

                                       He needs that heavy coat
                             It's a popular cycle track, very few have bells. They should have by law.
Cyclists assume walkers have eyes in the back of their heads.
At Langley Park there is the entertainment centre known as Diggerland. Closed in winter. It has a vast collection of diggers, back hoes and cranes you can drive or ride on. Land Rover "safaris" and burger bars. A great day out for small children, parents and grandparents. Can hardly wait for summer!
                                Entrance to the fun palace. Doesn't look much but my Canadian nephew nephew loved it, "Best thing in England" he claimed at the age of five.
Beyond Langley Park, birthplace of Sir Bobby Robson, much loved manager of several football teams including England and Newcastle, we called a Herbie Spot. The mist ensured there was not a great view so we got on with the business of sharing Snickers, flapjacks, ginger biscuits and sausage rolls. Sadly Mrs A is on holiday.
Lunch over we continued on our freezing path, passing Bearpark. Bearpark is a pile of stones, we did not bother to stop today. It was originally named "Beau Repair" and was the Bishop of Durham's weekend retreat. The Scots knocked it about a bit, all that remains is a few ruined walls.
                              The government is aiming to improve the health of the over 50's. Cheek

                                       The River Brownie
 Bearpark in the misty moisty morning

Approaching Durham we had to make choices.
 At this point you can turn left, go through the farm at Baxter Wood, follow the river bank on a muddy track, cross a muddy field and emerge at Nevilles Cross, site of a battle  between the English and the Scots in 14th century, or carry on along the Lanchester Valley Walk, as we did.
The track goes alongside the main London- Edinburgh railway, there is a short steep path that brings walkers lout onto a bridge over the line. We headed downhill to Stone Bridge roundabout, turned left, then right, past what was Neville's Cross college and came to the view that makes the day worthwhile.
         The Cathedral of Christ, The Blessed Virgin and St. Cuthbert. Usually known as Durham Cathedral. Magnificent, even in the mist. A World Heritage Site and a must to see.
We caught  a bus back to Newcastle and visited the Three Bulls across the road from the bus station. A friendly pub which had Belhaven 80 shillings, Lancaster Bomber and  Doom Bar on offer.
This walk is easy, mud free and completely hill less, a good one for the family but needs a bit of organising as it is linear.
Contains OS data. Copyright. Crown copyright and database right 2017

The Matrix MMXVII E
                                                                              steps                            miles
NAK                                                                     23599                            9.67
Dave's 3D                                                            18913                             9.27
  ""     USB                                                           18565                             9.37
  ""  NAK                                                             19804                             9.33
iPhone                                                                                                         8.8
OUTDOOR GPS                                                                                        9.7

Friday, 20 January 2017

John Martin Allen Banks.........January 20th.(Northumberland)
Another favourite, last done as recently as October 2016. Five of us, Harry, Brian, John H. Dave and me are setting out yet again to walk the John Martin Trail from Haydon Bridge in Northumberland.
John Martin (1789-1854) was an artist, born in Haydon Bridge, famed for his vast paintings, often with a Biblical theme. Supposedly inspired by the rocks and gorges of Allen Banks his works include such delights as The Destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah and The Bard.
                 Belzhazzar's Feast. Looks like they feed as well as us gadgies
 The destruction of Tyre. Proper painting by John Martin
 The walk starts from a car park near the Shaftoe School in Haydon Bridge. To get there, west on the A69, turn right for Haydon Bridge, turn left, pass  the Anchor Hotel and after the Haydonianclub turn sharp left to the school and car park.
This week's breakfast was in Brockbushes Farm and Garden Centre off the Corbridge roundabout and on the north side.

             Brockbushes farm and gift shop. Good coffee and bacon sandwiches. And their tractor
The map to use is OS OL 43 Hadrians Wall, a double sided map and naturally the walk is covered on both sides to make life difficult on a windy day. Copy and laminate.
                   Car park near the school
                              Reverend Shaftoe ruined many a child by sending them to school.
The walk:
 We walked back down the hill past the school, crossed the road and followed the track past several new looking houses before reaching East Lands Farm, birthplace of John Martin.
                    I love this sign, designed to keep John's fans out
                  I suspect the TV dish wasn't there in 1789 when John was born in this humble cottage
Continuing west we came to Lees Farm and were greeted by the old three legged collie who lives there. Brings the tear jerker "Old Shep" to mind.
We walked past the cottages to the fields, crossing three muddy ones before coming to the gate in the corner which opens onto a road. The road took us down hill until we spotted the entrance to Allen Banks, a National Trust property.
                          Enter here for Allen Banks, woodland and river
                 John was inspired, so were we.
The path crossed a field before we entered Moralee Wood. We passed the tarn, which had no feathery inhabitants but does have a charcoal burner and began the descent to the River Allen. The path is steep in places, a little muddy today and the woodlands have recently been cleared of dead wood. Heavy rain just over a year ago caused rock falls and land slides but the path is completely open again.
  Ben models his new Rohan waterproof gloves. The path forks here, take the right one in the direction of the arrow

                                 Follow these signs to the river bank.
Once on the river bank we walked by the fields, up to a short stretch of road that brought us down to Plankey Mill, Herbie Spot. With picnic tables, even in winter.

            Are these the rocks that launched a few paintings?
Still life: ginger biscuit, pork pie, cheese scone with added cheese, apple pie and snickers.
Sandwiches too, and coffee(178 ponds, 12 stones 10 if you want to know)
Break over we continued across fields along the river bank before re-entering the woods.  The fields had been well ploughed by moles.
" Who was the longest burrowing leader in Africa ?"  asked Brian.
"Jomole Kenyatta"                                                                                                  
The path climbs steadily towards Stawards Peel AND TODAY IT WAS VERY MUDDY, to the point of being slippy.
Part of the path has steps fashioned from logs to help prevent erosion but I think we were all pleased to finish the final steep climb to the ruined peel.

Staward Peel, outside, inside, occupied and explained.
The peel was built on a narrow isthmus between two streams and the path leaving it is narrow. At the end we crossed a field before being back in the woods, following another steep and muddy path downhill, crossing a footbridge and climbing another steep muddy path, emerging into a field and walking to Harsondale Farm.

               There is a story here; Back in April I slipped on a log, fell heavily (190pounds) on my shoulder. X rays showed no bone damage but tissue damage. Physiotherapy and exercise has slowly cured the problem. Now I can step across logs easily.

                                                                                                                We walked along the farm track towards the road. Not far from the farm is a footpath well worth following on another day. It goes to Silly Wrea Farm, an establishment still using horse power for many of the jobs on the farm. But today we headed for the road, turned left and walked north east (mile 7), crossing another road and heading across fields to West Deanraw Farm.

               Looks fierce but very friendly, if muddy.
Beyond the farm we turned right and walked down the road to Castle Farm, near Langley Castle, hotel and wedding venue. Normally we pass the hotel and follow the footpath to Threepwood but for a change we followed the sign post near the Castle Farm which sent us back to East Lands Farm and the car park.
Changed we headed for the Boathouse Pub in Wylam which boasts a selection of 14 hand pulled beers. An ale drinker's pub, or is too much choice too little choice. Anyway I was designated driver.
A popular walk, 10 miles of woodland, field and scenery. Muddy in winter but enjoyable.

                                                                            steps                             miles
NAK                                                                 27404                               11.24
Dave's 3D                                                         23198                               10.67
  ""     USB                                                        22328                               10.57
  "" NAK                                                           22084                                10.54
iPhone                                                               24286                                10
OUTDOOR GPS                                                                                        10
Brian                                                                                                           10.02
Ben                                                                                                              9.92
Garmin                                                                                                        10.21
Walking time 3hrs 8 mins. Talking 1 hour 53mins (Talked too much?)
I have tried to put them together, without success. Need a child to explain
Contains OS data copyright. Crown copyright and database right 2017