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Saturday, 25 March 2017

 Murder most Foul. (Northumberland ) March 24th
MUD HEATHER AND LAUDER GRASS WARNING!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
Ask most people living in the North East of England what they know about the village of Elsdon and they will say "The gibbet".
In 1791 William Winter was executed in Newcastle for the murder of an elderly lady, Margaret Crozier, who lived in a bastle house near Elsdon and ran, from home, a small shop selling material. His body was taken to Steng Cross, a hill above the village and hung in chains to rot. A replica of the gibbet post remains, but William is represented by a wooden head.
As you may have guessed, today's walk is centred on Elsdon. A sleepy village in Northumberland, the name comes from Elli's dene or valley, it has a church, a fine motte and bailey castle, a pub, a shop, a car park and a penfold. To get there take the A69 west, the A68 north and at Ridsdale watch out for signs on the right pointing towards the village.
The map for this walk is OS OL 42 Kielder Water and Forest. The car park is at  GR NY 937933
The church is dedicated to St. Cuthbert; his mortal remains rested here as the meandering monks took him to Durham. The church has 12th century origins, rebuilt in the 14th century. Nearby is the vicars peel, a fortified house to defend the villagers against referendum seeking Scots during the many border wars and skirmishes.
                   St Cuthbert's Church Elsdon. A large church for a tiny village but once upon a time Elsdon was larger and busier.
The car park is small, can only take a few cars, but there is plenty of space round the village to leave a vehicle.
The team today is: John x 3, Harry, Ben, Dave and me
                  This week's car park. And look how bright the day is. On Wednesday it rained heavily, on Thursday it was cols and windy but today it is bright, a little warmer and there is a light breeze.
The walk at last.
We started off on the metalled farm road heading east from the car park towards Landshot. A good start, very gentle slopes and a hard surface. Beyond the second farm building at Landshot we took the supposed footpath north east across fields and over Landschot Hill. The ground was soggy but the hard work started when we began to climb up King's Dod. Heather and the clumps of grass we used to call Dougalls after the dog in The Magic Roundabout. It's essential to watch the ground rather than the scenery.


                          The dougalls get worse later.
We struggled on, tripping in the heather until we caught a glimpse of Darden Lough and finally made it to the trig point on Darden Pike.
                                 Darden Lough
                                       Which way now? Two mapsters and a GPS
Just beyond the trig point there is a cairn and a broken gate. A short distance beyond the gate is a path that curves round Miller's Moss. The footpath is very narrow, quite slippy and on occasion it was easier to walk on the adjacent strips of heather. At a rocky outcrop we called a Herbie Spot. I have marked the Herbie Spot incorrectly on the map, it should be by the spot height 244m about 4.5 miles into the walk.
Today's Herbie Spot. Some had soup and sandwiches. We shared Mars Bars, oat cookies, chocolate caramel slices and chocolate, ginger biscuits from Ben and sticky ginger cake made by my own fair hand. (Under close supervision) I think I will change my title from blogmeister to cakemeister. Eat you heart out Mrs A.
Feasting over we headed downhill on another muddy track past Cloven Crag to the Grasslees Burn.
                                     Cloven Crags in the distance.
Having crossed the stream we turned left and waded through the sodden field to Grasslees, walked west for a short distance along the road before making up a path on the north side of Grasslees Burn to a farm track close to The Raw, the site of the murder of Margaret Crozier. Look on the map, there are three bastle houses in the area, or their remains at least. Oh those awful Scots.
We walked past this:
 The sign says it is a hemmel. We say it isn't
                               But this is a stell, although part has collapsed

Heading west (mile 7) we crossed more soaking fields until we reached what is probably a military road. The army has a large training area in nearby Otterburn, the edge is marked Danger Area on the map and there are warning signs advising you not to pick up anything.

                               It's a flare, but I left it alone.

Thankful to be off soggy, difficult ground we walked along the road to High Carrick. (just after mile 8) here we turned left, walked past the farm and followed a well constructed grassy track that looked as if it had been built for some industrial purpose, until we came to Elsdon Burn. Nothing for it but to wade through, gaiters have their uses and kept most of the water out.. After struggling through more wet land and crossing Folly Sike we hit the road close to the farm marked The Folly. From here we walked back along the road to Elsdon, preferring the road to the last bit of soaking footpath.
Changed we went to the village pub Bird in The Bush. The pub is being completely renovated but the bar was open. Sparsely furnished but with a real fire, we were told renovations would be complete in July. Really friendly place, with Wainwrights ale, a beer from Ringwoods in Hampshire and Golden Host from Jennings. Tea came in a mug and coffee in a large cafetierre. Support this pub!
In summer with drier conditions underfoot this would be a really good walk if only for the panoramic views of Northumberland.

The Matrix MMXVII                   LL
                                                                         steps                                 miles
NAK                                                             35762                                 13.54 (And I had adjusted it)
Dave's 3D                                                    28412                                   12.5
  "" USB                                                      26078                                   12.34
  "" NAK                                                     25688                                    12.16
iPhone                                                         29439                                    12.5
OUTDOOR GPS                                                                                      11.45
John C                                                                                                       11.9
Contains OS data. Copyright. Crown copyright and database right 2017
                             Elsdon Motte and Bailey
                               "Vicar's tower" A peel or fortified house.