Saturday, 23 September 2017

Good morning Gloria Raven.                       (Brough Law, Northumberland Sept 22nd)
Occasionally I get a note from Gloria who lives in New Zealand but whose family came from the Ingram Valley area, swapping one beautiful bit of country for another.
The weather is doubtful, possibly wet for most of the day so we have opted to stay near home and do a favourite walk.................. Brough Law!!
The walk starts from the Valley Cottage café which used to be the information centre in Ingram Valley. To get there A1 north, A687 from Morpeth and turn left at the sign for Ingram.  After about four miles turn left down the lane past the holiday homes and the church and park in front of the café.
The walk crosses two maps, OS OL 16 The Cheviot Hills and OS OL 332 Alnwick and Amble. The car park is at GR NU019163, approximately, on OL 16
We six are John H., John Ha., Brian, Ben, Dave and me. We have done this walk several times, in fact Brough Law has become an in joke, usually muttered in the pub when proposals for next week are bandied about.
St. Michael's church has 11th century origins, 13th and 14th century additions and a font dated 1662, just after the restoration of Charles II.
The valley  (Ingram = grassy farm) suffered agricultural decline from 14th century onwards but as a result there is evidence of Iron Age and Roman settlements all around, several hilltops have forts and some settlements are plainly visible.
                     Valley Cottage café. Part café,part information and book stall, part museum. A notice on the door says open march to September but the lady told us she would probably open some days a week throughout the year. Phone number is 01665 578948.

                     Part of the display in the café. It covers the history of the valley going back to the Iron Age. The lower picture is a Quern, used for milling corn. There is a village near Lancaster called Quernmore, once the centre of stone mill making. Honest.
                         This week's car park, at the café. It has picnic tables too, ideal for sitting at as you boot up.
The walk, at last.
In the corner of the car park, in the gap between the trees in the picture above, is a footpath through a small wood that brings the walker to the valley road. We turned left and walked along the road, passing Ingram Farm with its small flock of peacocks, almost to the next car park (and toilet).
                    Peacocks and peahens at Ingram, not in display mood
                          Follow this grassy path
On the left hand side, but without a sign post, is the path that leads uphill to the top of Brough Law. It is quite steep for ageing gadgies but not overlong. It goes alongside the wood and finally reaches the summit, passing through the tumbled down walls of the Iron Age fort.

                         Brough Law Hill fort, bivallate and thought to have been at least nine feet high when it was built.
The climb is well worth it for the views of Northumberland. North west to Hedgehope and the Cheviot above the Breamish Valley. South to Simonside and east to the North Sea.
Having admired the views we wandered off along the green path heading south meandering over the moor past Ewe Hill with its flocks of sheep and, if you care to take off and find them, several ancient settlement outlines. There are several paths across the hills, none of them particularly well marked .
The one we followed turns east after the three mile marker on the map and comes to a point where four fences and walls meet on Cochrane Pike.
From here we headed downhill through the bracken and crossed the Rocky Burn, where markers magically reappeared.
                    The bracken is fairly high. Once we saw a farmer cutting it which is unusual. He said it was laid down in a barn over winter and then sent as a mulch to Howick Hall, home of the Grey family tea makers.

                             Second climb of the day, Old Fawdon Hill, complete with trig point.
The marker at the bottom of the hill sends the walker contouring round it, but we took the well worn but unmarked path directly to the top of the hill.
It was breezy so we descended from the trig point and settled down for a Herbie.
                      It's Herbie time. Two course meal today, the main consisting of Pork and Apple Pie from Petch's Famous Pie Shop in Great Ayton and a slightly humbler Melton Mowbray pie from Sainsbury's. Sweet was Ben's ginger biscuits, cookies from John and Alpen bars. At least two of us kept our sandwiches for tea.
Lunch over we managed to stand up and headed downhill to the farm at Fawdon. The footpath here crosses fields, a sign warned that the cows had calves with them but they ignored us, as usual.
At the farm we followed the sign post north which goes round East Hill ,where on occasion we have spotted the hang gliders who use it as a launch pad.
Crossing a recently harvested field waiting for the plough we came to the minor road that leads to Branton, turned left and after a hundred yards or so entered the Branton Ponds Conservation Area.
Formerly a gravel pit the ponds have been converted to a home for Grey Lag Geese, a few Canadas, some swans and a variety of ducks.
We walked round the ponds to the bird hide and settled down for a break, being very quiet in case a kingfisher landed on the branch outside. None did, probably as well. Some people get excited when they see them and shout out, much to the disgust of the patient wild life photographer who has sat waiting for one for two hours.

                 Geese on the pond and the inside of the hide
               Not much to offer on gate fastenings today. This is a standard farm gate sprung bolt model.
Bird watching over we completed our circumnavigation of the ponds. Back on the road we turned right. Just before the footbridge which crosses the River Breamish we climbed a fence and followed a footpath on the south side of the river which passes Ingram Mill and brought us back to Ingram Church and the car park.
Changed we headed for the Anglers Arms at Weldon Bridge, very much one of our favourite pubs. The three ales on offer were Mordue Blonde, Doombar amber and Bombardier. The two I had were most refreshing.

The Matrix MMXVII  Z to the n+2

                                                                  steps                                              miles
NAK                                                            23346                                         10.4
iPhone                                                         22857                                          10.1
etrex20(4 hours walking  1 hour 10 mins talking)                                           10.7
Dave's 3D                                                     23574                                         10.37
  "" USB                                                       22473                                          10.28
  "" NAK                                                      22343                                           10.22
Sylvia's mother                                           22911                                            10.49
Brian                                                                                                                 10.26
This is getting silly

Hope you enjoyed the walk Gloria.
And a few more pictures.