Saturday, 7 October 2017

Another repeat, but does it matter, the John Martin Trail is always a good walk. (October 6th)
  Over the usual post walk pint last Friday we had the usual discussion on our next outing. I remarked that The Times, in its list of "the best autumn walks" had chosen Holy Island for Northumberland. Lindisfarne, to give it its other name, is a fine walk, a bit flat, dependent on tides and by no means the best autumn walk I could think of.
Somebody suggested The John Martin Trail. It has woodland, perfect for autumn colours, three shortish climbs, river banks and fields. Perfect for a dry day  in October, even though we have walked it several times before.
On the way we stopped at Brockbushes farm shop for the usual breakfast. It's just off the A69 at the Corbridge roundabout and has a busy little restaurant. And a Pick Your Own fruit farm in season.
                     Breakfast at Brockbushes
The walk starts at Haydon Bridge in Northumberland. Take the A69 west from Newcastle, turn right for the town, turn left just before the bridge, turn left by the club and park in the area near Dr. Shaftoe's School. It's free.
                This week's car park near Shaftoe School. (GR NY843640)
The map to use, and it is a good idea, is OS OL 43 Hadrian's Wall.  It's a double sided map and naturally the walk is on both sides, photocopy and laminate, never mind sarcastic comments from daughters.
The walk;
We walked past the school to the Social Club, crossed the road and followed the lane past several houses on the right and some new build on the left, under the A69, passing East Lands Farm on the way where John Martin was born. As a reminder, John Martin, artist (1789 - 1854) was born here. He painted proper pictures, large, colourful and often with Biblical themes.

               Top, The Destruction of Pompeii, not biblical of course. Bottom: The Great day of his wrath

                 John Martin;s birthplace. The fact is recorded on a plaque on the end.
Continuing along the farm lane we came to Lees Farm where we were greeted as usual by the sheep dogs. The three legged one was not there, perhaps gone to the great shepherd in the sky.
 We went through the farm yard, past the cottages and followed the sign post across fields and uphill, the first short climb of the day. It was a beautiful autumn morning, the view back across the Tyne Valley is spectacular.

Top; It's a bit early for true autumn colours
Bottom; Tyne Valley
After crossing a couple of fields we came to a gate and followed the road downhill to the entrance to Moralee Wood.
There is a small lake in the wood, it appears to be clogged with lilies and weeds, rushes ring it and there was no apparent bird life on it. There is a charcoal burner though.

           Charcoal Burner and pond.
 There are several marked trails through the woods, but as followers of John Martin we took his which wanders down to the banks of the River Allen through rocky terrain, supposedly his inspiration. After walking along the edge of field the path came to a road and we were at Plankey Mill, always a Herbie Spot on this walk. A grassed area, (cars £3 a day) there are a couple of picnic tables close to the river, trees surround,an ideal spot.
              Herbie Spot.  Home made cookies from John Ha, Ben's famous ginger biscuits, my humble home made flapjack, flapjack bars and  scones from Mrs A.

               Bridge at Plankey Mill. Not on our route. There was a mill here but nobody seems to know why it's called Plankey. Maybe they sawed wood, simple as that.
Having feasted we moved on across the fields by the river before entering the next National Trust wood (Staward Wood) and beginning the short but steep climb to the ruin of Staward's Peel. Built in the 14th century, mostly from wood, there is little left and what is is covered with brambles at the moment. Built at the end of a narrow strip, once a Roman Temple, high between two streams it must have been easily defended. The path away from it has steep drops on either side and the views across the valleys are well above tree top level.
                           Remaining stone wall, coverd by mother nature
                         Artist's  impression
At the end of the path we crossed a field to the gate that leads to Harsondale Burn woods. Downhill, across a footbridge and uphill, another steep climb, but short and pretty with sunlight dappling through the trees. (what a wasted life I've led, should have been a bad poet)
Out of the wood we crossed a field to Harsondale Farm and turned right along the lane. Deciding to have a variation on the usual John Martin trail we crossed a stile on the left a few hundred yards from Harsondale Farm and walked more fields to the farm at Silly Wrea.
I like this farm, it still uses horse-power for much of the farm work although not much was happening today, the horses were relaxing in the fields.
                  One of the horses at Silly Wrea, (on the right, not John) The farm in the background.
Silly Wrea means quiet corner apparently. The family have had books and TV shows made about the farm.
From the farm we walked along the lane, turned lft to Lough Green, turned right and walked across fields and a green lane to the cottage at West Deanraw.  Back on a road, not a favourite with gadgies, we walked to the Castle Farm and turned right. Just before the castle, now used as a hotel, wedding venue and tea room, we took the track on the left, crossed more fields before entering the woods alongside Langley Burn. At the end of the path, joining the road we turned right and at the next junction took the road to Haydon Bridge. After going under the A69 we turned right into the small park and were soon back at the car. changed we headed for the Boathouse pub in Wylam, beer drinkers paradise. It claims to have 14 beers on hand pumps, plus a few lagers.

Part of the bar at the Wylam Boathouse. The coffee was good too.
This is yet another good Northumberland walk that should get more publicity. A few climbs, woodland, fields, riverside scenery and a pretty picnic place to boot.
A bit short on the pedometer readings again as Dave is away.
NAK                                                      26232 steps                             11.58 miles, generous
iPhone                                                    22839   ""                                  10,7  "
OUTDOOR GPS                                                                                      10.4  "
Brian's GPS                                                                                               10.7  "

  Contains OS data, copyright. Crown copyright and database right 2017

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