Monday, 20 September 2021

 Out with the Gosforth Greens again. (Northumberland)  Sept 19

Unable to join the gadgies this week I made up for missing a walk by joining the Gosforth Greens walking group for a familiar stroll round Allen Banks.

There were seven of us out, we met at the National Trust Car Park close to Ridley Hall. Head west on the A69 and some ten miles beyond Hexham turn left, go under the railway and follow the road to the car park.

                        Two views of the car park. Unfortunately the ticket machine was not working so we were not able to pay the £4 parking fee. Every cloud and all that.

The map to use is OS OL 43 Hadian's Wall, which I am beginning bto think covers the whole of the north of England. 

From the back of the car park we took the psth that follows close to the River Allen. Easy going with some short climbs, beautiful river and woodland views as Autumn starts to turn the leaves.

                                 River Allen, with pebble beach.
Just over a mile  later we came to Plankey Mill, a popular picnic spot usually but very quiet today with only one family watching the dad burn the burgers.
Having crossed the river we crossed a field to the gate which is the entrance to more National Trust property. Almost immediately  the path starts to climb, quite steeply in parts, as it makes its way to the ruin of Staward Peel.
There is not much left of this unconquered peel tower but the remaining walls made  a suitable place to have lunch although we had only covered about 2.7 miles. Not being a gadgie walk there was no sharing, I kept my chocolate covered flapjack to myself.
                               The walls of Staward Peel
                                  Dining alfresco at Staward. My vegan pasty was much admired.
                       The peel tower was built on a promontory, steep sided with one access route made it impregnable.
Lunch over we followed the path high above two streams to a gate. Having crossed the field to another well marked gate we headed down a steep path, crossed the stream by means of a footbridge and climbed up the opposite side. The footpath down is fairly slippy, even in summer, walking poles are a help.

                     Steps down to the footbridge, most of the path is not stepped.
Emerging from the wood we crossed a field to Harsondale Farm, turned right along the road for a short distance before spotting the stile on the left for Sillywrea.
There were some fine looking rams in the field, waiting for their raddles. A raddle is, apparently, the jacket the tups wear this time of year to show they have found the affections of ewes.

                                               Woolly Tup, a bit distant for my camera.
Crossing the fields we came to Sillywrea farm which still operates with Clydesdale horses. Not much happening today.

Sillywrea horse. It is thought the name comes from Sallow Willows which may have grown here. Or Silly means happy which means the place is a "happy nook"
Just beyond the farm house we turned left down a track across fields to a road. Turning left we walked downhill and back to Plankey Mill.

                                       Plankey Mill footbridge.
We had planned to walk back to the cars on the east side of the river but the path was fenced off. Rather than risk a landslide we crossed the stream and returned the way we came.
For technical reasons I can't add a map at the moment but shall later.
The walk is about 6.5 miles with a couple of stiff climbs.

A few more

Saturday, 11 September 2021

 Slaley and Devil's Water (Northumberland) September 10th.

After a week's break for me we are off for a walk from the hilltop village of Slaley in Northumberland.The walk was published in the Times by Chris Somerville who has  a weekly "Good Walk " column and also a book of his suggested outings. * He is far more descriptive than me, names flowers and fungi too but never describes his Herbie lunches.

There is a grand turn out; Dave, Margaret, Harry, John H., John Ha., Brian, me and Ian, making a very welcome appearance after an absence of some months.

We stopped at Brockbushes Farm Shop on the Corbridge roundabout for tea and bacon. Possibly one of the best bacon sandwiches ever.

The walk is covered by OS OL 43 Hadrian's Wall. To get to Slaley from Newcastle take the A69 west, turn off for Riding Mill at the Corbridge roundabout, drive through Riding Mill and turn left up the hill to Slaley. No car park but if you ask nicely you can park at the Rose and Crown and visit afterwards. It's a community run pub and restaurant with a couple of rooms available too. Great staff, very friendly. Well worth a visit.

         The Rose and Crown, Slaley, and the car park next to it which we were allowed to use.

Slaley is a linear village with a community run pub, a community run shop,  a first school and little else apart from houses and farms. Two buses pass through the village each day heading for Hexham or Consett, depending which way you want to go. The village church, St. Mary's, dates back as far as 1832.

We left the car park and headed west along the village road, crossed the B6306 and followed a track  through fields passing Palm Strothers, East Dukesfield, Middle Dukesfield until we came to Dukesfield Hall. It's harvest time, some of the fields had been cut, some were waiting the arrival of a combine. The main crop seemed to be barley, fields of gold, which, in my humble opinion is the best song Sting ever wrote and is beautifully sung by Eva Cassidy.

                                        Brian leads the way.
                       A proper stile, could be in Yorkshire

From Dukesfield we walked round the edges of fields, following the well signed path until we entered a piece of woodland. Here there was a short but steep and slippy path downhill, tricky to negotiate for those with ageing legs. Walking poles are useful props.

From the bottom of the slope we crashed through a boggy, wood strewn patch until we reached a well made path.

It doesn't look too bad in the photo but the footpath was tricky.

From here on the path followed close to the stream, the Devil's Water, once a lead mining area but now a pleasant woodland stroll. As we passed one house a turkey and a peacock fled. At times we followed footpaths but eventually joined  a well made track. Near Viewley, a track junction, we called a Herbie having walked 4.5 miles, half the day's target.

Turkey and peacock, leaving quickly and it's not Christmas.

Underneath the spreading conifer trees we shared: apple pies, SkinnyWhips (lemon), flapjacks, savoury flapjacks, almond slices and apple cake.
Having lunched we followed the track south east, then east in Slaley Forest. The track, being a forestry road was straight, unlike the rolling English roads of poetry, and it climbed steadily for what seemed miles. 
                                           Slaley Forest welcome you.

Eventually we turned north, just as the only shower of the day encouraged the donning of waterproofs which are a bit pointless on a humid day as they cause as much perspiration as the rain they keep out.

At Spring House we turned into the caravan park. Some bought ice creams at the shop. The footpath is not too clear but a worker from the site kindly pointed it out to us. The path took us through woodland and then across fields to the Lead Road at Blue Gables. here we turned right, followed the road to a cross roads. Here we could have taken the road back to Slaley but chose to stick with the official route and walked across fields. The footpath took us to within yards of the Rose and Crown. Naturally, as we had used their car park, we used their facilities and enjoyed Pennine Beer or Nells Beer, or Soda and Lime for the noble drivers..A lady asked if we had done the walk because it had been in the Times. She told us a good few walkers had been inspired by the article and, not surprisingly, it had been good for business in the pub.

Contains OS data, copyright. Crown copyright and data base right 2021

The walk is about 8.5 miles. mostly easy going.

 A few more:

* The Times, Britain's Best Walks contains 200 of Christopher Somervilles Good Walks. It is just one of his publications on the outdoors.


Ray Craven, one of the original gadgies, died on Wednesday September 8th, victim of Motor Neurone Disease.  

Ray was known to the gang as "The International Man of Mystery" . A loving husband and father, a caring colleague to those he worked with and a good companion to us all. We shall miss his company on our walks.

We have decided that today's walk will be remembered as the "Ray Craven Memorial Walk " and will be repeated every year at this time.

Thanks for your company Ray, it was a privilege to walk with you.


Saturday, 28 August 2021

 Back to the coast. (Northumberland) August 27th

After the long country walk the gadgies are back at the coast, repeating a favourite walk from Seahouses Farm near Howick. (Not to be confused with the town of Seahouses.)

Six in the team; Brian, Margaret, Harry, John Ha., John L and me.

The walk is covered by OS  Explorer 332 Alnwick and Amble. 

To get to the farm A1 north, turn east north of Alnwick, through Denwick, through Longhoughton, past the car park for Howick Hall and down to the sea. There is limited off road parking.

                  Car park at Seahouses Farm on a gloomy morning.

From the cars we headed south along a track to Iron Scars, turned through almost 360 degrees and headed north on the recently refurbished footpath/cycle path to Craster.

                                      Iron Scars.
On the way we passed the bathing house originally built for the ladies of nearby Howick Hall. There are steps down to the water too. Now it is a holiday let.

                                          Bathing House near Howick Hall.
Our usual coffee shop in Craster, the Shorline, was crowded so we carried on, passing the Jolly Fisherman and the harbour.
                             Crab sandwiches in the pub, fish and chips from the van. Brisk business today as there are many more visitors than usual because of.....................
                            We're having kippers for tea

                               Craster harbour.
From Craster we followed the crowds towards the ruin of Dunstanburgh Castle, built by the Duke of Lancaster.

We took the footpath to the side of the castle and eventually walked down to the beach, leaving the Northumberland Coast Path/ St Oswald's Way to continue our journey on the sand. The sand was wet but firm and the walking was fairly easy with a bit of shallow plodging.  
At Low Newton by the Sea we stopped for a Herbie.

                        The square and pub (The Ship) at Low Newton. We shared apple pies, savoury flapjacks and lemon cake from Mrs A, marmalade cake and chocolate biscuits.
At this point my camera gave up for some reason so no more pictures today.
Lunch over we went behind the square and took the path towards the bird hide at the nature reserve but didn't stop . The path continues through the golf course and a collection of weekend cottages to the parking area close to Dunstan Steads. Up the road and left at the farm walking along the concrete strip that is supposedly a tank path from WW2, until we reached Dunstan Square. Turning right along the road we soon reached Proctors Stead and the village of Dunstan.
Turning left at the end of the village we past Craster Tower and reached Craster South Farm. From here we crossed fields to the car park at Howick Hall and turned left to walk the road back to Seahouses Farm.
On the way home we re-hydrated at the Ridley Arms in Stannington. Farne Island Blonde went down well.

                                        Contains OS data, copyright. Crown copyright and database right 2021
The walk is about 12.5 miles, easy going, lovely coast and country.

Thursday, 26 August 2021

 Lady Anne, the Landlord and the Wharfedale Blonde. August 2021, Yorkshire and Cumbria.

This year's long walk is a large section of the Lady Anne Way which wanders the dales from Skipton to Penrith. Four of us, Brian, Margaret, Dave and I are walking approximately two thirds of the walk, finishing in Kirkby Stephen which used to be in Westmoreland but for almost fifty years has been in Cumbria.

As usual we have used Mickledore to organise accommodation and transfers when needed and as usual Mickledore have come up with the goods.

Lady Anne Clifford was born in Skipton Castle in 1590. Eventually inheriting a series of castles she set out to restore them and some  churches.  Generous towards her tenants, she built alms houses in some places.

The walk is covered by three OS maps;

OS OL 2 Yorkshire Dales, South and West

OS OL30 Yorkshire Dales North and Central

OS OL 19 Howgill Fells and Eden Valley

Please note this is not a guide just a report on our walk. There is a guide book available written by Sheila Gordon  and titled Lady Anne's Way. Published by Skyware Ltd. ISBN 978-1-911321-02-06

It is also possible to download GPS maps from walkingenglishman.

Getting to the start;

Brian took the four of us plus four bags and four rucksacks to the start of the walk in Skipton.

On the way we stopped in Silsden, the small Yorkshire town where my elder sister and I were born. Yes, in the house.

                          Number 2, Cragg View, Silsden. No electricity, toilet in the yard, tin bath brought in from the yard. We moved when I was nearly five to a posh place with electricity and a bathroom.
We lunched in a small park and moved on to Skipton, checking in to a pub/hotel called the Woolly Sheep. The owners very kindly said we could leave the car in their yard all week so it seemed only fair that we eat and drink with them, especially as the pub had a full range of Timothy Taylor's fine ales.

                      Great Inn, great beer. Shame to leave.
Day 1
 Fully fed we walked up the high street to the church, turned left, crossed a bridge and found the start of the walk, opposite the:
                     The walk starts opposite the pie shop

From the start the trail goes directly north, crossing fields and the Skipton Golf Course to a road where we turned east down Brankenly Lane, under a railway bridge and on to the village of Embsay where there was a nice little coffee shop.

Morning break over we moved on down the village road, found a trail sign, cut across a couple of fields  to Eastby. After a short distance on a road we joined Bark lane, a track and headed East across fields to the wonderfully named Calm Slate which seemed to be the centre of the local ice cream industry.

                         Ice cream van convention.
Onwards to Halton East, looking for a marker, not always easy to find on the Lady Anne Way but having found it we headed north across fields and rough moorland to a road. Turning right we walked downhill, left at the junction and soon reached Barden Tower.

                        Barden Tower, one of Lady Anne's homes. On our walk it was being used for a wedding venue and we were politely asked to leave as it was  a private party.
A little further on past the tower we turned right and crossed the River Wharfe at Barden Bridge. From here we followed the riverside path across fields to Burnsall, the stop for the night.

                    The Manor House at Burnsall, part of the Red Lion hotel where we ate and drank. Amongst others, the Red Lion kept Wharfedale Blonde, a fine ale in my opinion.

 Contains OS  data, copyright. Crown copyright and database right 2021

Day's distance  12.01 miles                                     Running total 12.01 miles (19.3 km)

Day 2
Leaving Burnsall after the full English breakfast we crossed the river and headed north east across fields to South View where the path turned north west and after more fields we were in Hebden.
Almost two miles later we were in Grassington, pretty village devoted to tourism so naturally we stopped for coffee and a little people watching.

Looking back at Grassington.
We re-joined the LAW at the north end of the village. For the next seven miles the path crosses fields and moorland but eventually we arrived in the village of Kettlewell, too late for another coffee but after a brief rest we headed off for Starbotton. Dave and Margaret followed the official route on the east side of the river, Brian and I walked the Dales Way on the west. We all arrived about the same time at the and some enjoyed a pint of Wharfedale Blonde before checking in at the Fox and Hounds for the night. It was also the eatery for the night.

Fox and Hounds, Starbotton, cosy friendly pub/hotel.

Contains OS data, copyright. Crown copyright and data base right 2021

Distance for the day 14.12 miles                                       Running total 26.13 miles (42.05 km)

Day 3 

We left the comfort of the Fox and Hounds after a substantial breakfast of bacon, egg, sausage, beans, hash browns, mushrooms and tomatoes. I declined the Black Pudding.

Crossing the river we followed the Dales Way path close to the water until we reached Dubb's Lane, crossed over the Wharfe again and reached the village of Buckden.

                           Views of Wharfedale.

From Buckden we made the first climb of the walk, hauling ourselves uphill through Rakes Wood to Buckden Rake and the start of the almost eight mile walk across fairly flat moorland. 

                       Addleborough, aka Table Mountain. Visible everywhere near Askrigg

Looking down on Seemer Water.
Eventually the path started to go down from the open and rather boring moorland to the village of Worton. Here we crossed the River Ure and crossed fields into Askrigg. From Askrigg we had a pre-booked taxi to Hawes, our next stop. Having some time to wait we went to the King's Arms which sold King's Blonde.
The taxi took us to the White Hart hotel in the centre of Hawes where we stayed and ate. Great pub/hotel with an interesting local character.
                            Contains OS data, copyright. Crown copyright and database right 2021

                                White Hart Inn, Hawes. Ynnuf kcolc.
Distance for the day13.45 miles                                          Running total 39.58 miles (63.7km)

Day 4.
After the usual breakfast we were taken back by taxi to Askrigg. As on day 3 we had cut out the last section of the LAW we walked back across fields to Worton and then to Nappa Hall, a small ruin. From Nappa we returned to Askrigg although we managed to get split up and I finished in a very fine but private garden. Back, eventually in Askrigg we had coffee before setting off again.
From Askrigg the path heads west across farm land until it reaches Sedbusk, small village but some shelter from the rain which had started. After a break we continued through a succession of spring stiles which are sometimes so narrow it's a squeeze through. Having reache Simonstone House, a fine looking hotel we headed down hill to Hardraw and the Green Dragon, once visited on the Tributaries Walk (qv).
                                  Simonstone House hotel
                                 It has fine views too

                           Green Dragon at Hardraw. Timothy Taylor's Landlord on draught. Just what was needed after a hard day's walk.

From Hardraw it was a short walk across the fields back to Hawes and dinner in the White Hart. On the way we watched two young ladies and one collie round up a flock of sheep and drive them on. Two girls and a dog, good idea for a TV programme.

Contains OS data, copyright. Crown copyright and database right 2021
Day's distance 10.15 miles                                      Running total 49.73 miles (80 km)

Day 5

After another substantial English style breakfast we set off again from Hawes, walking through the village to find the LAW path which initially heads west across fields then north to the hamlet of Appersett. From here we followed the River Ure to Collier Holme Farm where we started a long steep climb up Cotter End. Fortunately there was a bench at the top for a well earned rest. Once on the move again we had an easy walk contouring along the Highway which is possibly an ancient drove road. We crossed Hell Gill Bridge which was rather disappointing , continued on Old Road to The Thrang where we crossed the valley road and crossed fields to Outghill.

The taxi took us to Redmayne House in Kirkby Stephen where we were welcomed by Liz and Rob. An offer of tea and cake was very welcome and Liz kindly offered to have our wet clothes dried.
                                          Art on the hill
At Outhgill we had a short wait for our pre arranged taxi. We waited under a Yew Tree in the grounds of St Mary of Mallerstang, a church restored by Lady Anne in 1663
                         St Mary of Mallerstrang, Outhgill
                                      Staue of Lady Anne Clifford in Kirkby Stephen
                            Redmayne House, parts of which date from 1648

In the evening we took a taxi to the Black Bull in Nateby. A very busy  pub, obviously popular on a Sunday but they supplied us with a welcome dinner and Bombardier ale.
                                   Black Bull at Nateby

Contains OS data, copyright. Crown copyright and database right 2021

Day's distance  11.76 miles                                                       Running total 61.49 miles (98.9km)

Day 6.
Breakfast over were taken by taxi back to Outhgill on the last day of our walk. Going back through the churchyard we crossed the river and headed north to Pendragon Castle, another ruin.

From the ruin we followed footpaths over fields and down narrow lanes. Some of the lanes were so narrow and the nettles were so high we could have done with a achete or two. The route bypassed Nateby, following the River Eden, crossed a dismantled railway and entered Kirkby Stephen by Frank's Bridge, the start of a popular local walk. After tea in the town we headed back to Redmayne House to freshen up before a final meal on the walk back at the Black Bull in Nateby.

Contains OS data, copyright. Crown copyright and database right  2021.

Day's distance 6.2 miles                                                              Final total 67.69 miles (109km)

Going Home
Next day, after a large breakfast, we were taken by taxi to Kirkby Stephen station from where we caught a train to Skipton. Once of the train, and watching it disappear, one member of the party admitted to having left a rucksack on board. The railway company were very helpful. Unable to contact the train directly the rucksack loser was permitted to travel on the next train to Leeds where the item was still on our train, which fortunately had not started its return. The sack was retrieved, the owner returned to Skipton and we set off home. Those of us who remained in Skipton wandered the town and viewed this fine statue.

Fiery Fred, great Yorkshire and England bowler. My childhood hero.

And a few views on the way.