Saturday, 26 November 2011

Женныъс Лантерн
Jenny's Lantern November 24
   In 1959 the Everly Brothers had a hit with a song called "Poor Jenny" written by Boudleaux and Felice Bryant. Not one of their greatest hits in the UK, it was the tale of a teenage couple going to a party which ended in "a heck of a fight". Poor Jenny got arrested for being a teenage gang leader and was jailed. Her family, not surprisingly, were hot on the trail of her boyfriend. Great stuff, a ballad of teenage angst, no an operetta. I still think their best song is "Always Drive a Cadillac."
 The Jenny of the title of this weeks blog was a far more sensible woman. Legend has it that Jenny stood on top of a hill at night with a lantern, guiding her husband home from his drinking session in an Eglingham tavern. The hill now bears the name "Jenny's Lantern." Sounds like the sort of wife we gadgies need. An alternative explanation for the name of the hill is that "Jenny's Lantern" is a local name for will o' the wisp, the phospheresccent light seen on marshy ground.
  There are seven gadgies out today, (A heptagadge) last week's crew has been joined by Cornish Johhny, friend of Dave, registered gadgie and keen, knowledgable musician. Proper music that is, Jazz, sixties pop and so on. Henceforth to be known as musicmeister.

Today's walk starts in Eglingham, a pretty linear village in Northumberland. From Newcastle take the A1 to Alnwick, go through the town and shortly after the castle take the B6346 to Eglingham. There is some parking on the lane down to the village church which is dedicated to St. Maurice,* patron saint of English dancers.  It was built in the 12th and 13th centuries, like much of this part of the country was sacked by the Scots, and rebuilt in the 17th century. At the right time of year you can buy home made preserves in the church, an honesty box is provided. Down the village street you can also buy farm vegetables from an open stall, honesty box also provided. Sainsbury's, Morrisons etc. please note! Use OS81. The church is at GR106195.

St. Maurice's church Eglingham.

From the church walk past the village inn, The Tankerville Arms, a lovely friendly pub and restaurant, past the farm vegetable stall until you come to a signpost on the righthand side of the road. Go through the gates, carefully closing them behind you of course, and follow the path on the south side of the Eglingham burn through several fields. Keep Kimmer Lough on your right hand side. On our walk the lough was home to a large flock of geese which took off, circled in a magnificent skein and landed back on the water, becoming a flock again.  Dave thought they were Greylags but was not too sure.
Once across the Titlington Burn turn right and follow the path uphill, turning off to the left to climb to the top of the hill called Jenny's Lantern. On the top is the ruin of a building described as an eyecatcher, a type of folly, possibly built round a shepherd's cottage. It makes a good Herbiespot.

 Although we were not welcomed by a lantern waving wife, nor by Harry's mythical Scandinavian Air Stewardesses, Jenny's Lantern made a welcome Herbiespot, especially as a short sharp squall arrived, forcing us to don waterproofs. I think that's my glove on the left. Forget the blue sky, it rained. Of course I brought pies. I am the pieman.

From Jenny's Lantern the walk continues almost due west to an L shaped plantation. Between the Lantern and the plantation is a small tarn, there were many small ducks on it, either wigeon or teal.  In the crook of the L is stone cairn. at this point turn north west downhill. But take care, do not cross Titlington Burn and walk up the side of the field towards Titlington Mount or you will be hunted down by an irate farmer on a quad bike and ASBOed. Instead turn left down a tree lined farm track south of the burn. Just before Titlington nip across a field which is not a right of way but joins one at the next fence. When this path reaches a road turn left and almost immediately turn right through Titlington Woods. Once through the wood follow a rough path westwards to the Trig Point* *on Titlington Pike.
Shepherd's Law, Hermitage of St. Mary and St. Cuthbert. The chapel is on the right.

  From here you can see Shepherd's Law, an 18th century farm which since 1971 has been slowly rebuilt as the Hermitage of St. Mary and St. Cuthbert. An ecumenical retreat with a beautiful modern chapel completed in 2004.***
Take the path above Shepherd's Law towards Beanley Plantation. Once inside the woods turn left at the first forest trail and then turn right almost immediately. This uphill track is very muddy, the ground having been churned up by a large John Deere machine with half a dozen deeply treaded tyres. The machine strips the conifers of their branches and cuts the tree down. No tartan shirted "I'm a lumberjack and I'm OK" chaps round here!
 When you emerge from the wood onto a road climb the bank on the right and cross the fields to have a look at "The Ringses"****. Nothing to do with Tolkein, the Ringses are the remains of a 2000 year old fort and settlement. Dave likes them!
Turn south and walk to a track, turn left and after about half a mile turn left on to a badly signed path that leads over fields and back to Eglingham
 My pedometers worked well today, giving readings of 10.61 and 10.08 miles. Dave had trouble, one pedometer working in kilometres, neither being too close to mine. The Benometer said 10.7 miles, measuring on a map gave just under 10. The walk is easy, little climbing, but at this time of the year it is muddy.
  We finished the walk about 4pm. The Tankerville Arms was closed until 6, winter hours I suppose, which was a shame so we were forced by circumstances to retire to the Anglers Arms a Weldon Bridge to check the quality of the Timothy Taylors Ale. It was excellent as usual, we sat round a real fire and discussed how, as children, it had been our job to bring the coal in, some of us had had the old style ranges which were fires and ovens alongside. Today we all have central heating, and much better it is too. The beer and crack were so good Brian suggested we stay the night, nice idea, should do it sometime, then the drivers can drink too!
* Not really, before you tell me it's spelled "Morris". He was a leader of the 3rd century Roman Theban Legion and patron saint of soldiers, swordsmiths, armies and infantry.

* *Trig point. Before satellites the UK was mapped with incredible accuracy by the Ordnance Survey. Trig points, truncated square pyramids, were erected on hundreds of high points and used in mapping. George Everest did a similar triangulation mapping of India, hence the name of the mountain.
*** It has a web site with history, pictures etc.
****The Ringses, a multivallate hillfort, deep defensive walls and several settlements around it. Not covered inthe Hillforts book mentioned elsewhere, presumably because they are outside the national park. Shame.

привет русcкий  читатели!

And finally, the College of Arms has been pleased to award me a coat of arms. I had it designed by a young cartoonist and writer of a soon to be published children's book. It is a pie couchant with crossed quills. My motto is borrowed from a walking society that is hibernating, The Wobbly Bellies. In case your Latin is not up to scratch it means "Seldom Passed but often inebriated"  It was translated from English by my daughter, so blame her if it is incorrect.


Lord Blogpiemikester

Saturday, 19 November 2011

Tea shops and tea trails November 18th.
    This week my blog has been visited 17 times by people in Russia and 12 times by people in the United States. Why? I can't imagine Russians wanting to know about walks in the North of England, Americans maybe. Let me know, but preferably in English.
    Anyway there are six of us out today, a super selection of sexy sexagenarians wandering the moors around Allendale. We are going to follow part of Isaac Holden's tea trail,*  following in the footsteps of a man who, in the nineteenth century, sold tea to the farmers and miners of this part of Northumberland whilst his wife stayed at home to mind their grocers shop.
  Our part of the walk starts in Allendale. From Newcastle take the A69 to Haydon Bridge, turn left onto the A686 and at Langley turn left onto the B6295, through Catton to Allendale.  On LR 87 the town centre is at GR 838559. In the square there is a tea shop supplying excellent bacon sandwiches and tea.
 This area was once the centre of a thriving lead mining industry. The first record of lead mining is in 1230(AD not GMT or even BST) but it was not until the mid 16th century that the industry really expanded, and it continued well into the 19th. As a result the area could be an industrial  paradise for someone like Dave wearing his archaeologists hat, but not today, we are walking. In spite of the mining that went on here the area retains a certain beauty, the river valleys are deep and wooded, the moorland bleak, you almost expect to see Kathy running across the landscape crying for her Liverpudlian waif.**
I could have been a Geography teacher but I was hopeless at P.E. although I had a jacket. If you look carefully at the picture of the River Allen you can see many sedimentary layers of rock. Out of sight on the right of the river are old flood plains, or haughs. (See St. Oswald's Way)

  The Tea trail from Allendale leads off the square, down a steep road, crosses the River Allen and follows a well marked trail across fields, through woods and farmyards. Sometimes the markers are the yellow Public Footpath signs, occasionally the tea trail markers with a silhouette of Isaac. Between fields there are stiles or kissing gates, ***a lovely walk for a happy couple. At New Shield we left the Tea Trail and followed a mere public footpath to Low Acton where a track led to a minor road. Turn left on the road and after a half mile there is a good track on the right. A large sign says "Private", a smaller one maintains there is no right of way but as we have nearly all been awarded ASBOs ** **by irate land owners at times, and as we are all poor readers, we took the track anyway. On my OS map the track runs alongside a kite shaped plantation, Dave's more up to date and larger scale map also shows a plantation, but it has gone, eaten by Jenkins Forestry Products.  But just beyond  where the North West corner of the plantation would have been if the plantation still existed are two small and securely locked corrugated metal huts. Peering through the window we could see bottles of soft drink, beer and cider, provisions for the brave and noble hunters who come to the moors to defend the nation from grouse. Although we could not get in, not being brave and noble hunters, we made use of them as  an al fresco Herbiespot.

Five gadgies, from left to right;
Vogelmeister, halfmarathonmeister, punmeister, dashing and debauched Ray, routemeister. Photo by blogpiemikester.

  Obviously shamed by last week's failure Dave had brought a supply of pork pies, but so had I. They were welcomed and I acquired the title "blogpiemikester". The college of Heralds are designing my new coat of arms, " a pie rampant, with quill".
  After lunch we continued on the track across Acton Moor. There are some superior shooting butts alongside, sixteen in all and numbered   "16 1",  "15 2"  "14 3" etc. There must be a reason for this, all sensible suggestions will be considered.  Eventually the track runs out and there is a considerable stretch of Lauder grass to cross before reaching a minor road. Turn right and make a decision. It is possible to take a footpath in the direction of Ninebanks and rejoin Isaacs Tea Trail or, as we did, follow the road for about a mile and then take the footpath to two chimneys on the moor. Relics of the days when the area was a centre for lead mining the chimneys are the end point of stone built flues that lead up from the old smelter.  Although now ruined it is possible to follow their line back down to the valley of the Allen and be amazed at their construction. Apparently small boys were employed to work their way up the hillside inside of them collecting any lead (or silver) that had been deposited on the walls. Not surprisingly, life expectancy for the miners of the area was not very high.
 On reaching a road, turn right and wander back into Allendale. Allendale has several nice pubs and some strange traditions. On New Years Eve the locals take to walking round the town square with blazing barrels of tar on their heads, an activity that the Health and Safety people must surely stop soon. Was Oliver Cromwell the first Health and Safety officer, or just plain miserable I ask. We chose the Golden Lion which sold Timothy Taylor's Landlord but I was driving.
  It was a grand day for pedometers: Dave wore two which measured the walk as 8.54 and 8.97 miles. I wore two but lost one, the remaing Higear gave a reading of 9.6 miles. The Outdoor GB App, bought at considerable expense, had used 43% of its battery after 4.5 miles although the young man in the Apple Store told me how to conserve power. The Benometer said 10 miles. Dave measured the walk on a 1:25000 map as 9.8 miles, my attempt on 1;50000 said 9.5. 9.5 seems about right.

* Roger Morris has produced a delightful booklet about Isaac Holden and his tea walk, called  Isaac's Tea Trail. I like to boast my copy is autographed by the author, we met him on his allotment near Birtley once.
** I went to see the latest film version of Wuthering Heights last week. It contains a version of a classic joke which I could not print here, but if anybody knows the story of the young man who took a degree in wit and repartee after being insulted by a clown you know the one. Presumably so did Emily Bronte.
*** For my foreign readers: A kissing gate is a gate that swings inside a V shape, only allowing one person through at a time. Traditionally you kiss your partner as they go through. If my book of Cumbrian gate fastenings ever gets written ther will be a photograph.
**** Again for my foreign readers. An ASBO is an Anti Social Behaviour Order, dreamt up by the last government for minor misdemeanors and worn as a badge of honour by the awardees.

Friday, 11 November 2011

High Cantle      11-11-11

   There are five gadgies out today, four from last week and Ben the halfmarathonmeister.
   The plan for today was to walk up Hedgehope from Hartside in the Breamish Valley but the low cloud changed our minds for us, no point in going where you can't see anything.
   Instead we opted for a gentler walk from Hartside. To get to this farmhouse from Newcastle, shortly to be renamed Sports Direct on Tyne, take the A1 north, A697 just north of Morpeth and a couple of miles north of Powburn take the road on the left signposted Ingram. Drive as far as you can, to the sign that says  "no cars beyond this point, please". This is Hartside, GR 977162 on OL16, The Cheviot Hills.
  From Hartside, especially on a misty day like today, follow your nose along the surfaced road that leads to the tiny but very attractive settlement at Linhope. There are only three or four houses, lovely place to live if you don't like going to the pub. On the right and a little way up the hill is an ancient settlement called Grieves Ash. It is an interesting site  for Dave and has special meaning for me. The next time we walk there all will be revealed, so keep reading! The road becomes a track and  after about half a mile there is a junction. The right fork is signposted "Linhope Spout", a very pretty waterfall and well worth a visit, but not today.  Take the left fork which leads over the moors. Today it was very muddy and low cloud made it difficult to see but thanks to intuition and a magic needle, an improved version of the magic fish used in that terrific film "The Vikings", we wandered westward to Rig Cairn, turned on a bearing of 250 degrees and eventually came to High Cantle. From here a rough path leads down a steep slope to the valley of the Breamish and a farm track. Turn left on the track and soon you come to a barn like structure which makes a good Herbiespot, inside on a damp day or outside on fine days. It was a damp day. The two tups * in the shed looked ready for work.
An attractive Herbie spot on a damp day.

 Last week Dave, the vogelmeister, had not brought his usual offering of mini pork pies, as he is on a low fat kick. I made a mental note to buy some but forgot until the morning of the walk. Fortunately our local Sainsburys** opens at 7am so I was able to get some long before we set off, cut them into correct gadgie halves and add them to my lunch box. I even packed a couple of sachets of HP Sauce***.  They were welcomed by all, Dave was rightly ashamed, guess he will bring some next week.
Joke of the day:
American to Irish diver.  "Why do you fall backwards off the boat ?"
Irish diver. "Because if I fell forward I would still be in the boat."
The other jokes are not fit to print.
After a fond farewell to the tups we continued along the track past High Bleakhope Farm. Be careful, two years ago as Harry and I walked past this farm an irate farmer ran from the house politely asking us not to look through his window. It's the isolation that gets them.
 Further down the track is Low Bleakhope farm. Here you can turn left and follow a track back or you can do as we did and follow the old Salters Road over the moors.  A lot of money has been spent upgrading this track and work is still going on. We suspect there will be a plantation appearing shortly, or shooting butts.
  After about a mile and a half a grassy track leads off to the left, passes several low level grouse shelters and feeders and joins a surfaced road. Turn right, walk past Alnhamoor Farm and stay on the road to Hartside.
  The pedometers have worked well today if a little generously, averaging out at about 8.5 miles, enough on a poor day.
  The Anglers Arms had its usual supply of Timothy Taylor's and I wasn't driving.
* tup  northern word for a ram
**For my increasing number of foreign readers, Sainsburys is a British supermarket chain
*** Again for those of you not familiar with British delicacies HP is a spicy brown sauce named after the Houses of Parliament.
Those of us of more mature years learned our French from the side of the bottle which used to have printed on the label:
"Cette sauce de haute qualite est un melange de fruits orienteaux, des epice................"
Now it is made in Belgium or somewhere and the French has gone.

Wednesday, 9 November 2011

Saint Oswald's Way November 4th. Haughs and Heughs

In the early days of  Christianity in England  Northumberland seems to have produced its fair share of saints. Cuthbert, Aidan, Hilda, Wilfred and Oswald  to name but five.  Cuthbert is probably the most famous as he was carried round the north east in his coffin before the pallbearers decided Durham was not only a good place to bury him but an imposing site for a cathedral too. Health and Safety would not allow that sort of thing today.  The Venerable Bede didn’t quite make it to sainthood but did write a book on the history of the church of Enland some several hundred years before the Reformation, a great act of foresight.

  Two of these saints also have long distance footpaths named after them, Cuthbert and Oswald, and today  a team of four gadgies are following a section of St. Oswald’s Way from Rothbury to Longframlington.  As well as being a saint Oswald had been a king. When he died his arm was taken up by a raven which flew off to a tree, afterward known as Oswestry (think about it). His head supposedly rests in Durham Cathedral although three other religious houses in Europe also lay claim to owning it.

  We seem to be acquiring nicknames, I am the blogmikester, Harry is the routemeister because he usually plans the walk as nobody else can be bothered, not because he likes London buses, Brian is the punmeister and poor Dave has been unfairly christened the snotmeister because he has had a cold recently. I think I shall call him the vogelmeister because he is good at bird recognition.

 The walk starts in Rothbury, easy to find from Newcastle. Follow the A1 north to its junction with the A697 signposted Wooler and at Weldon Bridge turn on to the B6344 for Rothbury, a pretty little town, ample parking and several cafes for a bacon butty to start you on your way. (Except for Ray but he wasn’t out so it doesn’t matter.

  Because St. Oswald had his arm taken by a raven some of the markers on the route have a silhouette of  a raven, some are just public footpath markers and some are proper finger posts.

  From the main street take the road that crosses the river and turn left. Walk past the road leading to a caravan site and a little further on turn off the road at the “St. Oswald’s Way” finger post. The footpath leads through woodland, there are easily spotted markers and some kind soul has tied plastic yellow ribbons round the trees, even though they are not oaks.

  You may, if you wish make use of the dismantled railway line for a while, it is less muddy and the paths eventually converge. The footpath continues through fields and patches of woodland until you reach the road bridge at Pauperhaugh.* Admire the bridge but do not cross  it.

The bridge at Pauperhaugh.

Turn right and walk up the road a few hundred yards before turning left into a field. After a few hundred yards there is a dilapidated old farm building with a mini hemmel** and a rusting tractor.  We made it a Herbiespot and settled down for lunch. The vogelmeister coyly admitted he had not brought his usual offering of mini pork pies as he was getting concerned about their fat content. A feeble excuse really as they have become one of the traditions of gadgie walks. Next week I shall make sure I bring a supply.  The tractor was carefully examined by Dave who lived in Coventry and knows about these things. It had been red so couldn’t have been a John Deere, I think he said it was an International.

  After a few awful jokes to make up for the lack of pies we continued via Thorneyhaugh and Middleheugh*** to a point on the river across from Brinkburn Priory a 12th century priory famous for escaping destruction by marauding Scots by not ringing bells, used in summer for outdoor concerts of classical music and owned by English Heritage. It was closed anyway, like a lot of England. 

  The path then continues through Brinkheugh and Thistleyhaugh  to Weldon. Pause on the old road bridge and watch the river. We saw several salmon leaping the weir, a dipper and some distant ducks that were difficult to identify.  If you must,  walk past the Anglers Arms, turn right and go under the modern bridge that carries the A697. Take the track through High Weldon, past the gun shop at Low Town and follow the road into Longframlington. A few hundred yards down the road  opposite the Village Inn  (See “The Invisibles”) there is a bus stop and an hourly service that takes you back to Rothbury. A proper gadgie walk, including bus passes!

  There has been a lot written recently about feral English children and their appalling behaviour. The bus we caught was obviously a school bus and the twenty or so teenagers on it were very well behaved. And like children all over the north east they each thanked the driver as they got off the bus.

  Back in Rothbury and after a quick change of footwear we drove back to the Anglers’ Arms at Weldon Bridge. Timothy Taylor’s Landlord or Abbot, and I was driving.

  Not the best of days for the classy HiGear pedometer which sulked but ASDApeds claim  9.2 miles. And quite easy going too.

*Pauperhaugh.  The inhabitants may well have been poor but it comes from Papworthaugh, whoever he was.

** Farm outbuilding, usually with several open arches.

***Haugh and heugh. Not a spelling mistake.

A haugh is a piece of flat land near a river.

A heugh  is a promontory or hill.

Tuesday, 1 November 2011

Walking with a gadgette October 24 - October 31

   There has been a gadgie walk this week, but not for me as I have been on holiday with my wife Kathleen, who is 65 and qualifies as a gadgette, although she is not too keen on walking.
   We went with our friends Evelyn and John to Madeira, an island we have visited several times. It is an excellent holiday island, far south enough to remain warm all year, high enough for some serious walking and for pleasant easy strolls there are the famous levadas. There are 1335 miles of these irrigation channels on the island. They were built to carry water down from the higher ground to irrigate the rich agricultural areas below, and they are still used for that purpose but they are also popular for walking. Generally speaking they slope very gently down hill, occasionally passing through tunnels, often apparently  stapled to the sides of cliffs with vertiginous drops to the valleys below. Choose with care if you suffer from vertigo.
   For one afternoon's stroll I chose the Levada dos Tornos *which carries water from the north of the island mainly through tunnels but a good starting point is near the Monte Gardens, accessible by bus or cable car from Funchal the island capital.
  We travelled by bus, mainly because we had bought 5day passes from the local bus company but also because  the gadgette is terrified of cable cars ever since an American fighter plane cut through the cable of an Italian cable car some years ago. I did persuade her to ride a cable car up a mountain in Austria, she sat in silence with eyes shut for the whole journey.
   To reach the start of the walk from the bus stop we had first to negotiate a rough path through woodland until we came to the spot where the levada emerges from a tunnel. After an easy start my problems really started. We soon came to a section where the path alongside the levada was about 18 inches (45cm) wide and the drop about 200 feet (60m) and there is no railing.  I knew the gadgette was not too happy when she threatened to smash my head in for bringing me to this place. The problem was solved quite easily. Evelyn and I got a stick about  4feet long  (120cm). I held one end, Evelyn the other and the gadgette, still cursing, walked between us with a movable handrail!  It boosted her confidence and saved my head. Sadly I was unable to take a photograph of the happy scene.
   Eventually of course we passed the hairy bit and the levada  wandered on through woodland, eucalyptus trees, agapanthus plants, brightly coloured finches and a dead rat in the water.

Kathleen, assisted by home made walking poles climbs towards the Levada dos Tornos (right). This is an easy section the side sloping quite gently to the left.

   We walked on for another  4miles (6.4km) where we came to a small settlement and after walking down the road for another mile or so found a bus stop and bus to take us back to Funchal.
   Before you start thinking I am being cruel to my wife I should point out that she has suffered from a very rare form of arthritis for several years and her achievement on this walk demonstrates that the drugs she is taking are having some positive effect and she is determined to overcome the problem.  In my humble opinion, her walk today was, as young people say, AWESOME. ** And I felt proud of her.
  We had several other walks on the island, mainly proper tourist walks with pauses for tea and scones or something more adventurous like Fanta.
  One day we visited the Madeira Story Museum, very interesting and buttons to push for children. The island gets a mention from Pliny the Elder and Ptolemy, which fascinates me. The ancients must have been brave to travel so far across the Atlantic. They refer to it as "The Purple Isle". Modern Europeans found it in when Zarco, a Portugese sailor sailed there in 1420 and claimed it, as you do, for Henry the Navigator. However there is a tale that in 1344 an Englishman on the run with his lover landed on the island but both sadly perished. This man from Bristol was called Machin. Now I have a nephew by marriage called Tim Machin, actor, singer, teacher and general good guy living in Toronto. I think he could possibly have a claim to the island, becoming King Tim or at least president. Tim, if you do, you will need a Chancellor of the Exchequer and I have a calculator.
* A good guide to walks in Madeira is  Walking in Madeira by Paddy Dillon, published by Cicerone.
** Normally I attribute being awesome to God or the universe, but there are exceptions.

Back to proper gadgie walks next week, the days are getting shorter, we could be walking railway lines. And thank you Estonian person for reading my blog! Getting to be quite international.