Tuesday, 10 January 2012

Old Rooklands,    January 7th.

   Strictly speaking this does not qualify as a gadgie walk; certainly no buses and some of the walkers were in their twenties. However it is a pleasant stroll on a fine day and I was invited to join the group by John Lockey who is a proper gadgie and there were at least two others who qualified.

  The walk starts in Alwinton in the upper Coquet Valley, a pretty village with a pub, The Rose and Thistle, but no shop or cafe. There is a carpark, with a charge of £2 for a whole day and a public convenience where Dave once found a £5 note and now always makes sure he pays a visit, just in case. On OS map OL 16 the carpark is at GR 919063. Alwinton is best approached by car through Rothbury, Thropton and Harbottle.
Alwinton means the village or farm on the river: there are several ancient settlements in the area.
  Leave the carpark and walk back towards the tiny village green. If you are a Scot or Yorkshireman you can park here for free, but it spoils the view.
  There is a footbridge here that crosses the Hoseden Burn. Cross it and turn left, you are on Clennel Street.
  Clennel Street is a very old drovers' road between England and Scotland. Once used in the numerous cross border raids, for driving cattle and smuggling, it is now a pleasant trail for walkers. This area of the Upper Coquet was also used by illicit whisky makers, including two with the names Jack Kane and Black Rory, the sites of their stills can still be found. (Google Clennel Street) . Should Alex Salmond get his way and Scotland be independent he may impose heavy taxes on alcohol. This would lead to convoys of quadbikes, driven by Geordies, taking trailers of super strength lager across the border,  headlights dimmed, engines muffled but how would they darken the windows of their vehicles.
  Clennel means "clean hill" in the sense that the grass is not full of weeds, and the path is quite broad as it winds up the hill. On the hill on your left is Castle Hills, an ancient settlement and there are more ahead also on the left. After a little over a mile the path forks, today our group took the left trail and followed Clennel Street to Kidland Forest, a man made plantation currently being felled.  Almost immediately on entering the wood turn right on a good forest track which meanders downhill until it reaches the River Alwin. Turn right and follow the river. The river bank has been heavily reinforced with large and quite regular blocks on the first bend, they make a good lunch spot. They are really there to protect the bank and stop the formation of Ox bow lakes and putting Geography teachers out of work.

River Alwin Valley. You can just see the river on the right, hiding behind the telegraph pole.

Follow the road down the valley, crossing one bridge, but just before the second bridge turn off on a footpath up Rooklands Syke. The path is narrow and a bit steep at times but leads to the ruined farm Old Rooklands.

   Old Rooklands, usually a Herbiespot, but not today.

Follow the path infront of the ruin and after about a mile and a half walk through fields hit a metalled road. Turn right. Keep on the road past Rookland farm, across fields, through a small wood , past a caravan park to Clennel.Walk through the farmyard. Ahead is a footbridge with signs advising you to take care with your fishing rod as there are overhead power lines. Cross the footbridge, cross the fields and you are back on Clennel Street. Turn left and you are on the tiny village green, complete with the cars of Scots and Yorkshiremen too mean to support National Parks.
 The Rose and Thistle is a very friendly pub, serving a tasty real ale and providing meals.
 This walk was 10 miles on my super new walking App on my iphone and 10 miles on the good old higear pedometer.  A good walk, not too demanding and the views are great, typical Cheviot country.
 Dennis O'Connor in his charming book about a cat Paws in the Moonlight brought his feline friend on a camping expedition to this part of the county. He travelled on horseback, camping near Alwinton. Must have been fun.



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