Saturday, 29 September 2012

Almost the Bizzle.........September 28th

 The Cheviot is a long extinct volcano, fortunately, or Wooler could be the Pompeii of north east England. On the north side of the Cheviot are three gashes cut into its side by glacial action some 12000 years ago. They are the Henhole, (See  The Henhole September 23rd 2011) the Bizzle and Bellyside.
There has been yet another bout of heavy rain in the north of England this week. Homes in Newcastle and Morpeth have been flooded and all rivers are swollen, nevertheless we have decided to walk in the hills this week and to ascend the Bizzle. ( I tried to find a meaning for this word but Google could only offer a pop group or a sexual practice and neither seemed really appropriate. I'm guessing but could it possibly be derived from birce, an Old English word for birch, a common tree in the area. Let's hope some expert reads this and supplies an answer.)
There are five gadgie plebs out today, plus Ray who claims to be a prole. I secretly think I am patrician but having been born in a two up two down terrace house in Yorkshire   without electricity and brought up on a council estate (Social Housing today) in Lancashire it seems a rather tenuous idea. Six of us, the luxury of two cars!
To get to the start of the walk, in the Harthope Valley, A1, A697, turn off into Wooler, take the first on the left, (tight turn), past the village hall and the YHA, take the right fork, turn right at the sign for LANGLEEFORD, past the delightfully named Skirlnaked (from Shrieknaked, a reference to its exposed position!) At the end of the valley thare is a parking area on the left.
A map for this walk is useful, take OL16 The Cheviot Hills. The car park is at GR953225.

Doesn't look much look like a car park but it is, slightly soggy today.
                               Pictorial evidence of its status as car park. Yes, they are Rohan shades.
 We followed the path across the road  that leads up Hawsen Burn. In spring we have seen Ring Ousels up this burn, and adders too, bare feet are not to be recommended. The path leads uphill quite steadily to a style in the fence on the shoulder between Hawsen Crags and Blackseat Hill. The path down from the style is muddy at the best of times but surprisingly, considering the recent heavy rain, it was no worse than usual. Meeting a track we turned rigjht and walked along it a short way before taking the path through a plantation. Emerging from the wood we crossed  a couple of fields and a stream as we approached the farm at Goldscleugh. ( No mines I'm afraid; probably "Golda's Cleugh" the latter word meaning ravine.)
                   The old farm house at Goldscleugh. It appears to be used as a store now, a newer house
                                                         is on the right.
  Goldscleugh is the last building in the valley and therefore the end of the metalled road, the next park of the walk, which took us to Dunsdale about one mile away.
Dunsdale is another valley farm house but the building is used as a holiday cottage, probably a great place to stay, central for walks, isolated from the world.

                                   Dunsdale means Hill and Valley, it's at the foot of a hill
                                                               in the valley.
  From Dunsdale we were intending to walk up the Bizzle itself, which has a long walk in followed by a climb and scramble out, but for some reason we took the path on the tongue between Bellyside Burn and the Bizzle itself. Walking close to the edge of the Bizzle we followed a path for the best part of two miles, climbing steeply at times until we reached Bellyside Crag. Half way up, looking into the valley of the Bizzle, Dave, wearing his geologist's hat stopped us and pointed out that experts thought this was the site of the last glacier in England, which had retreated about 11700 years ago.
                         Looking into the site of the last English Glacier.

                 Heading up from Dunsdale. I think that the cairn to the left of the plebs
                 is the remains of a memorial to servicemen killed in wartime  plane crashes
                                                                     on the hills.
  The views from this hill are worth the effort, the College Valley beneath you, which is my favourite valley in the Cheviots, and panoramic views into Scotland and across Northumberland to the sea.
We lunched at Bellyside Crags. Bellyside comes from either Old English for hill or Norman French for pretty)  For once nobody had brought pies but two of us had ginger biscuits, Ben's homemade melt in the mouth slightly spiced wonders and Ringtons gingers which are generally considered to be among the best mass produced biscuits.
Close to the crag was an interesting looking device. Like a large witches cauldron it had a solar panel on one side, facing south. On the top were two rectangular pieces of plastic which bent in the wind and it appeared there had once been four of these, placed on the arms of a cross. Inside the cauldron were a number of egg boxes and wires were connected to the arms of the cross. My idea was that it was somebody's Ph. D experiment into wind strengh and the effect of a hostile environment on paper egg boxes.  (And today was very windy!)
 If I had half a brain I would have taken photographs. Any expert out there with an explanation?
Lunch over we headed  south east across the peat hags of the Cheviot plateau towards the hill's summit. Again, because of the rain, we expected the hags to suck us down but they were no worse than usual and soon we were on the flagstone path that has been laid across the top of this mountain and reached the uninspiring summit.

                                          On top of the volcano.
 From the summit the flagstones led us north east and downhill  before climbing the short stretch to the top of Scald Hill. Coming down the other side we took the footpath heading east and down the hill until it emerged on the road a few hundred yards from the car park.
Changed, we headed for The Anglers Arms at Weldon Bridge, a favourite watering hole after a walk as you may have noticed. On offer were Speckled Hen, Black Sheep Bitter and that king of beers Timothy Taylor's Landlord. (Nectar sipped as my father in law used to say)
Five barrels!

The Matrix

                                           steps                              miles
Hi Gear                             22185                             10.07
Little Black                      21871                              10.19
LIDLUSB                        22452                              10.63
ASDAPED                      11617                                5.5     Something wrong here!

OUTDOORS  GPS                                    8.93 miles
Dave's measure                                          8.6   miles
My Measure                                               8.7   miles
 The pedometers are again pretty similar, apart from the last. I think 9 miles is well worth claiming.
A good walk out, shorter than last week but some of us had evening events diarised into ou social matrix and wished to  home early..

                                                      Ambulo, ergo sum.

Saturday, 22 September 2012

Cumberland Gaps.... September 21st

About 1974, during the reorganisation of the British mainland counties, Cumberland ate up most of Westmoreland, much to the disgust of its inhabitants, and those parts of Lancashire which were in the Lake District, and finally changed its name to Cumbria and is now one of the biggest - and because of the lakes the most beautiful.
  Today five gadgies, pun, route, vogel, debonair and blog have squeezed into a Skoda Octavia and set off to do a walk from Seathwaite at the bottom of Borrowdale.
Seathwaite has been mentioned before but to save readers looking: from Newcastle take the A69, M6, A66 and near Keswick watch out for the signs for Borrowdale and just before Seatoller turn left, past the yurts (gers) to Seathwaite. A map is recommended for this walk and, like all the best walks it requires two:
OS OL 4 and 6, The English Lakes, North West and South West. We parked on the roadside at GR236124.
However, before starting the walk, indeed before even going to Seathwaite we stopped in Keswick for a bacon butty at The Coffee Lounge. Easy to find; as you drive into Keswick from the A66 turn into the first car park and there, conveniently close to the public toilets is the Coffee Lounge.
Served by big Eric, this is the best bacon butty found so far. A large bun, almost half a pig inside, proper bacon too, and a small salad. Washed down with tea, no ifs,no buts, five flitches..

The walk.
We walked right through the farm yard and along the track to Stockley Bridge, the easiest part of the walk.
                                 The farm at Seathwaite, Seathwaite Fell in the background.

                                               Stockley Bridge over Grain Gill before it becomes
                                                                      River Derwent.
   Having crossed the bridge we went through the gate directly opposite and walked up the forst hill of the day, over Greenhow Knot, alongside Styhead Gill to the Styhead Tarn. Here the path turned west and followed the biblically named Moses Trod path down to Wasdale Head where we stopped for lunch, declaring a Herbiespot outside the hotel, sitting on the grass in the sunshine.
Nearby is St Olaf's, church. Its foundation is unknown but probably pre reformation, although tradition says that its roof timbers are from a Viking longship..
Wasdale Head hotel has a bar called Ritson's which holds an annual contest for the biggest lie.
                       Looking a bit chubby there Michael, too many pies and bacon butties.
Several years ago the view looking north from Wasdale was voted the most beautiful in England. Hard to disagree.
                                           Kirk Fell on the left and Great Gable.

 Lunch over we turned north and headed up alongside Mosedale Beck past Ritson's Force in the direction of Black Sail Pass. This was a long hard pull up the side of Gatherstone Beck but worth it for the view of Ennerdale, slowly being stripped of its coniferous plantations which are to be replaced by deciduous trees. And down below we could see the famous Black Sail Hut, our next port of call.
Black Sail Hut is a Youth Hostel, probably the most isolated one in the country. It was a shepherds bothy but now has accommodation for a limited number of hostelers. It can only be reached on foot by guests, although there is a Land Rover track for the warden. We stayed there some years ago and were treated to a night of curry eating and beer drinking, the place is legendary, but not open all year round.
Walkers are invited to make tea or coffee and buy a piece of cake, money to be placed in an old tea pot! We  took afternoon tea and chatted to a group of Americans who were walking the Coast to Coast route. I think they could well have qualified as gadgies but we English are too polite to ask.
Brian and Ray entertain a couple of American walkers outside Black Sail Hut


One lady tried to catch me out asking who was the Beatles first drummer and was pleased to get the answer Pete Best. A long conversation on their music followed, she promised to watch out for the film "Nowhere Boy"* On a higher cultural level we discussed Shakespeare too as they were regular attenders at the Oregon Shakespeare Festival. Separated by a common language our two parties set off in opposite directions.
 The next part of our route, much to Dave's delight as he is a geologist as well as an archaeologist was over a series of "Hummocky Moraine" now more scientifically known as  "Moraine Mound Complex" I always thought they were drumlins.
We headed south east on another steep climb in the direction of Windy Gap between Great and Green Gables but turned off the usual path and struggled up the Tongue to Gillercombe Head before turning south until we were just below the summit of Green Gable. From here the path meanders down in a north east direction across Gillercomb to Seathwaite Slabs at the head of Sour Milk Gill.

    Looking west from Gillercomb Head, Pillar and the Buttermere Fells.

                                Recent heavy rain pouring over Seathwaite Slabs down Sour Milk Gill.
 The path down the side of Sour Milk Gill is steep and rocky, a bit of a scramble and needs some care but at the bottom the path leads directly back to Seathwaite farm and the car.
It was a hard walk, involving quite a lot of uphill work but worth every step for the views on a bright and rain free day. Speaking personally, I was knackered. We set off home calling in at the Horse and Farrier pub in Threlkeld, a few miles east of Keswick just off the A66. As with many pubs today its main business is food and there was no room for drinkers to sit so we stood to consume our rehydrating liquids. (Coffee for me, the driver) The pub sells a range of Jennings beers from Cockermouth, normally very drinkable, but with no seating for tired gadgies the pub only gets three barrels from me.
  In my car I had three CDs; Willie Nelson's Greatest Hits, Beatles Number 1s and a compilation of cowboy ballads by Marty Robbins, Johnny Cash and Willie Nelson. For some strange reason not many gadgies like the cowboy ballads. Terrific songs like El Paso where the singer dies in the arms of his true love having been shot by the posse seem to pass them by. (Songs like this break one of Miss Buck's rules of story telling: Never write a story where you, the author, die  because you couldn't  write it. Lacking imagination that woman!)
Anyway they tolerated Willie Nelson, singing along to City of New Orleans,the best train song ever but we all sang along to the Beatles Number 1s, Knew all the words, Harry played guitar, Ray "Ooooohed" beautifully and our harmony on Yellow Submarine was a lesson for today's crop of pop stars. To quote someone, "Thank you very much and I hope we passed the audition."
New scheme, Music to drive home by: this one gets 5 notes.
On this occasion we should really have been singing Cumberland Gap, a hit for Lonnie Donnegan many years ago.

The matrix          
                                       steps                    miles

Hi Gear                      32661                       14.828        
LIDLUSB                  33295                       14.173
Little Black                33703                       14.65

Outdoors GPS        11.7 miles
Measured on map  11.7 miles

The three pedometer readings are remarkably similar although  way out. probably because of the shorter steps taken climbing up steep slopes.

Contains OS data Copyright. Crown Copyright and data base right 2012
* Nowhere Boy.  A recent film about the teenage years of John Lennon. Well worth watching .

P.S.  As write this I have 50 American hits against 3 UK hits. Love to hear from you!

Wednesday, 19 September 2012

Convents and Causeways... September 18th
 If this is a gadgie walk it should be Friday, but it isn't. It's Tuesday and today Dave the vogelmeister and I are having an extra walk out. Although we said we would never do the Edlingham walk again we have had a slight change of heart and are doing a walk of interest starting from the church of St. John the Baptist. To get to Edlingham take the A1, A697, turn right onto the B6341 and turn left into the village. Turn right and park near the church.
We set off up the lane from the church and continued uphill a short way before finding a signpost on the right directing us to Birsley Woods.  The walk is well signed and after crossing two fields we walked along the outside of the wood before heading diagonally in a north west direction to Birsley Woodside Farm.
                        I do not know what offence this crow had committed but he/she was
                                executed on the edge of Birsley Wood. Country ways!
 Turning right on the road we walked a few hundred yards before spottting the marker on the left  and walking westwards  across a field before turning north west on the Devil's Causeway, a Roman road.
The line of the road is quite clear, cut into the slope of the land, although it would be necessary to dig down to find evidence of the stone base. The road continued across two fields  and in the north west corner of the second we crossed, with the aid of some wobbly stepping stones, a small stream and headed towards  High Learchild Farm. Before reaching the farm our path turned north across two fields until we reached the embankment of a dismantled railway.
(The correct route is to turn right  about 200 yards into the field from the stream and head slightly east of north until you come to the track leading to the crossing cottage)
On the embankment we turned east and followed the old line until we came to the crossing cottage)

                                     The old railway line, Beechinged!
  At the cottage we turned left along a good farm road. On the right hand side of the road, in the first field is the site of Learchild Roman Fort. There is nothing to be seen unless you are in the air, from where you can see the outline of the fort. In this area two Roman roads met, so the fort had some significance at the Roman equivalent of Spaghetti Junction.*
At the end of the farm road we turned right onto a minor road leading to Alnwick. Probably the worst part of the walk as the road does not have a footpath and is quite busy. We crossed one junction and at the next a signpost on the right directed us across a field to Battle Bridge Farm. Passing through the farm yard we followed the path downhill to a footbridge across the Edlingham Burn and declared the sunny field  on the south side of the stream a Herbiespot. After the usual pies and sandwiches we continued up the side of the ploughed field and found in the south east corner a gate leading to Lemmington Hall. However we decided to save the hall for later and turned left past its pretty little brick built Garden Cottage. At the first junction we turned left and at the next, back on the road we turned right and walked for about a half mile to Broome Wood. Opposite the farm building a gated path took us past the Keeper's Cottage and across a field beneath the Lemmington Branch.

                         Lemmington Branch, an 18th century hilltop eyecatcher.
We followed the markers across two fields before entering Lemmington Woods. Almost the first thing to be seen in the wood was the "Paradise Stone"
  The word "Paradise " is carved into the stone. Some fittings have been stripped from it. Anybody
   knowing more about it, please let me know.
     Emerging from the wood we saw an old railway bridge on the left but turned right and after a few hundred yards found a gate with a notice saying that the fields on the left,  with Lemmington Hall at the far end were Open Access Land and we were welcome to cross them.
In the field, and hardly missable we came to a large standing stone with "I will lift up mine eyes unto the hills" engraved on it. Very suitable as beyond the stone in the distance the Cheviot range was clearly visible.
                                              From whence cometh my help.
                                              Distant Cheviots
 Near the stone is a column, designed by Sir John Soane, Built in the 18th Century a memorial to James Evelyn, a relative of the diarist John Evelyn. Originally sited in Felbridge Park Surrey it was brought to the north as an ornament in 1928. On its base is a carving of a self swallowing serpent, a symbol of eternity.
                                                 James Evelyn's Memorial Column,
                                               engraved with verses.
Also in the field were several memorial stones, carved with initials  and a beetle. The hall was owned in the 1920 by Sir Stephen Aitchison which probably explains why the last initial on each stone was an A.
And at the bottom of the field is the hall itself. Built in the 18th century, roofless and ruined by the end of the 19th it was restored in 1913 for the above mentioned Sir Stephen. It is now a convent.
                        Lemmington Hall, now a convent but looking like the ideal spot for some of
                           Jane Austen's maidens to swoon behind their fans as D'arcy walked by.
Also in the fields by the hall was a fine example of possibly medieval "Ridge and furrow" The ridges are so high and the furrows so deep they could have been left like this from their last ploughing, the fields simply being pasture.
            Ridged and furrowed, medieval farming. No John Deeres then.

And visible from the fields we could see the Combine Harvester Scrap yard. A field full of combines, some old, some quite new. A local had the bright idea of collecting them, stripping them and selling parts as spares. Apparently his does business world wide. I am told a new combine cost £250000 so looking mout for spares makes sound sense. Why put a John Deere or Claahs down when you can repair it!

A distant view of the combine graveyard. I need a papparazi style camera really, or I could go nearer.
Near the south west corner of the hall grounds we found the gate  leading to a track for Lemmington Mill. However we followed the signpost pointing towards Edlingham and crossed  several fields before coming to a footbridge crossing Corby's Letch.** Two more fields and Edlingham viaduct and  Castle were before us. A ruin of a 13th century castle which grew from a relatively small one to a splendid edifice before being abandoned.  A part of the castle leans, but is tied into the main tower. It is suggested that the later addition was built over the castle moat and overtime it settled, Pisa like.  Close by the Victorian viaduct across the Edlingham burn.

                       The leaning tower of Edlingham. Look carefully and you can see the steel bars
                          holding it to the main building.

                                            Edlingham viaduct.
And finally back to the church of St. John the Baptist, started in the 11th century. In the grave yard I spotted a headstone to the four daughters of a local couple. Three of the children, aged 6, 5 and 2 had died within days of each other in April 1848. The fourth had survived to old age. Typhoid ? Cholera?
Inside the church I spotted a table covered with books and an invitation to buy. There was a copy of John Evelyn's diary, volume 2. It seemed appropriate, so I made a donation and took the book.

This was a walk with a difference, designed in part to look at buildings of interest, and as such it was very successful, a great day out.
The Matrix

                        steps                                    miles
Higear            15519                                 7.045
Little black     11941                                  5.18
LIDLUSB       18760                                8.88

Outdoors GPS                 8.2 miles
Measured                         8 miles
 A poor day for pedometers!!!!!!!!!!

Contains OS data Copyright. Crown copyright and data base right 2012
* For my overseas readers Spaghetti Junction is the popular name for Gravelly Hill intersection on motorways near Birmingham.
**Letch North Eastern word for a ditch or gutter.

Saturday, 15 September 2012

Le Gyle du Vent..... September 14th

This walk is very popular with the gadgies, particularly when we don't want to go far or we want to buy free range eggs. It is a shortened version of  Across the Borderline February the 3rd and is the walk to Windy Gyle, which certainly lived up to its name today.
To get to the start, Barrowburn, take the A1 north, A697 at Morpeth, turn off left for Rothbury on the B6344 and go through Rothbury and Thropton, turning right at the signpost for Alwinton and Harbottle. Drive through both and keep going for several miles until you come to a small car park  and picnic spot.on the left next to a rather dilapidated looking hall. Using map OL 16, "The Cheviot Hills", (and a map is useful on this walk) the car park is at GR866104.
 There are five gadgies out today: route, pun, vogel, debonair and blogpiemeister, all squeezed in to a Ford Focus. We stopped for a late breakfast in Rothbury,* dining at Tomlinson's Cafe and Bunkhouse on Bridge Street.. An excellent establishment, friendly ambience, good menu and colouring books for children in the table drawers. Harry enjoyed those. The menu offered bacon baps** which we ordered. The waitress apologised and said they had no baps, but could offer wholemeal brown bread. A slight disappointment, bacon sandwiches should come in a bun at least, and for this reason what would have been a five flitch was reduced to a four. The bacon sandwich came with a tasty little side salad and a large pot of tea. Great cafe, to be recommended.
 Jovial early morning chat produced some good puns but sadly they are not fit for a family publication.

The Walk,
Normally there is a set route for this walk but we decided for two reasons to reverse it and go in a clockwise direction because it seemed like a good idea at the time and we also thought that this would give us the wind on our backs on the tops, and it was windy.
 The car park at Barrowburn, not really interesting , but part of the walk. Barrow could mean briar and burn means stream.

Leaving the car park we turned left and followed the road past the phone box near Barrowburn farm, which has a nice little tea shop with home made cakes, and walked on tarmac for the best part of a mile before coming to a junction. The road follows the Rowhope Burn and eventually reaches the farm at Uswayford. Don't take it but instead choose the clearly visible path that leads uphill across fields. This path goes in a northwesterly direction and is marked on the map as The Street. It goes along the side of Swineside Law*** and  crosses the Black Braes before reaching the border fence. There is a signpost to help you, pointing along the Pennine Way.The wind was very strong as we walked, making me pleased that my 13 stones (182 pounds) was quite difficult to blow over. Because of the wind we stopped   near the border fence, in a hollow, and declared a Herbiespot for the consumption of the usual pies and sandwiches.
Refreshed we continued on our way along the border fence until we reached the cairn at Windy Gyle.
                                          Cairn and Trig Point at Windy Gyle.
After a short break, mainly to admire the views looking north into Scotland and south into England, east to the sea we set off again, possibly. The routemeister, who is a very good photographer, although  I coyly admit some of my more serious efforts have even been praised by the wife, was busy taking landscapes. Debonair and punmeister walked off, Vogel and I left shortly afterwards, thinking routemeister Harry was right behind us. The footpath, which in places is paved with old flagstones from defunct cotton and wool mills follows the border fence, passing Russell's Cairn (See Across the Border Line) and the delightfully named Blair's Hole, several small piles of stones which are old border markers until it reaches a gate and signpost.
                                        Northumbrian Landscape. I have taken better.
Looking back Harry the routemeister was not to be seen, not even with the aid of binoculars. Nor could vogel and I see the punmeister or debonair. We waited a while before deciding the routemeister must have taken the shorter route from Windy Gyle There was another walker, doing the Pennine Way from north to south who offered to look out for the routemeister, so off we went, heading on a path which starts  in a south easterly direction but soon turns almost due south.
                                Another Northumbrian Landscape.
The path goes between coniferous plantations before reaching the road that goes left to Uswayford or right towards Rowhope. Cross the road and take the path across fields. On the left, in the valley is a wooden footbridge. I tell you this as a pointer, do not cross it, but keep on the path until it reaches a plantation. Continue through the wood, but at the first junction take the right hand path and continue through the plantation in a southerly direction until emerging into fields. From here the walk continues uphill on the side of Kyloe Shin before it descends again.
On the right hand side, across the valley is, clearly visible, a field bank, possibly 18th century, and alongside it a 19th century wall and between them a 20th century wire fence.
                              Wall on the left, bank on the right.
 Close by is the old school and teacher's house, now used as a bunk house, The Deer Hut.
                       The Deer Hut, formerly the village school.
The footpath leads past he hut, along a fence and then turns right to cross the stream at Wedderleap. (See Across the Borderline). A short way down the road to the car park and there was the routemeister who had, as we thought, taken a short cut.
Changed we headed for the Anglers' Arms at Weldon Bridge to refresh our throats. Ruddles County and Cumberland bitter were on offer, and very refreshing they were too. Five barrels again.

The Matrix                                   steps                                miles

ASDACURVE                            22210                               10.52
USBLIDL                                    23944                              11.33
HIGEAR                                      23677                              10.75

And Outdoors GPS claimed 11.2 miles

* Rothbury; from "Hrotha's Berg" a fortification belonging to Hrotha
** Bap. A flattish bread bun, 16th century English but origin unknown
*** Law Old English |"hlaw" meaning hill.

Saturday, 8 September 2012

Five go off to Winter's Tiny Blonde
Or,    It's Only a Winter's Tale.  September 7th

Friday, Saturday and Sunday, the 7th, 8th and 9th of September are Heritage Open Days when many of the nation's treasure houses and churches are thrown open to the public  - free. But instead of taking the chance to wander round a place like Gibside Chapel or the Swing Bridge Motor Room we  have decided to join "The Murder Walk" organised by the Morpeth Walking Group and learn all about the dreadful murder of Margaret Crozier in August 1791.
There are five gadgies out today, music, pun,vogel, route and blogpiemeisters. When we joined the rest there were 37 of us. I know this as they were well organised and kept doing a head count and two men were always at the back to prevent escape. It was a bit like being  back at school.

The Murder
 In 1791 William Winter, Jane and Eleanor Clarke murdered Margaret Crozier by fracturing her skull, strangulation and possibly cutting her throat at her small drapery at The Raw, a bastle* a few miles north of Elsdon in Northumberland. They were caught, tried and found guilty. Their execution took place at Westgate in Newcastle in August 1792. The bodies of the two women were given to surgeons for dissection and William's body was hung in chains on Whiskerfield Common, a few miles south of  Elsdon. The body remained on the gibbet as a warning until it had rotted when the remains were scattered, the skull being presented to Mr Darnell of Newcastle.
William Winter's father had been hanged for stealing and the girls' father had also been executed for burglary.
The executioner, William Gardner, had also been condemned to be hanged for sheep stealing but in exchange for carrying out the executions he had his sentence reduced to transportation to Australia for seven years.
It is not certain what happened to him in Australia. There are alternatives, (but only two of course).
He changed his name to Magwitch and became a character in a Charles Dickens novel or he changed his name to Foster, started a brewery and his descendants got their revenge on the British for their ancestor's sufferings by exporting their lager to the UK.
The replica gibbet was erected by the Trevelyan family in 1867. It was complete with a wooden body but over years that rotted too, the head has been frequently stolen and frequently replaced, today it looked like a small football in a jersey.

The Walk.
Elsdon is a pretty village in Northumberland with a village green bigger than many a city park, except for Necastle's Town Moor, which is bigger than Central Park in N.Y., N.Y..
To get there from Newcastle follow the A696 through Ponteland, turn right on the B6342 through Cambo and turn left after a few miles for Elsdon. Going this way is useful as it takes you past the gibbet itself, clearly visible on the left side of the road. This is where we were asked by the organisers to meet. It was here that the leader told us about the murder and then asked us all to go the two miles or so into Elsdon.
                     Winter's gibbet and walkers. At the foot of the gibbet is the base of a Saxon Cross.  Looks like a large stone with a hole in it. There are others in the area. The gibbet is at GR962908.

There is a village hall just outside the village near the Motte and Bailey with some parking and a toilet which was closed.
Should you want a map get Landranger 80 and 81 (The Cheviot Hills and Alnick Morpeth. The village hall is at GR937933.
Our guide started the walk by giving a brief tour of Elsdon. It has the famous cyclists cafe, well worth remembering if you are a tea drinker and a church, St. Cuthberts. The earliest part of the building is 12th century but there are additions and changes from nearly every century since.
                                   St. Cuthbert's Church, Elsdon.
Nearby is Elsdon Tower, a vicars pele** dating from the  14th century and still,occupied, but not by the vicar.

                                                 Elsdon Tower.
  This tiny village once had four pubs but only one. The Bird in the Bush, remains open. Of the remainder one is a house, the Bacchus, which has a statue of Bacchus and a barrel above the door. Another is a farm and I can't remember what happened to the other.
In another corner of Elsdon is a "pinfold", a stone enclosure used to keep stray animals rounded up by the local "pinner". Many small towns still have a Pinfold Lane.
                                           The Elsdon pinfold.
Walking past the village hall, finally starting the actual walk we saw Elsdon Castle. A genuine and well preserved Motte and Bailey it was built in the 12th century by Robert de Umfraville the local lord. The original "castle" was probably made from wood but Robert wasn't too keen and moved house to Harbottle, leaving a fine example, almost untouched of an early Norman M and B.

                                          The Motte and Bailey in Elsdon.
The walk,(at last!) crossed fields in a north east direction to the farm at Hudspeth. Many farms have the appearance of agricultural scrap yards and this one had several rusting tractors on display and a safe!

Nobody would think a man would keep his valuables out in the fields so I expect they are perfectly safe.

During the murder hunt a "gully"knife was found at Hudspeth. The word "gully" was unfamiliar to me but it was known to the other members of the team. Bill Griffiths North East Dialect Dictionary defines it as a large carving knife for cutting meat, bread or fish.
Going through the  farmyard we crossed a burn and walked up a hillside path to a Herbiespot on Landshot Hill, offering views of Harwood Forest and a view of the gibbet on the horizon. Makes the pies more enjoyable. Lunch over we continued in a south easterly direction to the edge of the wood where we stopped to admire "Penman's Leap", a deep gully overlooked by deciduous trees. It was quite a steep drop to the Whiskershiel Burn, we didn't leap it but turned south west and headed for the farm of the same name. It had been the home of young Robert Hindmarsh (or Hymers), the chief witness at the trial. Fearing vengeance from the family of William Winter (no witness protection then I suppose) he took off but eventually returned home, only to die there at the age of either 20 or 22.
He was immortalised in Baden-Powells "Scouting for Boys" for his observational skills and citizenship

                                   Whiskershiels Farm, home of Robert Hindmarsh.
The footpath from the farm crosses several muddy fields back to Elsdon and the end of the walk. A short one today, however the best bit was to come. We drove in convoy the few miles up the road north out of the village turned left and stopped at the Raws Farm, the site of the murder.
The bastle at The Raw. Raw simply means a row of buildings.
The site of the murder.
The bastle is now part of the farm buildings and has not been inhabited since Margaret Crozier's sad death. But a lady who is about my age was invited to tell us about life at the farm. She had moved there in 1946 at the age of two and her parents had farmed there for some years. In her childhood the farm had no gas or electricity and naturally it had an outdoor earth closet. Her parents kept two cows which were milked by her mother. Her dad kept beef cattle, some pigs for home consumption and a small flock of hens for a supply of eggs and meat. They may have grown a few vegetables but no crops.
I really enjoyed her talk, as did the others and I bet it brings back memories for ANONYMOUS too!
That really was the end of the day and it was quite early for us so we headed for the Waggon, a pub a few miles north of Ponteland. This pub gets an unqualified 5 barrels. It had half a dozen real ales, mostly from the Hadrian Brewery and a very welcoming and enthusiastic landlord who was only too happy to discuss his beers, the brewery they came from and to offer samples. I settled for Tyneside Blonde and it was in great condition. A pub to be recommended.                                                        (And for ANONYMOUS the first time I went to this pub was with Mary Blood and her two Aussie friends in January or February 1966)

* bastle   A fortified farm house, common in the borders because of the marauding Scots.
** pele,(or peel) a stone built tower, mini castle. Also common in the borders.

The Matrix                      steps                                miles

ASDAPED                10101                                     4.782
USBPED                   10455                                     4.95
HIGEAR                   10518                                     4.775
Small black
I found in a
drawer                       12642                                     5.89 ( I wore this allday and did not zero it at the
                                                                                          start of the walk  so it could be right.
OUTDOORS  GPS                                                 4.2 miles (but it was misbehaving)

       Contains OS data (copyright. Crown Copyright and data base right 2012

Saturday, 1 September 2012

EDlingham, not EGlingham.......August 31

   A word of warning; this walk is very muddy in places, furthermore we have done it before, (Brian's Round; Dec 9th) but as I feel committed to my readers I shall describe it again.
There are four of us out today, Routemeister, vogelmeister, musicmeister, who is becoming a regular, and blogpiemeister.
The two villages of Edlingham and Eglingham are not too far apart, especially if you are a crow, so make sure you find the right one. Edlingham is reached from Newcastle by taking the now familiar A1 north, turning onto the A697 north of Morpeth and turning right onto the B6341 which is signposted Alnwick. After about three miles turn left into Edlingham. Turn right towards the church and there is some limited parking on the roadside.
  A map is very useful for this walk and it, and Eglingham too if you have made a mistake, is covered by OS Explorer 332 1:25000. The church at Edlingham is at GR114091.
Edlingham is the modernised version of Eadwulfincham, meaning, in Old English "Eadwulf's peoples homestead". It gets a first mention in 737 when KingCeowulf decided to become a monk and gave four of his villages to the monks of Lindisfarne.
The village church, dedicated to St. John the Baptist, has origins in the 11th century although it is thought it could stand on an even older building.

        St. John the Baptist church at Edlingham. It has a flat roof but the weather moulding on the east side of the tower suggest there was a pitched roof at one time. Confusingly the leaflet available in the church mentions the "massive oak roof timbers.........the only remaining part of the medieval flat roof."  It is a squat building, doubling as a defensive place to hide from marauding Scots.
   The fine stained glass window at the east end of the church dates from as long ago as 1864.
                                            St. John the Baptist Church Interior.
East of the church are the ruins of Edlingham Castle, dating from the 13th century and once a substantial stronghold.
     A sketch of the castle at Edlingham and a plan of the buildings. I confess I have pinched these from the informative leaflet available in the church at Edlingham. The illustrations are by John Smith. and I hope he doesn't sue for copyright. Put it this way, the blog could attract more visitors and sell more leaflets. (50p well worth it too.)
The walk:
Leave the church and walk up the lane, continue along the road through the village, which has no shop or pub if you want to make a day out. However on August 31st the blackberries growing on the south facing side of the road were ripe and delicious, instant vitamin C.
After the last building on the left follow the sign post which leads to a path heading south across fields. Part of this footpath goes on the top of a Roman road, called the Devil's Causewy today but probably the MXIX in Roman times.
As one we cried, "What did the Romans ever do for us ?" * and continued on  our way down the hill. The edging stones on the path could be original Roman for all I know. At the bottom of the hill there is a choice of ford or footbridge to cross the Edlingham Burn. We used the bridge and climbed the short distance to the road. ((B6341)
Across the road a gate, with marker, takes you to a good grassy  which meanders slightly south then east until it joins the official footpath and stops at the edge of Edlingham Woods.
Take care, or like us, you will go wrong. A forest track inside the gate looks inviting but it will take you to Bigges Pillar, well out of the way. (See the spike on the map below.) Bigges Pillar is a large stone construction, possibly a medieval beacon.
Instead look for the footpath on the right just inside the gate. It is not too obvious but with the aid of a machete you will eventually find yourself at Wellhope, a cottage with a few outhouses. The family who live here used to occupy a teepee, perhaps they prefer a few more comforts now. Follow the fence by the house and eventually you should come to the edge of the wood. We missed the path again and finished up emerging from the wood a little higher than the path marked on the map and thus missing the cup and ring marked rocks. However I did a short detour through a gate to look at the basketball net which turned out to be the "Glantlees Watch Tower". Fixed to it was a poem, written a la MacGonagal, telling the tale of young Rowle who, realising a band of Scots were marauding, ran to save his master in the Glantlees Peel..
A well constructed concrete track took us down almost to Snook Bank farm where we turned left and walked on a few yards to a ford which made an excellent Herbiespot.  You guessed, sandwiches and pork pies!
The footpath continues across a couple of fields before it reaches a sheltered track going to Glantlees.
The fields had a small herd of bullocks, less one who appeared to be still fully equipped. They gathered round the gate but soon cleared off when we called "mustard", a variation on an old Ken Dodd joke.**

They moved on the cry "Mustard", looking very worried.

Immediately after Glantlees a footpath goes through two gates with markers as it crosses fields until it comes to a minor road. Turn left and walk along the road through Shiel Dykes, past a small artificial pond on the left which is used for fishing.  Beyond the pond is a stretch of what is possibly an 17th century boundary wall. Basically a stone bank.
                                              Not a wall, a stone bank, serving as boundary and fence.
                                                                   Shortly after going through a gate there is a footpath, with marker, on the left which leads past Phyllis's Plantation and Stirkhill Plantation. This is the really muddy part of the walk. The fields, especially round the gates, have been churned up by cattle and the recent rains have produced a bog. Wellingtons may be more useful than boots round here but nobly we struggled on uphill. The mess the animals make is a strong argument for the world becoming vegetarian. And if it isn't mud it's the grass. Uneaten and long, it is harder to walk through than soft snow or sand. WE must be getting old. On the ridge ahead is a tatty line of hawthorns. Aim for the one on the right and close by is a gate,  at Mares Rigg, with marker, than takes you to a path across a heather moor and then alongside Well Hope Wood. At the bottom is a gate and you are back on the B6341. Turn right and after a few hundred yards turn left on the road into Edlingham.
On the road back there is a fine view of the third piece of architectural interest Edlingham has to offer: the viaduct on the dismantled railway.
                        Edlingham Viaduct, a word given us by the Romans, so that's what they did for us!
                                               There is no public right of way on it. Shame.
Changed into apres walk gear we headed for the good old Anglers Arms at Weldon Bridge which had Ruddles County, Abbot Ale and Timothy Taylor's Golden Best on offer.And I wasn't driving!
                                          steps                      miles
ASDAped                   8922                                4.22    obviously something wrong
LIDLUSB                  24865                              11.77
HIGEAR                    23880                              10.84
USB                                                                    11.3
MEASURED ON MAP                                      11.1
I do not think this walk will be done again, too much mud.
Edlingham is in the top left hand corner, I missed it on the scan but I am getting better. Note the spike that goes to Bigges Pillar and don't go that way.
* A line from Monty Python's Life of Brian.
** Ken Dodd, very funny Liverpudlian comedian who worried sheep by shouting "Mint Sauce" He also had one of the best selling pop singles in British Music History. Outselling groups like the Beatles his record was "Tears" and it caused quite a few.