Saturday, 27 October 2012

The Three Consetteers      by Mr. Xanadu Saleed.
October 26th.

There are only three of us out today, route, vogel and blogmeister. The weather forecast is not too promising so we have opted for a railway walk that we have covered before but are more than happy to follow the dismantled railway line again, which is an oudoor museum of modern art. This walk is linear and, as buses are used, is a true gadgie walk. It is along the Consett and Sunderland Railway Path and we joined it at Birtley.
To get to the start take the 21 bus to Durham from Eldon Square Bus Station in Newcastle. The service runs nearly every ten minutes and if you get one about 10am you can get the upstairs front seats and pretend to be the driver. The child in us lives on. Stay on the bus through Gateshead, Low Fell and Birtley. Shortly after Birtley High Street a railway bridge with large crosses painted on it goes over the road. There is a pub on the right called The Wheatsheaf. Get off, the walk starts here.
 You could do this walk without a map but should you wish to acquire one the walk is covered by OS Explorers 307 and 308,Consett and Derwent Reservoir and  Durham and Sunderland. Climb the steps at the far side of the bridge  (GR274536), turn to the west and off you go!
The walk follows the Coast to Coast cycle track, it is worth watching out for the little blue signs with C2C on them. It is also worth keeping an ear open for riders, not many use bells.
The area, like much of Durham, is on a coalfield and evidence of its past remains. Not long into the walk we came across this modern reminder of the past:


You may feel this is out of focus and you are right but in truth it is a piece of performance art. I set the timer on the camera and swung it round by the cord until I got this effect. It represents man's inability to see his past clearly, especially when it resonates with his darker days and a time of  servitude. Or just a memorial to coal.
Moving on along the line we passed close to Beamish. The Beamish Open Air Museum is one of the best in the country if not the world.It is a celebration of northern life in the 1930s and before. There are trams, buses, a chapel, school, farm, drift mine, railway, town street and even a masonic lodge. It costs about £16 to get in but the ticket is a bargain, you can use it again and again for a year. Best visited in summer, but interesting anytime.
Beyond Beamish the line continues to rise gently on its way to Stanley. At one point on the track is a small herd of cows.

There are four, made from old JCB parts. I like them, they illustrate how man has moved from agriculture to industry to scrap!
The next part of the walk goes through another old mining town, Anfield Plain, which has no connection with Liverpool as far as I know. The path here is not too obvious, it crosses roads  and goes close to industrial units  so watch out for those C2C signs. Out of Anfield Plain the walk continues on its most pleasant section as it is the only bit that is really out in the country. Looking south over County Durham the track goes in a large semicircle to Leadgate. On the way there is more art to see and admire. Works by David Kemp called Transformers. And nearby there are some lime kilns to admire.                                                                                                                                    

Transformers, created from just that by David Kemp.
Shortly after these magnificent creations is another work of art which is a sort of earth maze, difficult to see as you pass by and too large to photograph at ground level.

Be careful with the traffic at Leadgate, the walk passes a closed pub, always a sad sight to us gadgies, and the passes several industrial units and the cricket ground. There is a small but interesting looking workshop too. 
Being an engineer, and a very good one too, Harry finds this workshop very interesting. So do I.
Beyond Leadgate  the path runs close to a road until there is a footbridge. We used it, walked down a couple of streets and spotted The Company Row, Consetts Wetherspoons and enjoyed Fish and Chips, washed down with Ruddles and Directors fine ales.
There is a bus to Newcastle from the nearby station every fifteen minutes and soon we were on our way. Another good walk on a cold day which also offered  the first snow flurries of the year.
The Matrix
                                           steps                             miles
HiGear                               26526                          12.042
LBn                                    15675                           7.3    Another day like that and back in the drawer
Curvyped                            25769                          `12.62
USBLIDL                           25785                            12.61
These last two, from Dave are remarkable for their closeness and accuracy. OUTDoorGPS behaved itself very well and claimed 13.02 miles for the walk and it has been measured at 12.96.
                                              AMBULO, ERGO SUM

Friday, 19 October 2012

Belford St. Cuthbert's..........(October 19th)
sounds like a Cotswolds Village.
 There are five of us out today, pun, route, vogel, halfmarathon and blogmeister, and we are having a walk from Belford in the north of Northumberland. To get to the village drive north up the A1 past Alnwick and turn left at the sign that, sensibly, says Belford.
We stopped at the Well House Coffee Shop on the right hand side of the main street, next to the Salmon Inn and ordered bacon butties with brown buns all round, with tea. We were served with white buns and an almost immediate apology. The sandwiches were excellent and we were given a refill on the teas. Five flitches and highly recommended for friendly staff and good service.

The walk. Should you need a map, and it would be useful, OS Landranger 75 covers the walk. We left the car on the B6349 road (GR105337) almost directly opposite the village club, a white building, and walked up the lane beside it. After about half a mile we passed a farm, Westhall which has what appears to be a modified peel tower or bastle.
                             As Ben observed,after 300 years of peaceful coexistence we may need
                              places like this again if the Scots gain independence.

 The path, muddy after even more recent rain, continues in a north westerly direction beneath some impressive looking crags, through a wood and then turns left towards Swinhoe Farm. Just before the farm we turned north on a footpath which brought us to the small settlement of  Detchant, complete with Alpacas, or were they Llamas?

                                   You can call me Al, quipped Dave (You might have to think about that)

                                   Brian said there was no cause for a Llama............
                       We continued on our way after some terrible puns to Greymare Farm and following the signs crossed moorland in the direction of Shiellow Woods, which provided a pleasant Herbiespot, complete with tree stumps to sit on and robins to entertain us. And yes we had the usual, including Ben's quality home made ginger biscuits.
 Lunch over  we continued through the wood on a good forestry track until we emerged at Raven's Crag.
                                               It's a nut hatch!
Walking south from the woodland we found, on the left, the unmarked but fairly visible path  leading southeast above Holburn Moss to Greensheen  Hill. We expected the moss to be full of water but it was fairly dry. Also it had been divided into rectangular sections, possibly for peat digging.
We paused briefly at the trig point on Greensheen Hill to discuss some finer points of philosophy with a small group of "alternate curriculum" children and their teachers, before heading on our way to St. Cuthbert's Cave.
         Tradition has it that St. Cuthbert's body rested in the cave on its long and winding way
        to Durham. Harry Ben and Dave look as if they are about to hoist his coffin.
 We walked down the slope from the cave and turned left on the track, passing the interesting rock formation Cockenheugh.
                                       Cockenheugh Rocks.
The track turns slowly north east before it reaches the farm at Swinhoe. At the farm we followed the markers across fields in a south easterly direction all the way back to Belford..
It was only four in the afternoon, too early to go home so we diverted slightly to the Anglers Arms at Weldon Bridge. Sadly the Timothy Taylor's Landlord  was off but the pub offered Directors and Cumberland. The Directors went down very well, five barrels again for being such a lovely pub.

The Matrix XCIV
                                                 steps                                 miles

Higear                                     24156                                10.968
LBN                                        18101 (1)                            8.93
ASDAPED                             22459                                 10.1
LIDLUSB                               23218                                 10.3

OUTDOORGPS                                                                10.86
BRAGOMETER                                                               11.1

Designated Driver; Ben

 Contains OS data. Copyright Crown copyright and database right 2012

Saturday, 13 October 2012

Giants, Elephants and Ponies. The Howgills.
October 12th.

Living in the north east of England but having been brought up (but not born) in Lancashire we are familiar with the roads between the two.
 On one trip to my parents, when my girls were quite small we were driving down the M6 through the Lune Gorge when one of them pointed to a heart shaped wood on the side of the Howgills and announced it was a "Giants' Graveyard". On another occasion, driving north in the evening when the sun is in the west and bathes the range in a soft light the other one said they looked like a herd of sleeping elephants. And sometimes, if you look carefully and aren't the driver you can see some of the wild ponies that live on the  hills.
So you guessed right, today five gadgies (pun, vogel, halfmarathon, route and blog) are setting out to walk from Sedbergh. The name means "flat hill" and not, as you may guess, "Seds town"
 Sedbergh is a pretty little dales town, famous for its public school, founded by Henry VIII (Where Fowler of  Use of English taught for a while), its numerous bookshops, not quite Hey on Wye but getting there. It has a 12th century church, St. Andrews and used to be in Yorkshire but moved to Cumbria in the reorganisation of counties in the 70s. It is in the Yorkshire Dales National Park though, confusing!
 To get there from gadgie base, take the A69, south down the M6 to junction 37 and drive the few  miles into town. There is a carpark, £4.50 for a day, reduced psrking on Wednesdays for the market and several cafes.
  We chose the Howgills bakery for bacon butties. A choice of buns, we all opted for granary. Nice friendly staff, HP sauce in a bottle so old it almost had "cette sauce de..." on the label. We awarded four flitches as the bacon was rather on the cool side, although proper stuff and not the water injected plastic wrapped slices available in most supermarkets.
                                                      Sedbergh main street
                                      What a name for a shop. Fettle can mean work, repair or even break in
 The walk; Use map OL19, the Howgills and Upper Eden Valley. The car park is at GR659921.
We left the car park and walked east along the Main Street and Long Lane before  spotting a signpost pointing us on our way up Thorns Lane. This lane brought us to Underbank where we took the righthand footpath across fields past several beautiful late 17th century/early 18th century farmhouses.
                   Forgotten the name but it was built in 1712.
We followed well signed paths across rather muddy fields to Ellerthwaite at which point we had a break from clarts and walked a tarmac road which became a muddy green lane just beyond Thursgill. From here on the path,still muddy, looks down on the River Rawthey valley and ahead to the Pennines. When we reache the footbridge at Cautley Beck we declared a Herbiespot. There is no need to tell readers what we ate. Gadgies are so boring in their diet. However, Cautley Spout was in view to the north west.
We headed up Cautley Holme Beck. A notice board told us that there was evidence of an iron age settlement, which pleased Dave the archaeologist but moist and determined we continued up the valley. To the right, up a hillside were some ponies.
                     The black dots are wild ponies. I only had a compact camera.
 And finally we reached the steep but well built path up the side of Cautley Spout. There had been a lot of rain the previous day so the waterfall was in full spate and we stopped frequently to admire it.
                              Cautley Spot from the path.
                          Looking down the spout from the top.
At the top of the spout we followed the left hand stream (Red Gill Beck) and passed a work of art, a reconstructed sheepfold by Andy Goldsworthy. Why didn't he put it in the Tate Modern where more people could see it? Alright, don't tell me, I am a philistine.
Andy Goldsworthy's sheepfold.It represents the metamorphosis of the uplands from a place of natural contentment to a place where industry begins to sublimate man's desires. Each stone has been handcrafted by the artist to show the world that we can use nature to our mutual benefit.
 Onward and gently upward we reached the shoulder between Bram Rigg Top and the Calf and turned right for the short walk to the latter's summit and trig point. It was very windy but worth the effort. The views are magnificent. To the west the English Lakes, in the south west Morecambe Bay and the glow from Heysham Nuclear Power Station. Harry told me that when working at Parsons he had maderts of the generators for the power plants. And east we looked at the Pennines, the three peaks of Pen y Ghent, Whernside and Ingleborough clearly visible. Must be one of the best views in England.
       Dave explains the mysteries of a pedometer to Ben who is not wearing Rohan shades.
Retracing our steps from the summit we walked along the Land Rover track over Bram Rigg Top to Calders. We continued on the track as it wandered downhill and eventually found the footpath on the left which brought us down. (GRSD669954). If you do this walk watch out for it, it is not too obvious but  brings you down another pretty stream (Settlebeck Gill) and into Joss Lane and the town below.
 On the way home we stopped to refresh ourselves at The Lane End Inn on the A69. Robinsons Beers, including Unicorn, Blonde and 1892, a mild. The sort of beer us young lads drank in the back room of the Victoria Hotel Morecambe when we were 17!
The older lads awarded the beers three barrels, as driver I enjoyed the shandy, but we all agreed on one thing. This was one of the best walks for ages, why haven't we done it before, we shall find other Howgill walks1
For more details of the walk go to
The walk is called Cautley Spout and the Calf from Sedbergh on their site.

The Matrix LXXVII
                                                    steps                                miles
Higear                                        18259                             8.289
LBN                                           22848                             10.64
ASDAPED                                 22166                            10.41
LIDLUSB                                   23797                            10.5

OUTDOORS GPS has a bas day, map went wrong but said 9.7 miles. The Benbragometer said 10.2
and Dave measured the walk as 9.7, so 10 miles seems reasonable. Ten excellent miles at that.

Contains OS data Copyright.Crown copyright and database right 2012


Sunday, 7 October 2012

The Magical Waskerley Way..... October 6th.

Another extra gadgie walk!
This walk is almost 13.5 miles long and is linear so if you wish to do it you must organise to have cars at either end or make a careful study of buses between Stanhope and Consett.

Or do as we three gadgies did and do the walk on a Saturday as this is the only day the X21 runs from Newgate Street in Newcastle to Stanhope in Weardale. A coach, rather than a bus it must leave Stanhope about 8.30am on a Saturday morning and arrives in Newcastle full of Weardale shoppers ready to have a great day out in the city. It returns from the last bus stop on Newgate Street, almost on the corner with Clayton Street at In case you thought this didn't give the Weardale shoppers much time to spend their cash there are two other trips home much later in the day. And yes, you can use your gadgie pass.
The bus arrived in Stanhope about 11am. Stanhope is a pretty little town, warm stone built houses, a "castle" and a church with a Norman tower and a fossilised 300 million year old tree in its yard. The town also has a fine visitor centre selling books on the north east and souvenirs. It also has a cafe.

                                              300 million years ago it lived!

                                                         St. Thomas's church, Stanhope

You could probably do this walk without a map but should you want one go for Explorer 307 and the walk starts at the visitor centre GR996392.
   Having looked in the visitor centre the three of us, Vogel, halfmarathon and blog meister, walked past the church and immediately turned left up a side street. Turning left at the top we past the Methodist Chapel, the oldest operative one in England. Just before a bungalow  a narrow footpath leads up to what was once a source of employment for the town, the limestone quarry.
  The quarry used to supply limestone for the iron and steel works in Consett. It closed in the 1940s
The climb up from the town and for a short way beyond the quarry is the only steep part of the walk.
There is one junction on the footpath, take the right fork and continue uphill past a rather dilapidated building and join the dismantled railway which runs parallel to a road. The road is quite steep as it climbs out of Stanhope: I know, I've cycled up it. But look back at the magnificent views of Upper Weardale, farms scattered on the hillside, clumps of trees still in full leaf.
After a mile the railway line reaches a B & B which is also a cafe, popular with people doing the Coast to Coast cycle ride. Opposite is an interesting piece of art.
                                             The outdoor gallery at Fell Haven.
For the next few miles on the Waskerley Way are pretty level as the rail bed curves gently round; it is after all an old railway line. The ease of walking is conducive to conversation and the playing of childish games . today it is my job to count cyclists, Dave will count walkers and dogs and Ben has the difficult task of keeping a tally of bells. Score to be announced at the end.  We also discussed The Times top 50 pointers to being middle class. I scored a half point for having a beard but not the whole one because I don't support Arsenal. Nor do I have three holidays a year including a winter one snowboarding, no vegbox, no dinner parties and my daughters would look pretty silly on the back of my bike as they are both very grown up.  Working class lads, the three of us, but with pretentions.  This is another walk with spectacular views. To the far north the Cheviots can be seen and south, well beyond Waskerley Reservoir the North Yorkshire Moors stand out clearly. This section of our day out crosses moorland; there are some shooting butts and sheep but little else. Not many birds out today. At Waskerley we stopped for lunch. There is a small picnic area protected from the wind by a belt of trees. No guesses for lunch.

                                                   Waskerley Herbiespot.
 About a mile from Waskerley the old line turns south and reaches a junction with another disused track. It is a tight junction and we headed north again towards the farm at Red House There is a change in land use too, moors giving way to fields. Two miles from Red House the track turns east and  approaches Rowley.The old station at Rowley was dismantled and rebuilt at Beamish Open Air Museum.* We crossed the road and continued in a northerly direction towards Hownsgill Viaduct.
                                       Woodlands below Hownsgill Viaduct.
Just beyond the viaduct Hown's Farm has a pond which supports several species of geese and some black swans. Visible in the long grass a photograph was not really possible.
The Waskerley Way now continues as the Consett and Sunderland Railway Path and has what is becoming an old friend on our winter walks.
         Until the 1980s Consett produced steel. This acts as a reminder.
And beyond, as we got nearer the town we passed another work of art.
                           Beats a smelly tent or bed any day. Real Art!
Rather surprisingly, once we had reached the town centre Dave had no trouble finding a Wetherspoons**. Sadly the Abbot Ale was off so we had to wash down our fish and chips with Directors. It's a hard life.
Refreshed we caught a bus back to Newcastle and made our separate ways home.
Another Great Gadgie Day Out.
And I counted 83 cyclists, (I was a bit worried about the tandem but decided I was counting people, not machines so they both went in, even the one behind not peddling.) Dave collected 40 walkers and 19 dogs and for Ben there was only one bell.

The Matrix
                                          steps                           miles
ASDAPED                     27008                            12.79
LIDLUSB                       26535                            12.56
HIGEAR                         27333                            12.409
LBN                                24610                            11.46

OUTDOORSGPS                                                  13.4
BRAGOMETER                                                    13.57

Measured at 13.3 miles. Those pedometers are getting better!
* Beamish Open Air Museum. Museum of northern life with a town, trams, coal mine school and farm. Worth every penny of the entrance fee.
** Wetherspoons. A chain of pubs famed for low prices for good beers. Well worth visiting and they appear to prosper at a time when many pubs are struggling.

                                               24 miles in two days
The guys at Guisborough..... October 5th
which just happens to be my half birthday.
Four gadgies out today, halfmarathon, vogel, route and blog, returning to the visitor centre at Pinchinthorpe for a walk to Roseberry Topping and along the Cleveland Way.
To get to the centre head down the A19 past Middlesborough, turn left onto the A174, at the fourth roundabout turn right onto the A171 and follow this road for about  three miles to the A173 and look out for the Visitor Centre. (Which was closed although the cafe next door was open.)
The car park charges £1 for the whole day, but even better the ticket machine was broken!
 A map for the walk is useful, OL26 North Yorks Moors Western Area and the centre is at GR 584152. Or call at the centre and pick up the excellent leaflets describing several walks in the area including most of this one: Walk Number 6 Roseberry Topping and Highcliff Nab.
 Stand in the car park furthest from the centre and look at the trees. One of them is carved like The Green Man.
                                                      The Green Man Tree.
  To the left of this tree is a gate leading onto the disused railway line which is the start of the walk.
We walked along the old line, now a footpath/cycle track ng several people out walking and a gentleman with his dog. The dog was frightened by the sound of relatively near gunshots and just wanted to go home. After a mile we came to a picnic table on the left and a very interesting stile made of concrete, unusual and worth an extra chapter in my forth coming book Gate Fastenings and stiles of Cumbria and the north in general.

           A concrete stile, definitely a style of the fifties utilising techniques which would be 
            incorporated in the hideous architectural styles of the sixties. A more traditional picnic table is visible behind.
 The footpath took us across  three fields with Low Farm on our right unti eastl we came to  Spite Hall Farm.Following the markers on gates we soon came to the A173 road which we crossed with care as the leaflet suggested and continued on the footpath directly opposite. Walking alongside several recently ploughed fields we started up a gentle slope towards Hutton Lowcross Woods and when we reached them turned right and climbed the steep path to Roseberry Topping. The path to the top of this hill is a very popular walk and has been flagged to prevent erosion. Those Lancashire/Yorkshire Mills again. Roseberry offers panoramic views; north to Middlesborough and beyond, east to the sea, south to the North Yorkshire Moors and more moors to rhe west, with a distant view of Cross Fell guarding the north end of the Pennines.A rocky top but offering sufficient shelter it was declared a Herbiespot. Yes, pies sandwiches, coffee and conversation. We were joined by a group of students fro Durham University who were taking an afternoon off from lectures.
Lunch over we retraced our steps down the hill but continued  almost due east up another hillside to a gate which took us on to the Cleveland Way, identified by the little acorn sign.

                                            Roseberry Topping from the Cleveland Way.
 The Cleveland Way follows the edge of the escarpment with grouse moors on its south side. We followed the track to Highcliffe Farm where we took the path leading to the top of Highcliff Nab from where we could look down onto Guisborough which has a lot to offer, a ruined monastery and a fine selection of 1970s semi detached houses, just like mine!

                                               Highcliff Nab

    Leaving the viewpoint with its distant views of industrial Teeside we continued our way along the escarpment, leaving the Cleveland Way at the third footpath on the left. A steep and very muddy footpath took us to the bottom of the hills and we turned left along a forest track, well signposted towards the visitor centre at Pinchinthorpe. A very pleasant lady riding a beautiful horse chatted, particularly to  Dave , as we walked through the deciduous trees towards Hutton Village.At the end of the village road the footpath turned left, past Home Farm and back to the woodland at Pinchinthorpe. Very well signed and easy to follow, all the way back to the centre.

          There be an 'orse!
Pinchinthorpe Centre is excellent for children and adults. There are cycle tracks, trim trails and several large wood carvings to admire.
Two of the wood carvings at Pinchinthorpe. I like Mr. Fox, there are other animals too.
After the walk we changed and drove all the way home.

The Matrix 79

                                                            steps                               miles
Hi gear                                                24861                             11.268
LBN                                                    22316                             10.39
ASDA                                                22769                               10/01
LIDLUSB                                          24349                               10.76

OUTDOOR GPS                                                                        11.08
Ben's Bragometer                                                                        11.8

11  miles seems reasonable, shorter than the leaflet's walk as we took a short cut. Another great day out.

 You may have noticed the absence of bacon butties and beer. Perhaps we have all become vegetarian methodists, no intended insults to either group. To quote somebody, I have probably forgotten more about vegetarians than you will ever know.