Friday, 20 March 2015

On the borderline again.......March 20th.
  Today's walk is another popular gadgie stroll, The Schill from KirkYetholm in Scotland, just.
There are five out, Ben, Ray, Harry, John H and me.
To get to Kirk Yetholm from base take the A1 north, A697 at Morpeth and north of Wooler, at or near Millfield turn left for Kirk Yetholm, passing the ancient palace site of Gethryn, the sign for Hethpool, the village of Kirknewton and park on the side of the road by the village green and next to the Border Hotel. The walk starts from here and is covered by OS OL 16, The Cheviot Hills.
Today is a special day, there is to be an eclipse of the sun at about 9.30 am but we were cheerfully driving along and although the sky darkened slightly we did not stop to watch, not having all the protective gear the BBC had warned the nation to use.
The very young man who did the local weather forecast, taking part in the BBC "School report" did his job brilliantly and promised early sunshine followed by cloud but little or no rain. He was spot on.

                                The Border Hotel. If you finish the Pennine Way here you get a free half pint,
courtesy of the estate of Alfred Wainright, author of the famous Lake District Guides.
                                                     Is it the beginning, or is it the end ?
Kirk Yetholm is a pretty little town, once home to a group of Gypsies, commemorated on a plaque by the green.
The walk; A road by the green leads uphill past a row of whitewashed cottages, one of which was the home of the Gypsy King. This is also the Pennine Way and much to our delight a signpost points to The Penial House, whatever that is.
We followed the tarmacked road for about a mile until we reached a cattle grid. A choice; take the higher Pennine Way route or the Lower Pennine Way. We chose the latter, having decided the climb would be a little more gentle for ageing limbs, and headed for Halterburn, passing the Penial house on the way. It looks like an outdoor centre of sorts and probably is.
                                                      Penial centre.
The grassy track climbs steadily, looping round an area which has recently been planted with native deciduous trees to help prevent water running off into the burn and flooding the valley. In twenty years or so a woodland of ash, birch, willow, alder and beech will cloak the valley sides.
Eventually the upper and lower paths join together (just before mile 4 on the map) and the path continues to climb up towards Black Hag, a top we ignored and continued on our way up the final, fairly steep climb to the summit of the Schill.
                                                   Target for today, the Schill.
                                                          For the last few yards to the summit
                                                     it is necessary to cross a fence. The stile
                                                    has been rebuilt in memory of Ian Coquhoun
                                                  What a nice way to be remembered.
                Old rocky top, it provides shelter from the westerly breeze and mad a good Herbie Spot.
Lunching on the top at a recorded 5.4 miles we dined on ginger biscuits, snickers and chocolate, with a sandwich and an apple for healthy eating.
I like the Schill for the views; east to the sea with Bamburgh Castle and the Farne Islands visible, north into Salmon land and the College Valley, south east to the Cheviot.
On the way back from the Schill we spotted the first frog spawn of the year, in a puddle on the track. Not the brightest of frogs I thought, maybe it was French.
                                                       Mes enfants sont morte

                                             Views from the Schill, injton the College Valley worth the effort.
We started back down from the Schill on the same path we had used for the ascent but at a point shortly after the two Pennine Way paths diverge, and following the lower one again, we turned left down a grassy track that follows the Curr Burn. The path is well made, in places it looks as if it may once have been metalled, possibly it is an old drovers road. It is easy to follow as it is well posted with yellow markers and also markers for St. Cuthbert's Way. It passes close to several farms where the track has been heavily ploughed by animals and eventually it becomes a surfaced road that joins the slightly more major road at Primsidemill.
                                                       Friendly heiffers
                             Bowmont Water at Primsidemill
At Primsidemill we turned right and walked on the road for a short while, turning right just after the cemetery. Having crossed the bridge we turned left and took the footpath across fields towards Kirk Yetholm. Emerging from fields we turned right, crossed the bridge and immediately went down a few steps on the left and walked across fields before coming to the Youth Hostel and village green in Kirk Yetholm. Changed we headed homeward, stopping at the Anglers Arms, Weldon Bridge, which offered Timothy Taylor's Landlord, and two other beers. The Landlord was excellent so I had another.
Another great gadgie day.

The Matrix MMXV H
                                                                           steps                    miles
LIDL 3D                                                         31427                    14.05  Ambitious
Higear                                                             26204                     11.894
OUTDOOR GPS                                                                            12.04
Ray's GPS                                                                                       12.1

My mother died last Saturday at the grand old age of 99. She was a keen walker and had me and my sister tramping the moors round Silsden in West Yorkshire when I was about five and the hills in north west Lancashire when we moved there so thanks mother for introducing me to a lifelong pastime. You taught me well and this walk is dedicated to you.

Saturday, 14 March 2015

Three men on the Wear..........March 13th.
  For various reasons several gadgies are not able to walk today so the team is reduced to Dave, John h and me. The weather forecast, as given by a relatively new meteorologist on local TV promises a morning of low cloud coming in from the west to be driven back by a breeze from Putin land in the afternoon, which could be quite sunny. She also mentioned snow but thought that would be really high in the Pennines.
Today's walk is from Cowshill quite high in Weardale, back to Stanhope by means of the Weardale Way. It requires either two cars or catching a bus from Stanhope which is what we chose to do. The service from Stanhope to Cowshill is every two hours and we opted for the 10 am bus which required an early start. To get to Stanhope from base take the A69, turn south on the A68 and turn right at the signpost for Edmondbyers and Stanhope. The road across the moors had a covering of slushy snow but was passable, unlike a few minor roads in the area. There is an all day car park in Stanhope by the Durham Information Centre. They should put out a few benches to help us ageing gadgies boot up.
This week's car park has a nearby info centre and cafe, but we didn't bother breakfasting.
 The bus stop going west is close to the centre, outside the vets as you would expect. The journey to Cowshill takes about 25 minutes.
The walk: A map is advisable and like so many trips it is on two sheets. Mostly on OS Ol31 North Pennines and partly on OS Explorer 307 Consett and Derwent Reservoir. The bus stop outside the Cowshill Hotel is at NY855406.
                                                        Starting point
Across the road from the hotel is a bridge over the Wear, the footpath for today's expedition starts here. A waterfall beneath the bridge was very active, brownish, peat tinged water pouring over.
                          The Wear at Cowshill, the bridge to cross in the background.
  From this point the path crosses fields on the south of the river to the first  village on the route, Wearhead.   

Watch out for signs There is a shortage in some areas.
                                                                                                                                                At this point the trail is shared with the Mineral Valleys walk which takes walkers on a trip round the old mining areas of the dale. Upper Weardale produced lead, as did several other valleys in the area.At West dene the path crosses the river and remains on the north side as far as the point we turn north, Westgate. Clearly visible across the river between  West Dene and West Gate are the villages of Ireshopeburn and St. John's Chapel. On the north hillside above Ireshopeburn is New House, This late 17th?early 18th century mansion had a library and reading room built by a local MP for the benefit of local miners.
                                      The New House above Ireshopeburn.
                                         The Wear near Ireshopeburn.
  Just east of St. John's Chapel the way crosses to the south side of the river, fortunately there is a footbridge as the stepping stones looked a bit dodgy.
                                    A view from the bridge.
At Westgate, once the western limit of the Bishop of Durham's Hunting forest, we called a Herbie Spot. Reduced numbers meant, sadly, there was no cake from Mrs A but we did have Rintons Gingers, Cadburys Brunch Bars and Almond slices in little pouches that are very difficult to open.
It being quite early in the day we decided to follow the Weardale Way north to Rookhope. Crossing the river we turned left and almost immediately right up the road signed Rookhope 5 miles. A short distance up the road a signpost on the right pointed the way behind the church to a farm. The way here is a bit short of signs, the path actually goes through a small housing estate before crossing several fields to a farm track. There are stiles across the walls, they get more difficult with age, especially when farmers add little traps like wire and bits of timber. Turning left and heading north through a farmyard (now on OS Explorer 307) 
We all had maps but one of them showed a different route for the Weardale Way from this point. We followed the more northerly one which led across moorland covered with Lauder Grass, slushy snow and mud. Furthermore visibility was low and eventually we became unsure of our position.       
A distant John and Dave amid the Lauder Grass.
  Thank heaven for GPS which was able to give us a grid reference with a high degree of accuracy, enabling us to find the track, now on top of what appeared to be an old mineral line. We followed it, roughly north east and slightly downhill until we almost reached Smailsburn farm. Here we turned right across fields and down to a road. We turned left and then almost immediately right across a footbridge uphill to a minor road. Turning right we followed the road past Hill Top, Green Head and down to Green Foot caravan park where we turned left and walked back into Stanhope. Although the weather had been poor all day it did not rain apart from a very light drizzle as we started. There was no wind and the temperature remained above freezing, making this a good walk out. But do it on a dry day in summer! 
On the way home we called in at The Punch Bowl in Edmondbyers which had beers from Wylam Brewery and Thwaites Wainwright. I had coffee, as driver.

The Matrix MMXV J
                                                           steps                                          miles
Higear                                              29951                                             13.6
LIDL3D                                           37201                                             17.5!!!!!!!!!!!!
Dave's 3D                                        32381                                              14.9
Dave's USB                                     31800                                               14.6
OUTDOORS GPS                                                                                   14.6

Friday, 6 March 2015

  This walk was meant to be a repeat of  "Convents and Causeways, Sept 2012" but there were diversions, mainly because I had the map but not my glasses.
The walk starts at St. John the Baptist church in the village of Edlingham. To get there from base take the A1 north, the familiar A697 at Morpeth and turn right some miles up the road at the signpost saying Edlingham. Turn left into the village and turn right down the lane to the church. There is limited parking on the verge. Take a map, OS Explorer 332 Alnwick and Amble and the church is at NU114090.
There are six gadies ou today, Ben, Brian, Dave, Ray, John H and me. Some had a bacon sandwich at the Running Fox in Felton, an interesting newsagents and cafe, so popular some of us gave up waiting.
The church in Edlingham dates back to the Norman Conquest and  has a squat pyramid shaped  tower.
Edlingham village church, dedicated to St. John the Baptist. Some parking on the left of the gate.

The walk:
We walked back from the church and up the hill that is the village main street until we saw the sign post for Birsley Wood. The path follows the edge of the wood before reaching a minor road at Birsley Woodside. Beyond this small farm a sign on the left indicating a public footpath sent us across fields to the stretch of the Roman road known as "The Devil's Causeway".  No paving anymore but easy to follow across the fields.
The Devil's Causeway. As a Roman road shouldn't it be straight?
Leaving the causeway we headed downhill towards the stream, first mistake, we were off the path but wandered slowly alongside the stream until we came to the dismantled railway, turned right and headed towards a small house. At the house we turned left and walked along the road past the site of a Roman fort in the field on the right. There is nothing to see of the fort at this level, perhaps as well, we would have been admiring stones for a long time. At the end of the farm road we turned right up the road marked Garmintedge Bank until we came to a crossroads. Second mistake. As map holder I said we should turn right and so we did (See map) heading south until we reached Hill Head. Turning left through the farm we decdided on a Herbie Spot and settled behind a wall to keep out of the wind. We were joined by a small dog and the lady of the farm who suggested we take him for a walk.
Today's treats included Ben's Ginger biscuits, Oat and chocolate bars, McVities flapjacks, Mrs. A's apple cake and a piece of O Henry chocolate and peanut bar that had travelled all the way from Edmonton, Alberta (183 pounds).
Lunch over we headed east down hill. The path crosses an old and disused railway tunnel, the air shafts are still visible.
                                                   Air shaft over the old railway tunnel.
At the bottom of the hill the footpath led us across a stream to Lemmington Mill and from there we followed the road to 18th century Lemmington Hall and an interesting collection of cottages which appeared to be holiday lets.

Could it have been a small chapel once?
Walking away fro the hall in a north east direction we soon came to a road, turned right and walked uphill to Broome Wood Farm. On the right a track took us below the strange looking Lemmington Branch, another 18th century creation, part folly part farmhouse.
                                         Lemmington Branch
After crossing a couple of fields we entered Lemmington Wood. The footpath took us past this strange object:
                                                      Not clearly visible in the picture, the word "Paradise"
Out of the wood we turned right and crossed the field in front of Lemmington Hall. In the field is a column dedicated to James Evelyn and constructed and erected in Surrey in 1786. On the lower parts of the column are what appear to be prayers and a serpent swallowing its tail which, as you all know, is an 18th century symbol of eternity.
                                           James Evelyn's column brought here in 1928

Near the column are what appear to be three headstones, engraved with initials and a date.
                                                         ? (any ideas are welcome)
At the bottom of the slope, which consists of deep "ridge and furrow"  markings, enough to make you seasick, we were back at the lane above Lemmington Mill.
                                                 Ridge and Furrow
                                                         Lemmington Hall, again
We followed the track (signposted) across fields to Edlingham, approaching the village by way of the old railway viaduct and the castle.
                                      Disused viaduct, what a pretty  line this must have been
                                            Edlingham Castle, built at the end of the 13th century
                                               Back to St. Johns, the old roof line visible on the tower.
Not surprisingly we stopped at the Anglers Arms, Weldon Bridge on the way home, Black Sheep Bitter, Directors and Speckled Hen, always a good selection.
Actually I think the second error made for a more interesting walk out, not everyday you see old air shafts or entertain a dog at dinnertime. Sadly I have forgotten the pun of the day, it will be added should I remember.

The Matrix MMXV    H
                                                                      steps                                miles
LIDL3D                                                        22429                             10.19
Dave's LIDL3D                                            22227                              11.1
Dave's USB                                                  22095                               11.95
OUTDOOR GPS                                                                                   9.52
Brian                                                                                                      9.72
Ben                                                                                                        9.4
Ray                                                                                                        9.5
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