Friday, 18 March 2016

Hill forts, Hobgoblins and piles of stones   March 18th (Northumberland)

   Thrunton Woods is a Forestry Commission plantation north of Newcastle. Before it was used for timber it was probably used for grazing sheep as it is pretty rough ground. It was also said to be inhabited by Hobgoblins who played tricks on people passing by, not that there would be many. Today we gadgies are off to find the Hobgoblins, or anything else of interest. Simple to get to, A1 north, A697 at Morpeth and turn off at the road sign for Thrunton Woods. There is a parking area, picnic spot and Hobgoblin holding bin. The whole of the walk is covered by OS Explorer 332 Alnwick and Amble, the car park is at   GRNU 086097 approx.
We have done this walk before, see The Searchers in the blog for June 2012. A good turn out again, John C., John H., John Ha., Dave, Harry, Ben, Norman,Ray and me. (A nonect?)Tea or coffee in the Heighley Gate Garden Centre just north of Morpeth on the A697. Nice garden centre., popular with older folk for coffee and a read.
The weather forecast for the north east was the same as yesterday, and the day before; overcast, drizzle and cold. The lads got fully kitted out.
                             Trout fishery across the road and field from......
                                                 .........the car park
  Leaving the car park, which was quite full today, several vans with All Terrain Cyclists preparing for a muddy day, and turned north along the road. We turned left and passed the Forest Office as marked on the map, not that I could see anything even vaguely resembling an office. We encountered the first mud of the day going through a gate on the right (complete with marker). We crossed several fields before coming to what is obviously an embankment, remains of the Roman road that once crossed here. There was some dispute as to its authenticity as we had noted a slightly raised line as we crossed the fields which some of us thought was the line of the ancient via. At this point we turned south and entered the wood by means of a dilapidated stile, turned right and followed a track onto Humbleton Hill, a stand of Beech trees in the area would have made a quality Herbie Spot but it was too early, even by our standards.
     Some thought the line in the centre was the track of the Roman road. It is straight. Norman said it was possibly the line of an old coach road and definitely not of the empire
                                                            Best track of the day, much of the rest was muddy
The Hobgoblins hiding behind a gnarled old beech.
The next point of interest was the outline of an ancient settlement/fort on Castle Hill. It made use of a natural ditch on one side and remains of ramparts could be made out. Pushing on, uphill too we looked out for Macartney's cave, nothing to do with Paul (had it anything to do with him it would have been a Cavern) but a part time hiding place for a man who had been the vicar or curate in a nearby village. We found one cave but could not be certain it was the right one.  We did however decide it was a Herbie Spot, and only three miles.

Hobgoblins' feast: pork pies again, ginger biscuits, chocolate and oat cakes from Mr Kipling, biscuits and millionaires chocolate and caramel shortbread. Sandwich and tea for me too, going off coffee.
  Back on the walk, the next section, although flat, was boggy and the path had been churned up by Mountain Bikers. They should not be allowed!  Pausing at the cairn on Hard Nab to admire the views over Northumberland in spite of the light mist we then headed downhill again, still on muddy track before climbing a narrow footpath up to Long Crag which has a well preserved and painted trig point.

                                Cairn on Hard Nab

                                Misty view across the county, good heavens, are there no mines?

                                                           Admiring the trig point. When mapping was digitised it was possible to adopt a trig point. This one has been lovingly cared for
From here the path along the ridge was fairly level but muddy and we were strung out in a line, or gadgeton as Dave called it as we had been discussing bikes and Victoria Pendleton.
 The path continued past Coe Crags, a suitable place for a team photo;

                                 Hobgoblins on Coe Crag
The footpath from the Coe Crag winds downhill and was quite slippy, kept us on our toes. At the foot of the hill we crossed the footbridge and turned right on the forest track.
                         Today we turned right having crossed the bridge, on other occasions we have turne left and taken a different route back,

                    Frog spawn in a puddle on the forest track, not many will survive 
We followed the forest track back to the road, turned left and were soon back at the car park. Not surprisingly we called at the Anglers Arms on the way home. The beers on offer were Blacksheep, Taylor's Golden Best and Bombardier, two of them went down well for me.

The Matrix MMXVI     L  
                                                                                    steps                           miles
NAK                                                                            24717                         9.36
LIDL3D                                                                       20627                         9.31
Dave's 3D                                                                    20997                         9.3
  " USB                                                                        19831                         9.07
  " NAK                                                                       19664                         9.0

Walking time  3 hours 5 minutes   Hanging around time  1 hour 50 minutes                                                                                                             8.9
Consistent or what.

I am off on my annual jaunt to Czechia and will not be blogging for a couple of weeks.Read the back numbers.
 The new printer doesn't scan as well as the old one, I should look at the manual but as you know, men never do.Contains OS data. Crown copyright and data base right 2016

Sunday, 13 March 2016

We walked from Stanhope to Consett along The Waskerley Way..(again)  March 12th(North Pennines)
Another extra walk for Dave and I, a railway walk from Stanhope to Consett Wetherspoons. This is a 13.5 mile linear walk so by car it would need a little organising. For gadgies it is simple, catch the X21 from Newgate Street in Newcastle to Stanhope, do the walk, have a drink and catch a bus back to Newcastle. However, the X21, run by Weardale Travel, very friendly driver, only runs on a Wednesday and a Saturday so plan carefully.
The walk is easy to follow, but should you need a map OS Explorer 307 Consett and Derwent Reservoir covers the route. If you make photocopies you need three sheets of A4 and your copies must not be for sale or the Queen will get you for breach of copyright.
The walk starts by the church in Stanhope. Looking at the church from the street there is a lane on the right hand side that leads uphill. Turn left at the top, pass the Methodist Chapel and watch out for a fingerpost pointing uphill on the right.
                                               St Thomas, Stanhope, Norman origins
                                             Stanhope Castle, 18th century

 Fossilised tree in the church yard and information board.
This footpath leads to Ashes Quarry which, until the 1940s produced limestone and some coal. Now it is slowly reverting to nature although the spoil heaps look very unnatural. Cross the bridge and turn left, following the usual yellow arrow signs.

                     Ashes Quarry and spoil heaps with a view of Stanhope too.
The footpath now becomes a dismantled railway which once had an aerial system for sending material uphill and downhill. The old winding engine sheds have gone and the land on the right is now grouse moor. The track which has a good surface, is alongside the road up Crawleyside.  The road is a steep climb for miles, I know, I once cycled up it. Once was enough. At Fell Haven, a cafe  the road and track part company and the walk is now really on the Waskerley Way.
                               Fell Haven cafe, popular with cyclists.
                                              Follow the signs
 There was a great deal of activity at the cafe. The Consett Rugby Club had organised a triathlon for children and this was the start point for the cycle ride. The children and adult companions/guards/supervisors/were being given a talk on behaviour. Watch out for walkers, dogsters and other cyclists, be polite, ring your bell, consider others. Quite right too. We walked past the starting grid and then they set off, passing us. A very cheery set of children too, from about six years to sixteen, many calling out "Hello" "Good Morning" Pleasing to see, and not a mobile phone in sight.

                    Dave, about to be cycled by the tail end charlie.
From this point on the path is level for several miles as it crosses the moors in a great arc.  Panoramic views, to the south is Waskerley Reservoir, to the north the receding hills of Durham. A fine day, a little breeze on our backs, perfect for a spring walk. Another reservoir, Smiddy Shaw lies to the north.
                     Waskerley Reservoir
  After 6.5 miles, approximately, and half way into the walk, we came to a small plantation at Waskerley itself. A house, a small church, an old chapel and a picnic site make up the settlement. We declared a Herbie Spot and sat at a table in the shelter of the trees.
                              The trees are growing, slowly and are still in plastic tubes

                             Picnic area. Only two of us, we had Racer
                             Picnic area. Only two of us Bars from ALDI and Yorkshire flapjacks
            As we had lunch we heard a Tawney Owl, it hooted once, possibly disturbed. Break over we continued on our way along the track which turns south and then abruptly turns back north. The area was an ammunition dump during WW2 and the fencing remains. Here the path is above the old railway bed, now a small nature reserve, Burnside. We headed north east across Whitehall Moss looking down on the farmland below to the west.
To the east, the Sky Blue Farm, a nest of Coventry City supporters.

One of the farms has a small pond, with Black Swans. (Middle Heads  I think)

The track crosses Hown's Gill on a viaduct which has in the past been used by suicides. To prevent this the sides are protected by ugly posts and wires.

I'm all for preserving life but this is ugly

Looking down on Hown's Gill from the viaduct
Beyond the viaduct the track magically becomes the Consett and Sunderland Railway Path

Approaching Consett; a relic from the days when the town made iron and steel
Approaching the town we passed these two interesting pieces of art

                              Telescope and strange legged sextant
Once in the town we headed for the Wetherspoons pub which had some excellent Abbott Ale, fine fish and chips for me (you don't appreciate what a treat this is for me) and a steak and ale pie for Dave.

The Matrix MMXVI  K
                                                                      steps                               miles
NAK                                                           34954                               13.24
LIDL3D                                                      28717                              11.25 (adjustment needed)
Dave's LIDL3D                                          27091                               13.54
 "              USB                                           26762                               13.51
  " NAK                                                      23061                               13.46
OUTDOOR GPS                                                                                 13.14
etrex                                                                                                     13.46

Consistency, apart from my 3D

Walking time     4 hours 15 minutes              stop time 48 minutes

As we walked we counted cyclists, walkers, dogs and runners with the following results
Cyclists  129
Walkers 38
Runners 3
dogs  18
3 buggies, one tricycle and 1 scooter

We also spotted:
Golden plovers, white and black swans, grouse, lapwings, kestrels, waders unidentified in a large flock, crows, robins, wrens, chaffinches, grey lag geese, mallards and lbjs. We heard a Tawney owl and a Great Spotted Woodpecker but it was too cold for the adders to be out.
Contains OS data, copyright. Crown copyright and database right 2016

Friday, 11 March 2016

The Battle of Humbleton....1402.         March 11th (Northumberland)
During the long border wars between England and Scotland, which some say are still going on, the English, with Harry Hotspur as one of the leaders, beat the Scots with the Earl of Douglas in command in a battle just a few miles north of Wooler. The English archers, those everyday country folk, are usually given credit for a crushing victory over the old enemy, which sent them home, tae think again.  Lessons over for today.
  There are  9gadgies out today, (me, Harry, Dave, John H., John Ha., Ray, John C., Ben and Norman, who hasn't been seen for a while but is very welcome.) and we are revisiting a popular walk which starts on Wooler Common. To get there, A1 north, A697 at Morpeth, turn into Wooler and turn left just beyond the Terrace Café at the sign for Wooler Common. After a mile or so pull in to the parking area and picnic spot bon the right, known to us gadgies as Who let the dogs out. This has been explained previously but for an SAE and £1 a full and merry retelling is obtainable.
The weather man has said fair today, he knows that spring is on its way.
A map is useful OS OL 16 The Cheviot Hills covers the whole route.
Naturally we visited the Terrace Café in Wooler for tea or coffee before heading up to Wooler Common and the walk.
         Follow this sign which is next to the Terrace cafe on Wooler main street.
    Once at the car park we soon booted up, picnic tables and benches are a big help.
                                         Human interest and a car park

                              This little memorial to Sheila is on the information board in the car park. A number of planes crashed in and around the Cheviots during WW2. This particular one was a B19 I think. Several of the crew perished in the crash. There is a considerable amount of wreckage left still, near the top of the Cheviot itself. There is a memorial to the crews in College Valley.
                      We started the walk by crossing this footbridge on the north side of the car park. Look carefully and you can just see a marker above the left hand timbering on the bridge. We followed this path uphill through the wood for a short distance before reaching a gate. Fortunately Ben, who is the expert on gate opening, has returned after a few weeks absence so we had no problems. We crossed a field and came to this;
                   The old trailer van; it used to sit on its wheels, perhaps it's a victim of Abigail or one of the other storms. 
 There is a choice of path at the waggon, we took the right hand one downhill along a muddy farm track before finding the gate on the left that took us on a path to the top of Humbleton Hill, it's quite a steep pull. On the summit is a hill fort, just one of the many in the area. The perimeter walls are clearly visible although over the centuries they have fallen down or been used for dry stone walls.
               Humbleton Hill, site of an English victory.
                                A bivallate fort, inner and outer wall clearly visible.
                     Misty and snowy Cheviot
   Having had the battle described by Dave in detail we headed downhill in a roughly north west direction before hitting a grassy track  that took us north east for a while  then turned just north of west again along the side of a wood. The path became a foot/sheep path on the north side of Harehope Hill. (Please note; I have cheated a bit on the map, it is an old one. Today we did not go over Harehope Hill as shown but round it, the slope of the hill down to Gleadscleugh is a bit like a scree.)
We followed the path down to the isolated farm at Gleadscleugh.
                                      Gleadscleugh Farm
 At the farm there are three track, the one on the left follows Akeld Burn, the centre goes up the rocky Gleads Cleugh and the one on the right, which we took, climbs relatively gently uphill on to Akeld Hill and then to White Law. Downhill from here to the sheepfold where we made a Herbie Stop.

   This is a trap for predator birds who may pinch a grouse or two. It can only be used at certain times otherwise the door must be kept open and the trap checked regularly.

The stell (sheepfold ) at the bottom of the picture is today's Herbie Spot. In this photo the outlines of a substantial enclosure with hut circles is clearly visible.
                            Today's Herbie Spot. The feast included pork pies, ginger biscuits, other biscuits, cake and orange flavoured cake.
Lunch over we headed for Yeavering Bell (Yeavering = goats but there were non out today.)
Instead of climbing to the top, which has a very large hill fort we followed a grassy track for a while before turning left at a marker which took us down to St. Cuthbert's Way.
Take the path towards Commonburn house.
                                      Human interest
                                        Yeavering Bell, with fort.
 From here we followed St. Cuthbert's Way back across the moors, close to Tom Tallon's Crag, round Black Law and back to the upturned wagon and then across the field, through the wood and back to the car park.
On the way home we felt obliged to help the economy by spending a few grey pounds in the ever welcoming Anglers Arms at Weldon Bridge. Today they were serving Tim Taylor's Golden Best, Bombardier and Everard's Tiger, all well kept as usual, especially the Tiger.

The Matrix MMXVI   J

                                                                          steps                          miles
  NAK                                                              26815                         10.15
LIDL 3D                                                          25508                        10.0
Dave's LIDL3D                                               22355                         10.06
  "        USB                                                     21421                          9.8
  "         NAK                                                   21307                          9.75
etrex                                                                                                     9.83
Norman's GPS                                                                                     9.25
John C GPS                                                                                         9.79
Ben's GPS                                                                                           9.1

Good  set of results!
Contains OS Data Copyright. Crown copyright and database right 2016