Saturday, 29 October 2016

Pits, Pots, Butts and Sparks. North Pennines) October 28th.
  Things are beginning to return to Normal and there are six gadgies out today, wandering around the moors near Allenheads. John x 3, Harry, Dave and me.
Allenheads owed its existence to lead but the mines closed at the end of the 19th century. An attempt to reopen one in the next century was shortlived and today this high Pennine village relies on tourism and some agriculture for its survival. And grouse shooting. And you can ski, sometimes.
From base take the A69 west to just beyond Hexham, the A686 south and the B6295 through Allendale to Allenheads itself. There is proper Yorkshire car parking, a pub, a cafĂ©, The Hemmel, and a heritage centre which has an old hydraulic pump built by Armstongs on display. It is one of several built at his Elswick works for the mines in the area.
The walk is covered on two maps, OS OL31 North Pennines and a short section on OS OL 43 Hadrian's Wall. Photo copy cut and paste and laminate if you can stand the scorn.
                         Allenheads car park, pub in the background, built in 1770
We left the village and headed east up the steep road to Rookhope, nothing like a steep hill to start a walk but we did cut a corner by following a boggy path. Near the top we turned left along a good metalled track across Byerhope. Byerhope has everything, quarries disused and active, grouse butts, a house similar to Broadstruther used as a resting place for exhausted grousers and what is marked on the map as a raceground.
               Vista from Byerhope, typical north England view.
            Allenheads, almost hidden in the valley.
Ignoring a track off to the left which goes to Byerhope farm we turned left down a grassy path that took us to Tommy Spark's Fold, not that there was much to see.
                      I am the egg house
A track between a short terrace and the egghouse led us down to ford across the River East Allen. The river was well over boot depth but fortunately there was a footbridge too.
                                             Plastic bags or wellies needed on the East Allen
                         Considering how dry it has been recently the river  is quite high. The jacket would explain that clouds are forced high by the hills, cooled and fall as rain, illustrating the lesson with hand drawn diagrams.
The path crossed wet fields  before joining a path along the river bank. We paused at St Peter's Church, described in Pevsner as a "disused preaching box from 1825". he doesn't mention the large cemetery.
             The unused preaching box of 1825
                   and the East Allen at St. Peter's
We crossed the river, by bridge, and waled across fields to Spartylea, turning right at the Primitive Methodist Chapel, taking a short walk uphill and then crossing several fields to Tedham where we crossed the road and rejoined the river.
                         Methodist Chapel, now a house
                  On the path to Tedham
                                Beyond Tedham.
The footpath wandered through Sipton plantation and we called a Herbie Spot at a sunny spot on the river bank. Obviously a popular picnic spot, the remains of several camp fires and strangely, a Stella Artois glass.
              Herbie time on the East Allen. Those of us who contribute shared chocolate slices, chocolate covered flapjacks. Fruesli bars and chocolate and ginger flapjacks from
Here we are, October is almost over and we sit in the sun.
Lunch over we walked on to the end of the plantation, crossed the river by the footbridge, (another ford but boot covering water) and turned south west on the Black Way, a good metalled track, which is shared at one point with the Isaac Tea Trail. (Isaac rode the northern hills selling tea, there are several walks following his trail.)
The Black Way climbs slowly across the moors, at a junction after the best part of two miles we turned left and headed downhill to Swinhope, From here we crossed fields ,crossed a road and crossed more fields to Hammer Shields. More fields and finally we hit the minor road, passing Dirt Pot, once a lead smelter, now an Outdoor Centre, and completed our walk with a fairly long but flat trudge back to Allenheads.
On our way home we stopped at The Golden Lion in Allendale which had Timothy Taylor's Landlord Ale on draught and some very nice coffee..
If I started a star system for walks I think this would deserve a five star rating. It has everything that the hills in northern England has to offer. Moorlands above valleys dotted with small farms, grand views, woodlands, fields and streams. Wonderful.

                                                                               steps                                 miles
NAK                                                                     28279                                 9.81
Dave's 3D                                                             23602                                 10.38
  "         USB                                                          22752                                 10.42
  " NAK                                                                22508                                  10.30
OUTDOOR GPS                                                                                              10.2
Etrex                                                                                                                 10.5
iPhone activity app                                               24233                                  10.2
Walking time 3 hours 52 minutes, talking time 1hour 14 minutes
This is getting ridiculous

Contain OS data copyright Crown Copyright and database right 2016

Allenheads is well worth a visit. It is a pretty northern village and there is a considerable amount of evidence of its industrial past. There is a Heritage Centre, some of the shafts (pits) close to the village are well marked(and covered) and there are several information boards telling the story of lead mining. Some of the old buildings remain although dilapidated. And it is shelterd deep in the valley. We shall return.

 Armstrongs Hydraulic engine. Powered by water from reservoirs above the village and used to drive machinery
                                                   The Hemel cafe

                       A double stile

Saturday, 22 October 2016

John Martin rides the trail again..... October 21.(Northumberland)
  At this rate there will be nobody left. Holidays and the dreaded EK virus strike again and we are reduced to three gadgies, Brian, John Ha and me following the well loved John Martin trail from Haydon Bridge.
John Martin was born in 1789 in Haydon Bridge. His vast paintings, often with a religious theme, have landscapes with tiny figures, such as "The destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah" and "The Bard" which Harry and I saw in the Laing Gallery, Newcastle last Tuesday. Proper paintings, telling a story not a pile of bricks or unmade bed.
On this walk we pass several sites that possibly inspired him. There is pamphlet and route map available in several Haydon Bridge shops but if you are an OS fan the walk is on OS Explorer OL 43 Hadrian's Wall, not that it goes near the wall .which is a shame as I like the wall
Haydon Bridge is west of Newcastle on the A69, turn right towards the town but turn left just before the bridge across the Tyne. Go past the Anchor Hotel and turn left by the Haydonian Club and park just beyond the Shaftoe Trust Primary School. The car park is at NY845641. And a nice one it is too.
               Free Parking, Shaftoe Trust Primary School behind
  Walk down past the school, cross the road and follow the very minor road past some houses to East Land End where John Martin was born. There is a plaque on the end of the tiny cottages to commemorate his arrival but far more interesting is the hand painted message on the tank.
                      John Martin's birth place
              Perhaps he got fed up of John Martin fans, or maybe he's just a miserable farmer. On the other hand I wouldn't want people wandering round my yard either.
Further on take the right hand track to Lees Farm where you will get a warm welcome from a three legged collie who hops around the yard whilst his mates are locked in their large kennels. Follow the footpath past a couple of cottages and through the gate which has a John Martin Trail marker. Actually the whole trail is well marked and at times it shares paths with a National Trust way.
                 Watch out for posts with markers.
Cross three fields, heading for a corner of a small wood next to a road. Take the road downhill and watch out for the National Trust badge on the left hand side that is on a footpath to Moralee Wood and Tarn. The tarn is shrinking, the Trust needs to clear it of reeds and rushes, you could find Moses in there. It has acquired a charcoal burner since we were last here.
                Info board at Moralees
        Human interest for Sue of Forest Hall, nice to meet you
                                                  Charcoal Burner
                                     Moralee Tarn, duckless
Follow the footpath as it meanders downhill through the woods to the bank of the River Allen. It is a deep gorge and some of the high rock faces must be the ones that inspired John.
Take the path alongside the river, at one point it crosses a couple of fields before arriving at Plankey Mill.
                     The farm at Plankey Mill. Plankey Mill was once also known as Nakedale which possibly has something to do with springtime floods and forming of an island in the river. Nobody seems to know where Plankey comes from. It was a corn mill once upon a time. Now it has a few picnic tables and makes an ideal Herbie Spot.
Only three of us but we shared lemon flavoured biscuits, mince pies and a slice of apple flavoured cake topped with cream from Mrs A.
The footpath follows the river bank across a few fields  before entering National Trust land again and climbing to the ruins of Staward Peel, a 13th century stronghold with steep banks on three sides and a narrow path off to the east.
                  The overgrown walls of Staward Peel
                   And an artist's impression of the Peel.
Follow the path from the peel east and cross a field keeping an eye out for the gate into the woods at Harsondale. A steep path leads down to the footbridge over the Harsondale Burn and it is followed by a steep path out of the valley. Cross two fields to Harsondale farm and take the farm track to the right.Turn left at the junction with a road and walk on to another road. Go straight across and follow the footpath over to West Deanraw Farm.
West Deanraw Farm
Follow the farm track to a road junction and turn right along the road. Keep on the road to Castle Farm which had some nice looking belted galloways.
                                       Belted Galloway
At the farm turn right and, just before the entrance to Langley Castle take the track on the left signposted Threepwood.
                    Langley Castle, largely restored and used as hotel, wedding venue.
Follow the track across five fields before taking the footpath down through Langley Burn Woods, emerging on a road. Take the road signposted Haydon Bridge and go under the bypass bridge. Turn right through the play area and the car park is on the left.
On the way home we stopped at the Boathouse Tavern in Wylam which boasts 14 hand pulled beers on draught. Tyneside Blonde was one of them.

In the absence of Dave there is but one pedometer reading:
                                      33054 steps and 13 miles which is generous again
Outdoor GPS gave a reading of 10.7 miles and Brian said the same, more or less.
  This is a good walk, particularly if you like woodlands, not plantations. We did think the trees had not really got their autumn colours yet but it has been a long warm summer. There are several short steep climbs and in places today the ground was muddy but for the scenery, especially in the Allen Valley the effort is worth it.

Contains OS data Copyright. Crown copyright and database right 2016
Sorry about the maps but the walk is on the edges of two sides of Hadrian's Wall map. Yes I could have cut and pasted

                                            The Bard by John Martin