Saturday, 27 January 2018

Reservoir Blogs II.. (Durham) January 26th.
Warning; this walk can seriously dirty your boots
The little snow we had has gone. The weather girls says it will be bright but cold so we are off to Wolsingham in Weardale for a walk round Tunstall Reservoir.
Seven of us, John x 3, Brian, Harry, Ben and me, equipped with OS OL Explorer 31, North Pennines and OS Explorer 307, Consett and Derwent Reservoir.
(Or go to The site lists walks in the area  of various lengths and difficulty. Number three is Tunstall Reservoir. The leaflet can be downloaded. It has a map and lists points of interest. The leaflet is also available at some places in the town.)
From Newcastle take the A69 west, the A68 south and follow signs on minor roads for the small town of Wolsingham.  The name comes from "Waelsingas" a Saxon family who ran the place. It is an ancient market town, once popular with the Bishops of Durham as it was in their hunting grounds. Bishops seem to have had a good time hunting in Weardale, their favourite forests being limited by Eastgate and Westgate and they had a nice retreat at Bearpark (Beau repair).                                   The church in Wolsingham, St. Mary and St. Stephen has origins in the 12th century. In 1864 Charles Attwood opened an iron works, the works have gone but his house remains. And there is the heritage railway that runs very close to the town.
Breakfast at the Number 10 café, not quite Tiffany's but the bacon sandwich Brian had was a sight to behold.

                 Car parking and café in Wolsingham.
After breakfast we drove the few hundred yards to the car park next to the Waskerley Beck and booted up.
Although in County Durham this is a Yorkshire car park. (ie, it's free)
Once we were all ready, coated  and hatted against the cold, we set off, following the footpath on the south side of the stream. ( Do not cross the wooden bridge.)
After about a half mile close to the bank the footpath heads off in a north west direction across fields which were very muddy today, partly because of last weekend's snow which had melted and partly because of the animals which churn up the soft earth.
                       This walk is well marked, follow the yellow/black signs.
The path is straight, crosses several fields alongside a wall, goes through numerous gates and stiles to Park Wall. (Near mile 2 on the map)
Here the path turns through90 degrees and goes north east, edging fields and crossing them, passing High Joffless, more fields and finally reaching the road near the dam at the south end of the reservoir.
About half way up the water we stopped at a small car park and picnic area for a Herbie Spot.
The area swarmed with geese and ducks which demanded our food. They failed in their efforts although one stole half of John's ginger biscuit and one climbed on somebody's lap.

Ladder stile at Park Wall. These stiles are getting harder to climb.

Herbie time. Pork pies, gingers from Ben, peanut cookies, Hungarian chocolate (the last, sadly), lemon cake from Mrs A).

                     Herbie time and an extra car park
Feeding over we walked along the muddy footpath next to the water (You can go on the road) to the top end of the reservoir where we entered Backhouse Wood and Backstone Bank Wood.
                             The entrance to Backhouse/Backstone Woods
The footpath, which was very muddy, follows close to the banks of the reservoir all the way to the dam.

The earth dam; looks as if it has been recently cut.
Leaving the water we walked uphill (first steep climb of the day) to a farm. From here we turned south and followed a rough track initially. It then became a footpath across fields, one of which had been a turnip field. The sheep had left bits of turnip and lots of mud, boots were getting heavier.
                         About to head south at Backstone.
                                    Information board.
Having struggled through the clarts and been thankful for the grassy tracks we reached Baal Hill House(mile 7)
 More fields to Holywell Farm and a road. After examining the Holy Well which had a pretty patch of snowdrops we turned right on the road and almost immediately turned left on a footpath across fields (muddy) and back to Wolsingham and the car park.

In case you are wondering, Finchale Priory(pronounced Finkle) is a few miles north of the city of Durham.
As we approached the end of the walk some of us walked into the beck to wash the mud off our boots..A crocodile of primary school all clad in hi viz vests children, one teacher at the front, one at the back, passed us. All were friendly "Hi guys, had a good walk?" shouted on.
Changed we headed for the Boathouse pub at Wylam, not far west of Newcastle in the Tyne Valley.
This pub usually has at least twelve real ales on hand and we were not disappointed today.
I opted for one pint of Secret Kingdom and one of Tyneside Blonde. Both good.
The Boathouse bar. Sorry about the Fosters.
Slightly shorter than our usual walks at 7.5 miles this is a grand little ramble, open fields, wood and water and views across Weardale.
Dave was not with us so there is a limited matrix:
    Matrix MMXVIII                                                  
                                                                            steps                                     miles
iPhone                                                                 18020                                   7.6
NAK                                                                    22179                                   9.1 (generous as ever)
OUTDOOR GPS                                                                                              7.5
Garmin                                                                                                              7.44
Brian                                                                                                                  7.5
Walking time 2h 45 min        Talking time 1h 17min

Contain OS data. Copyright. Crown copyright and database right 2018

Saturday, 20 January 2018

On the trail of the Lonesome Kite.. or the Three Mouse(kite)eers.  (Tyneside) January 19th.
Snow hath fallen, snow on snow. Not a lot but enough to put some of us off driving into the wilds for a walk. Instead we are going by bus as far away as Winlaton and walking part of the Red Kite trail. Kites were once common in Britain, hunted almost to extinction but now on the up again. Introduced to the area south of the Tyne several years ago they are flourishing and expanding their territory.
Three of us, John H., Brian and me agreed to meet on Newcastle's Eldon Square bus station and catch a  bus to Winlaton, getting off at the Derwenthaugh and DerwentWalk Country Park and following the Red Kite Trail.
Being a bus journey there is no car park but because two young ladies I know look forward to the weekly photo of assembled automobiles I add a picture of the bus station at Newcastle.  It's a good one, covered waiting, large electronic information boards and a nearby Greggs. Usually at this time of day there are other gadgie groups setting off for a mini adventure too.

Eldon Square bus station and a cylindrical car park.
Most of the walk is covered by OS Explorer 307 Consett and Derwent Reservoir, the missing start and finish is on OS Explorer 315 Newcastle upon Tyne. The complete walk is on my ancient OS "One inch to the mile" sheet 78 Newcastle upon Tyne and you can download a leaflet and map by googling Red Kite Trail and following links and things.
On the other hand this trail is marked really well, just follow the;
 There is a car park at Winlaton Mill where we started but it is closed at the moment while a café and information centre is being built.
Once off the bus and ready to go we walked a short distance on the road past the Red Kite pub where we turned off to follow the Derwent walk/Red Kite Trail. Initially the walk follows the Derwent River round Goodshields Haugh before joining the dismantled railway which takes walkers, cyclists and horse riders all the way to Consett. Being an old railway line it climbs gently, crossing two viaducts. Lined with leafless trees and covered with icy slush it wasn't the easiest of walks. And at one point the trail joins Burnhopfield Road. Cross the road after a few hundred yards and rejoin the trail, still on the dismantled railway.
At one point there is a viewing area overlooking Rowlands Gill so we stopped to view and sure enough, in the distance we saw three kites the ruins of an old chapel and some houses.

                           View Point and information board.
From one of the high viaducts on the old line we saw two deer in the field below. Look carefully in the left corner of the photo to see them.
                                           It's only a compact camera.
Just beyond Priestfield Wood the Derwent Walk goes round the old station house the Red Kite Trail goes off to the right and follows a narrow footpath down to Lintzford which has an old mill and fine stone houses.

The trail goes left across the road and along a footpath into Chopwell Woods, the first climb of the day.As elsewhere the path through the woods is well posted with Red Kites and the the track has a good surface. At one point, a few yards of the trail is a high post with a carving of a kite on the top. We called a Herbie Spot and sat on the bench round the post overlooking the Derwent Valley.
                      Looks a bit Owlish. We saw more kites as we lunched on biscuits, Stollen and Mrs A's lovely fruit slab cake.
Lunch and looking over we continued on our way through the wood, emerging at "Pitmans Ride", followed a road north east before crossing fields to the back end of Rowlands Gill and taking a minor road past the now closed Hookergate School.
More woods, (Spen Banks) before we came to a disused waggon way which we followed for a short distance. If you follow this watch out for the Red Kite marker on the left which takes walkers on a footpath above the muddy waggon way and then north to Ashtree Lane. The Red Kite Trail officially goes from here  to Barlow where it turns and and comes south back to the end of Ashtree Lane. We cut this bit out and walked down the lane turning right, passing Thornley Bank dog and cat holiday home, then right down a lane, left to High Thornley. Here we crossed a road and struggled along the edge of a very muddy field which contained no grass but probably a dozen horses. Terrible, something like the trenches.
                                Should you keep horses in these conditions?
Beyond High Thornley the path crosses fields to.... Low Thornley. Watch out for the marker, it's the only one not easily spotted. Downhill to Thornley Woodlands Centre, which was closed and then along a boarded footpath back down to the Derwenthaugh Park and the track to The Red Kite pub.
                                 Thornley Woodlands Centre
                                     Red Kite pub. John and I had a friendly bet that the pub would sell a "Red Kite" Ale. It didn't so we drank Wainwrights, there was also Deuchars, Boon Doggle and Sloe Storm. Nice selection.
Then we caught buses back to Newcastle and home. This is another good walk, a bit muddy in sections today. Apart from Kites we saw grey squirrels, deer, redwing and a sparrow hawk.
                                  Red Kite, beautiful, and fond of kittens, some say.
Matrix MMXVIII      (C)

Not having Dave not much today but:
                                                                                 steps                        miles
NAK                                                                      28894                        11.85
iPhone                                                                   24213                         10.5
OUTDOOR GPS                                                                                      10,9
Brian                                                                                                         10.5

                Lots of overlap on the maps, couldn't squeeze them onto one
Contains OS data copyright. Crown copyright and database right 2018.