Saturday, 24 February 2018

The Teesdale Railway path (not to be confused with last week's Tea Trail) Durham /Yorks. February 23rd.
 Another walk we have not done for some time, and one well worth doing again walking the dismantled railway line from Middleton in Teesdale to Barnard Castle.
There are six of us: Brian, Harry, Dave, John H., Ben and me. To complete the walk you need either a car at either end, one in Middleton and one in Barney as it is called, or make use of the local bus service as we did.
To reach Barnard Castle from Newcastle go west on the A69, turn south on the A68 and at West Auckland take the A688 to BC. Drive carefully down the main street, turn left at the market and there is a car park which costs £1.50 for a whole day, what a bargain and it's not in Yorkshire, but near. Alternatively go south on the A1 to Scotch Corner and head west on the A66 turning north a few miles beyond Greta Bridge. From BC catch the 95/96 bus to Middleton in Teesdale. There is a bus an hour so check timetables, ours left the top end of BC at 10.56.
The map that covers the whole walk is OS OL 31, The North Pennines but the walk is so well posted it's easily followed without the help of OS or garmin.
Some had breakfast in a Barney café, some, arriving later, booted up and slowly walked the wide main street to the bus stop at Galgate.
                    One doesn't like to disappoint one's daughters so here is the Barnard Castle car park

 and the market in Barnard Castle. Shame about the cars.
The journey to Middleton in Teesdale takes about half an hour by bus, passing through several beautiful villages on the way. Stone built houses, converted farm buildings, village churches.
We got off the bus in the centre of the village and got ready to walk back.
                             Middleton in Teesdale.
We walked down the road past the closed school and crossed the river. On the right is the cattle mart, on the left with a sign post is a gated stile  which leads down to the river bank.
                        Crossing the Tees at the start of the walk.
                                                                                                                                                          Crossing two fields we came to the farm at Step End and after another field or two reached Lonton, crossed a road and headed up a bank onto the dismantled line, the Teesdale Railway Path.
From here the path is on the old line almost into Barnard Castle. It crosses the River Lune (No, not that one sister) on a high viaduct and passes Mickleton.
                          A view from a bridge, or the bridge on the River Lune.
Walking on old railway lines is much easier than walking up hills for obvious reasons. The plus side of this walk is the views across Teesdale. Unfortunately it was a bit hazy today. It was also cold, as promised by the young lady presenter on TV, but there was little wind and it remained dry.
After about four miles easy tramping on the track we reached Romaldkirk.
The old station has been converted to a house ,complete with signal and the Teesdale Railway Path diverts into the village and up a short stretch of road before rejoining the line. We decided the village green was a pleasant place for a Herbie, and anyway there were several benches to sit on.
                                        Once it was on a railway
                    Romaldkirk Church. Anglo Saxon bits remain. St Rumwold, to whom the church is dedicated was thought to have preached here before disappearing back to Buckingham. He only has a few churches named for him in the UK.
Romaldkirk used to be in Yorkshire, God's English Empire State, but it was given to Durham in 1974 when the government made changes to the counties, without asking. They got rid of  Westmoreland too. 
Today's sharings were Mini apple pies, ginger biscuits from Ben, cookies, chocolate cake and ginger cake from Mrs A. Welcome home, we've missed your baking.
And my ALDI replacement soup flask worked perfectly.
                     Ramaldkirk ewe
                         This walk really is well posted.
Back on the track we continued on our way. When we started the frozen ground had been firm to walk on but the sun had done its job and we were back on mud, but nothing like as bad as the last few Fridays.
We crossed the River Balder near Cotherstone by means of another fine viaduct.
                   River Balder from above. It joins the Tees at Cotherstone.
Beyond Cotherstone the Tees Railway path comes to an abrupt halt. There is a fence across the line. On the right a stile took us to a field, noticeable for having a sign post in the middle and then to another dismantled railway.
                        Ben and the Lone Sign Post

                    Joining the second railway. Strictly speaking not a public right of way but a popular walk as you can see by the path on the left.
We walked this old line until we came to the point where, in older times it crossed the Tees. The bridge, a girder construction, was demolished when the line closed but the stone abutments remain, fenced off of course.
                                 End of the line.
A steep path took us down to the river bank, part of the Teesdale Way. On previous occasions we have crossed the river at the Deepdale Aqueduct butt oday it was closed as there were some engineering works taking place. Instead we walked along the road and across the old bridge beneath the remains of Barnard Castle.
                                      Barnard Castle castle. Centuries ago Lord Barnard upped sticks and moved to Raby Castle a few miles away. Raby Castle is open to the public and has a fine herd of deer.
Changed we decided to head for the Boathouse in Wylam  to rehydrate. The usual selection of a dozen hand pulled pints, the coffee was good too. (My turn to drive)

Matrix MMXVIII   H
                                                                           steps                           miles
NAK                                                                  26139                         9.9
iPhone                                                                22354                         10.1
Dave's 3D                                                           21495                         10.53
 ""    USB                                                           21144                          10.67
 ""    NAK                                                          20985                          10.66
Sylvia's mother                                                  21122                           10.65
etrex                                                                                                       10.4
OUTDOOR                                                                                            10.5

Contains OS Data. Copyright Crown Copyright and database right 2018
And some overlap. Mile markers approximate too.

Saturday, 17 February 2018

Tea Trail, Tyne, Trains and a castle. (Cumbria)
February 16th. (And it's muddy)
 This walk, based on Alston in Cumbria, was last done by the team almost three years ago. It was a snowy day then, and cold. Hopefully today will just be cold. Five of us out to brave the elements, John H., Harry, Ben, Dave and me. The weatherman (see in gallery after the map) promised a cold breezy day with some sun. He was right.
The walk starts in Alston, one of the highest towns in England at almost 1000 feet, a similar height to Buxton in Derbyshire. To reach from base take the A69 west and a few miles beyond Hexham, near Haydon Bridge, turn left and follow road signs.  As you approach the small town the station and museum for the South Tyne Heritage Railway is on the right. It has a car park, intended for visitors to the raulway but in winter it is very quiet and makes an excellent Yorkshire parking area. ( Alternatively in Alston turn left up the high stree and continue to the free car park at the top of the town.)
Alston was once the centre of the mining industry. The surrounding hills yielded lead, zinc, silver and fluorspar. The mines have closed but evidence of their existence remains. Today the town relies on tourism and some light industry.
The map to use is OS OL 31 North Pennines.
               This week's car park at the station, Alston. The railway is now a 15inch gauge track which runs a few miles down the South Tyne Valley. Pre Beeching it went to Haltwhistle.
The walk:
We left the station (ignoring the café!) and walked south on the A686 crossed the bridge over the South Tyne and almost immediately turned right at the sign for Epiacum, the Roman fort.
                    Hard to miss
                    About a half of this walk is on Isaac's and some of it is shared with the Pennine Way. It is well posted.
                      Looking back at Alston from Moorwell Bridge, approximately
We walked across several muddy fields, climbing slowly to the minor road at Harbut Lodge where we turned right and almost straight away turned left and, still climbing, crossed more fields to Gilderdale Burn.
              Footbridge over Gilderdale Burn.The approach to this stream was very clarty, but so was much of the first half of the walk anyway.
We climbed out of the burn's valley and negotiated several more muddy fields until we reached Whitley Castle or Epiacum Roman Fort to give it it's proper name.

               Epiacum has some of the best preserved defensive earth banks of any fort in the empire (Roman that is)  If you are not a Latin scholar, like us gadgies, but are interested in origins of names it means "surrounding the point" and comes from "epi-acumen". (Or it could mean "the property of Eppius who was a local Celtic chief) It is on a wide promontory overlooking the river. It is thought to have been built to protect the mining that went on in the area in Roman times or as a fort to protect the nearby Maiden Way Roman road that runs north to Hadrian's Wall.

                Epiacum aerial view. You have probably noticed that the site is slightly more lozenge shaped than the standard "playing card " Roman fort. The defensive banks are very clear, as is the much later field wall.
Having admired, briefly, the fort we continued on our way. General Dave, leader for the day, at least from the rear took the correct route down to Dyke House. deep in conversation about the morality of dealing with firms who paid minimum wage or less, Harry and I, followed by Ben and John walked on a little forther to the minor road at Kirkhaugh and had to turn back for a few hundred yards. After crossing a couple of muddy fields however we reached Kirkhaugh Bridge on the railway line and headed for the small station for a Herbie Spot.

                 The unfinished waiting room/ticket office at Kirkhaugh Station. We sat outside at a picnic table and shared ginger biscuits, cookies, carrot cake and almond roca from
                The railway runs in summer.

After some discussion on a route back we opted for the shorter one, mainly because we were tired of plodging through muddy fields, and walked the firm footpath alongside the railway line to Alston.
A popular walk, we met several groups of walkers and several dogsters, much to Dave's delight. Near Alston there is a picnic site off the path. There are several wood carvings on the path, sadly they seem to have been vandalised.
                               Looks like a noseless otter
                              Border crossing
                              A standard British railway bridge.
Back at the station we removed muddy boots and wandered round the station before heading for the Boathouse pub at Wylam which usually has at least twelve hand pulled beers on offer.
                           The Boathose. Large selection of beers and Thai food. 

The matrix MMXVIII  G
                                                                        steps                              miles
NAK                                                               19139                            7.24
iPhone                                                             17536                            7.2
Dave's 3D                                                       15895                             7.47
  "" USB                                                          15126                             7.4
"" NAK                                                            14969                             7.32
Sylvia's mother                                               15351                              7.51
etrex 20                                                                                                   7.52
OUTDOOR GPS had a very bad day
Walking time 3hours 26 talking time 1 hour 20

The dotted section is the alternative and longer route we could have taken
Contains OS data, Copyright. Crown copyright and data base right 2018