Saturday, 30 March 2019

Murum tribus militimus (Northumberland )
March 29th.
 The advantages of a classical education! If only I had had one. The Translate App on the phone works well though.                                                                                                                               The good burghers of Haltwhistle have put together a booklet of 22 walks based on the town.
Today we are going to follow Haltwhistle Ring Walk number 5 which goes from the town, up the Haltwhistle Burn for a while and then crosses country to Hadrian’s Wall’. After a short walk on the wall the walk returns via Greenhead.
There are only three of us out today, holidays and families again reducing the team to John H., Dave and me.
The walk is covered by OS OL Explorer 43, Hadrian’s Wall but you can buy the leaflet in some of the shops or download them, map and notes.
Haltwhistle is at the centre of Great Britain and from Newcastle it is easy to find, Head west on the A69 and turn off when you get there. Limited but free parking above Sainsbury’s supermarket.

                            Not the best of car parks, but free!

                                     Woodhead  Lane, start of the walk.

Booted up  and ready to go we three soldiers headed west from the car park and turned up Woodhead Lane passing houses and a school before going through a gate, up a lane and into fields.

The path is well marked, there are stiles between the fields, they get harder to climb over!  There were many fresh looking lambs in the field, mostly running to mum on our approach, not surprising as Dave kept shouting the old joke;”Mint sauce”.
                                                                                         At Birchfield Gate we turned right on the road and walked about a mile on tarmac parallel to Painsdale Burn which seemed to be in quite a deep valley.
At the end of the plantation we saw the signpost on the left and headed over more fields to Wrytree Drift, not that we saw any coal. It was a bit of a puzzle to get round the buildings but eventually we made it and walked down to Wrytree Farm.
A lady at the farm told us there were several horses in the field we were about to cross but they would ignore us. She was right.

                                        Friendly horses at Wrytree Farm

Soon we were at College Farm from where we followed a footpath across fields, behind the Greenhead Vicarage and into the village itself.
Turning right we walked a short distance up the B6318, usually called the Military Road, before we turned off at the Sustrans notice announcing the Hadrian’s Wall cycle track.
We followed this for a short while before turning into the fields again , crossing the Vallum and joining the Hadrian’s Wall Path which is also the Pennine Way and the Pennine Journey path.
The path goes close to the Roman Army Museum, always worth a visit and then takes walkers into Walltown Quarry. At the quarry there is a visitor centre and plenty of picnic tables.
Two coaches from Poland and a German mini bus were in the car park, the picnic benches were full of teenagers from France, Poland and Germany. All very cheery, shouting ” hello” as we passed them but they did think it was a cold day. (Dave observed that none of them were fat; is obesity a British disease?)The Germans from the mini bus were having a slight problem working out the instructions on the parking ticket machine which required vehicle registration number, PIN number if you paid by card and offering no change if you used cash. As a gesture of European solidarity we helped them out.
            This way for the Walltown Quarry

Bonjour Monsieur Dave. Comment allez vous?
        A domestic Roman oven, of course it's not real

We decided this was an excellent place for a Herbie and clambered over a wall (with difficulty) to get some shelter from the breeze. Our chosen spot overlooked the pond left by quarry work, it was inhabited by Mallards and a pair of Tufted Ducks who were keen synchronised divers. We shared Titans, chocolate chip cookies and cherry slices.
   Walltown Crags from the Herbie Spot
               The pond at Walltown from our lunch spot
                             Looking back from Walltown Crags

The quarry is not a Roman one, it was in operation until the middle of the 20th century but has left some impressive crags as well as a large picnic area.

Lunch over we continued on the HW path, climbing uphill to a section of the wall itself, which we followed for about a mile to Turret 45A.
                            A short section of Hadrian's Wall

  This gives some indication of the height of the wall. Before I shrank with age I was six feet tall (180 cm approx.) but now I'm only five feet 10 inches (175 cm.). The wall was about 9feet high originally(270 cm) W Not sur if this section is original or a bit of rebuild, but you get the idea.
                                                          Remains of Turret 45A
                          Artist's impression of a turret. There were Milecastle too
                                                                                                                                                          Shortly after this we turned away from the HWP down through the farm at Walltown and on to Lowtown and crossed the Vallum once again.

Beyond a semi ruined farm house we took a footpath on the left that took us up to the B6318 next to a cottage called Stanegate. (If you follow us,do not go to the ladder stile but turn uphill before heading down to the road)

From this point we walked on a road  through Edge Hill to Comb Hill. Here, and it is posted, we took a footpath across fields and down to Haltwhistle Burn.

In previous centuries the Burn was a hive of industry, coal was mined, metals were made and bricks tiles and pipes produced. Today it is a quiet country walk although some of the old buildings remain.

Haltwhistle lies at the bottom of the burn and soon we were back at the car, changed and heading for the Boathouse pub at Wylam.
                                                 Haltwhistle Burn
                   Remains of an industrial past

                                         The Boathouse from inside and out

The pub is next to the Wylam station and there is a crossing gate and a footbridge. A fellow drinker left the pub, crossed the bridge as the gates were closed and headed for the platform. He had left his glasses on the bar. As the driver and therefore non drinker I offered to go after him and ran over the bridge and down the platform to return his spectacles. In return the bar maid offered me a drink! Sadly the free drink had to be another coffee. Lost out again. But Dave did think my running was good enough for Saturday Park Run. I declined.

Contains OS Data, copyright. Crown copyright and database right 2019


                                                                    Steps                                 miles

NAK                                                          25383                                 9.21

Dave’s NAK 1                                          18923                                8.95

“””””””””””2                                            18974                              8.98

“”””””””USB                                             19252                              9.11

“”””””SM                                                  18944                              8.99

OUTDOOR                                                                                          8.6

And a few more,

Saturday, 23 March 2019

Penny's Pies and Jenny Siddle's Hill (Northumberland) March 22nd.

Reduced in number yet again by holidays and family commitments four of us are out for a walk from Blanchland in Northumberland, just.

We are John Ha., John C., Dave and me.

Blanchland is a very pretty village, guaranteed to get a mention in up-market newspaper travel sections as one of those “must see places”, especially when there has to be one in the north of England.

The local TV station weather person said it would be a windy, overcast day. He was right, the wind gusted all day, mostly on backs and sides.

The village owes its existence to the Premonstratensian White Canons (Hence the name Blanchland) who built an Abbey here. Closed with the dissolution in 1539 the buildings became a house. In the 18th century the Crewe Trust built the village that exists today, using stone from the old Abbey.

To get to the start in the village from Newcastle take the A69 west, turn south on the A68 near Corbridge and watch out for sign posts.

There is a car park with an honesty box and we are.

The map to use is OS OL 43 Hadrian’s Wall.

Unfortunately I had a camera problem, unrealised until we had started walking so my picture of the car park was not saved. I pinched this one from the internet and the honesty box is from Dave.
  Th e car park in Blanchland. Thank you somebody. You will gert a credit in my forthcoming guide to northern car parks
                                                Honesty box in the car park.

The walk;

Leaving the car park we turned left and for a short distance we followed the Pennine Journey before spotting the sign post on the left and following it to Cote House Farm. (Called Coat House Farm on some maps) Through the farmyard and slightly uphill we came to a point where we made a little mistake. Two gates, John Ha. and I thought the left hand gate was the one to go through but we were told otherwise and opened the right hand gate. Sometime later, having followed a fence with a vicious looking top strand of barbed wire we found a gate. On the other side was a felled plantation (still a wood on the map) so we struggled over tree stumps and brushwood , across another field until we finally came to the solid track we should have been on in the first place.
                    I think it's this way

A cheery quad biking farmer asked cheekily if we had finally found the right way.

We followed the track (Not the Pennine Journey) until we reached Pennypie House, so called because when this route was a  drove road  cattle drovers could stop here and rest and buy a pie for an old penny. (1d)
     Pennypie House Farm. Not selling even for £1 today

Beyond the house we were on to open moorland, complete with grouse butts and Barbour/wellie clad people. They were not out shooting as it is closed season, they were doing a headcount to estimate the number of grouse they would be able to shoot after August 12th.

                        Into Slaley Forest

After a few miles we reached Slaley Forest and turned east inside the plantation. On the map it is marked woodland but south of the forest road had been cleared of timber leaving more ugly looking debris and no protection from the wind.

Towards the end we headed into the trees and sat on moss covered tree stumps for a Herbie; lemon slices, Titans and home made ginger cake from Mrs Ha..

               No hint as to its purpose. 
                       Pond close to today's Herbie Spot

Break over we continued roughly east, crossed  the road, crossed more moorland and fields before reaching Winnowshill Farm and country cottages.
                       Winnowshill Farm

                   Grouse Butt between Slaley Forets and Winnowhill

From here, turning right we walked along the road for a few miles. Jenny Siddle's Hill is on the right of the road before Hotburn Hill. It is not marked on some maps. The left hand side of the road borders Derwent Reservoir and is a nature reserve. Public access is forbidden which is understandable in a way but disappointing too.

At the bridge over the Derwent River, which is the boundary between Northumberland and Durham we took the riverside footpath back to Blanchland. The prettiest section of an excellent walk the path clings mostly to the bank. A pity we couldn't find an alternative to the road from Winnowshill but a five star gadgie day.
Changed we went to the village pub and hotel. Lord Crewe. They had three beers on offer; Steel Rigg from Twice Brewed pub and brewery,  McCalls Lady Marmalade and Wylam Brewery Collingwood. The tea was nice too.

                         River Derwent and the footpath back to Blanchland.

The tea room, looks like an old school building.

 Around Blanchland village. The church, built from the old Abbey is St. Mary the Virgin

Contains OS data, copyright. Crown copyright and databaseright 2019


                                                          Steps                                  Miles

NAK                                                30642                               11

Dave’s NAK 1                                22159                               10.49

“””””””””””””2                             22201                                10.51

“”””””USB                                     22520                                10.66

S M                                                22914                                 10.49

Etrex                     4hr walk 47min talk                                  10.61

Iphone                                           23982                                  10.7
OUTDOOR                                                                                  10.4