Friday, 19 April 2019

There's an old mill in the dene. (Newcastle upon Tyne) April 19th.
   It's Easter, some of the team are away, some have family commitments and so five of us are going for a walk very near home; Jesmond Dene in Newcastle upon Tyne; John Ha., John C., Dave, Harry and me.
Jesmond Dene is a steep sided valley through which the Ouseburn flows to the Tyne. 
Once the home of Lord Armstrong, builder of big guns and battleships, it has been transformed, by him, into a public park. Very popular with families for Pets Corner, gentle walker, runners and cyclists, plus a few dogs.
We are starting our stroll at the Victory pub at South Gosforth. We have reason for this. Killingworth Road which passes the pub has been closed to traffic for almost two years. originally closed to replace a metro bridge which took a matter of days, and to widen the road and improve the junction the work has taken much longer than expected. Problems with gas mains and problems with asbestos are two of the reasons given but we are going to cast our eyes on the current situation. The road was one of the main entrances to the city and the delay has caused traffic holdups and much frustration.
No car park this week as it was a bus job but this is where I started the walk , almost a mile from the Victory.

                                        The new bridge at South Gosforth, and the roadworks that have lasted almost two years
                            The Victory, good pub, good beer
From the Victory we walked a short distance up Freeman Road and entered the dene. We followed footpaths alongside the Ouseburn to the end underneath Armstrong Bridge, closed to traffic and sometimes has a craft fair. Easy route to follow so a few pictures will suffice.

                        Go through the tunnel to the rocky face in the top picture. Once used for a climbing wall the practise was forbidden by several generations of parkies.

                   Picturesque bridge and stepping stones.
We did stop to look at two particular items, the old mill and the banqueting hall.

               Ruins of the mill, I'm guessing it was undershot.

               Ruins of Armstrong's banqueting hall. Armstrong lived in a house on the edge of the dene before he moved to Cragside near Rothbury in Northumberland. His house in the dene no longer exists but Cragside is worth a visit.
Beyond the hall we came to Pets Corner which has a collection of small animals and birds for children to look at. However as it was a sunny day and a holiday with lots of small children around the powers that be had the area closed and locked.
                              But you could ride on Thomas the Tank Engine.
Once out of the park we wandered around the streets of Jesmond until we came to the Portland Bowling Club.
As President of the club for the year John Ha. gave us a guided tour of the pavilion. We sat on benches admiring this gem in the middle of the city. Hidden from view by the Arriva Bus garage and several terraces it was a secret place as far as I was concerned.

                Portland Bowling Club, formed in 1874 and still flourishing.
The president made us tea or coffee and as it was a Herbie Spot we shared Racer bars, flapjacks and chocolate covered cake.
Leaving this oasis of calm we headed across the old city stadium and back to banks of the Ouseburn, walking beneath the three bridges that span the stream.
            Railway bridge, metro bridge and just visible the road bridge.
The area past the bridges has become a cultural centre, The Cluny is famous for music, the Ship is a vegetarian restaurant/pub and beyond the is Seven Stories, an old building converted into a book centre for children. It has  a shop, a cafĂ© and areas where people read stories and children can dress up, using clothes from a large chest.

                Seven Stories is the far building. The boat looks fun but never moves.
We were soon on the quayside; the pubs were very busy, families were walking along the quay in the sunshine on a warm bank holiday, deserved after the chill of the last few weeks.
                                           The Tyne Bridges, Sage concert hall on the left.
We decided that as the quayside pubs were so busy we should head for the Crown Posada on Dean Street. A proper pub, narrow and dark, it looks as if it has not been changed since it was built, if you go in admire the ceiling. More important admire the selection of real ales on offer. I had Tyneside Blonde, very refreshing on a warm day after a walk.
When we were rehydrated we headed up Grey Street. Some took the metro home, I took the bus.
This city walk is well worth following. No pedometers or maps today but my iPhone said that in total I had pounded pavement for nearly seven miles, hard on the feet.

A few more pictures from the day.

Saturday, 13 April 2019

Blanchland, Buckshot and Bolts. (Durham mostly) April 12th.
A cold bright day in April, what better than a walk. Six of us, (John H., John Ha., Ben, Dave, harry and I ) are off to Blanchland again, but a different walk. 
(A69 west, A68 South, watch out for road signs to Blanchland)
A few weeks ago the car park had an honesty box, asking for £1 for the day. The box has been vandalised for its contents, a notice asks  parkers to leave their £1 at the village store or Post Office, which we did of course. 
The map for the walk is OS Explorer 307 Consett and Derwent Reservoir and the car park is at GR NY964504, approximately.

                                           Honesty box, smashed for a few £s and a quiet car park. The large stone at the right was ideal for boot changing.
Changed and ready for the off we left the car park and walked through the village, passing the church, the Lord Crewe Arms and the squares of cottages.
                                  Anglican church of St. Mary, based on the old abbey
                                  Cottages built by the Crewe Trust.
Continuing down the road in a roughly southern direction we crossed the River Derwent and walked along the road for some time until, as the road turned sharp right we went through a gate and joined a Public Bridle path (You can take your horse on it) across fields and on to open moorland on Buckshott Fell.
Much of the heather had been burned off. This is to encourage the growth of new shoots which feed the grouse so they are good and fat for shooting on August 12th.
A good track to follow, at a junction we turned right and walked on until we came to a minor road, recently resurfaced too. Turning left we soon came to the track on the right going across more moorland, alongside the remains of an ancient flue, and passing an equally ancient chimney.
                       An ancient chimney, high on the moors. This area once supported lead mines, hence the flue and chimney, you need a roaring furnace to smelt metals.
Near the chimneys is Sikehead Dam and a small reservoir.
From the water we followed footpath across the burned heather, passing grouse butts until we reached the top of Bolt's Law, a mere 540metres above sea level. (1772 feet ). Bolt' Law has a cairn and a trig point.
                            Does anybody know where we are and how do we get home?
Actually we did and followed the fence line downhill to Ferny Gill. A word of warning; the footpath here hardly exists, the ground is boggy as I know, I walked into one up to my knee in soggy boggy mud, soaked boot and gaiters and trousers, not happy.
Across the gill we turned north east and came to a dilapidated building we considered for a Herbie but rejected it. From the building we took the right track, still downhill to Ramshaw.
This valley was once a hive of industry, mostly lead and flourspar mining and there are a good number of disused shafts and quarries marked on the map.
Today it is a pretty valley with a few cottages, old farm and old mill. This time there are enough daffodils in bloom to make you want to write a poem.
                                Ramshaw with daffodils and the back end of a transit van
 Beyond the cottages we at on a grassy bank for a Herbie; Titans, Ben's ginger biscuits, Mrs Ha's Tiffin (gorgeous) cookies and chocolate bars.

                                            Herbie time in Ramshaw.
Lunch over  we followed the road next to Bolt's Burn for a short distance before taking the footpath on the left on a very pretty track through the woods. At the exit a large sign proclaims that the wood is managed by "Eggars", the company that makes chipboard and an ugly skyline in Hexham. 
A short distance down the road we crossed the River Derwent at Bay Bridge (called Baybridge on the map but it has a fine car park which is free too). Once safely over we turned right and followed the footpath by the river back to Blanchland.
After a brief discussion in the car park we chose the Punchbowl in Edmundbyers for some rehydration. Friendly staff who were happy to discuss beers, their merits and demerits. They had several on offer but I was driving. Good coffee though.
                            Contains OS data, copyright. Crown copyright and database right 2019.


                                                                                                         steps               miles
NAK                                                                                                24172              8.7
Dave's NAK 1                                                                                 18341               8.68
""""""""""""""2                                                                                18348               8.6
"""""""""""USB                                                                               18980               8.76
Sylvia's mother was unwell      

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