Thursday, 31 December 2020

 The last Wark of 2020 (Northumberland) Dec 28th

  A cold dry day for the last walk of the Covid ridden year. Six gadgies (Me,  John H., John Ha. Brian, Margaret and Kate, apprentice trainee gadgette)) are spending the day walking from the village of Wark in the North Tyne Valley. (Wark from Old English (ge)weorc = fort)

Head west on the A69, beyond Hexham turn right for Chollerford and from there take the B6320 north to Wark. There is limited parking opposite the Battlesteads pub/ hotel which is closed because of the pandemic.

The walk is covered by OS OL 43 Hadrian's Wall, and it is recommended. probably better to trace the "Proposed Walk" below and follow it.

We had been promised a bright but cold day and the forecast was correct, plenty of sun but the temperature never got above 1C, making earth as hard as iron, water like stone so to speak.

This week's car park:

                  Today's off road car park, opposite the Battlesteads pub, sadly closed for now.
Leaving the cars we walked up the street towards the village centre, turned left and continued along the road for about half a mile before turning left (point 143 on OS map) and walking down the hill before turning left again to the settlement at Ramshaws Mill.

                  Outdoor art at Ramshaws Mill.
Having admired the sheep and statues we went through the gate on the right and walked the muddy and icy footpath along the Wark Burn. The woodland had been cleared but many small branches had been left behind making the path a little difficult.
At the end we turned south west and walked uphill across fields before dipping down again to Shielahaugh, an isolated dwelling with a pack of barking dogs. Beyond the cottage we walked a short distance on the road before climbing again across several fields until we reached Catless farm and beyond that we hit a minor road. 

                                 Shielahaugh and sheep.
We turned right and walked to Manor House where we took the track heading below Ravensheugh Crags. Just beyond the crags we called a Herbie in a shallow dip that provided protection from the cold breeze and it also had a good selection of large stones to use as seats.

Lunch spot:  Mince pies, shortbread, savoury flapjacks and ginger cake, Club biscuits and almond roca. It was explained to Kate that walking with the gadgies was one of the few exercises where participants gained weight.
Having feasted we moved on, following a track that eventually brought us Barley Hill.

Lime Kiln with a Beatle fringe near Barley Hill.
From Barley Hill we followed a grassy track heading due east to the farm at Fenwick Field where we turned north, crossing the Red Burn by means of a fortunately shallow ford to Allgood Farm. From this farm we continued north, taking a tricky path through a wood, crossing Ward Lane where we met a party of well armed men who were out hunting pheasants.
We continued downhill, admiring the not too distant view of Wark to Conshield Farm where we turned west on a very hard and partly icy farm track. We left the track near Bleaklaw and followed a footpath across fields before joining a road to High Moralee. From here we crossed fields, heading north east to a road that brought us back to Ramshaws Mill.

                       Stream near High Moralee
Just beyond the mill buildings we took a footpath on the right that took us over several  fields before we were back in Wark. It was just turning dark, a well timed walk. And of course, the pub being closed, we went our separate ways home.
                                               Proposed walk

                                          Actual walk. Mile markers are approximate
Both maps contain OS data, copyright. Crown copyright and data base right 2020.
The walk is just under 11 miles

Friday, 18 December 2020

Bury or Burg or Borough or Brough or Burgh  and a Battle. To B or not to B, whatever.    Northumberland            Dec 17th


 For what is likely to be the last walk before Christmas we are heading to Rothbury for a slightly different walk. Five stalwarts, (John Ha., John L., Harry, Brian and me) obeying the rules and travelling separately.

Today's language and history lesson: Burg is an Old English word, dating back to Saxon times and means a fortified town or castle. In the south of England it slowly changed, the g becoming a y so you have Glastonbury, Salisbury, Shaftesbury and Bury St. Edmunds. 

In the north the g changed to gh so you get Dunstanburgh, Bamburgh, Middlesbrough and Rothbury! Always somebody has to break the rule.

Rothbury is a small Northumbrian town on the River Coquet. North on the A1, A697 and turn off at Weldon Bridge. Lovely large, free car park on the south side of the river down Bridge Street.

Rothbury is on the edge of two maps but the one for today is OS Explorer 332 Alnwick and Amble.

                                      Two views of the familiar Rothbury car park. Free! 

Booted up we crossed the Coquet using the footbridge, walked along the river bank and turned up Bridge Street, passing the closed cafe we used to breakfast in pre covid days. At the top of the street we turned left onto the main road running through the town, a wide street with a grass strip  down the middle and several closed pubs. 

At the end of the town we took the right fork and headed along a minor road in the direction of Pondicherry, a string of houses with a splendid view over the valley.

Fence with stone circle. Dave the archaeologist would have explained, and taken a better photo too.

We decided Pondicherry was named for  the sea battle between Britain and the French in September 1759 off the coast of India near a colony of that name. The battle was a draw but two years later the city fell to the British. In 1763 it was returned to the French after the Seven Years War. We got Canada. Pondicherry remained a French colony until 1954.

At that moment a Rington's* van drew up and a lady emerged from her house to purchase tea and biscuits. We asked if she knew why the area was called Pondicherry and she explained the locals believed the builders of a large Victorian house had named it for the battle, a British habit, like Waterloo station in London.

                                Buying tea from the Rington's man (and biscuits and chocolate Brazils)

            View over the Coquet from Pondicherry

Moving on we left the road and headed uphill across fields below yet another hill fort. We met three alpacas;

Unfortunately Dave wasn't here to make his usual "You can call me Al "joke. 

There is a narrow footpath to follow here, between a wall and woodland but it is well marked with the usual yellow arrow. Turning north west we crossed Physic Lane, a track familiar on other walks, it leads down into the village of Thropton. At this point Brian was well ahead and out of view. We four were confronted by a thicket of prickly gorse and a very muddy and steep footpath which had us sliding around. Emerging into a field we walked to a road junction to find Brian. A complaint about the mud brought the retort that, like hoim, we should have gone round the gorse thicket.

We walked a short distance up the road, passing a farm selling free range eggs and honey before turning right towards the few houses that make up Lynnholm. A track took us out to open fields and, having managed to open a well closed gate, to a point familiar on previous walks as a Herbie Spot. 

                                   A winter's day, and a rainbow.
From the old Herbie Spot we followed a footpath north east before turning north west and heading for a plantation, where we called a Herbie under the trees.

               Herbie Time; shortbread, Bramley minio apple pies, lemon cake and Mrs A, not with us today, had sent savoury flapjack and cake.
Feasting over we continued through the wood to one of the several tracks running over the area which apparently was once used by Lord Armstrong for carriage driving and trialling his guns, much to the dismay of local farmers who thought the shells may kill their sheep, not to mention their shepherds. The track we followed heads generally east before turning south to Primrose Cottage.
Primrose cottage. I always imagine something more Beatrix Potterish, roses and maybe primroses.
From the cottage we took the track heading northwest but at the first junction turned southwest and eventually left the plantation to cross an open piece of moorland on a very narrow and very muddy footpat. Eventually the very muddy footpath met a much drier track which we crossed, following it through a woodland both deciduous and evergreen. At one point the track looks over Rothbury.

                                       Relatively dry part of the walk.
At some point some of us left he track and followed a footpath downhill through the wood (near mile 7 on the map) It was a mistake, the path was very steep and very muddy, fortunately we had walking poles which give support and confidence. On the road at the bottom we met sensible Brian who had followed the track properly and not risked life and limb. After a short walk on the road we took the footpath on the left through fields and back to the town, passing Addycombe Cottages.
Addycombe Cottages, built in1873 for Lord Armstrong's retired estate workers. They are flats, not houses
As the pubs remain closed under Tier 3 conditions we went home.

Contains OS data, copyright. Crown copyright and database right 2020
(I have added miles, but they are approximate)

The walk is about 8 miles, easy going but muddy. Great summer stroll.
* Newcastle based tea company who deliver tea and coffee and biscuits to the door.

Thursday, 10 December 2020

 A Tale of a Temple a Fort and a Wall.

(Northumberland) December 9th


It's getting to be a bleak midwinter, but without snow in our corner of the Kingdom, which is still in Tier 3, shops can open but not pubs unless they serve a substantial meal. A scotch egg could be considered substantial, but not a bag of crisps. You can only meet in your own bubble so again we gadgies are meeting at an agreed point. Seven walkers, six cars, instead of the old way of sharing, which helped to save the planet. The adventurous seven: John H., John L., Dave, Margaret, Brian, Harry and me.

The walk starts and finishes in Newbrough; A69 west and just beyond Hexham, when the dual carriageway ends, turn right for Warden. Cross the river and head for Fourstones, the next village after Warden and on to Newborough. Park near the Town Hall.

The walk is covered by OS OL 43 Hadrian's Wall.

Nikoplas Pevsner describes Newbrough as a pleasant little place. Unusually, for a village it has a Town Hall, built in 1876 and of course it has a church, St. Peter's, also 19th century. The village is built partly on the site of a Roman fort, one of several on the Stanegate which was a Roman road built in AD 71, years before the wall.

We parked in front of the Town Hall on the main street.

                   Not an award winning  car park but a nice little Town Hall in Newbrough.
The walk;
From the Town Hall we walked west along the main street and crossed the Newbrough Burn. Almost immediately after we turned left down a footpath and walked through the muddy Crow Wood and the equally muddy and strangely named Sewage Wood, passing a weir on the burn.
          Dave the archaeologist and dog lover was delighted with this stone

                       The Newbrough Burn.
Beyond the weir we followed the steps down to the bank and under the railway bridge. From there the footpath clings close to the South Tyne. The path is one of the Tyne Trails marked out by "Daft as a Brush", a cancer charity. They have produced a book of riverside walks. 
At Fourstones we crossed the railway again, admiring the set of warning lights and telephone that had been installed for pedestrians. As the light was green we crossed, passed the Railway Hotel which looks permanently closed and not just in lockdown and up to the village street.
Turning right we walked along the street to the next junction where we turned left and walked uphill . Spotting the fingerpost at what is marked as Fourstones Village on the map we turned right and soon encountered some muddy fields. The path crosses the Stanegate but you wouldn't know. There was a group of people sitting around in 4x4 vehicles, not suspicious but unusual. Following the footpath to a track we turned left close to a large electricity sub station before turning left at Whinny Hill. There were a number of horse boxes parked on the road side so between us we reckoned there must be a hunt in progress.
Turningright at Tilesheds Wood we walked uphill to the next junction and turned left.
Most of the next section of the walk was across muddy fields. It is a law of nature that animals will gather at field gates, churn up the ground and convert it to mud.
Starting going west the path turns north and then north east.
At one point we walked through the yard of a tumbledown  farm. A lady came out from a caravan and pointed us in the right direction. She and her partner were renovating the building, slowly.

               She has a big job on renovating this house!
After walking north east for a while we turned through a right angle and headed north west towards the Military Road. (B6318), crossed it and joined the Hadrian's Wall long distance footpath, heading west.
                               A stretch of ruined wall
                                    And a turret
                           The ditch on the north side of the wall.
The wall provided good seating so we stopped for a Herbie; Almond slices, Club Biscuits, Ginger biscuits, Mince pies, Savoury flapjack and chocolate cake from Mrs A.
Lunch over we continued west along the  Wall Path. 

   This chunk of rock is at "Limestone Corner". It is in the ditch on the north side of the wall. The marks are where the builders attempted to cut the rock up and possibly decided it was too hard. It isn't Limestone either, it's dolerite.
As we approached the Roman fort at Brocolitia we followed the official path across the road and walked towards the fort. Some of the team went to see the Mithraum.
                       The Mithraum at Brocolitia. Mostly a reconstruction, the actual three altars are in the Great North Museum in Newcastle. Mithras was a popular Roman God, particularly among soldiers and he was taken from Persia. His birthday is December 25th.
Once some of the team had seen the temple we headed south on a muddy track across fields and moorland until eventually the track became a metalled road and we were back in Newbrough. Pubs are still closed under the lockdown rules so we went home.

             Contains OS data copyright. Crown copyright and database right 2020.
The walk is about 10 miles, mostly across fields and mostly easy going.

Not a day for photographs but