Saturday, 25 January 2020

Walking with the White Monks (Northumberland)
January 24th
It's a while since we've walked from Blanchland in Northumberland. (Just)
Founded in 1165 by Premonstratesian Canons, (known in Britain as the White Canons which explains the village name too) bashed about a bit by the Scots and finally dissolved by guess who in 1539, the remains of the monastery are now a hotel, The Lord Crewe Arms. The village is pretty and the car park is close by. 
There are seven of us walking, John H., Brian, Dave, Harry, Ben, John Ha. and me.
Blanchland is on the edge of two maps;
OS Explorer 307 Consett and Derwentwater and OS OL 43 Hadrian's Wall. Most of the walk is on the latter.
To get to Blanchland A69 West, A68 South at Corbridge and watch out for road signs. There is a café in the village, the White Monk but it opens at 10.30 so we early birds breakfasted at Brockbushes on the roundabout where the A68 leaves the A69.

                       Heading for breakfast; bacon, sausage, tea, coffee.
    Preparing for the walk in Blanchland's large car park.  Just to the right of the farthest car is an honesty box which asks for a contribution.
The walk, which is a ten mile tramp over fields and moors from one isolated farm to another and much of it is on farm or shootists tracks.
Having donned boots and gaiters and coats too as it was a cold day with a breeze we left the car park and walked towards the village, taking the first road on the right, sign posted for Baybridge. (you can start there too, there is a car park/picnic area and it's free)
After the last cottage we went through the gate on the left and walked the footpath  roughly west until we came back to the road. There is a large gateway saying private but it is a public right of way. We walked past the last few houses at Newbiggin and then followed the track past Beldon Shields. Some of the plantations alongside the road had been cleared and the rubbish was being burned off. 
After just less than four miles we came to Riddlehamhope farm, much of it demolished and what was left, presumably waiting the wreckers, is in a poor state. However it offered some shelter so we declared a Herbie.

              Herbie time at Riddlehamhope. Cheese scones from Mrs A., gingers from Ben, almond slices, chocolate biscuit bars and Bliss, a bar that requires more calories to eat than it provides.
Lunch over we continued along the track heading north west then north to Harwood Shield.
                                Harwood Shield.
Just beyond the farm, on the right, is a footpath, not clearly marked, that crosses fields down to Stobbylee Burn which, fortunately, has a footbridge.
                    Much better than the struggle to cross a stream two weeks ago.
From the burn we climbed gently to Stobby Lea then on to Steel and Hesleywell.

                    Stobby Lea, Steel and Hesleywell, possibly.
At Hesleywell we crossed fields to Burntshield, another farm and from here, after much discussion we headed up a path along Devil's Water  before heading east, uphill until we found a track that took us across Burntshieldhaugh Fell. The fell is a grouse moor and on a cold day in January, in poor light does not have a lot to offer, apart from safety for the grouse.
             Grouse Butt, designed to protect shooters from squadrons of attacking birds.
Eventually we turned right and walked downhill to Pennypie House which is on the Pennine Way long distance footpath.
             Pennypie House, hiding. It is on an old Carriers Way and once upon a time offered refreshment to men using the road, pies for a penny would be hard to find today!.
From here we followed the metalled road back down the wooded Shildon Burn to Blanchland.
                                                                Logs for sale
                    Leftover from days when mining took place in the valley
Changed we headed back to the Boathouse in Wylam for rehydration purposes. The Boathouse had its usual selection of a dozen or so hand pulled beers.
    Contain OS data, copyright. Crown copyright and database right 2020.
The walk is approximately 10.4 miles, mostly easy going with some gentle climbs.

                     Lord Crewe Arms, Blanchland
                            Follow this sign
                             But not this one

Saturday, 18 January 2020

Back in the Cheviots. (Northumberland)       January 17th
For the first time this year we are off to the Cheviots to do a variation on a favourite walk; Carey Burn in Harthope Valley. Some readers will know it as well as we do. It's grandson Alex's favourite walk too.
Head north on the A1, turn onto the A697 north of Morpeth and once in Wooler, take the first left up Cheviot Street, follow the road to the first fork, go right and continue to the sign post pointing to Langleeford. Beyond Skirl Naked, down the hill, is a grass parking area on the right.
The map to use is OS OL 16 The Cheviot Hills.
(Breakfast today at The Terrace, nice little cafe on Wooler high street full of friendly ladies who admired the way Dave put our chairs back under the table.
                 Preparing for the off at Carey Burn Bridge. Not exactly a car park, but free!
On the car park side of the bridge is a gate and a sign post. We went through the gate and followed the footpath alongside the Carey Burn. The footpath is not marked on older maps but certainly exists as it winds its way up the valley. In a couple of places there is a mini scramble by the water's edge which didn't used to be a problem but seems to be getting increasingly difficult. 
                  Carey Burn on a cold day in January.
         Nobody resting in the shooters' hut today.
After last week's sodden ground the footpath today was fairly dry, much to our delight and we walked on in a well spread out line to the footbridge, crossed it, looking out as ever for trolls hiding beneath and continued on the path that climbs a little and then meets a good farm track which curves round to Broadstruther.
                Although we had walked less than three miles we called a Herbie and sheltered behind the house. Apple and blackcurrant pies, biscuits, ginger biscuits from Ben, lemon slices and savoury scones from Mrs A. And soup for some rather than a sandwich.
                   Broadstruther. Used in season by shooting parties to rest after their ordeal.
Herbie over we followed the farm track south for a short distance before spotting the marker for the footpath that leads across the moor. Eventually the path joins a farm track and we walked on, pausing at a gate in the fence line. Normally at this point we turn north east and walk alongside the fence to the top of Cold Law but this path can be wet at the best of times so continued along the track alongside Hawson Burn.
                       Old boundary stone at 377 on the map
The track down is made up of small stones which can act as ball bearings, as Dave will testify but it does offer fine views across the Harthope Valley.

                             Fine view across the Harthope Valley
At a point on the left, marked, we left the track and followed a footpath through the heather until we reached the road in the valley bottom and turned left.
                  Not many walkers out today
We all followed the road until we came to the farm at Langlee. At this point Harry and I decided to stay on the road back to the car. The tough boys opted to cross the Harthope Burn and walk the straight track which climbs the hillside diagonally, crosses fields and then goes through a wood and back to a footbridge near Carey Burn Bridge.
On the way home we stopped at The Shoulder of Mutton in Longhorsely which had Timothy Taylor's Landlord on draught! A grand Yorkshire Ale, so good I had another.

The short version of the walk, taken by Harry and I is just under 7 miles. The hard lads walked  for 8 .4 miles.
Contains OS data, copyright. Crown copyright and database right 2020
                                   Waterfall on Carey Burn
                 A rare breed of cattle, never seen
                                Footbridge on Carey Burn
                       And a view from the bridge
                      Dipper, taken with a compact camera

Saturday, 11 January 2020

A Walk in the Wild Wanneys. Jan 10th (Northumberland) 
Warning; Some of these footpaths are very wet and so is the Lisle Burn. Lots of mud too
And a happy new year to you too Gloria Raven
Back to normal Fridays after Christmas and the new year we are off for a walk starting at Ridsdale in Northumberland. A tiny village on the A 68 it is easy to find, A69 west and take A68 north near Corbridge. In the 19th century Ridsdale had an iron industry, short lived but it has left remains. The most prominent looks like an old ruined castle but is an old ruined engine house. Stephenson of railway fame built cottages for the workers here and used their pig iron for the High Level Bridge in Newcastle. When the works closed W Armstrong bought the machinery and took it to his factory on Tyneside. History over for the day.
The map to use is OS OL 42 Kielder Water and Forest.
Nine of us out; John x 3, Brian, Dave, Harry, Ben, Ray and me. Breakfast at the Vallum Tea Rooms on the Military Road (B6318) near the Robin Hood pub. A lot going on at the Vallum, furniture refurbishment and sales, a wedding venue and some fine ancient tractors, plus a wigwam. (Or is it a teepee?
                  Home to a lost tribe of geordies?
     Vallum tea room. Toasted teacakes, bacon sandwiches, tea and coffee served by friendly ladies.
Breakfast over we headed for the tiny village of Ridsdale, parked on the side of the road opposite the Gun pub and booted up.
                 Parking on the side of the road in Ridsdale.
                 Not an old castle, 19th century engine house.
We set off north on the road and at the end of the village took the footpath on the right across a damp field, made use of one of the many ladder stiles on today's walk, crossed the road, another stile and several wet fields to a dismantled railway which we crossed by means of an old bridge that went under it. We walked close to Whetstone House. I have my grandad's whetstone, a cuboid shaped piece of knife sharpener kept in its own flashy wooden box. There had been an iron industry here after all.
Not far beyond Whetstone we came to Lisle Burn. Somehow Brian crossed quickly and was not seen again for a couple of hours. The rest of us walked alongside the stream looking in vain for a footbridge or a shallow stretch. Eventually we came to a place where the fast flowing and deepish water had an island in the stream. Dave the noble leader pioneered a crossing to the island and we all followed. Getting from the island to the north bank required either a jump or a slight wetting. Some jumped. Some seventy plus year olds decided discretion still is the better part of valour, threw our rucksacks across the water, stepped gingerly on to a large tree root protruding into the stream and got away with only one wet foot. We all agreed that twenty years ago we would have cheerfully jumped but touches of arthritis, fear of broken limbs and a soaking have an effect.
                 OK, it looks easy but it's deeper than it seems.
Once across we headed up the hill to Blakelaw farm. From there we followed the metalled road east. It soon turned south and crossed a dam at Linnheads. (Had we thought about it we could have stayed on the south bank and reached this point with dry feet.)
WE followed the road south, it eventually came to a point where it was built on top of the old railway to Summit cottage, a substantial building probably from the days of steam. We stayed on the solid and dry road for about a mile until we reached an old bridge going under the track. Scrambling down the bank we went under the bridge and decided it was Herbie Time. As we settled down to feast Brian appeared! From Blakelaw he had taken the footpath through woods. As this was part of the original plan he was the only one to get it right.
                 Herbie time; Apple pies, lemon slices, biscuits, ginger biscuits, flapjacks and Mrs A's Cheese scones.
Having devoured the feast we followed the grassy track across moorland to a road, turned right and walked the tarmac for approximately one mile to Sweethope Loughs which were just visible through the trees.
         Close to this sign is a footpath leading across very soggy,boggy moorland to the heather covered tops of Great Wanney Crags. The crags are steep and we walked the edge until we found the spot we were assured by those who had walked here before that this was the point of descent.
The path was narrow, muddy and slippy and I wasn't the only one who came down stretches of it on my bottom. Heather is amazingly strong if you want to hold onto something.
              Looking down Wanney Crags to the footpath below
                 The path down is at the centre of the picture. Much easier going up.
Once down we followed the path across Aid Moss which is properly named, past a disused quarry which had a bird hide and across fields back to Ridsdale. Part of this last section is on an old tramway built to take stone from the quarry to the iron works. It was fairly flat and fairly dry. By the time we reached the village it was almost dark, a long day out.
Changed we drove to the familiar Boathouse a Wylam and sampled some of its twelve hand pulled beers. Usually a great place to relax but today we had to go into the back room where a man put a selection of heavy metal music on the jukebox and promptly left. It killed conversation for a while, the music not his leaving.
                 Contains OS data, copyright. Crown copyright and database right 2020.
And a few pedometer reading:
                                                                                Steps                         Miles
My NAK                                                                22706                         10.03
Dave's NAK 1                                                        21356                         10.11
""""""""""""""2                                                       21234                         10.11
"""""""""SM                                                           21119                          10.00
OUTDOOR GPS                                                                                          9.45

       And a few more pictures taken on a grey day   
                              The Gun, Ridsdale. It was closed at the end of the walk
                                               Old railway bridge

                       A successful mole catcher
                         A scareperigrine
                      Lunch spot by the railway
                                        Northumberland view.