Saturday, 25 July 2020

Taking the Mickley (Northumberland) July 24th
   After a few showery days  the young lady on local Tv promises a dry day at least. Six of us are having a fairly local walk from Mickley near Prudhoe in Northumberland. A country walk rather than a climb. We are, John x3, Harry, Dave and me. The walk starts from the garden centre at Mickley Square, using the  car park across the road, the overflow. A69 west, turn off for Ovingham, cross the Tyne and follow signs.
Two maps for the walk: OS Explorer 316 Newcastle upon Tyne and Explorer 307 Consett and Derwent.
                      An uncropped photo of a car parking area across the road from the garden centre at Mickley Square. No idea whether or not it is an official park but it is free and therefore a good thing.
The walk:
We left the parking area and turned left. Within yards the leader found the sign post for the walk and we set off uphill across several fields until we reached East farm, turned right and walked through the hamlet of High Mickley.
Once through the houses most of us turned left on to the track marked Ward Lane but John L. realised that he had left his phone somewhere and went back to find it. Harry nobly went with him. The phone had been retrieved by a dog and was then retrieved by the dog's owner. John retrieved his phone from her. meanwhile four of us waited at the corner of the track close to the Gallop marked on the map.
                                                   Fields of gold
                    The gallop. This is horse country, we saw more horses than people. The fence is a bit dilapidated and the track is covered with wood chips, bit like a children's playground.
                                                  Just four of the many
We waited for some time for the other two before deciding they knew the way and we set off for Hedley on the Hill, first climbing a wall to get on the footpath we should have joined at High Mickley. The footpath went on the edges of fields, almost due south until we climbed the gentle hill to Hedley on the Hill. John had found his phone and rang to say they were on their way so we agreed to wait outside the village pub, and have a mini Herbie.

                                     The Feathers pub., Hedley on the Hill
                                     Horse country. Hitching posts outside the pub.
Once we were altogether again we resumed the walk. The footpath is posted, it goes between two houses in the village and then across fields to Hedley Grange Farm. There is a fenced path round the farm but the stile to get into it, stuck in the corner of a field and overgrown with nettles and brambles was not too easy to find, but we did.
A few fields later we were at West Riding Wood. Turning west we followed a footpath through the trees, emerging at last into a field. Turning North Westish we climbed through woodland to the farm at Apperley, joined a track and walked past Stocksfield Golf Course to the road at New Ridley.
Sitting on a wall on the side of the road is not an ideal Herbie Spot but it was the chosen one, partly perhaps for the view of Hindley Hall. We had the usual offerings, Skinny Whips, my current favourite, biscuits, more biscuits and caramel bars.
                               Hindley Hall. Built for a local family in the 19th century it became a special school from 1952 to 1991. It was then converted into a number of houses and apartments, or flats if you prefer.
Herbie time over we walked a short distance up the road passing the pub Dr Syntax.
              Dr Syntax. named for a horse as the sign suggests.
Almost opposite the pub is a footpath and we took it, heading downhill across fields to Bat House Road.


                           Two visitors from Scotland.
The footpath goes round Park Estate and the remains of Ridley Mill before following the Stocksfield Burn down to the village of that name.

                                                       The old mill by the stream

      And some local art work
WE walked on the road from the railway station, past the sports fields and down a track, passing a large pond with a flock of Canada Geese, under the railway and down to the footpath alongside the Tyne.
                   Large pond. The geese are on the far side.
                                            River Tyne
We crossed the railway, obeying instructions to l;ook both ways and only cross if the light was green and walked up the track towards Eltringham. Originally heading east the track turns on itself and climbs towards the road. In order to take a short cut we scrambled up a steep, pathless bank with a few saplings and a bed of leg catching brambles. Unfortunately the sapling I grabbed to help up the last yard or so snapped. According to John Lockey I fell backwards in slow motion, landed in the brambles on my right shoulder and cracked the back of my head against a tree. Being from Yorkshire there's not much in my head and I think I have survived with a sore head, scratches from the brambles and a bruised shoulder.
 Minutes after I hauled myself up we were at the car park> Changed, some went to the pub, I went home, accompanied by Dave in case I passed out.

                         Contains OS data, copyright. Crown copyright and database right 2020

Matrix for the day
                                                                steps                               miles
NAK                                                     29429                              10,68
Dave's NAK 1                                      22498                               10.29
"""""""""""""2                                      22551                                10.32
""""""""""""SM                                    22602                                10.35
OUTDOOR                                                                                    10.25
Garmin                                                                                            10.64

And a few pictures:

Saturday, 18 July 2020

Whisky on Windy Gyle... (Northumberland)    July 17th
   John Lockey was 70 in May but because of the lockdown, and we gadgies being obedient, we could not celebrate his birthday as we had ten years ago. Today we are doing the same walk as we did for his sixtieth, he provides the whisky. There are eight of us out today, highest number for some time; Me, Dave, Harry, Brian, Margaret and John x3.
The walk starts at Barrowburn, high up the Coquet Valley. To get to the start take A1 north, A697, turn off for Rothbury and drive through that town to the fork in the road that has a sign post for Alwinton. Go through this village and continue for a few miles of narrow twisting road to the car park at Wedder Leap and leave your vehicle on the left.
The map for this walk is OS OL 16, Cheviot Hills.
A cloudy day with occasional light showers was forecast, correctly.

                             Free car park at Barrowburn,( or Wedder Leap)
Once we were all assembled and booted we left the car park, turned left and crossed the footbridge over the infant Coquet. The footpath, which becomes a grassy track, heads north, passing a couple of buildings which were once a school(?) and on over Middle Hill. The walk is best described as undulating but not too hard going several gates to open and close.
                    Once a school, now a holiday let
The grassy track up Middle Hill
After two and a half miles the track meets a farm road and a sign post. Some of the team, the sensible ones, continued on the track going north between the two plantations. The rest chose to head north east towards the farm at Uswayford.

                          Easiest to take the track to the Border Ridge
                      Maybe a holiday let at Uswayford.
From Uswayford we took the footpath heading north west, making sure we did not cross the bridge in the photo below but heading through long grass to a gateway on the edge of the plantation.
                              Do not cross this bridge (He came back)
For those of us who had chosen this route we had an upward route on a narrow footpath with some markers through the woodland which was home to several million flies. Eventually we escaped them coming out onto moorland and joining the footpath leading to the border ridge.
By now we were all together again so we called a Herbie, sat in the heather at the side of the track and had the usual sharing; biscuits, more biscuits, jaffa cakes, Titans, scones with jam as part of John's birthday tea and savoury buns from Mrs A.
Moving on we were soon at the gate on the border:
           John Ha., Brian, Margaret, John L., Harry, John H., Dave.
They are all in Scotland, the photographer is in England.
From this point we walked the border fence to Russell's Cairn. The path is paved with flagstones, probably as well because it is popular and used to be very boggy.
We stayed on the English side to Russell's Cairn where we crossed over and sat in the cairn for a wee dram to celebrate the birthday boy.
                           Russell's Cairn. It is thought to be an Iron Age burial site but gets its name from the murder of Lord Francis Russell in 1585. He was a totally innocent Englishman who was talking truce terms with the Scots. The borders were the scene of many a scrap between the two countries up to the 17th century. Who knows what the future holds. The cairn is at 2031 feet or 619 metres if you must.

                             Inside the cairn, out of the breeze.
Once the celebrations were over we decided that as the weather was  a bit cool and damp we would take the shortest route back down Windy Gyle. The path heads south east for a short distance, then we took the right fork and walked mostly down hill on grass to Rowhope. There are several ways of coming down but this is the shortest. Unfortunately from Rowhope the walk back to the car park is on a tarmac road, initially alongside the Rowhope Burn but then at the confluence, alongside the Coquet.
Once changed we went home, some calling at the Rose and Thistle pub in Alwinton which was reportedly serving Timothy Taylor's Landlord.
Another good walk with some ascent which we felt was needed!

                           Contains OS data, copyright. Crown copyright and data base right 2020

An abbreviated Matrix for the walk
                                                                                 steps                            miles
Dave's NAK1                                                       22479                              9.57
"""""""""""""2                                                      22408                              9.54
SM                                                                        22408                              9.54
OUTDOOR GPS                                                                                          9.75

And a few more;