Tuesday, 29 September 2020

 Primrose Woods and Physic Lane. (Northumberland)

September 28th.

    An extra gadgie walk on a slightly warmer day than last Friday. Temperature could reach as high as 16C the weatherman said.

Four of us; Brian, Margaret, Dave and I are setting off for another well walked path starting in Rothbury.

Rothbury is a small town in Northumberland, reached via the A1 north, the A697 at Morpeth and the road to Rothbury at Weldon Bridge. Once in town turn left onto Bridge Street, turn right once over the river and turn into the free car park.

               Free car park, next to the river which is home to several ducks.
                            Mostly mallards

Rothbury is on the edge of two maps. If you are going north of the town use OS Explorer 332 Alnwick and Amble but going south requires OS OL 42 Kielder Water and Forest. And on a circular tour take both, or copy and laminate.

We had breakfast at the Running Fox in Longframlington.

The walk:

Cross the River Coquet by the footbridge and walk up Bridge Street to High Street. Cross the road and find the Nick, a narrow footpath that climbs up and up and up quite steeply to a road. Easy to find the nick is next to a pub called the Narrow Nick which unfortunately is closed at the moment. The nick comes to a road, turn left then right again as the Nick climbs up and up and up to Hillside Road. Cross the road and climb up and up until the path comes out onto moorland. Follow the path which is a little east of north until it comes out onto a forest track in Primrose Woods.

                                   Exactly what it says.

Follow the track to a junction and turn left, heading north west. Watch out for a marker on the left and follow, as we did at Dave's suggestion to be different, a footpath that meanders, his words, through the heather, which has sadly lost its colour. The meander takes you west then south before it meets an easy going grassy track.

Watch out for a large gate on the right, festooned with markers.

It takes the walker down a lovely grass track leading to Physic Lane.

                      The gate to Physic Lane
                               The village of Thropton from Physic Lane.
At the bottom of the lane there is a small estate called Village View, cut through it (quite legally, there is a path) to the road, passing the Cross Keys pub and continue down to the bridge over the Black Burn. Cross, using the footbridge for safety, and turn left, cross the road and go through a bit of waste land that is home to several coaches and join the footpath that follows the stream until it comes to a footbridge over the Coquet.

                    Bridge over quiet Coquet.
Having crossed the stream follow the footpath across fields in a southerly direction to the road near Great Tosson. A short distance up the road is the Tosson Lime Kiln which has a small car park and a couple of picnic tables which we made use of for a Herbie.

            The great Tosson Lime Kiln from inside and outside with an information board too.
  For lunch, apart from our own sandwiches and drinks we shared Titans, Almond slices and sweet and savoury offerings from Mrs A.
  The walk continues up the road towards Great Tosson. Once almost there turn right at the farm and watch out for a sign post on the left. The footpath climbs, up and up and up across fields until finally entering the plantation. At the moment there are operations going on in the woodland and there are several diversions but follow the red walk signs up the track and then on a footpath on the left which brings you to the foot of the staircase leading to Bob Pyle's Studdie. The path here has been greatly improved by placing large stones on it to form a staircase, otherwise it would be very muddy. The staircase climbs up and up and up until it reaches the cairn at the highest point on Simonside.
                    Information and a camera strap. Watch out for the Duergers, the dwarves who take walkers away as slaves in their mines beneath the hill. 

Looking back down the staircase from Bob Pyle's studdie.
                                    Cairn on the top of Simonside.
From this point the going is fairly easy, the path, which is flagged follows the ridge passing Old Stell Crag, Dove Crag Cairn and The Beacon Cairn before descending to the car park at Lordenshaws.
                             On Simonside
                 Looking down on Rothbury
               I'm always well behind these day!
From the car park at Lordenshaws take the footpath heading north, going off it to look at the fort and settlement if you want, but head for Whittondean. (Approaching Whittondene Dave and I saw seven hares in a field, sitting and chatting and then taking off at speed across the grass). From Whittondean follow the road past The Reverend Sharpe's folly and turn right going downhill back to the car park.

                    All you need to know about the folly.
Changed we headed for the Shoulder of Mutton at Longhorsely which did not have the promised Timothy Taylor's Land lord ale but did serve a pleasant Yorkshire Blonde.
                          Contains OS data, copyright. Crown copyright and database right 2020.

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Saturday, 26 September 2020

Ambulare in Hadriani vallum

 Ambulare in Hadriani Vallum. (Northumberland) 

September 25th.

Haltwhistle claims to be the centre of Great Britain. A small town on the South Tyne its name comes from Old English Hautwisel meaning the place where two rivers meet near a hill.

Today five of us are repeating a walk last done in March 2016 starting from the centre of the town. Today's team is Brian, Margaret, John H., Dave and me.

To get to the start A69 west, turn off at the sign for Haltwhistle, turn right at the fork in the road (not the road to Hadrian's Wall) and park off the street above the Sainsbury's supermarket. Some of us had breakfast in the Pillar Box on the main street. Some were stuck in traffic.

Haltwhistle claims to be the geographical centre of Great Britain
                            Once it had a mining industry
                      Parking. Not a patch on the superb photograph of the car park in Craster published last week. Not £4 either.
Across the road from the car parking a brown sign points the way up Willia Street to the Burn Gorge. We followed it and were soon in the Haltwhistle Burn Gorge. There are paths on either side of the burn, we took the east side passing the sites of long gone mining. The path follows the stream steadily upwards along a pleasant wooded track, passing a lime kiln and eventually emerging into a field.
                      The path in Haltwhistle Burn
          Behind the trees there is a lime kiln. (Another one!)
We crossed the field and were on the B6318, usually referred to as the military road. After a couple of hundred yards we followed the sign post down a narrow path and into a field. Much to Dave's delight the outlines of several Roman camps and a fort are in the area. Not much to see, just grassy banks in the typical playing card form of Roman military sites. having crossed the field we also crossed a minor road and walked up to Hadrian's Wall, arriving at milecastle 42. There were quite a few people wandering the wall, taking notes, taking photographs and being delighted at the beauty of Northumberland.

Approaching Milecastle 42, the answer to everything. As the name suggests there is one every Roman Mile, numbered from east to west. 
           Some years ago the information boards were either missing or in poor shape. They have ben replaced and improved too.
(You might prefer to follow the minor road to Cawfields where there is an informationcentre and picnic areas. Then you can walk the wall)
We followed the wall path for several miles. Easy to follow, keep the wall on your left if walking east. Great names along the way: Dorny Doors, Caw Gap, Bogle Hole and Green Stack. Plus the sites of several turrets and Milecastle 41, not much to see there.
The wall follows the line of the Whin Sill, a rocky outcrop that crosses the county, and there are several short but steep ups and downs to be suffered. Some have steps in the slopes, some don't. And as promised, it was a very windy day, a strong blast coming from the north across the wall.

                  Information board and remains of turret 41a. There are two turrets between each mile castle, named a and b and the number of the castle.

                    Windshields has a trig point too. (Not Roman)
As we approached the parking area at Steel Rigg we cut across a field and joined the road down to the pub at Twice Brewed and the Sill, fairly new information centre and Youth Hostel. There are picnic tables at the centre so we called a Herbie.
               This is my favourite view on the wall. Highshield Crags and Crag Lough. The wall runs along the top of the crags.
             Back end of the Sill Information Centre and Gift Shop.
We shared brownies, carrot cake, bramley apple pies, mince pies and savoury cake from Mrs A. Surprisingly I am losing weight.
                      The Sill. You can walk up to and on the roof.
                                A willow deer.
After the Herbie we headed west past the Twice Brewed pub and after a short distance followed the sign post on the left to Seatsides, which is on the course of the old Roman Road, the Stanegate, a sort of service road for the wall and its forts. Heading west from here we crossed fields full of Alder grass, that clumpy stuff some time called Dougalls, which makes walking uncomfortable. having stumbled across a couple of fields we came to a minor road and turned right towards Hill Top Farm.
               There were several of these hardy looking horses in the field we crossed at Hill Top

Just beyond the sign in the photo above we turned left through a gate and followed a grassy track in a curve to High Plantation. The path here is a bit tricky to find, it's through a gate on the left and is not too obvious. But once found we crossed fields to Hollincrag and down a track to Oakey Know, passing the magic tree on the way.
                      Magic mushrooms at the foot of the magic tree

                          The magic tree. It used to have lots more branches but many have been blown off
Not far from the tree we found ourselves back on the A69 and walked back to the cars in Haltwhistle.
Changed we headed for the Twice Brewed pub for liquid refreshment. The pub has its own brewery and strict controls at the moment because of...................

The walk is about 10 miles of lovely northern scenery.
                               The Twice Brewed

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