Saturday, 16 October 2021

 We're bouncing into Blanchland. (Northumberland)

October 15th.

Another repeat, based on the pretty village of Blanchland, close to the county of Durham. There are seven of us enjoying a beautiful sunny day in the middle of October,  blue skies, no wind, perfect Autumn day for a walk.

A69 west, A68 south and watch for road sign.

There is a large car park close to the village. It has an Honesty Box and of course gadgies are honest.

Getting ready for the walk in the car park at Blanchland. 

Blanchland is on the edge of one map, part of the walk is on another. The two are:

OS Explorer 307 Consett and Derwentwater and OS OL 43 Hadrian's Wall.

The White Monks cafe in the old school makes a good starting point to the walk.

                      White Monks cafe in Blanchland. Good food, nice people.

Having breakfasted we set off  a little way down the village road before turning right on the road to Baybridge. However, to avoid walking on the tarmac we walked through the fields to a junction. From this point on we followed the track to Newbiggin, passing farms and a large house, wooded hillsides, some of which had been replanted, hopefully with deciduous trees until we reached the ruin that was once the farm at Riddlehamhope.

All that remains of  Riddlehamhope farm. Three miles in on the walk it was too early to lunch here although it has been used as a picnic site on previous occasions.

From the old farm the route turns north, passing a sign post for Heatheryburn, we did not follow it but walked on to the farm at Harwood Shield.

                        Not this way on the walk today.

The path goes through the farm yard at Harwood and then across fields to the next farm at Stobby Lee. At this farm we went slightly off piste but regained the track to the next farm at Steel, then Long Lee where again we lost the path. Having regained it we followed a footpath across fields to New House, crossing fields with slippery ladder stiles we made it to Hesleywell before turning east. After about 7 miles I for one was more than pleased when a Herbie was called . We sat on the side of a strange ditch which even the resident archaeologist failed to explain. It didn't matter, it was sunny and warm.

Herbie time; Mince pies, it's nearly Christmas!. Savoury cakes, chocolate cake, slices from Mr. Kipling and ginger biscuits from Ben.

Lunch over we headed downhill to Burntshield Haugh before starting the long climb up Burntshieldhaugh Fell, a heather covered moorland with a row of shooting butts too.

                                       Shooting Butts on Burntshieldhaugh Fell
                                And the track on the same fell.
Turning right at the next track junction we walked down to Pennypie house, so called because in days of yore when drovers crossed the moors with their cattle the farm provided pies for a penny. 
At this point there are two ways of returning to Blanchland, one following the Pennine Journey marked on the OS map or the right fork which we took. This track eventually becomes a tarmac road but some way down, spotting a finger post on the left we followed a footpath across fields to Cote House Farm and the road back to the car park.
On the way home we stopped for a drink at the Derwent Arms in Edmondbyers which used to be the Punchbowl. Refurbished and with several ales on draught it was a good choice too.

Contains OS data, copyright. Crown copyright and database right 2021
The walk is about 11 miles with some climbs and some spectacular views.

And some extra photos;

Saturday, 9 October 2021

 In old familiar places...................(Northumberland) October 8th

That old standby  Brough Law today. In part because Paul and Maureen are over from Cumbria and we are meeting up. The other seven gadgies are Brian, Margaret, John C., Harry, Dave, ben and me. A Noctet?  ANovtet?

The walk starts at Branton, a hamlet near Ingram. A1, A697  and watch out for signs for Branton, minor road and the car park is on a corner near the bird hide. Not well signposted, keep your eyes open.

Two maps: OS Explorer 332 Alnwick and Amble and OS OL 16 Cheviot Hills.

                 Today's car park, near Branton. Close to the ponds.

Leaving the car park we took the footpath on the left which goes towards a bird hide, famed for kingfisher photography. However we took the path across the barrier between the two ponds, emerging from the nature reserve near a footbridge over the River Breamish.

Looks gloomy but it was really a sunny day. The ponds are currently home to hundreds of noisy geese.

We did not cross the river, if you like walking on roads do so, but we followed the path on the south side which becomes a track through bracken on the side of East Hill then a footpath again at Ingram Mill and finally we reached the cafe/centre at Ingram.

Although we had not come far it became a breakfast spot, more like an elevenses spot. We sat outside consuming tea or coffee and scones. 

Ingram Valley cafe. Once the valley warden's information centre. It has a small display showing the history of the valley, unfortunately that room was closed today but the cheese scones were great.

The cafe is next to St.Michael's church;

                  St. Michael's at Ingram. 11th C origins

Moving on we walked past the farm at Ingram and almost at the next car park which also has toilets we turned off on a track on the left. No signpost but the track climbs steadily uphill, passing the remains of a piece of woodland, until it reaches the top of Brough Law.

  Brough Law. An Iron Age settlement dating from the 4th Century BC and apparently a bit unusual for Northumberland as the palisade was built from rubble which is all you can see now. It is thought that when built the defensive wall was 10 feet high, or seven cubits.

Leaving the large settlement we headed south following one of several grassy tracks across the open moorland. There are a number of ancient settlements in the area which we didn't stop to admire but walked on over Cochrane Pike where we turned north east then south again to join a farm track.

Leaving the track we crossed a field and chose to sit on a grassy bank for the day's Herbie.

Herbie time. Fortunately some declined the usual offerings which was a good job. I only had six apple pies. We also ate French fancies, ginger biscuits, savoury flapjacks and chocolate and beetroot cake.
After an extended lunch break we headed north east on a footpath on the side of Old Fawdon Hill. Normally we go over the top but not today. We were close to another mold settlement.

                     Another old settlement, and sheep.
Passing between two more forts on Castle Knowe and Gibb's Hill we reached the house at the delightfully named Clinch.                                                                                                                           

                      We were met by these fine fellows.Not long now lads
 A field later we joined a farm track round Dun's Knowe to Branton Buildings and then back to the village and car park. Several of us visited the bird hide but there were no kingfishers, just geese.

                           A view from a hide.
On the way home we stopped at the Tankerville Arms in Eglingham which had three ales on draught. Tyneside Blonde and two beers from Rigg and Furrow
Contains OS data, copyright. Crown copyright and database right 2021

The walk is about 10 miles, with a couple of steepish climbs.

Thursday, 7 October 2021

 200,000 hits and counting. October 6th

 Sometime this week the gadgie blog was seen for the 200,000th time. Not a lot by influencer standards  and the posts of celebrities but pleasing to me.

Today three of us, Brian, Margaret and I are having a mid week walk from Lesbury in Northumberland. Lesbury is another pretty Northumberland village reached by heading north on the A189.

The walk is covered by OS Explorerm332 Alnwick and Amble and could be useful. On the way we stopped in Warkworth to have bumper bacon sandwiches and tea in Bernards coffee shop. Generous with the bacon, highly recommended.

Across the road from the village church of St. Mary is a small parking area with room for 10 cars, and it is free.

              Car park with St. Mary's in the background. The church has 13th century origins with lots of 19th century restorations.

leaving the car park we turned right and after less than fifty yards noticed the finger post pointing towards the footpath alongside the river Aln. Yesterday the country was hit by a mini monsoon, today the river was full and fast flowing.

                                             River Aln.

If you follow this route use the gate near the river and avoid climbing barbed wire fences. The footpath eventually climbs a small hill and emerges on a road. Directly opposite is a road that goes first to the golf course and then the beach.

                                 Welcome to the clubhouse at Foxton Hall. It is open to the public for refreshments.

Once on the beach we headed north on sands still wet from yesterday's downpour. Approaching a caravan site we climbed the concrete stairs and walked through the park.

                        Caravan, the Cameron model.
As we approached the village of Boulmer  we headed back down to the beach. Sandy at first then covered in large slabs of rock we stayed on the beach to Howdiemont Sands. (I slimbed up to the footpath, the others stuck to the rocks)
At Howdiermont, which had been packed in summer by southern staycationers discovering the wonders of Northumberland we followed the track going west to Longhoughton.
                               Distant Dunstanburgh from Howdiemont Sands

                              Harry's library on the road to Longhoughton
In Longhoughton we found a couple of comfortable benches and enjoyed our lunch in the warm sun, so different from yesterday's misery and flooding. Britain has weather, not a climate.
Today's Herbie shares were Titans, savoury flapjack and apple cake.
Almost directly opposite the Running Fox tea shop in Longhoughton, which used to be the community hall which used to be the local shop and a NAAFI for the local RAF station, a finger post sent us up a lane next to houses and an open field to what used to be a pond.
The pond has gone, the site has reverted to being a quarry as it is marked on the map. The footpath goes round it and emerges on a road. We turned right and after a few yards turned into the quarry entrance. Eventually we found the footpath on the left. Narrow, overgrown with brambles it was a bit of a challenge but we struggled on to the farm at Longlee.

                             The white horse of Longlee.
At the farm we turned left on the road, crossed the next road and headed for Ratcheugh Crag.
A little unsure of the path to take at an entrance to a wood we were saved by a lady out walking her dogs. She told us which track to take up to the Observatory. Often seen from a distance but never visited we went to observe it. Well worth the short climb too.

                               The Observatory. It has a wonderful view over the North Sea. It is an unfinished folly built by the Duke of Northumberland in the 18th century to enhance is estates.
Having admired the ruin we retraced our steps to the cottage at Dunsheugh and having crossed a field joined what we gadgies call the "long and boring road." It is. At one point the road turns right, we left the road and took the field on the left of the hedge down to the railway. If you go on the right you need to climb barbed wire.
Once at the railway we walked down to the road, turned left and were soon back in Lesbury.
On the way home we stopped at the Ridley Arms in Stannington as it had been a warm day. A selection of beers on offer, including the Ridley Arms Bitter, brewed locally for the pub.
The Lindisfarne was good too.

                    The Ridley Arms, Stannington.

Contains OS data, copyright. Crown copyright and data base right 2021
The walk is about 11 miles, mostly easy going.