A walk around Kielder – August 6th 2017

Somewhat optimistically this post is entitled a walk around Kielder. We didn’t manage an entire circumference of the reservoir as that’s rather a long walk. About 27 miles apparently. Nonetheless, we went around some of it. About 20%.

The original plan was to start at the Lewisburn car park but when we arrived it was shut. And shut permanently by the looks of it, so we made alternative plans. Doubling back we parked up at Tower Knowe visitor centre and decided to walk from there, across the dam and into the woods.

Following the easy footpath we arrived at the dam after quarter of a mile and headed across. There’s always something cinematic about dams, I feel. Not sure whether that is the Dam Busters, the Fugitive, or Golden Eye or indeed any number of other films shot in and around dams. They’re certainly spectacular examples of engineering and often great honeypots for wildlife.

At the far side of the dam, the going gets a little more rural and the footpath a bit more undulating and we picked our way through trees and bushes heading for lunch at the Belling, home of the Wave Chamber. This is a small, dry stone building looking for all the world like a bee hive. Inside there is a small seat and when the door is closed and there is almost total darkness, you can hear the sounds of the nearby waves (it’s right on the water side) bouncing off the rocky shore.  It’s very immersive.

After lunch we headed further along the coastal path to where Goodwell Sike enters the lake before heading back. By this time the rain had begun to fall, the skies were gloomy and our pace started to quicken along the forest track. Thankfully the trees overhead afforded us some good cover as we headed back to the dam. After crossing the dam we headed for the café at Tower Knowle for a cup of tea, before heading home.

6 miles.

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Rambling around Redesmouth July 30th 2017

When I looked at this walk on the schedule I thought Redesmouth sounded like it should be up near Berwick or Jedburgh. Scotland-ish. Thankfully it wasn’t as that would have been a bit of a drive.

Redesmouth is a tiny village just west of the [marvellous A68] before you get to Bellingham. The road to get there is a fantastic roller coaster ride. You should try it.

After some improvised car parking (more of that later) we set off across fields that were a bit damp, tussocky with un grazed grass and a bit uneven; these conditions really put the feeling of long miles into your legs pretty quickly. As we were going uphill as well, we were a bit puffed out after only thirty minutes. After a slight detour (thanks to a grumpy local who told us where to go) past a shepherd’s hut we encountered a pair of charming donkeys in a field who were only too pleased to say hello.

Passing the adjoining cottages, we headed quarter of a mile down a farm track past another house and then plunged into thick silver birch woodland. This seldom used path in the woods tumbled steeply downhill and was pretty tricky going. After twenty minutes of scrambling, we passed under a disused railway arch and then emerged into lighter, flatter woodland and then out onto a wide open stretch of grassland on the North Tyne riverside. It was stunning. A beautifully situated barn conversion overlooked this idyllic spot; lucky people!

The walk continued along the North Tyne, which is particularly wide and fast flowing here and looks spectacular. It must also contain a good salmon run as the Duke of Northumberland has a lovely fishing lodge on the banks.

Carrying on through light woodland by the river we emerged onto the disused Border Counties Railway line. This must have been, even in its heyday, a relatively obscure railway route carrying few passengers. Now, it is a fine grassy walk sprinkled with old sheds and sidings.

This walk brought us back to Redesmouth at the disused station of Redesmouth Junction with its converted signal box, railway sheds (now cow byres) and intact platform.

We got a bit of verbals from a local resident who contested our parking position although we checked we weren’t blocking any access or driveways. No Private Road sign either.

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Industrial heritage in Hexhamshire June 25th 2017

There are some stunning little walks laced throughout the Hexhamshire countryside and this one proved to be a gem. Starting out in the little village of Whitley Chapel it wound its way through quiet countryside that once was a hive of industry but is now just buzzing with bumblebees and dragonflies. You can find it in the excellent book Walks in Tynedale and Allendale and its a nice easy stroll of about 6 miles for a sunny summer day.

Walking past the lovely St Helens church we strolled down the quiet road for a mile or so, passing well fed, glossy hided ponies and fields ripe with grainy goodness before a sharp 90 degree turn took us deep into leafy green woodland. We soon passed Jingles Haugh, once a ford across the Raw Burn (now a convenient footbridge too) and named after the sound of pack horse harnesses as they trod their weary way around these parts.

There’s a charming fish ladder just under the bridge here; no doubt a tricky but useful thing to negotiate if you are a trout heading to the spawning grounds.

From there we passed the confluence of the Raw Burn and Devil’s Water, walking beautiful country lanes and footpaths up to the hamlet of Dukesfield Hall, once an important stopover for drovers who plied their trade amongst these rural settlements. We had lunch here, resting against a stone wall and enjoying the warm summer sunshine.

Heading downhill through Hall Burn wood we came upon the remains of rural industry; the Dukesfield Smelting Mill that transformed lead ore into lead ingots that were then passed down to the River Tyne, onto barges and out across the world. It’s hard to believe that kind of thing happened here such is the peace and tranquillity amongst the ruins of the smelting mill.

Walking back to Whitley chapel along Devil’s water follows the old waggon way and is good walking; plenty of dog walkers and cyclists to share the path with. After passing through houses at Low Rawgreen we were back on the quiet road that winds back up the hill to the village.

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A stroll in Slaggyford June 11th 2017


Go on then, hands up who had heard of Slaggyford??

Me neither until I found this walk in the excellent book Walks in Tynedale & Allendale and was intrigued. This walk started in the village of Slaggyford itself – a pretty, pretty rural village with a cluster of houses around a well kept village green.

After crossing the South Tyne over a spectacular babbling section, we headed into open countryside and were soon striking uphill across lush pasture. It was a fine, if brooding, day weather-wise and as we climbed above the village we were treated to spectacular views of the surrounding hills framed with slate grey clouds. Peering down over the South Tyne valley we could have been in Norway or Canada, such was the breadth of landscape on view. Carrying on, we passed an old lime kiln that sliced straight into the hillside and is surprisingly well kept. It nestles close to a rare stand of juniper scrub that is closely managed by local environmental groups to maintain its viability.

Lunch was taken beneath some obliging trees and by a comfy stone wall. Several cows took an interest in our sandwiches but responded well to gentle persuasion when asked to hop it.

After lunch we continued down the valley crossing the lovely Snope Burn by the handsome Eals Bridge before returning close to the banks of the South Tyne along the valley road. After passing Knarsdale Hall we entered Knarsdale village and stopped at the Kirkstyle Inn to replenish lost fluids. Cutting through the churchyard of St Jude’s we headed back to Slaggyford via a section of the South Tyne Trail.

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A walk to the sea at Whitley Bay 28th May 2017


If you don’t know the North East coastline then be quick; your life is ebbing away and you need to visit!

We don’t walk the coast much as a group which is a shame, but out of summer it can be a touch blustery. And wet.

This walk started out at the charming Monkseaton Metro station and wended its way through old waggon ways to the coast. Here’s the story.

Full on spring sunshine warmed our shoulders at the start of this long walk and it was most welcome. A good turnout for this family ramble with plenty of offspring in attendance as exams weren’t yet on the horizon or university was finished. The first leg was easy walking on flat cinder wagon-ways past bright spring flowers and grazing cows. In fact, it was such good walking that we missed the turn on the footpath. By about a mile.

Never mind, we went another way instead after a brief committee meeting.

After a slightly longer walk than was expected, and a pit stop at a local café, we arrived at the slightly faded glamour of Whitley Bay sea front. The good weather had brought out plenty of families and the ice cream shop was doing a roaring trade. Even more so after we arrived! 99s and monkey’s blood all round.

After some breathtaking views of St Mary’s lighthouse we headed into the suburbs and back to the Metro station.

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A Walk around Stanhope May 14th 2017


There are some stonking views in Weardale – a green patchwork of vast moorland interlaced with dry stone walls and dotted with cosy looking villages. Too often the Tyne valley and even Swaledale and Wensleydale… .  . even Arkengarthdale get all the plaudits for stunning landscapes. However, this lovely walk from Stanhope can rival those well-known walking destinations and it has a spectacular hole to add to the attractions. Read on!

Starting from the excellent Dales Centre we were soon heading out into the surrounding countryside and walking by the Stanhope Burn on a bright and blustery day. It is still high Spring in this part of the UK in May and so we were treated along the way by carpets of bluebells and primroses enjoying the sunshine as much as we were.

Lunch was taken on a sunny bankside by the crystal clear waters of the Stanhope Burn – fabulous!

After lunch we struck outwards and upwards, following footpaths narrowed by springtime fecundity and ended up at a fine limestone cave in a deep narrow gorge of the Burn. After a scramble down to explore we set off once more and were soon on a path overlooking Stanhope with superb views of the valley and the jumble of houses. Here we encountered the awesome Ashes Quarry on the outskirts of the town – an enormous scar hewn out of the side of the hill to provide mineral ore. It is truly an impressive sight.

Our walk took us back into town through a narrow pathway and back to the Dales Centre.

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Catching up with the Family Ramblers

A few walking blogs to catch up with – such tardiness on my behalf!

Here are our recent summery Family Rambles starting with  …  .     .

A walk around Annfield Plain

April 30th


Although this walk took place in familiar territory, there were some new sites to see on this 7 mile circular.

Starting off in a hidden-ish car park near some tennis courts we headed off on a section of the C2C, crossing a couple of roads before heading to Greencroft and passing a substantial array of solar panels and wind turbines – a far cry from the coal based energy of the region in the last century.

Following gorse lined waggon ways we headed off to the low moors around Annfield Plain and visited the still waters of Chapman’s Well pond, stopping nearby for lunch.

The second leg of the walk criss-crossed fields, more waggon ways and damp pasture land and skirted around the outskirts of the town. We passed the fascinating land sculpture of Kyo Undercurrents (by artist Richard Harris) sited on the C2C route and no doubt providing mental respite for weary cyclists.

Finally we entered Annfield Plain for a short spell of road walking before meeting up with our cars.

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