This was yet another lovely walk and the first one this year with a decidedly Autumnal feel to it. We started in a skinny little parking lane by the side of what seemed to be a Formula 1 practice track! Cars whizzed by at a terrifying speed, literally inches away from where we were lacing up boots and hauling on rucksacks.
Thankfully, from the parking lane we dipped straight into woodland, following a path down the slope to the side of the River Wear and stunning views across to the ruins of Finchale Abbey. We explored the ruins for a while, marvelling at the rugged architecture before heading back up through the trees and onto Cocken Lane. After ¼ mile we headed left down the footpath that led us into open farmland and from there into more deciduous woodland. This stretch took us through the lovely Cocken Woods; I love walking in woodland and this part of the walk was beautiful with the first tints of Autumn showing in the trees and the low sunlight slicing through the branches. Gradually descending a shallow slope, we stopped for lunch at the side of the River Wear, its meandering loops giving us a great spot to enjoy our sandwiches.
After lunch we headed back though the woodland before breaking out into arable farmland with Great Lumley in the near distance. After a couple of miles, we reached the village and paused to take in the expansive views of the area from a convenient bench.
The return loop of the walk was back through the large arable fields of the area, at this time of year looking bare and cold. There were a few sprouts of green from early sown winter wheat and overwintering oil seed rape but otherwise bare soil was dominant. After a couple of miles, we picked up Cocken Lane once more and completed the 5 miles as we returned to our cars.
Part two of Kev’s double-header was a short sprint more than a long distance walk. Like the 60m sprint at the indoor athletics.
We started out near the bridge at Warden and then dipped between the few pretty houses and picked up the footpath that leads down to the river bank of the South Tyne. After only about five minutes along the path we reached the confluence of this river and the North Tyne at a place known locally as Waters Meet. It’s a lovely spot with the two rivers making an almost symmetrical ‘Y’ shape as they meet and tumble seawards.
There was a fisherman standing at the exact meeting point of the two rivers, casting optimistically for salmon that are making their way upstream at this time of year. In a perfectly timed comedy moment a large salmon leapt from the water behind him as he cast his line obliviously in front of him.
We left him to his enjoyment and headed off through the sandy riverside grassland towards Hexham. As the footpath cut through a small copse and reached the cycle path by the Tyne Valley railway line, we headed back to the start. This section was easy going on tarmac that soon became a single track rod leading back to Warden.
We rewarded our exertions with a drink in the Boatside Inn.
We started off the new programme with an afternoon walk courtesy of Kevin Hilton. Starting out on a sunny day we left from Kev’s house in Newbrough and followed the road up and through the village. And up. And up. The road became increasingly steep as we headed further from the village and then narrowed, finally ending abruptly at a gate that led into the nearby fields. To be honest we were puffing and panting a bit as we had kept up a relentless pace for the first mile. A slightly flatter section thankfully followed across sheep pasture allowing us to catch our breath.
After a quick sandwich break by the old Roman vallum we set off across more fields, testing our style climbing skills as we crossed a fair few stone walls. A slightly nervous time was had as we crossed a field full of skittish young cows but we escaped unscathed only to be flash mobbed by a bunch of boisterous young bullocks in an adjacent field. Luckily a stone wall kept them at bay. The sharp eyed young naturalist in our group spotted some morels growing in the drip line of some beech trees and spent 20 minutes gathering forage for her supper.
Heading back downhill to Newbrough we passed the roofless ruin of an old farm cottage that was being refurbished by a young couple. Sleeping in a caravan they were slowly rebuilding the roof despite having no access road, no mains electricity, water or drainage. They look to have a long hard slog ahead of them.
A steady descent brought us back down into Newbrough and a nice cup of tea at Kev’s house.
Do you think it’s best to get a steep climb out of the way early in a walk or wait until the end?
For this walk we were straight into it from the off. Starting out in the Derwent Park car park at Rowlands Gill we climbed up to the main road and then up again to haul ourselves up Busty Bank. It’s a pretty steep stretch of road and worth taking gently rather than at full tilt.
Taking a left into Burnopfield we continued our walk upwards through houses that overlooked the valley below. Their tidy front gardens were just bursting into life with snowdrops sprinkled around liberally and neatly clipped hedges. A footpath led us through the small estate and brought us out, via a kissing gate, to nearby pasture.
A well fenced and signposted footpath carried us almost due North across fields fringed with deciduous woodland and dotted with sheep. We were high up here and enjoyed great views across the valley towards the sprawl of Tyneside. Resting by a wooden post and rail fence we enjoyed lunch on what was a surprisingly mild and still day for mid February.
The walk continued across fields before meeting woodland as it dipped slightly at a point where several footpaths intersected. We continued northwards, parallel to Fell Road on a quiet minor road (West Lane then Hillhead Lane) edged with hedgerows. Returning to field walking, we traversed a steep grassy slope for 200m before re-emerging onto Fellside Road near to the Woodman’s Arms where we stopped for liquid refreshment.
After that short break we continued for a short while on Fellside Road before striking out West down Clockburn Lonnen; a minor road through woodland and scattered housing. We walked on this route for about half a mile before picking up the route of the Derwent Walk. This excellent walk follows an old railway line and has good dry underfoot conditions and was flat! Another mile or so brought us back to Rowlands Gill and we were able to rejoin our cars as the clouds gathered.
Northumberland has had a few snowfalls during December but this walk started out in very cold but clear conditions. Starting from the village of Langley, near Haydon Bridge, we walked past the Langley Furniture Works and down a steep, frozen field to cross the A686.
Following a minor spur of the A686 we headed up through outlying cottages of Langley and past a field of miserable looking Belted Galloway cows munching on come cold looking hay.
A sharp left off the road led us to a gate with a cattle grid and from there we followed the farm track of Sillywrea farm. After crossing a couple of fields via a stone stile we descended a steep hill down to the farm buildings themselves. By now, glowering dark clouds were gathering on the northern horizon and the wind was picking up.
Having passed through the farm yard we followed the farm access road to pick up the minor road we had left about a mile back. After half a mile or so we turned right to enter fields pimpled by old excavations and straight into an oncoming snowstorm. Stinging horizontal snow battered our faces and we took shelter among some gorse bushes and huddled down to eat our lunch. The wind and snow continued unabated and we decided to carry on quickly with the walk rather than wait until the snow had stopped.
Passing down a pretty, sunken lane bounded by high hedges on either side we emerged at a minor crossroads occupied by a small cottage. This was once a holiday let but it now looks to be privately owned. The road continues down towards Langley Castle but our walk took us South at the next junction and past the large farmsteading of East Deanraw.
Just before the expansive buildings we crossed the Deanraw Burn and climbed up past a conifer plantation that afforded us much needed respite from the continuing windblown snow. The final leg of the cross-country walking took us through a very wet field scarred by deep, deep tractor ruts filled with icy water. With the stinging snow now blowing directly into our faces it was an unpleasant half a mile or so until we reunited with the A686 and then continued on to Langley and the end of the walk.
Yes folks it’s here, the moment you’ve all been waiting for. Our new walks programme from January through to June is now available on the Current Programme of Walks page.
We have a wide variety of ‘Old Favourites’ that will take us from Roseberry Topping in the Cleveland Hills, across to The Allen Valley in the west and all points in between.
Click on the page now to start planning your weekends.
Our Walks Programmes each cover a six month stretch and we therefore produce two per year to cover the calendar.
I’m just finalising dates and walks for the first half of 2018 and hope to publish this very soon. You’ll find it under the menu heading Current Programme of Walks. Members of our Group very kindly submit walks and then it’s a delicate balancing act to fit them all in to everyone’s preferred dates before we publish the whole lot.
Every programme also has a theme around which the walks are based and the upcoming theme for January-June 2018 is ‘Old Favourites’. We’ve completed many fantastic walks over the years and so this Programme is a chance to revisit some of those. Therefore, if you join us for a walk this year you’ll be enjoying some of the very best countryside the NE has to offer.