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.
Our Christmas walk is one of the highlights of our walking year. It’s the one walk of the year where we can guarantee most of our children (now rapidly growing up) will turn up and walk with us. The enticement of Christmassy nibbles half way round and then lunch in a pub may also account for their presence. They also walk and chat together and, now that most of them are away at University, it’s a good chance for them and us to catch up.
Eighteen of us, plus two well behaved dogs, gathered at the Market Square in Corbridge to begin this walk with the traditional photo-shoot. We headed north to start with, along the main road, and then dipped down towards the River Tyne just opposite the Wheatsheaf pub. There’s a nice windy path that skirts through the front gardens of some fancy houses just here and it takes us down to the riverside. As we met the river we headed east along to the bridge. Thankfully the footpath wasn’t flooded, as is often the case in winter, and we got to the bridge with dry feet.
We crossed the lovely old bridge and headed south, towards the railway station but continued past it and above it on the B6529. Just as the road curves left at the end of the railway bridge, we passed through a well-hidden gateway in amongst the trees and then walked through a small patch of woodland before climbing up through sheep pasture to meet the A695. We crossed and skirted the edge of another field before a steep climb led us through woodland to reach Ladycutters Lane and a fine view back to Corbridge.
That was the last of the cross-country walking for a while and we now headed up the quiet road for a mile or so before stopping for Christmassy snacks at the next country lane junction.
Striking out east we followed the next metalled road for a mile or so to Burn Brae Lodge, a hamlet of handsome looking houses at the top of Prospect Hill. Winding our way down the hill we reached the A695 again and crossed the busy road to take a footpath down towards the Newcastle – Carlisle railway line. Crossing carefully, we then found ourselves at Tynedale Park sports ground. From here we followed the riverside path, now raised up onto flood defence dykes back towards Corbridge.
Christmas lunch was taken at the lovely Black Bull pub in the town; good food and company to kick off the festive season.
This was a proper Winter walk. The mercury was below zero, frost sparkled on walls and paths and the previously muddy ground was solid beneath our boots.
It was a little spoiled by a farmer spreading muck in the field right next to where we started, but you can’t blame him for that.
Starting off by strolling through the picturesque village of Wall, this walk was to sweep round Fallowfield and Chollerford before returning via the river North Tyne after five miles.
There’s a steep old climb out of Wall and up the hill that overlooks the village. On this today the ground was solid and frozen and easy underfoot; usually it’s a bit slippery and slidey until you get to the long abandoned undulations of the hill fort perched on the top. There are good views to be had from here so it’s worth a bit of huffing and puffing to ascend the hill. From there we crossed a couple of fields, skirting woodland and ending up in the tiny hamlet of Fallowfield. There’s a couple of handsome grey stone houses here but mostly it is dominated by farm buildings.
Out of Fallowfield, our path wound its way along to Written Crag – a site we visited a couple of months ago on a fine sunny Autumn day. This was a quarry used by the Roman Army to build Hadrian’s Wall and has left behind a shallow depression and a pavement-like surface partially grassed over and beloved of the local sheep. It was a good place to stop for lunch, basking in the bright sunlight.
From Fallowfield we descended to the Military Road and then on to St Oswald’s Church, site of the infamous Battle of Heavenfield. It’s a lovely spot, the church perched on a rise that throws the building and the churchyard trees into sharp silhouette against the Northumberland skyline. Walking through the churchyard we left via a stone stile and followed the frosty footpath downhill, through rutted and frozen fields to yet another abandoned quarry. This one was much more recent and the remnants of sheds and winding gear are still in evidence. This particular section, down to the river, was particularly steep; deeply rutted and frozen iron-hard it was tricky walking for half a mile or so.
A fine flat mile section along the South Tyne brought us to the handsome bridge at Chollerford, looking resplendent in the low sun and reflected in the calm of the river. From there it was rather mundane road walking for about ¾ mile back to the parking spot. By then it was after 3pm and getting chillier and darker.
Now I like a nice bit of complicated map reading as much as the next man, but sometimes you want a nice easy walk on a good footpath and an itinerary that doesn’t involve a compass, GPS triangulation and returning to your car courtesy of search and rescue dogs. Ladies and gentlemen I give you this lovely walk from Wylam – Prudhoe and back again. Five miles of stress-free Sunday morning rambling.
We met up in the generous Country Car Park (it’s free and spacious) in the middle of the village of Wylam and set off south west along the old railway line. (head east and you’ll encounter the birthplace of George Stephenson) This is a lovely, slightly sunken footpath with the characteristic young woodland on each side and a good firm path of scalpings or gritstone. It is arrow straight as befits its railway heritage and is justifiably popular for rambling, dog walking and cycling. Thankfully it is also broad enough for everyone to enjoy and the autumn vegetation is always a colourful accompaniment.
After a mile or so we encountered the spectacular Wylam Railway bridge over the Tyne; an arching steel structure that spans the loop in the river at this point. On this day it was a little treacherous, thanks to an overnight frost, but our small group crossed it safely and continued along the track with the houses of Hagg Bank peering down on us. After a hundred yards or so we climbed the steps up to this little hamlet with its houses all cheek-by-jowl before descending to the right and back down to re-join the riverside path.
Wylam Railway Bridge
Once again, the footpath here was solid and none too taxing, meaning we could chatter on safely without the danger of a ricked ankle or a deep squelch puddle taking us unawares. Following the second big loop in the Tyne we headed further west along the broad river valley with its wooded slopes on either bank. Another couple of miles brought us to the crossing at Ovingham; a single track bridge that has suffered in recent years due to old age and flooding. The Tyne Riverside Country Park provided a suitable lunch stop with picnic tables and toilets.
After lunch we crossed the bridge to take in the lovely church and well-kept churchyard of St Mary the Virgin in Ovingham, before heading back along the riverside path, retracing our steps back to the car. A nice cuppa afterwards in the Daniel Tea Farmshop and Tearoom was perfect.
Our preferred driving route to the Lakes usually consists of A69-Haydon Bridge-A686 to Langley and then on through Whitfield to Alston. The road from Haydon Bridge to Langley is a lovely twisty-turny road through the thickly wooded valley of the Langley Burn and looks stunning in most seasons. I have often thought that it looks like a nice place to walk.
Lo and behold, this walk included part of that very landscape! Result.
We started out in a parking space tucked under the A69 bypass and near to the town cemetery. It was a stunning day – crystal clear, sunny and just a bit of a nip in the air. Striking out southwards we met the A686 and walked up for about half a mile before crossing the road and heading off into the aforementioned woodland. The path seemed little used and was quite rough as it rose up a steep-ish slope through the trees and ended at a stile into a field. The views eastward along the Tyne valley were superb here and many a photo was snapped.
It was here that we first noticed the unusually large number of larches on this walk, the field edge being liberally sprinkled with this highly sculptural tree that were well into their winter moult.
We soon reached a farm track\road that gave us good walking through this beautiful but empty landscape. The track was edged by dry stone walls and, yet again, more than the occasional deciduous European larch (Larix decidua) sculpted by the ever present Northumberland wind.
Lunch was taken hunkered down in a depression between hummocks of grassed-over spoil heaps in amongst tussocky yet comfortable grass.
We walked a short distance on the long abandoned embankment of the Alston-Hexham railway line (as we have done many times and in many places over the years) which must have been a great passenger route through this landscape. The walk continued through the sparsely populated hamlet of East Elrington and once again we encountered the echoes of the railway line as we crossed it via a stone bridge and strolled past what must have been a station master or signalman’s house. Perhaps this hamlet was an important stop in days gone by?
Following the metalled road out of the hamlet we headed steadily downhill, passing hedgerows that looked to be a good bet for blackberries and sloes next year. This road was our pathway for the next half mile or so, bringing us out onto the Low Gate road that joins the busy A69. After crossing the road we headed down through horse pasture to the banks of the river Tyne, picking up the footpath that led us in an uncomplicated fashion back to Haydon Bridge and the end of the walk.