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.