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.