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.