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.