This was yet another lovely walk and the first one this year with a decidedly Autumnal feel to it. We started in a skinny little parking lane by the side of what seemed to be a Formula 1 practice track! Cars whizzed by at a terrifying speed, literally inches away from where we were lacing up boots and hauling on rucksacks.
Thankfully, from the parking lane we dipped straight into woodland, following a path down the slope to the side of the River Wear and stunning views across to the ruins of Finchale Abbey. We explored the ruins for a while, marvelling at the rugged architecture before heading back up through the trees and onto Cocken Lane. After ¼ mile we headed left down the footpath that led us into open farmland and from there into more deciduous woodland. This stretch took us through the lovely Cocken Woods; I love walking in woodland and this part of the walk was beautiful with the first tints of Autumn showing in the trees and the low sunlight slicing through the branches. Gradually descending a shallow slope, we stopped for lunch at the side of the River Wear, its meandering loops giving us a great spot to enjoy our sandwiches.
After lunch we headed back though the woodland before breaking out into arable farmland with Great Lumley in the near distance. After a couple of miles, we reached the village and paused to take in the expansive views of the area from a convenient bench.
The return loop of the walk was back through the large arable fields of the area, at this time of year looking bare and cold. There were a few sprouts of green from early sown winter wheat and overwintering oil seed rape but otherwise bare soil was dominant. After a couple of miles, we picked up Cocken Lane once more and completed the 5 miles as we returned to our cars.