Autumn 2018 has been a delight. It started early with a chilly stretch of weather in early October and that kick-started the colour change in the trees. Dry and still weather followed with cool nights and so we had an extended period of Autumn colour before wind and rain tore leaves from the trees.
This walk took place in the last hurrah of reds, oranges and yellows and took us around the gentle countryside bordering Durham city. We started on a road that is now a cul-de-sac but once took traffic over the old River Wear crossing at Sunderland Bridge. It makes an excellent parking spot.
We were joined on this walk by an old friend; Cathy. After a break of a few years, she has re-joined the Group and brought along her two dogs. All three of them were very welcome.
We started out heading North East along a metalled estate road bordered by pasture land and overlooked by a big house. This road took us away from the River Wear and parallel with the adjoining Croxdale Beck before we took a footpath off to the right and into a lovely stretch of mixed woodland. Low sunshine sliced through the tree branches and backlit the beautiful Autumn leaves overhead; it truly was a lovely stretch of walking.
Emerging from the woodland we came upon a farm with its associated barns and outbuidlings. A few ducks and chickens scratted around outside and there was a couple of apple trees laden down with late season fruit. A steep footpath took us back down into woodland and after about half a mile we stopped for lunch.
After lunch the going was nice and easy, through woodland paths, open pasture and country lanes for about a mile and a half. We could then see the village of Shincliffe coming into view and we approached it from the south west, walking past the garden centre and up a farm track.
This brought us into Shincliffe Village itself and we had a very enjoyable stroll along the main street eyeing up the lovely old houses. This is a popular spot for well-to-do local professionals and is a very pretty village. A few years ago we enjoyed nosing around even more when the village held an open gardens day and about a dozen residents opened their gardens for charity.
Passing the Seven Stars Inn at the end of the village, we crossed the busy A177 and walked uphill to High Shincliffe before crossing back over the A177 after about half a mile and entering woodland once again. Our return loop brought us around the rear of Croxdale Hall and its spectacular stone barn; quite a sight.
Retracing our steps along the estate road we were back to our cars.