This lovely short walk started out near to the excellent Beamish Museum. There’s a car park just off the A693 on the road to the museum that has a few footpaths leading off it into the woods. We started off there. It was lovely to welcome a member of the group we hadn’t seen for about a year on this walk, with her hew labradoodle joining two energetic terriers.
We started out on one of the enticing paths starting from the car park on an overcast, grey morning but happy to be out of over-warm centrally heated houses. It wasn’t too cold.
With a theme for this programme of Woodlands, this was an eponymous walk where we spent most of our time beneath the canopy of bare branches and alongside shrubby undergrowth. Straightaway from the off we were into woodland walking; on paths and tracks that snaked sinuously through the thick deciduous woodland of County Durham. This area is popular with dog walkers, cyclists and joggers and we were far from the only people out for exercise on a November morning.
The walking was gentle and easy with no steep gradients or muddy sections to worry about and the three dogs racing left and right as tantalising smells hit their nostrils.
We bumped into four old friends along a section of the walk just as the rain started to come down. Four lifelike cows fashioned from bits of scrap steel, by artist Sally Matthews, adorn this footpath that was once a railway line carrying coal to the coast. We had met these three a few years ago on a longer walk and it was good to see them again. They are weathering well and look just as good as they did back then.
This railway line provided the route for most of the walk and allowed us to make good progress towards Causey Arch; one of the heritage gems of the North East. This is the oldest single arch railway bridge in the whole world and is an impressive site amongst the enveloping woodland. The Tanfield railway still operate steam trains along the adjacent line and today was part of the busy Polar Express season with youngsters of all ages enjoying the thrills of a steam engine ride. We waved at the passengers as the engine chuffed and puffed past us on our way back to the car park.