Low, bright winter sun made the journey to today’s start point somewhat dangerous. We could barely see the road, oncoming traffic or indeed road signs such was the glaring and blinding light from the sun as we drove east to join the walk. For a week or two in midwinter these driving conditions are a real pain.
Nevertheless, we arrived safely and joined the walk near to East Tanfield station, not far from our previous walk. Starting out on tussocky, wet grassland we crossed a field into the dazzling sunlight before traversing some well-built duckboards across the soggier parts of the field. Our walk leader helped to build these duckboards twenty years ago and we can attest to their robust construction.
This walk was part urban, part reclaimed industrial land and criss-crossed the old stamping grounds of local folk singer Tommy Armstrong. We passed pubs in which he used to sing and a terraced house in Tanfield Lea where he once lived. We probably walked streets that he used to walk. Part of the walk also took us to his grave in the churchyard of St Mary of Antioch in Tanfield village, laid by NUM leader Arthur Scargill.
Tommy led an austere life and suffered with illness and poverty but is still remembered today for his lively folk songs encapsulating the life of hard working miners in the Durham Coalfields.