A new year and a new walk programme

The new walk programme is out!

Six months of really good looking #walks around the North East to look forward to after a few weeks of juggling dates, availability and carefully drawing out walks from the group. We have regular contributors, of course, and their constant support and input is a solid foundation. This programme also has a walk from a new contributor and it looks like a good ‘un, walking from #Ponteland along the river. Thanks for your walk Ken!

We start out on familiar ground at Corbridge on what promises to be a bright and chilly weekend ahead.

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A Christmas walk in Corbridge 18th December

Our annual Christmas walk followed by a Christmas meal is the highlight of our walking year. With children free from school and University, it’s one walk that is always guaranteed a good turn-out and a walk where no-one is worrying about the next day.

This year twenty of us made the pilgrimage to Corbridge to meet up in the market square for the start of the walk. We had two dogs as well.

Our walk is usually a variation on the theme of muddy lanes, churches and a castle. The order often varies but the content is pretty much the same. This year we added in a detour to the old bottle kilns sitting on the high ground above Corbridge before we crept under the A69 and headed for the pretty hamlet of Halton. It’s only a loose handful of stone dwellings including a stout 15th century manor house and a low church, however it is a picturesque spot and ideal for savoury festive nibbles and crisp, bubbly prosecco!

We staggered back down the hill to the jagged walls of Aydon Castle – a place we must visit when it’s open in the summer – standing above the steep sided valley of the Corr Burn. The final stretch of the walk took us above the A69 this time and down into the town via a narrow winding footpath. The Black Bull beckoned with promises of roast turkey and roast potatoes!

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A walk around Penshaw Monument; 11th December

This had to be the shortest drive to a walk we’d ever had. It took all of twelve minutes to drive to the Start Point at Herrington Country Park. Once or twice we’ve driven over an hour and a half to get to a walk – once even two hours I think. That’s not a problem before the walk but it can be a bit of a tough ask afterwards; quite often I can feel myself nodding off and intense concentration is required.

Back at #Penshaw this wouldn’t be a problem. There seemed to be an English Bull Terrier convention happening on this particular day as well over twenty of them were dragging their owners around the car park as we set off on our walk. The first leg took us into the Park, around the Lake and up to the viewing mound from where there is a fine view of this corner of the world.

After an uneventful descent we headed towards #Penshaw Monument, taking a muddy track round to the left of the hill and onto a farm track This led us to the outskirts of the village before cutting down and across farmland and then across a minor road to the disused wagon way that once took coal down to the port at Hendon.

After a mile or so we found ourselves in a wooded valley with fine views of the Victoria Viaduct. Perfect for a lunch stop.

After sandwiches and a cup of tea we continued on into the woodland, emerging at the tiny hamlet of Cox Green on the River Wear. Once a bustling ferry terminal it is now a quiet backwater albeit with a decent pub. Onwards, along the river banks we enjoyed the last rays of sunshine as the temperature fell and hats and scarves were donned.

The final stretch was a steep, steep climb up from Wearside Golf Club that brought us up to the rear of the monument. We posed here for a few pictures and took in the fine views as darkness fell.

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A walk in the city; Newcastle

27th November

Every now and then we have an urban walk. They are always a welcome change to the stunning rural walks we do. Consequently, we only do about one every two years!

Anyway, enough of the psycho analysis.

This walk started out at the Tyne Bar at the mouth of the Ouseburn on Newcastle quayside. (Tip; the rather excellent Hub Café is a great place to pick up a delicious sandwich To Go).

Our walk took us into the thriving and extremely cool Ouseburn basin – it’s full of music venues, tech start-ups, breweries, marketing firms and an inner city farm. It’s like Shoreditch but in Newcastle. The landscape is big here – soaring road bridges above your head carry city dwellers East and West out of the city. We followed the sluggish Ouseburn through high rise blocks, trendy Victorian terraces and even a riding school before we arrived at Jesmond Dene Park.

This fabulous park was gifted to the city by the philanthropist Lord Armstrong and is criss-crossed by paths providing routes for runners, strollers and dog walkers. There is always a buzz of activity about the place even on a grey Sunday morning. We continued up to the ruined water mill before heading out of the top of the park, past the shell of St Mary’s Chapel. Amazingly this tiny desolate ruin was once one of the four most holy sites in the UK!!

We retraced our steps back to the Ouseburn basin and a welcome respite in the Hub café.

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A walk in Durham city

13th November 2016

As a group we have walked around the wooded environs of Durham many, many times. It never fails to deliver a perfect mixture of urban and country walking and it is well worth researching one of the numerous excellent walks to see some of the more unusual vistas the city has to offer.

Starting out beneath the statue of the Marquis of Londonderry, we headed down to the riverside for a short stretch before doubling back on ourselves and climbing up to the refurbished Wharton Park. This green space, recently rejuvenated, sits high up near the railway station and commands superb views over the higgledy-piggledy rooftops of the city. If you’re lucky you get to see a train sweeping across the arc of the viaduct and pulling into the lofty station.

From here we headed out of town, parallel to the northbound railway line, taking a narrow loop back towards the city. Passing by the excellent Crook Hall, we crossed the river once more and climbed a steep footpath between tightly packed houses that led us up to Gilesgate.

From here we plunged into autumnal woodland high above the snaking River Wear, descending gradually to walk past Durham Old Garden and down past the rowing clubs and University playing fields (lacrosse anyone?). A final steep climb at Maiden Castle revealed our last view of the magnificent cathedral before heading down into the city centre and a well earned cuppa.

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A walk around Newbrough 30th October 2016

I must admit to some impartiality when it comes to walking in the Tyne Valley. I love it.

It is one of THE best walking areas in the country with its beautiful rolling hills, winding river and ruggedly handsome architecture seemingly around every corner. Throw in a big old wall and a couple of market towns and who could wish for more?

Our walk started off in the pretty village of Newbrough and was soon striding across open fields on a crisp, bright Autumn day. After a mile or so we arrived at the hamlet of Allerwash with its small cluster of houses and neat well-tended gardens. The display of yellow crab apples in one garden was quite a sight. After following the Haydon Bridge road for half a mile or so we took a sharp right and headed of up a country lane, pausing in a steep grassy field for lunch. Far in the distance we could see the white smoke of the famous Hexham factory.

After lunch our walk followed a rollercoaster track up to New Alston where we were passed by a group of [dirty] dirt bikes looking for all the world like a bunch of extras from Mad Max 2. Whilst crossing a field we came across a bunch of very sheepish looking sheep. As their numbers parted we realised why. In amongst them all was a very conspicuous Suffolk ram sporting a lovely raddle complete with orange marker. All the ewes had orange rumps. No wonder they were looking sheepish!

The final leg of the walk took us down through Settling Stones and a marvellous stretch of beech-lined track that was golden yellow and shining in the late afternoon sun. It was an absolute picture.

Following the road we came out, after a junction, at the lovely church of St Peter in Newbrough. Cutting through the churchyard we completed the final stretch across the fields back to Newbrough village.

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A walk in Whitley Bay October 23rd 2016

To the coast!

After a series of moorland walks, this one took us back to sea level and a lovely ramble around Whitley Bay. The first leg of the walk was along the old waggon-ways that criss-cross our region and provide such excellent walking. They also provide excellent biking, dog walking and jogging.

This can be a bit of a pain on some waggon-ways as you are continually dodging bikes (what’s wrong with using a bell??) or gasping joggers as you enjoy your walk. That said, I’m not too precious about it most of the time, it’s only when things end up like the M25 and us walkers end up continually giving way. This walk was a nice balance of all the groups that use and enjoy the waggon-way trails.

The ones around Whitley Bay soon leave the urban landscape to bring you out to the lovely agricultural landscape of the region. After a couple of miles along the tracks we descended into the Autumnal splendour of Holywell Dene. The colours are superb this year and the rich golden tints of beech and field maple were a joy.

We enjoyed our lunch sitting beneath this beautiful canopy, sheltering from some weak showers that clattered on the leaves above us.

The Dene walk brought us out along the banks of the Seaton Burn to the picturesque harbour at Seaton Sluice. However, by this point it was raining heavily and we were reluctant to raise our heads to take in the view.

We continued along the coast and the clouds gradually cleared and we had fine views of St Mary’s lighthouse and the NE coast. The twitchers amongst us spotted some Golden Plover in a field.

The final leg re-joined the waggon-ways and brought us back to the start point near the Metro Station.

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