A stroll in Slaggyford June 11th 2017


Go on then, hands up who had heard of Slaggyford??

Me neither until I found this walk in the excellent book Walks in Tynedale & Allendale and was intrigued. This walk started in the village of Slaggyford itself – a pretty, pretty rural village with a cluster of houses around a well kept village green.

After crossing the South Tyne over a spectacular babbling section, we headed into open countryside and were soon striking uphill across lush pasture. It was a fine, if brooding, day weather-wise and as we climbed above the village we were treated to spectacular views of the surrounding hills framed with slate grey clouds. Peering down over the South Tyne valley we could have been in Norway or Canada, such was the breadth of landscape on view. Carrying on, we passed an old lime kiln that sliced straight into the hillside and is surprisingly well kept. It nestles close to a rare stand of juniper scrub that is closely managed by local environmental groups to maintain its viability.

Lunch was taken beneath some obliging trees and by a comfy stone wall. Several cows took an interest in our sandwiches but responded well to gentle persuasion when asked to hop it.

After lunch we continued down the valley crossing the lovely Snope Burn by the handsome Eals Bridge before returning close to the banks of the South Tyne along the valley road. After passing Knarsdale Hall we entered Knarsdale village and stopped at the Kirkstyle Inn to replenish lost fluids. Cutting through the churchyard of St Jude’s we headed back to Slaggyford via a section of the South Tyne Trail.

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A walk to the sea at Whitley Bay 28th May 2017


If you don’t know the North East coastline then be quick; your life is ebbing away and you need to visit!

We don’t walk the coast much as a group which is a shame, but out of summer it can be a touch blustery. And wet.

This walk started out at the charming Monkseaton Metro station and wended its way through old waggon ways to the coast. Here’s the story.

Full on spring sunshine warmed our shoulders at the start of this long walk and it was most welcome. A good turnout for this family ramble with plenty of offspring in attendance as exams weren’t yet on the horizon or university was finished. The first leg was easy walking on flat cinder wagon-ways past bright spring flowers and grazing cows. In fact, it was such good walking that we missed the turn on the footpath. By about a mile.

Never mind, we went another way instead after a brief committee meeting.

After a slightly longer walk than was expected, and a pit stop at a local café, we arrived at the slightly faded glamour of Whitley Bay sea front. The good weather had brought out plenty of families and the ice cream shop was doing a roaring trade. Even more so after we arrived! 99s and monkey’s blood all round.

After some breathtaking views of St Mary’s lighthouse we headed into the suburbs and back to the Metro station.

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A Walk around Stanhope May 14th 2017


There are some stonking views in Weardale – a green patchwork of vast moorland interlaced with dry stone walls and dotted with cosy looking villages. Too often the Tyne valley and even Swaledale and Wensleydale… .  . even Arkengarthdale get all the plaudits for stunning landscapes. However, this lovely walk from Stanhope can rival those well-known walking destinations and it has a spectacular hole to add to the attractions. Read on!

Starting from the excellent Dales Centre we were soon heading out into the surrounding countryside and walking by the Stanhope Burn on a bright and blustery day. It is still high Spring in this part of the UK in May and so we were treated along the way by carpets of bluebells and primroses enjoying the sunshine as much as we were.

Lunch was taken on a sunny bankside by the crystal clear waters of the Stanhope Burn – fabulous!

After lunch we struck outwards and upwards, following footpaths narrowed by springtime fecundity and ended up at a fine limestone cave in a deep narrow gorge of the Burn. After a scramble down to explore we set off once more and were soon on a path overlooking Stanhope with superb views of the valley and the jumble of houses. Here we encountered the awesome Ashes Quarry on the outskirts of the town – an enormous scar hewn out of the side of the hill to provide mineral ore. It is truly an impressive sight.

Our walk took us back into town through a narrow pathway and back to the Dales Centre.

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Catching up with the Family Ramblers

A few walking blogs to catch up with – such tardiness on my behalf!

Here are our recent summery Family Rambles starting with  …  .     .

A walk around Annfield Plain

April 30th


Although this walk took place in familiar territory, there were some new sites to see on this 7 mile circular.

Starting off in a hidden-ish car park near some tennis courts we headed off on a section of the C2C, crossing a couple of roads before heading to Greencroft and passing a substantial array of solar panels and wind turbines – a far cry from the coal based energy of the region in the last century.

Following gorse lined waggon ways we headed off to the low moors around Annfield Plain and visited the still waters of Chapman’s Well pond, stopping nearby for lunch.

The second leg of the walk criss-crossed fields, more waggon ways and damp pasture land and skirted around the outskirts of the town. We passed the fascinating land sculpture of Kyo Undercurrents (by artist Richard Harris) sited on the C2C route and no doubt providing mental respite for weary cyclists.

Finally we entered Annfield Plain for a short spell of road walking before meeting up with our cars.

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A walk from Bolam Lake to Shaftoe Craggs on the 5th March 2017


I can’t believe I missed out on posting the blog for this walk at the time. Probably something to do with moving house a week later I suspect but unforgivable nonetheless.

Like the previous walk from Ponteland, this area is surprisingly un-walked by our group and has much to commend it. We will definitely walk around here again.

Starting out at the popular Bolam Lake we set off through the woodland that skirts the water before crossing sunlit pasture towards Shaftoe Craggs. Bright sunshine left many of us ruing a lack of sunglasses on this walk, not to mention sun hats!

Slicing through the hillside here is the limestone slash of Salters Nick, a long since disused drovers’ track through the Northumberland bad lands. No doubt worn away by generations of packhorse hooves and stout leather boots, this narrow gulley has an eerie atmosphere even on a sunny day.

Moving on from Salters Nick we crossed marshy grassland pasture before climbing up to the spectacular Shaftoe Craffs for lunch at the trig point.

These rugged limestone outcrops shine out against the surrounding greenery and their stark profile has attracted walkers and day trippers for many years. There are also stories of wedding parties celebrating here too with drinks flowing from the Devils Bowl depression in the topmost rocks.

Descending gently back down we traversed farmland, passing an interesting looking walled garden (mostly overgrown) next to a stout and handsome Georgian style house. From here it was back to the start point via Sandyford.

A welcome sit down and a cup of tea was enjoyed at the Bolam Lake café.

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Hexhamshire 2nd April 2017

Well here we are again after a long-ish #walk break due to logistics problems.

Our return to walking saw us in sunny #Hexhamshire – and boy was it sunny! We started out in the car park opposite the lovely Dipton Mill Inn and just about managed to get parked as another walking group were starting off there as well. Quite a coincidence.

The walk took off along the Dipton Burn and through woodlands emerging into an early muddy #Spring with a sprinkling of #primroses and wood anemones along the way. After a mile or so we climbed out of the dene and out onto farm tracks and quiet country lanes. Quite a few of us had to don sunglasses and sun cream as the sun was so warm.

Mind you that sunshine was welcome as we stopped for lunch and enjoyed sandwiches in the first real warmth of the year.

This is a lovely quiet part of #Northumberland and although we had a mile or so of road walking we hardly encountered any traffic. Crossing a stile at a sleepy crossroads near Dotland we walked past hummocky remains of a medieval village before fording a small stream and heading for the outskirts of Juniper. From here we turned North and across two more fields before heading through a farmyard straddling the Letah Burn and on down to Hill Road.

Here we took a slight detour down to Letah Woods to see wild native daffodils in flower. In theory. The lovely walking book we used for directions mentioned this as a highlight of the walk. Sadly there weren’t any to be seen!

Only slightly disheartened we headed back along the muddy track to the car park to complete a good 7 miles.

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A walk around Ponteland; 26th February 2017

Believe it or not we’ve never walked in this part of Northumberland before today. A good day to break our Ponteland duck then.

It was a bright and breezy day at 11:00 when we started out with the threat of rain lurking on the horizon at 3pm. We walked along the main road, almost to the end of the town, before scything between a couple of houses on the left hand side of the curve of the road. This took us out into farm land and open fields and into the strong blustery wind.

This is an unusually flat part of Northumberland and therefore the wind had free rein to tug at our hats and coats as we picked our way along field margins. After the rain of a few days ago it was a bit muddy in places but thankfully not the quagmire we had feared. Nevertheless, the sticky, slimy mud made for quite tricky walking for the first mile or so.

It dried out a bit underfoot and after two miles we reached a nice stone bridge over the river Pont. This bridge carried a railway line north from Newcastle all the way up to Kirkwhelpington near Cambo. It’s now disused and is another one of those lovely railway line footpaths that criss-cross our region.

We didn’t follow that particular route but instead followed the course of the river Pont further upstream, stopping for lunch under a small copse as the wind blew on.

After lunch we looped back towards Ponteland, following footpaths and old railway lines through the up-market Darras Hall estate; the haunt of footballers, banking magnates and hospital consultants. The path was surprisingly peaceful and was well clothed with trees. However, in February they did little to shield some particularly garish examples of local architecture.

Eventually the path brought us back to Ponteland where we had a reviving hot beverage courtesy of Mr Waitrose.

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