Saturday, 10 March 2018

Walk in the Park (Not Barefoot) (Northumberland) March 9th
The snow has gone, almost as quickly as it came, causing some floods but nothing too disastrous.
We have decided that all footpaths will be muddy and we have had enough of that this year so we have chosen to walk in Hulne Park, Alnwick. Hulne Park is the home park of the Duke of Northumberland and he kindly leaves it open to us proles most days of the year. The paths are good and hard, ideal for a gentle walk with lots to see too. To get to the Park take the A1 north, turn off for, and drive through, Alnwick, turn left at the castle gate and turn left almost immediately after and drive the short distance to the entrance. Parking is limited and if you don't park on the left you will be hung, drawn and quartered. You cannot take your car into the park. For this offence you will be severely dealt with. I know from experience*
The map to use is OS Explore 332 Alnwick and Amble but you can download a map showing the separate walks in the park if you google Hulne Park. ( Or close to that. If you download this map it shows three colour coded walks, red, yellow and blue. We have chosen the blue, the longest, and are going to add a loop to it. Both maps name the drives or roads on the walks but the downloaded one is, in my humble opinion, better, it has a little more information.

We stopped for breakfast at Barter Books, one of the largest second hand bookshops in England. Housed in the old Alnwick station it has books, DVDs, CDs, coffee, food and souvenirs. It does not buy books, it gives you credit, but it does sell books. And it's very popular on wet days, not surprisingly.
             Barter Books, still looking like the station it was
                              The lion of Alnwick, slightly headless.
The walk;
Having parked outside the gate into the park and booted up, we set off. After the freezing conditions of last week the weather was very mild, no need for extra lagging.
                       Yorkshire car park in Northumberland
William the lion, King of Scotland came to a sticky end here in 1174.
We walked along the Farm Drive, initially bordered by lines of gnarled trees, before the woodland gave way to open fields, in the last of which is a fine hemmel.
                 A fine Hemmel.  hemmel is a northern dialect word for a cattle shelter, open on one side. So how about Hemel Hempstead, just outside London?
After a couple of miles of easy, pleasant walking and chatting, we turned off the Farm Drive, joined the yellow walk and climbed White Hill to examine the Brizlee Tower.
                          The Brizlee Tower, erected  at the end of the 18th century by the first Duke of Northumberland in memory of his wife. A sort of Taj Mahal. The thing on the top is a fire basket. I suspect by the time the tower was built there was no longer a threat from marauding Scots but perhaps it was used as a beacon. I do remember going to watch the beacons lit on coronation night, 1953.
Having admired the structure we continued on our way in an anticlockwise loop round Brizlee Hill, eventually finishing up back on Farm Drive, which promptly, and mysteriously became Farm Road.
                   The view across Northumberland from East Brizlee. The Cheviot range, snowcapped is just about visible.

              I have been told that this is the graveyard for members of the Percy family. Empty at the moment. I am also informed the family has one space left in Westminster Abbey.
                      Family motto. "Hope in God"

At East Bridge we crossed the River Aln and walked Palmstrother Drive along Palmstrother Haugh. (Haugh is another good northern word; "flat piece of land by a river")
One side of the road is freshly planted with trees, protected by a deer fence. We did not see a deer, or any other animal, all day.
We followed the footpath uphill to Hulne Abbey (Called Hulne Priory on OS map) and called a Herbie, sharing ginger biscuits from Ben, toffee bakewell tarts, frangepans and Mrs A.s chocolate iced ginger biscuits.

               Hulne Abbey, inside and out. The map says it is a ruin but there is an inhabited cottage inside. It was founded in 1242. Its modern claim to fame is as the home of Maid Marian in Kevin Costner's film "Robin Prince of Thieves" (The one where he got from Dover to Hadrian's Wall in three seconds)
Herbie time over we walked round the back of the Abbey and downhill to Lady's Well Drive, another pleasingly pleasant flat stretch along Filbert Haugh. At Filbert Haugh we crossed the river and followed its south bank until we were opposite the ruins of Alnwick Abbey. Difficult to see  because of the trees, only ruins remain. It was founded in 1174 by Premonstratian canons.
At the junction we turned right and walked uphill to Park Cottage, turned left and were soon back at the car.
On the way home we called at the Cook and Barker inn at Newton on the Moor. A well known eating place, we simply rehydrated on Atlantic Hop or Black Sheep, enjoyed close to a roaring fire.
This is an easy walk, about eight and a half miles. The paths are firm, no mud, things to see and superb views. Good family stroll out.

                                                                steps                                    miles
NAK                                                       22543                                     8.8
iPhone                                                     19355                                     8.4
Dave's 3D                                                17392                                    8.52
"" USB                                                    17926                                     9.05
"" NAK                                                   17746                                     8.96
Sylvia;s mother                                       18117                                     9.15
Brian                                                                                                       8
Ben                                                                                                         8.4
OUTDOOR GPS                                                                                    8.4
Contains OS data. Copyright Crown copyright and database right 2018
* I did this walk sometime last year with my group of "Russians". At Hulne Abbey/Priory one of the party felt very unwell. Fortunately we had a doctor with us who took command, looked after the patient for a while and the ran to the entrance to get her car. She was stopped by the gateman and inspite of her explaining somebody was unwell and needed assistance he was very abusive, verbally.
I can understand the estate does not want cars going into the park but most of us have a little more understanding. He didn't know that one of our group knows somebody who works for the Duke....

Friday, 2 March 2018

The Beast from the East 
 Great Britain (and Ireland ) has been blasted by cold winds and snow from Siberia this week. Because the minor roads we gadgies use to get to starting points are mostly closed we have decided to cancel this week's proposed walk from Wark and spend the day decorating the house, shopping, visiting art galleries or sitting reading the paper.
  Countries such as Canada, Scandinavia and Siberia itself are amused by our predicament, 15cm of snow and the country shuts down; roads close, railways stop running, airports cancel flights and supermarket shelves are stripped.
           No car park this week, but my car, parked.
When the local supermarkets, Sainsbury's and ASDA started selling newspapers several years ago they quickly closed down the newsagent who had a team of paperboys for deliveries and of course the big stores won't deliver so most of us have to go out for a paper.
In summer I go on my bike the half mile to a mini market that sells but don't deliver. Normally in winter I drive but because of the snow I donned my wellies (rubber boots) and trudged nobly down the street, doing a Captain Oates. And walking carefully because some years ago, pushing my neighbour's wheelie bin down her slightly sloping drive on an icy day I slipped and had to join a long queue of equally old men with broken wrists waiting to be plastered in Newcastle General Hospital. It had been, apparently, one of the days. The nurses and doctors were brilliant and dealt with us all with great understanding and skill. The morphine was a bonus My wife says I lectured the young Asian doctor on the glories of cricket.
 Yesterday, after my half mile trudge I got talking to another older chap in the shop and suggested he would remember the big freeze of 1962/63. He said he remembered the super freeze of 1947.
 I remember 1962, it was cold. One day I was travelling from Lancaster to Bradford by coach, the old man sitting in front of me had a mild heart attack, his wife took care of him, it was mild.
I remember 1947 too, although I was very young, three to be precise. We lived a few fields from my uncle's farm and I was there as often as possible watching him milk the cows.
I had suffered a very bad bout of whooping cough and suffered a hernia, which needed an operation.
My parents bought me a milkmaid and cow to occupy my tiny mind in hospital. (now it would be an ipad). I waved goodbye and off they went, leaving me happily playing with my two new toys. No sooner had they left than a nurse came and took the toys away; I have never seen them since.
The other traumatic event was the post op. Elastoplast. My mother took me to the doctors once we were home and he took one end of the plaster and ripped it off. I remember the agony and I was about 18 before I would allow anybody to remove a plaster.
!947 was before the NHS started, I don't know how the operation was paid for.
                                     Our street
Some weeks ago the BBC had a news story about the storm which hit Moscow. Looked like a couple of feet of the stuff (60cm) Traffic was moving, babushkas were clearing the pavements (sidewalks) and although life appeared to be operating at a slower rate it seemed to go on pretty much as normal. I was once in Moscow with my daughter Kate in the snow. She was in her student vegan phase, walking the slushy cold streets in her canvas Doc Martens. Might as well have been barefoot.
          Not sure where this is but it looks nice
Back to the BBC. The snow has given them the best programme filling story for years. Never mind the awful things going on elsewhere, we have snow, get out there reporters.
 I live in the north east, the stuff arrives here first when it comes from Siberia. The local BBC advises us to travel only if essential  but sends reporters and film crews to different towns in the region to tell us the roads are blocked. Up to five separate reports telling us it's cold, travel is difficult and stay indoors. And look after the elderly.
 My dear little daughters, Kate and Lucy. This picture was taken in 1979. We've had snow before then!
Today should have been gadgie day but we have cancelled because minor roads are a problem, not to mention the A1, main east coast road to Scotland which is closed north of Alnwick, but the BBC are there to tell us. I walked to the paper shop again, it's good for you when you are 73, only to be greeted by empty shelves. The papers had not got through and wouldn't today. I did think the supermarket might have them so I walked there too, waste of time but I bought some chewing gum. Fortunately we have access on a computer, except you can't do the crossword.
A few pictures to show you how badly we have been hit
  Icicles hang by the wall (Cultured too eh?)
                        St. Nicholas' church Cramlington.

                  Not the prettiest village in Northumberland
                  Probably the worst snowman I ever made. Like British Rail I blame the snow, it's the wrong kind. But it's the only one on our street. What's matter with kids today.
On the plus side the wintry weather brought an usual visitor to our garden; a redwing. I wanted to call him/her Running Bear but he loved Little White Dove so the feathery friend has been called Kenny.
                                       Kenny Redwing. My ornithologist friend told me. rather snootily, they were common where he lived. Not in our yard.

Well that's my moan for the week. Back to walking next time

Saturday, 24 February 2018

The Teesdale Railway path (not to be confused with last week's Tea Trail) Durham /Yorks. February 23rd.
 Another walk we have not done for some time, and one well worth doing again walking the dismantled railway line from Middleton in Teesdale to Barnard Castle.
There are six of us: Brian, Harry, Dave, John H., Ben and me. To complete the walk you need either a car at either end, one in Middleton and one in Barney as it is called, or make use of the local bus service as we did.
To reach Barnard Castle from Newcastle go west on the A69, turn south on the A68 and at West Auckland take the A688 to BC. Drive carefully down the main street, turn left at the market and there is a car park which costs £1.50 for a whole day, what a bargain and it's not in Yorkshire, but near. Alternatively go south on the A1 to Scotch Corner and head west on the A66 turning north a few miles beyond Greta Bridge. From BC catch the 95/96 bus to Middleton in Teesdale. There is a bus an hour so check timetables, ours left the top end of BC at 10.56.
The map that covers the whole walk is OS OL 31, The North Pennines but the walk is so well posted it's easily followed without the help of OS or garmin.
Some had breakfast in a Barney café, some, arriving later, booted up and slowly walked the wide main street to the bus stop at Galgate.
                    One doesn't like to disappoint one's daughters so here is the Barnard Castle car park

 and the market in Barnard Castle. Shame about the cars.
The journey to Middleton in Teesdale takes about half an hour by bus, passing through several beautiful villages on the way. Stone built houses, converted farm buildings, village churches.
We got off the bus in the centre of the village and got ready to walk back.
                             Middleton in Teesdale.
We walked down the road past the closed school and crossed the river. On the right is the cattle mart, on the left with a sign post is a gated stile  which leads down to the river bank.
                        Crossing the Tees at the start of the walk.
                                                                                                                                                          Crossing two fields we came to the farm at Step End and after another field or two reached Lonton, crossed a road and headed up a bank onto the dismantled line, the Teesdale Railway Path.
From here the path is on the old line almost into Barnard Castle. It crosses the River Lune (No, not that one sister) on a high viaduct and passes Mickleton.
                          A view from a bridge, or the bridge on the River Lune.
Walking on old railway lines is much easier than walking up hills for obvious reasons. The plus side of this walk is the views across Teesdale. Unfortunately it was a bit hazy today. It was also cold, as promised by the young lady presenter on TV, but there was little wind and it remained dry.
After about four miles easy tramping on the track we reached Romaldkirk.
The old station has been converted to a house ,complete with signal and the Teesdale Railway Path diverts into the village and up a short stretch of road before rejoining the line. We decided the village green was a pleasant place for a Herbie, and anyway there were several benches to sit on.
                                        Once it was on a railway
                    Romaldkirk Church. Anglo Saxon bits remain. St Rumwold, to whom the church is dedicated was thought to have preached here before disappearing back to Buckingham. He only has a few churches named for him in the UK.
Romaldkirk used to be in Yorkshire, God's English Empire State, but it was given to Durham in 1974 when the government made changes to the counties, without asking. They got rid of  Westmoreland too. 
Today's sharings were Mini apple pies, ginger biscuits from Ben, cookies, chocolate cake and ginger cake from Mrs A. Welcome home, we've missed your baking.
And my ALDI replacement soup flask worked perfectly.
                     Ramaldkirk ewe
                         This walk really is well posted.
Back on the track we continued on our way. When we started the frozen ground had been firm to walk on but the sun had done its job and we were back on mud, but nothing like as bad as the last few Fridays.
We crossed the River Balder near Cotherstone by means of another fine viaduct.
                   River Balder from above. It joins the Tees at Cotherstone.
Beyond Cotherstone the Tees Railway path comes to an abrupt halt. There is a fence across the line. On the right a stile took us to a field, noticeable for having a sign post in the middle and then to another dismantled railway.
                        Ben and the Lone Sign Post

                    Joining the second railway. Strictly speaking not a public right of way but a popular walk as you can see by the path on the left.
We walked this old line until we came to the point where, in older times it crossed the Tees. The bridge, a girder construction, was demolished when the line closed but the stone abutments remain, fenced off of course.
                                 End of the line.
A steep path took us down to the river bank, part of the Teesdale Way. On previous occasions we have crossed the river at the Deepdale Aqueduct butt oday it was closed as there were some engineering works taking place. Instead we walked along the road and across the old bridge beneath the remains of Barnard Castle.
                                      Barnard Castle castle. Centuries ago Lord Barnard upped sticks and moved to Raby Castle a few miles away. Raby Castle is open to the public and has a fine herd of deer.
Changed we decided to head for the Boathouse in Wylam  to rehydrate. The usual selection of a dozen hand pulled pints, the coffee was good too. (My turn to drive)

Matrix MMXVIII   H
                                                                           steps                           miles
NAK                                                                  26139                         9.9
iPhone                                                                22354                         10.1
Dave's 3D                                                           21495                         10.53
 ""    USB                                                           21144                          10.67
 ""    NAK                                                          20985                          10.66
Sylvia's mother                                                  21122                           10.65
etrex                                                                                                       10.4
OUTDOOR                                                                                            10.5

Contains OS Data. Copyright Crown Copyright and database right 2018
And some overlap. Mile markers approximate too.