2020-03-06 Stamfordham (Peter Bell)

Heading south on the west shore of Hallington West Res.

Total Distance:-        22.6 Km         (14.0 miles)

Ave Speed:-             3.58 Km/Hr    (2.23 mph)                 [9.59 am – 16.18 pm]

Max height:-             221 m            (725 ft)

Total ascent:-           309 m            (1014 ft)

Peter led, 4 in group.  Leaving the coach at the junction of the B6342  and Carriers Way, we headed down the Lane (a good track) towards East Hallington Reservoir.  As we walked across the end of the reservoir, the view to the SW was magnificent with the background of trees in silhouette giving a perfect reflection in the totally still water of the reservoir.  As we passed through the gate and headed along the SE bank of the east reservoir there were more excellent views formed by the blue sky and white cloud, the still water, the reeds and the trees.  We all agreed that this was one of the best starts to a walk we had ever experienced.  Before reaching the first dam we had our coffee break sat in the open, grateful for the total absence of any wind.  We then walked along the second dam from which the Hallington Burn flows before walking across the dam between the east and west reservoirs.  All the way around, the views were excellent, particularly due to the reflections.  After heading around two sides of the west reservoir, I looked for the track down to Liddell Hall.  As usual, the two renegades were in front and refused to join me on what seemed like a muddy track, being convinced there would be a better way ahead.  After continuing another 100 m or so around the top of the reservoir it was obvious there was no way down so we found a rough route back towards the track I had seen.  On reaching it, there was soon a fork and as the left fork seemed to peter out, I opted for the right fork as it seemed to be turning in the correct direction.  What a mistake!!! The path soon disappeared and after forcing our way through shrubs and waste forest, we came to a wire fence topped by barbed wire.  Suffice to say, the girls did not wish to climb the fence so we followed the fence right around the perimeter of the wood until we were back at our starting point.  With the assistance of a mole catcher, we were directed onto the original left fork which brought us out at Liddell Hall.  From the hall, we followed a path eastwards which for the most part was fairly good although there were two or three very wet/muddy stretches particularly when crossing the Small Burn.  On reaching Hallington, we headed south along a minor road (St Oswalds Way) which climbed gently up to a memorial at a cross roads.  The concrete base was ideal for our lunch stop.  On our way again, we continued climbing up the road towards New Bingfield after which we joined a rough track for a further climb up St Oswalds Way.   As the ground levelled out, the path became quite indistinct but we found the gate where the two paths separated and taking the left path through the gate we made our way on a gentle descent to the farm at Click’em in.  As we were well behind time due to our perambles through the wood, Tom suggested we miss out Great Whittington and head straight for Matfen.  This we did and had an easy walk along a minor road while watching young lambs in the fields.  A seat and a concrete plinth provided a spot for our afternoon stop in Matfen and then we were on our way again, heading east on what was initially a minor road but which deteriorated gradually and by the time we reached Fenwick Shield was a track.  We followed the track past the attractive buildings and then took a path curving away to the NE.  Tom reckoned this path would be wet as there were drainage channels marked nearby on the map and he was correct.  However we soon reached the road leading into Stamfordham where we washed our boots in a horse trough during which Angela slipped and landed on her back, fortunately her rucksack preventing any serious injury.  An excellent start to the walk with mixed enjoyment thereafter.

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2020-02-12 Edmundbyers (Peter Bell)

Leaving Ministeracres

Total Distance:-        24.66 Km       (15.3 miles)

Ave Speed:-                4.05 Km/Hr    (2.52 mph)                 [9.45 am – 15.50 pm]

Max height:-             318 m            (1043 ft)

Total ascent:-           792 m            (2598ft)

Peter led, 5 in group.  Leaving the coaches just before Sandyford Cottage, we turned off the A68 and proceeded westwards along a minor road. Although  sunny and bright, there was a strong westerly wind as forecast, but we were mainly sheltered by the trees.  In fact, I had planned the walk so that most of the pre-lunch walk would be either south or east or would be sheltered.  At Healey, we turned south and after a short distance came onto a good firm track, even the recent rain had had little effect in creating a muddy surface.  Once again we were sheltered from the wind by the trees.  After a coffee stop next to some trees, we continued south to join a minor road running west to east and we turned east towards Scales Cross.  At Scales Cross, we joined the A68 for about 100 m before turning into the private road running up to Minsteracres.  I had requested permission to use this route, which was granted, and we had a lovely walk up a snowy drive bordered by huge conifers – very attractive.  After passing the monastery, we continued to Barley Hill, one of the higher points on the walk and where the snow was more evident.  Heading SSW down the road towards Millshield and the Derwent reservoir, we had good views of the reservoir and the snow covered distant hills.  Around the School House area we caught up with Michael Webster’s group who had taken a shorter route.  However, while they decided to have a lunch stop at Millshield, we carried on, after deciding to have a later lunch.  Making our way around the edge of the reservoir along a good firm path that is not shown even on fairly recent maps, we felt the force of the wind as it hit us from the side. The sun sparkling on the waves of the reservoir made for an attractive picture.  However, from some of the large pools across the path, it was obvious that the Reservoir had recently overflowed.  Reaching the dam at the SE end of the reservoir, we looked at the picnic area and the wall at the side of the dam but decided that neither gave much protection from the wind, so we proceeded to the visitor centre nearly  1Km away.  Unfortunately, the Centre appeared closed so we sat at the table near the wall, with John sat against the door of the Centre.  About 10 min later the door opened with John virtually falling inside.  Although invited in, we decided to stay put, so finished our lunch and then went on our way.  The way consisted of heading along the road to Eddy’s Bridge and then up the road towards Muggleswick.  Although the forecast had indicated that the wind would drop slightly after mid-day and it would be a dry afternoon, before reaching Muggleswick the wind increased and we had a hail shower.  This was followed by intermittent snow showers and as we left the road at Haverley Lodge to walk westwards on a path across Muggleswick Park, the snow was blown straight into our faces – this was not what I had planned.  Anyhow, we carried on over the moor at just over 300 m braving the wind and snow although we did benefit from the view of the attractive sun-lit reservoir and hills to the NW.  As we approached the road near West Cot house, I though perhaps we should take one of the short cuts I had planned.  However, a glance at the watch indicated it was only just after 2.30 pm thus a short cut would have us in the pub more than 2 hours before the buses were leaving.  Consequently, the group agreed to carry on and we joined the road for a short while before heading off to the SW on another track.  The map shows a footpath leading off this towards the B6278, but as there was nothing on the ground, we continued along the track and then made our way down to the Burnhope Burn.  Crossing the burn beside Swandale Cottage, we then headed NE along what turned out to be a muddy/swampy path and then joined the B6278 into Edmundbyers.  A hard walk in the afternoon due to the wind and yet according to John, our overall moving speed was 3.0 mph and we arrived back with 70 min to spare.  All in all, a fairly good day despite the weather.

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20-02-06 Castle Eden (Peter Bell)

South of Horden Dene

Total Distance:-        24.42 Km       (15.2miles)

Ave Speed:-             3.61 Km/Hr    (2.24 mph)                 [9.20 am – 16.06 pm]

Max height:-           120 m            (394 ft)

Total ascent:-         540 m            (1771ft)

Peter led, 9 in group (only 2 long walks as Ian led a short walk due to the absence of another leader for that distance).  Leaving the coaches on the slip road of the A19/A182 junction, we headed east to South Farm before turning south on a reasonable path along the side of fields.  Unfortunately the last field had been ploughed right to the edge so that made for difficult and slightly muddy going, although due to the cold temperature the mud was fairly firm.  This brought us out at Hawthorn and spotting a signpost for Hawthorn Wood followed that for 100 yds along the road before realising that it wasn’t the path I wanted.  A bit further through Hawthorn, I found the path I had marked as my route, at least it followed the route I had marked but most people would struggle to call it a path.  Suffice to say I will follow the signpost next time.  Anyhow, we struggled past shrubs, fallen trees etc and then after re-crossing the Hawthorn Burn, the path became slightly better before joining a good track which we would have been on had we followed the signpost.  Although, looking at the map, this is mainly outside the dene.  At the mouth of the dene, my route took us under the railway viaduct and along the beach (marked on the 50,000 map)  With the tide in, there was no way to follow this route and John reckoned where it came out involved a very difficult/dangerous climb.  No wonder I do not like walking in Co Durham.   Anyhow, we climbed out of the dene and headed south alongside the railway line on a good path.  Opposite Beacon Hill there is a path marked along the cliff top, however after about 500 m this was closed and we had to make our way back to the path alongside the railway.  We continued beside the railway until Easington Colliery where the path went back to the cliff top and then along both sides of Horden Dene   Soon after, we had a lunch stop sitting just back from the cliff top with good views along the sunny coastline.  About 1 Km further south we descended to the “beach”, which consists of black deposits of various minerals and other materials.  What a difference to the real beaches we had walked along in Northumberland 6 days earlier.  Anyhow, we continued until we reached the mouth of Castle Eden Burn where we headed inland through a housing estate at Blackhall Colliery.  A good tarmac path then took us down to High Hesleden from where we went along the road to the edge of Hesleden and thence north along the edge of a field.  Here I committed the cardinal sin of looking at my map while walking on an uneven surface.  Measuring my length on the ground, my only thought was my new expensive camera which while hitting the ground, did not take my whole weight – fortunately it seems to be OK.  On my feet again, we had an afternoon tea stop to get my breath back and then we descended into Castle Eden Dene.  A good path took us WSW thro the dene but unfortunately the low sun ensured that the scenery was quite dark which did not show the sheer rock faces to their best advantage.  Climbing out of the dene, we accidently by-passed the castle as the path to it was not obvious and then we reached the impressive church where Mr Moat was equally impressed with the visible moon next to the church spire.  After crossing the B1281, a footpath heading SSE then brought us to a dismantled railway line which we joined to head WSW to our destination, the Castle Eden Inn.  An eventful walk, some of it good, other bits not at all good.  The overall saving feature was the excellent sunshine which made up for our previous visit during which it rained all day.

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20-01-20 Osmotherley (Peter Bell)

Trig point above Carlton Bank

Total Distance:-        20.81 Km       (12.93 miles)

Ave Speed:-             3.24 Km/Hr    (2.01 mph)                 [10.10 am – 16.36 pm]

Max height:-            416 m            (1364 ft)

Total ascent:-          722 m            (2368 ft)

Peter led, 6 in group.  Leaving the coaches just after the A172/B1365 junction on a bright, sunny if cold morning, we headed SSE on a minor road to Great Busby.  We then continued SSE on a track to Cote House where a potential new member joined us.  This member, a 4 legged thing, a goat, walked alongside us towards Manor Farm even though we tried to persuade it to go back on several occasions.  Eventually, at Manor Farm, I spoke with the farmer who said he would contact the owner.  We managed to get through a gate before the goat, so we were back down to 6 pairs of legs io. 8.  We then began climbing up to the Cleveland Way although that would be better phrased as slipping and sliding up thro the mud.  Peter M was starting to get worried about his tin knee but together with the rest of us he survived a difficult climb.  Reaching a horizontal path, I decided to take this rather than continuing what looked a further difficult climb up to the Way as I was aware they joined together just before the cafe at Carlton Bank.  However, after a couple of hundred yards or so, I spotted a path gently climbing up to the Way so we took that and it was an easy climb on firm ground.  Once on the Cleveland Way, we increased our pace over the stone slabbed path as it gradually descended to the cafe.  The group having elected to forego a coffee stop and have an early lunch instead, we sat in the cafe car park and celebrated Angie’s ?? birthday with a good selection of food and mulled wine.  While I don’t bother with the mulled wine, I certainly enjoyed the cakes.  After about 40 min (twice as long as usual), it was time to continue walking, so we headed across the minor road and started the zig-zag paved climb up to the trig point on the top of Carlton Bank.  There are great views from here and on a bright day like this the scenery was excellent.  Heading SW we made our way across Holey Moor and Live Moor with Pam striding out in front and then having to wait for the rest to catch up.  After descending thro Live Moor Plantation we made our way on a path past Huthwaite Green and then by road to Hollin Hill.  After crossing Scugdale Beck we took the track away from the road and then climbed towards Limkiln Bank taking the short route to the Way.  Following the Way thro the woods meant we were sheltered from the wind which was beginning to get quite strong and we eventually arrived at Scarth Nick after climbing up 100+ steps.  Joining the minor road we headed SW to Cod Beck Reservoir and after crossing the stream, walked along the east bank of the reservoir, the rays of the low sun bouncing off the water resulting in excellent scenes.  Just before the dam, we stopped for an afternoon tea stop using some seats.  In hindsight, we should have kept going as there were tables and forms near the dam.  About to get on our way again, I checked to see if anyone wanted to take the direct route into Osmotherley, but all agreed to do most of the original route.   So we headed eastwards up thro the wood before turning south along a narrow path.  Turning SE onto another path was a mistake as it was very narrow & uneven.  Continuing to Rocky Plain would have been a better bet.  With the sun starting to set, we headed towards Chequers, joining the road past Trenholm House and then, opposite Greenhills Farm, taking a path across a field to join the Cleveland Way near Whitehouse Farm.  Following the Way westwards, we dropped to the footbridge crossing Cod Beck, climbed the steep steps, crossed a field and weaved thro the houses to arrive in Osmotherley.  A good walk in bright sunshine, although with a cold wind, great scenery and an enjoyable lunch.  What more could you wish for in January.

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2020-01-08 Lanchester (Peter Bell)


Wharnley Burn

Total Distance:-       24.0 Km        (15.0 miles)

Ave Speed:-            4.08 Km/Hr   (2.54 mph)                 [10.08 am – 16.01 pm]

Max height:-            312 m            (1023 ft)

Total ascent:-          545 m            (1788 ft)

Peter led, 6 in group.  Leaving the bus at Benfieldside, we continued along the minor road SW rather than taking the A694 up the hill to Leadgate.

We then took the steps down to the R Derwent, crossed the footbridge and after a short distance descended to the rocks alongside the river where we stopped for coffee.  This was a pleasant stop in the sunshine, with the water tumbling over the small waterfall.  After coffee we continued alongside the river on a relatively firm path, surprising considering all the recent rain.  Reaching Allensford, we crossed to the south side of the river, stopped for a group photo on the footbridge over the Wharnley Burn and then began climbing through the wood and then up a field which was rather soggy in places.  Crossing a minor road, we then continued up a track which unfortunately, as on previous occasions, led us to the east of our intended next waypoint , Dean Howl Farm.  Anyhow we continued south until we reached Healeyfield farm where we headed west on the road before taking a track and then footpaths across fields.  We then joined a dismantled railway line where the path became narrower and we had to fight our way through thorny bushes.  Eventually, emerging from the bushes, we made our way south to the Waskerley Way (another dismantled railway).  This then enabled us to make up some time as we strode out on the firm wide path.  Initially heading north, the line swung to the east and although we were getting hungry, we passed the first picnic site and headed towards Rowley, stopping at the tables just before the A68 which we had used previously.  After lunch, we continued along the Waskerly Way to Hown’s Gill viaduct where we had excellent views NW & SE due to the clear visibility.  Soon after the viaduct, we left the Waskerley Way to join the Lanchester Valley Railway Path.  Soon after, I realised my intended route was to leave the Path and take the MR to Knisley but while nattering away, I had missed the road.  Therefore, at the next road, we left the Path, headed for Knitsley and then crossed the Knitsley Burn, crossed a very soggy field and with difficulty climbed through a wood, losing the path and consequently having to climb a wall to leave the wood.  Making our way around the edge of the wood, we then headed to Dyke Nook where we plodged through mud (at least some of it was mud!!) to reach a minor road that then took us to Knitsley Mill.  A bonny spot with a nice pub but we only had time to sit and have our tea stop on the edge of the car park entrance.  On our way again, we rejoined the Lanchester Valley Railway Path and headed eastwards.  At one point we had a dog join us and we were concerned that it would get lost but eventually its owner came cycling past with the dog in tow.  While there are good views from the Path to the north over the valley, the path becomes rather monotonous being a series of almost straight lines until the bend near Lanchester.  As the bend straightened we turned off the path and into the town, soon arriving at the pub with 59 minutes to spare.   A bit of a record for me.   A reasonable walk with some good scenery but railway paths can become monotonous – at least they are generally free of mud.

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Note the start is about 700m back towards Benfieldside

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2020-01-02 Bamburgh (Peter Bell)

Dunstanburgh Castle from the mouth of Embleton Burn


Total Distance:-       24.28 Km      (15.1 miles)

Ave Speed:-            4.03 Km/Hr   (2.50 mph)                 [9.55 am – 15.56 pm]

Max height:-            negligible

Total ascent:-          negligible

Peter led, 5 in group.  Leaving the bus in Embleton, we headed down the road towards the golf course and then the beach.  As we reached the beach and the mouth of the Embleton Burn we were met with a glorious colourful yellow sky.  The only negative was the fairly strong wind blowing from the SW.  Fortunately that was going to be mainly behind us as we progressed up the beach into Newton Haven and past the two lights used to guide the fishing boats between the rocks and onto the shore.  Reaching Low Newton, at the north end  of the haven, we sat for our coffee stop in front of some of the buildings which provided shelter from the wind.  On our way again, we kept to the Northumberland  (& English) Coastal Path, avoiding the headlands of Newton Point and Snook Point.  Opposite Newton Links House and the car park, we took a path heading off to the beach.  With the hazy sun glistening off the sea it was a very pleasant walk up the beach.  However, this was to change somewhat as we reached the mouth of the Long Nanny halfway along the beach.  Working on the premise that there had not been much rain in the past few days and the fact that the tide was right out, I suggested that we might walk through the mouth of the burn rather than cut inland to the footbridge.  With hindsight, this was a mistake as one or two of the group suffered from a small amount of water coming over the top of their boots.  Carrying on, we reached Beadnell Harbour and while one or two were suggesting lunch, I proposed we continue to Seahouses as it was not yet mid-day.  So on we went, along the road around the edge of Beadnell and then as we reached Link House, we dropped down to the beach again.  About 1 mile later we reached the cliffs below Seahouses golf course and then climbed up on the footpath to the golf course. Heading around North Sunderland Point via the footpath across the course, we arrived above Seahouses harbour.  Here we had lunch, using the nearby tables and forms, with the cottages behind us sheltering us from the wind.  Lunch over, we headed through Seahouses and then once again dropped down onto the beach.  As the years go by, this walk up to Bamburgh seems to be never ending although in reality it is only 2.5 mile.  Opposite the castle Peter M left us to go straight into Bamburgh as his knee and hip were playing up.  Meanwhile the rest of us carried on to Harkess Rocks where we joined the road leading to the golf club house.  Here Tom left us to go back along the road as he was slightly concerned about a knee injury he had been suffering from.  The rest of us continued on around Budle Point into Budle Bay.  Here we were heading SW, ie into the increasingly strong wind and so we soon decided to make for the dunes and head back to Bamburgh.  As we climbed up onto the dunes there were excellent views across Budle Bay and up to Holy Island.  A good path brought us alongside the golf course and after passing the club house, the tarmac road.  It was only a relatively short distance back to Bamburgh and the pub, where we found the rest of the group enjoying a pint.  As ever up this coastline, this was a very scenic walk and very enjoyable, except for the Long Nanny burn and the gale force wind near Budle Point.

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2019-12-13 Great Ayton (Peter Bell)

Just before joining the Cleveland Way

Total Distance:-       20.97Km       (13.0 miles)

Ave Speed:-            3.70 Km/Hr   (2.30 mph)                 [10.10 am – 15.50 pm]

Max height:-            321 m           (1053 ft)

Total ascent:-          669 m           (2194 ft)

Peter led, 5 in group.  Under orders (by the boss) to start at Great Ayton, I duly obliged and she headed straight off to Petches Pie Shop together with 3 others while I waited outside.  Pies having been bought, we headed off up Station Rd before bearing right towards Little Ayton.  After a coffee stop beside the stream, we headed NE past Brookside Farm and over the railway line to then turn SE, heading to Ayton Banks Wood.  Immediately after entering the wood we took a path climbing NE near the fence line.  On reaching a forest track we headed right for a few yards before reaching a path on our left climbing up quite a steep slope.  Not being able to see through the trees, I relied on the GPS to ensure we were on the correct path and sure enough, we soon arrived at Captain Cook’s monument.   From there we had excellent views to the south and west with the low sun lighting up the land.  Joining the Cleveland Way heading east, we then took a forest track NW to put on a loop before turning to the east on another forest track which brought us to the minor road north of Bankside Farm.  Descending southwards down the road, we arrived at Kildale where we sat in the bus shelter for our lunch.  Lunch over, we headed ENE along the road before turning north, crossing the railway line and climbing up towards New Row after which the road became a track.  Whether or not I have become used to the climb over the years, but it does not seem so daunting these days and before too long we reached Percy Cross Rigg.  From this metalled road on which we saw no cars, there were good views to the east and west, the low sun again highlighting the shape of the landscape.  Further up the Rigg, the road becomes a track and we continued up this until we reached the Cleveland Way running east – west.  Turning west alongside a deforested Hutton Lowcross woods, we reached a point where the track swung sharply to the right.  Planning to head north from here to The Hanging Stone, I took the path off to the right.  After about 50 yards along a muddy path, I realised the path was descending and not rising slightly.  Looking to my left I could see another path so we backtracked and sure enough about 20 yds further round the bend was the path I should have taken.  This brought us to the Hanging Stone from which there are good views to the NE including Guisborough.  Taking an alternative path back to the Cleveland Way, we continued westward, descending to the east flank of Roseberry Topping.  Climbing up to the top with the light starting to fade, we had the excellent sight of a golden sky below the dark clouds to the west.  Descending from Roseberry, we passed the folly and arriving at a gate, I had the decision re the best route to Airyholme Farm. I fancied the slightly longer route which would bring us onto a track but Pam suggested the shorter route, SSE, along a path.  All I can say is, never listen to the ladies.  I should have remembered, the path is about 2 ft wide with a hedge on one side and fence on the other and for about half a mile is just mud!!  Somehow we managed to reach the end and then headed to Airyholme Farm.  From there, a good track brought us to the road passing Gt Ayton station and thence into Gt Ayton.

Thus ended an enjoyable walk, in good weather and apart from the bit before Airyholme Farm, relatively free from mud, unlike some other walks I heard about.

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