Windy Gyle - Rothbury Walking Festival
My all time favourite walk, so who would not jump at leading this walk, especially as part of the Rothbury Walking Festival.
We met at Wedder Leap Car Park on what was going to turn out to be a superb day. Surprisingly everybody was early (first time ever for a Wedder Leap start) and we headed up the valley passing Windyhaugh.
We then started to climb and stopped on Hindside Knowe for our coffee break and what better place to stop and enjoy the view. We then continued along ‘The Street’, an old drover’s road as we continued towards the Border Fence.
It was decided to push towards the summit of Windy Gyle before lunch and that’s what we did and to see the group tucking into their sandwiches at the base of the large summit cairn was a lovely site.
After lunch we continued North East along The Pennine Way until we reached Clennell, which was our route for the initial decent, before passing over Middle Hill and continuing on to Barrowburn.
Luckily the tea shop was open which made for a perfect end to a superb days walking.
Rothbury Railway - Rothbury Walking Festival
Sundance has lost it, no matter how hard he soft shoe shuffles he does not seem able to get the dry weather on his walks. By the time we had a waterproofed up it was virtually time to take them off again but and a big BUT it did rain during the walk.
By 10am every one was at TIC and Mike started to do his introduction when the church bells started a peel or two or even more and fortunately drowned him out. So we set off on slight diversion to look at Haw Hill Cemetery and Lord Armstrong’s grave as well as admiring the Coquet Anglers head stone.
We then took the steps down to the river side path and walked along to the new bailey bridge and crossed the river and walked up to the industrial estate, which was on the site of the former Rothbury railway station. By now we were far enough away from the church bells for Mike to get into his full whitter stride as he talked about the history of the branch line and the layout of the station.
We now started to follow the path of the railway line (and St. Oswald’s Way), it first took us through a cutting in solid sandstone some twenty to thirty feet high. The cutting gave way to open fields, after Wagtail farm the line is cut into the side of the hill.
This section of the track is heavily wooded with little in the way of views. After a kilometre or so you leave the steep sided hillside and the way opens up, with a clear view of the eastern side of the Cragside estate with Longframlington moor beyond.
The track was now starting to swing round the end of the last little hill in the Simonside Ridge to Brinkburn Station.
Mike again started to whitter about rocks and how the Shilbottle coal seam was mined and the fact there was an aerial ropeway from one mine which was on the north side of the River Coquet to Brinkburn Station which was roughly 1.5miles long. He also mentioned the reason for the large number of Pill Boxes in the area.
The walk now left the railway line and we continued to follow St Oswald’s way through some fields and down to the river at Pauperhaugh Bridge where we had lunch.
During lunch Mike once more started to whitter about an iron works that stood near Priors Gate and how a house at Bushy Gap had once been used to hold smuggled goods.
As we left the bridge we followed a minor road towards East Row. It started to rain but after only a short while it eased off and we were able to remove waterproof jackets. From east Raw we walked to West Raw crossing our outward route to follow St Oswald’s Way.
This eventually lead us back to the railway line which then took us back to Rothbury the way we had come.
Drove Roads of Coquetdale - Rothbury Walking Festival
Drove Roads of Coquetdale
The following anonymous poem neatly sums-up the “atmospheric” conditions in more ways than one. I first came across it on a postcard during a wet stay on Mull but it seems completely appropriate to our collective experience above and on the Salters Way.
It rained and rained and rained
The average fall was well maintained
And when the tracks were merely bogs
It started raining cats and dogs
After a drought of half an hour
We had a most refreshing shower
And then the most curious thing of all
A gentle rain began to fall
Next day was also fairly dry
Save for the deluge form the sky
Which wetted the party to the skin
And after which the rain set in
On a positive note a lot of people visited places they never thought they would such as Hogdon Law, Black Butt, Sting Head above the Kidland Forest (now being heavily deforested), Cushat Law, Low Bleakhope. Finally onto the Salters Road we crossed the col below Shill Moor for splashing down to the Shank Burn where the water level had risen significantly due to unceasing precipitation (see photographs). The slog up to Ewartly Shank was character building and because of the boggy ground where we had parked we decided not to have a grand prix start for the race to Alnham, the world and a hot bath. Neither did we get the “drought of half an hour” by the way. This was a new, unique and different experience for most of the participants! Once you got used to the “water” it was fine. Thank you to everyone for your good humour. Flaming June.