Planned Villages & Byerhope Bank
Wed 25th September 2013
A small but select group representing various corners of the Commonwealth assembled in Allenheads Village for a short potter around the upper Dale.
I think some of the group thought that the barbeque tent outside the pub was a Shepherds Walks special lunch special lunch stop but it turned out that today coincided with a major classic motorbike rally passing through the Dale (missed that one Jon).
This is the second walk in Allendale and what's surprising is how few people have visited this area. Come on folks it's still in Northumberland and no further from Tyneside to here than it is to some of the more popular parts! After a wee introduction the industrial history of the area off we set following the Allen down to the site of the former lead smelter. Tales of children cleaning lead deposit from the inside of flue chimneys and how lead pipes drove the Romans mad reminded everyone we don't have it that bad today.
A little later we climbed up the side of the Dale to the abandoned hamlet of Byerhope. High on the fells side this had been a thriving mining settlement until an industrial dispute over 'time and motion' had forced the miners to leave and emigrate mostly to Illinois. Now Byerhope consists of one remaining house and a series derelict smallholdings across the fell side. Reaching our high point we could look down over Allenheads and view the various features left in the landscape by mining activity and admire the sweep of the open moorland.
Dropping back down we peered down the 300' Gin shaft that was one of the entrances into the Allenheads mine situated in the middle of the village that during it's brief life proved to be one of the most productive lead mines in the country. As always on 'old man' walks (this refers to the ghosts of past miners not the age of the Guide) tea and cakes followed. Julie the cakes were very nice sorry you missed this one.