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Mon 29th August 2011

Hadrians Wall, part 8 - Walton to Carlisle

Hadrians Wall, part 8 - Walton to Carlisle

Using the people carrier proved a definite success and made for a sociable journey both before and after the event.  A civilised start at The Sands Leisure Centre in Carlisle meant access to “facilities” and ground coffee before boarding the minibus for the transfer to Walton.  We started our walk outside of the now closed Centurion Inn precisely where we finished our walk a month ago.  The weather was dry, overcast and with a cool north westerly wind blowing, definitely autumnal.

As the start of this section of the walk was so far west we weren’t actually walking until 11.10 am, or latest start to date.  The first half of the route followed the line of the Roman Ditch which was always more prominent than the Vallum that was often a field away south of our track.  We encountered some quite wet and muddy sections but we were pleasantly surprised that the whole route wasn’t worse overall considering the recent rainfall totals.  The weir just below the footbridge over the Cam Beck between Walton and Newtown was making it presence heard and the water was heavily peat stained for example.  Newtown proved to be a lovely little settlement laid out around a large village green.  The variety of building styles, conditions and ages was striking and very pleasant.  Between Whiteflat and Oldwall the hangars of Carlisle Airport were prominent just to the south reinforced by light aircraft doing circuits.  The course of the Roman Stanegate(linking Corbridge to Carlisle) passes right through the middle of the airfield. 

Lunch was taken out of the wind in the lee of hedge immediately before the renovated Blea Tarn Farm just after the unexpected and very much appreciated temporary toilet (flushing, running water, soap – luxury) and just before the self-service tuck box; we were still dry so things just couldn’t have been better!  Throughout this part of the route we were walking on a straight raised causeway which comprised the foundations of the Wall itself with the Ditch on our right hand side.  Soon afterwards we turned south towards Crosby-on-Eden for the second phase of the walk which essentially crossed the floodplain of the river Eden following the large meanders.  Walking via Linstock we crossed the M6 by a cattle bridge just after yet another farm offering refreshments for Hadrian’s Wall walkers.  Cumbria seemed to us to be more attuned to providing services for walkers as part of farm diversification, or are they just more tourist orientated?   The situation is much improved on Hunter Davies’s observations made in his 1974 book “A Walk Along the Wall.”

The walk into and around the back of the former estate hamlet of Rickerby allowed us to see the folly in the field to the north and the eclectic collection of building styles found there, this being the creation of a former landowner with the unusual name of George Head Head.  Turning south through Rickerby Park past the War Memorial to cross over the River Eden by the pedestrian bridge opened in 1922 the huge earth bunds and massive floodgates reminded us of the need to maintain flood defences.  The most extensive recent flooding occurred in 2005 but 2009 saw inundation on a more restricted scale.  Approaching the end of the walk between the river and a golf course we arrived back at the Sands Leisure Centre.  Until redeveloped this was the site of the city’s livestock market.  Walking up the final slope from the floodplain we passed through an open floodgate to finish adjacent to The Sands car park and opposite oddly shaped Turf public house.  The odd shape, a  steeply tiered and completely  out of proportion sloping east “roof” was actually a grandstand for the Carlisle former racecourse now replaced by a golf course occupying the inside of the meander loop known as The Swifts.  It started to rain just after we’d changed out of our boots, excellent timing at the end of a good day’s walk.  Only two sections left to do now!

28th August 2011 

Wed 10th August 2011

Tube Film - Stonehaugh to Bellingham

Tube Film - Stonehaugh to Bellingham

Mon 8th August 2011

Pennine Way Part 5 - Stonehaugh to Bellingham

Pennine Way Part 5 - Stonehaugh to Bellingham

From now on Sundance should be known as dampfoot, his boots still leak and no matter how much he soft shoe shuffles he ends up with yet another wet day’s walk.

Saturday lots and lots of rain, local fords flooded should we chicken out?  By 7.00pm stopped raining lets see what it does overnight.  Sunday morning 7.00 am things look to be drying up and quite bright. OK no problem the walk is on.

Driving across to Bellingham via Winters Gibbet the view to the west was lost in low cloud and rain.  By the time we arrived at the car park in Bellingham it was just starting to rain.  During the drive to Stonehaugh on the bus it continued to rain but when we got off the bus the rain had eased to a light drizzle.

We picked up the Pennine Way where it crossed the road just south of Stonehaugh and followed the path through a small section of forest before coming out on to open (wet) ground, the walking was pleasant but wet when we came to a small waterfall. 

All of a sudden Mike remembered he had not taken a group photo so out comes the camera and as usual the batteries are flat so he has to get the spares out and change them, then we all have to move into a huddle so he can get the group in the shot! 

From here we walked downhill passing a number of signs saying there were teas for sale, each one also said how far we had to go to reach the teas.  We crossed the Warks burn by a footbridge (otherwise we would have been swimming to get across). The Pennine Way now follows the National Park Boundary although there wasn’t any pink lines on the ground to show the boundary, they had probably been washed away in the rain.  A quick walk up hill brought us to Hornystead and the “Help Yourself” tea shop.  Several people made use of the facilities (in particular the Coffee Shop Girls) while the rest of us sat in a barn to have our lunch, with a horse for company and a stuffed piglet! (see photo)

By now the rain had eased to occasional periods of dampness. The path continued in a northerly direction with only one stream to jump across near Lowstead.  Here we were over-taken by two ladies walking the Pennine Way (very fast ).  They had started at Once Brewed that morning and intended to reach Byrness by the end of the day.  That is four “Shepherds Walk”, walk days!  But suddenly we were catching them up, were we walking faster? No, they had met a herd of cattle straddling the farm track, with a little help from Jim they encouraged the cattle to move aside and they were off again leaving us in their dust, well they might have if it had been dry.

After a short road section we were back walking across fields but only after a coffee break.  We then crossed the Houxty Burn by another big footbridge before climbing up to Mike’s favourite farm Shitlington Hall. A short decent brought us to yet another stream that we had to plodge through before the longest climb of the day up to and through Shitlington Crags and onwards to a Relay Station whose mast Mike had pointed out at the start of the walk.

After a short stretch on a track we were once more walking across rough pasture by now with the obligatory boggy area and stream/ditch to cross. After a short distance we were able to look down on Bellingham and our first clear view of the North Tyne Valley.  A gentle descent brought us down to the main road through the valley. 

The Pennine Way follows the road crossing the River North Tyne by the road bridge before entering Bellingham. 

The temptations of coffee shops and loos proved too much for some of the party and only a small group arrived back at the cars together to complete the days walk.