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Tue 26th March 2019

Red Kite Trail

Red Kite Trail

Our group of walkers for the day assembled at the new Oak and Iron Heritage centre at Winlaton Mill on a lovely sunny and clear morning albeit with a brisk breeze. Mark introduced himself and Jackie and welcomed everyone to Shepherds Walks and outlined the day’s walk.

Mark took us up Kite Hill from where a wonderful panoramic view of the Derwent Valley was enjoyed with the Nine Arches bridge, the Gibside Estate and the ruin of Hollinside Mannor were prominent. We then joined the disused Derwent railway and made our way through Rowlands Gill to Lintzford – on this stretch we saw our first (of several) red kites and the remains of Friarside Chapel, an old medieval plague hospital.

After leaving the railway our route took us into and through the wonderful Chopwell Woods to High Spen. Whilst several sightings of kites in the distance had been seen, it was at this point on the walk that above an open field one of these majestic birds flew and circled right above our group for a few minutes. Our trail then took us through more woods and open fields to Thornley and then back to our starting point at the heritage centre.

At various points on the walk we rested while Mark talked about a number of topics – the Northern Red Kites programme, the industrial history of the valley incorporating Ambrose Crowley’s ironworks of the early 1700’s, the Derwenthaugh coke works, and the Derwent railway.

Everyone enjoyed this 11mile trail and some of us were rewarded with a welcome hot drink in the café at the centre!


Mon 22nd October 2018

Mouth of the Tyne - 2018

Mouth of the Tyne - 2018

Mouth of the Tyne – October 20th 2018

It was another beautiful Autumn morning as our small group of walkers met in the shadow of the historic Tynemouth Castle and Priory.

Our route took us passed the historic  Admiral Lord Collingwood monument and along the riverside path to North Shields fish quay and the Shields Ferry terminal. Some of the old and new architecture is quite incredible. We saw the Black Middens rocks – clearly visible as the tide was out – and enjoyed wonderful views of the Tyne estuary. Mark talked about the career and legacy of Collingwood and also the disaster in 1864 which saw 5 ships destroyed on the rocks resulting in 34 seamen drowning and as a result the formation of Tynemouth Volunteer Life Brigade. Whilst waiting for the ferry to take us to South Shields, a huge cargo ship was being towed downstream to the open sea – presumably taking Nissan cars to foreign lands.

On reaching South Shields we followed the river bank past old dry docks before climbing a series of steps and on towards the ruined Roman fort of Arbeia. Mark mentioned briefly the life and times of the Venerable Bede and his historic works. Lunch was taken in glorious sunshine with more stunning views of the Tyne and the river traffic.

Once back on the North Shields side we retraced our steps to our starting point where Mark was able to provide some facts and history surrounding the castle and priory. This was not the usual type of Shepherds Walks but everyone found it very interesting and the fine weather made it even more enjoyable.


Wed 3rd October 2018

Windy Gyle 2018

Windy Gyle 2018

Windy Gyle – September 30th 2018

It was a glorious Autumn morning as the 18 walkers for the day met at Wedder Leap car park – the sun was shining, not a breath of wind and the colours of the surrounding hills were stunning. Mark welcomed everyone and introduced himself and Andrew and Andrea, two Shepherds Walks volunteers, and outlined the walk.

Unfortunately shortly after we began the long climb up the old drovers road, The Street, the weather began to deteriorate. A stiff breeze developed with squally rain showers and the temperature dropped and this proved to be the pattern for the rest of the day. Steady progress was made and where the Street met the Pennine Way we were fortunate to see two groups of wild goats grazing on the hillsides. As we made our way to the summit of Windy Gyle and despite the frequent showers we were able to enjoy magnificent views of the surrounding hills, including the Eildon Hills in the far distance.

The summit certainly lived up to its name and after a few photo shots, we proceeded on the border ridge until we reached the junction with Clennell Street and began the long and gradual descent. At Murder Cleugh, Mark told the story of this infamous crime. Our route continued down to Barrowburn and our starting point and once again lovely views were enjoyed by all.

Despite the changeable weather, everyone agreed this was a beautiful walk enjoyed by all. Mark thanked the walkers and complimented them on their fitness levels!