Wednesday, 29 November 2017

Chester-le-Street to Durham City - Co Durham 28 Nov 2017

Chester-le-Street to Durham City
Co Durham
Distance 17.5km Climb 220m
Tuesday 28 November 2017

Today I was checking out a route for a walk, I will hopefully be doing in a few weeks time, with some friends. I had previously walked along parts of this route earlier in the year. As part of the 124km Weardale Way. Walking from Worm Hill to Finchale Priory in March 2017 and from Finchale Priory to Shincliffe in June 2017. It would be interesting to see if there had been any changes.

I scrounged a lift to the Riverside Park in Chester-le-Street from my friend Lisa. The weather was bright, crisp and clear a lovely day for walking. Walking into the park I took a few photos. I returned to the B1284 Ropery Lane and turned east. After the bridge Ropery Lane becomes the Lumley New Road.

Crossing over the River Wear, I took the first turning left towards the Chester-le-Street Golf Course Club House. Footpath signs and the Cuddy's Corse sign directed me north and west over the Golf Clubs overflow carpark to the footpath by the River Wear. "Cuddys Corse" is a walk along which the St Cuthbert's Community carried St Cuthbert's coffin, the Lindisfarne Gospels and other relics from other Saints from Chester-le-Street eventually ending up in Durham.

On the riverside I turned right and headed north along by the golf course, I was just wandering about, looking to see how it changed in Autumn. After about 300 meters I turned round and retraced my steps back down the footpath, following the River south. Passing under Lumley New Road, across the River I could see the Riverside Durham Cricket Ground on the opposite bank.

After walking by the River the path moves left slightly climbing away from the River, funnelled between fences and trees. At the top there is a style to climb, the route is across a track. On the other side is another style as the footpath heads further up hill through a small wood. Coming out of the wood the path heads south east by the edge of the wood along the side of an open field.

At the top of the field turn east following a hedge line as it climbs to the top of the field. Cross the style directional signs show turn right, south.

To the right there is another style. Once over this style the footpath climbs steadily upward heading south, by the edge of a field. The bright clear sunshine soon disappeared and was replaced by dark wet clouds. It soon started raining, mixed in with the rain were snow flurries. 

At the top of the field the path turns sharp left, east, up to the road. I was now at Great Lumley. I turned right then left onto Front Street.

Today I continued east along Front Street to have a look about.

I followed a footpath sign south down Hazel Leigh, through the park and some house eventually coming out onto Exeter Close. Over the road was the footpath I had walked down on my previous walk this way.

Continuing south the footpath comes out on the road, Cocken Lane near Charles Pit cottages. Following the road right, south. Walking across the fields, at times the rain had turned to hail.

The road drops and climbs a little up to a T junction with Cocken Road. Follow the Weardale Way sign left, east. 

After turning left, approx 100m there is a lay-by on the right. A little along the lay-by there are steep steps that took me down to the River Wear again. Through the trees I could see Finchale Priory. At the bottom of the steps turn right up to the bridge and cross the bridge over the River Wear to The Priory.

I spent a little time wandering about the Priory. Stopping in the shelter of the frater undercroft for a drink of hot chocolate. It was raining heavy now, just like my walk here in June.

Leaving the shelter of the undercroft I continued, following the road west as it climbs from Finchale Priory. I continued on the public road as it twisted lazily south west. A sharp left turn by Priory Cottage and I was heading south. At times the rain eased a little and a watery sun appeared briefly.

Reaching the road junction where HM Prison Frankland was directly to my front, a sign shows a right turn, west. After a hundred meters another sign led me south again between the prison and Low Newton Remand Centre. After a short walk through the car park there is a path next to the wall and a path to the right, take the path too the right.  

The path soon becomes a footpath with hedges that hide the high walls to my left, moving south, then turning south east. Another sharp right turn, south west as Cuddy's Corse passes Dovecote Farm Boarding Kennels and Cattery. It was pleasant walking along here, especially as it had stopped raining.

It was along here I caught my first glimpse of Durham Cathedral, through a gap in the trees to my left. On my earlier walk in June you could not have seen the Cathedral due to the blooming trees.

As the fields opened to my right I could see a train on the busy Edinburgh to London train line. At the bottom of the bank at a track T junction a sign took me slightly left, south, through Frankland Farm.

At the farm, I knew there was a footpath sign on a post by the last building, today it was difficult to see. The signs take you around the building a sharp right turn, then after a few meters a sharp left turn onto another tarmac road that heads down hill. 

Walking down here I could see and hear the main Edinburgh to London rail line heading into and out of Durham to my right. To my left I could see traffic on the A690. It was a lot quieter today than on my last walk here.

Walking down the road I caught a glimpse of the River Wear just before the T junction where I would turn right onto Frankland Lane. This is where you get your first sight of the River since crossing it at Finchale Priory. 

The road then continues between fields and passes a water treatment works before turning sharp right onto a wider road. 

Walking Frankland Lane as it follows the river into Durham City, passing Crook Hall on its way. I continued by the Radisson Blu Hotel on my right and stopped briefly at the Pennyferry footbridge over the River on my left. This may be where we cross the River on my walk with my friends but for today I continued on the west side of the River.

Walking under Milburngate Bridge I continued under the Framwelgate Bridge. It had started to rain again. 

Walking passed the boat house I climbed up to Prebends Bridge where I crossed the River.  

After crossing the bridge I turned right to drop back down to the River. The path passes the Count's House as the river starts to turn north east. 

Walking under Kingsgate Bridge I saw a sign showing the footpath was closed.

I retraced my steps again a few meters and climbed the steep steps up to the Bridge.

At the top I turned right and crossed the Bridge.

Out onto New Elvet, I had a wander about again, eventually walking down hill and reaching Elvet Bridge, where I turned left.

Crossing Elvet Bridge, I took the steps down on the right and continued walking along the riverside.

This is where the river then turns east and the footpath follows. I continued passed Baths Bridge.

Again I had a little wander before working my way up towards Leazes Road. Where I took the footbridge onto Gilesgate, with its brilliant view of the Cathedral.

It had been good to get out into the fresh air. I hope the weather is better than today when I walk here with my friends in a few weeks time. Can't wait looking, forward to it already.

With all my wanderings off the route I had covered 17.5km with a 220m climb.

More to follow

Boz North

Saturday, 11 November 2017

Blackhall Rocks to The Headland Hartlepool - Co Durham 8 Nov 2017

Blackhall Rocks to The Headland Hartlepool
Co Durham
Distance 20.4km Climb 175m
Wednesday 8 November 2017

From Blackhall to Crimdon was voted number 93 in ITV's Britain's Favourite Walks.
As with my last walk along the English Coast Path (ECP), Seaham to Blackhall Rocks in July 2017. This was not the walk I had wanted to do today, again due to the large amount of traffic on the road I changed my plan. I decided to turn around and head for Blackhall Rocks. As on my previous ECP walk, the change in plan was most rewarding, exploring more of our magnificent North East coast line.

I parked the car at the Blackhall Rocks car park. Although cold the sun was shining and made for a lovely day walking. As it was a change in plan I had no map, but used the simple navigation features available. Mainly walking south a large amount of water should be on my left, walking north the large amount of water would be on my right. Plus I would also follow the ECP signs?

Leaving the carpark I walked passed the information sign and headed to the cliff edge. 

This led to the seat where I had stopped to have my sandwiches on the previous ECP walk, turning south, the path changed from a tarmac path to a grass path as it followed along the cliff tops. On a short rise I could see the coast stretching south ahead of me.

The path follows the cliff tops and moves beside a fence. I could see the Crimdon Caravan Park to my south. After a few hundred meters the path turns inland as it moves along the top of a deep sided dene. There are a couple of styles, high gorse bushes are to my left hiding any views south. 

The sky was a bright blue and clear, I could see the moon as a full moon hovering over the gorse bushes to the west.

Before reaching the train line, a Durham Coastal Path sign points the way down to the dene on my left. 

This led me over another style and down some steep steps, crossing a footbridge then up some steep steps to the other side of the dene. Following the path left, near the railway line, a sign directed me left again over another style and onto a grass path that followed the top of the south side of the dene. This path took me around a field of cows which I believe are Belted Galloway.  

Leaving the field by a style I was once again by the railway line and continued left. The path heads towards a railway bridge. Before the bridge a footpath sign led me left into the Crimdon Caravan Park. I have so many happy memories of staying here as a child. Standing on a seat waving at the steam trains as they pulled coal trucks up and down the line.

Today I could see a lot of permanent static caravans on the site. I could not remember if there had been static caravans on the site when I was a child. The signs directed me along the edge of another dene on the side of the caravan park. Reaching some steps I could either follow the ECP path along the tops in the caravan park or climb down the steps to the beach. I climbed down the steps as I could not resist the call of the sand.

At the bottom of the steps I turned right and started walking along the sands, south.

The tide was on its way out, the wet stones shone brightly in the sun light. It did not take me long to become distracted as I started treasure hunting, collecting the sea glass. Just as I did on my walk from Roker Pier to Seaham in December 2016. The light was just right to make the wet glass sparkle. I was starting to warm up and so lost my woolly hat to a pocket. I spent a good amount of time walking along here, as I slowly wandered along looking for the treasure. I found an old ring with either a barnacle or seaweed growing on it, I feel it must have been there for some time. Some people would probably say it is costume jewellery but I am going to say it is either Saxon or Roman.

The high steep side of the cliffs gave way to sand dunes as I was slowly moving south.

It took me ages walking along here, picking up sea glass, never mind I was enjoying my day. I soon had to stop to remove a layer of clothing as the weather was turning warmer. Eventually I reached one of the pipes that run out to sea.

I was walking a little faster along the North Sands as there were no small stones to check out looking for sea glass.

There are a lot of signs of piers and pipes heading out to sea in the area. Up to my right on the tops I could see signs of new houses being built.

A little way from here I could see evidence of a landslide on the side of the bank.

I walked passed the slip way that would have taken me up to the promenade, instead I continued along the sands a little further. Along the beach at the base of the promenade I could see work was being done on repairing the sea defences. At the last steps I could see I left the sands to walk the promenade.

A fence had been erected for the area of repairs on the lower promenade so I walked the top level. I was now following the monkey signs of the Headland Story Trail. On the Trail I passed the 4 1/2 inch Navel Gun which marks the place of Fairy Cove Battery. Then continuing along the promenade I passed the Town Moor and its Beacon a little further and I reached the gates of the Heugh Gun Battery Trust.

Walking passed the gates and to the sea wall I passed notices showing the bravery of the men in the British Navy who lost their lives when the German High Seas Fleet attacked Hartlepool in December 1914. Looking to my right I saw the lighthouse and a further memorial to the people of Hartlepool who also died in the German attack.

Continuing around The Headland I passed the War Memorial near Redheugh Gardens.

I took the steps down to walk along the Heugh Breakwater. Across in the distance is the North Yorkshire Moors.

Walking as far as I could along Heugh Breakwater I turned and took this photo.

Walking back along the breakwater I found a seat and enjoyed my jam sandwiches and a couple of cups of hot chocolate. I sat and watched a man collecting seaweed. When it dries out he uses it on his potatoes in his allotment, apparently it improves the taste.

After helping him carry his big bags of seaweed to his car. I set off back the way I had come. Passing the War Memorial, The Lighthouse, The Heugh Gun Battery, The Town Moor and the Beacon, to the 4 1/2 inch Navel Gun which marks the place of Fairy Cove Battery and where I saw a ECP sign.

Rather than dropping down onto the sand I continued north along the promenade.

Another ECP sign and I decided to follow it and see what I may have missed walking the beach on my way south. The sign took me left then right up onto the top where another ECP sign directed me passed a pillar showing Spion Kop. I have not been able to find what the connection is between Hartlepool, the Boar War and South Africa. Perhaps something to look further into, all very interesting.

I startled a young snipe sitting in the grass on my right. A few hundred meters on and the path takes me by a large wall, that looks in need of repair in places. I could see headstones and crosses over the wall then saw the entrance and a sign showing this was the old Hartlepool Cemetery. When looking up Spion Kop, the internet shows this was the name of the old cemetery.

At the end of the wall an ECP sign directed me left down the wall to my left towards the road. This is beside a closed off area where new houses are being built.

There are no further signs at the road, I had a look over the road but there are high metal fences to the right. Walking back up the corner I turned and walked the road in front of the new houses and at the end of the road found it was closed off due to building work. I had no choice but to return to the corner, ignoring the signs I turned to towards the sea, right, east and walked round the fenced off area then dropped back down to the sand under the wooden pipeline pier.

At the first opportunity I moved back inland from the sand and found a track that ran beside what would have been a wire fence, today only the concrete fence posts remain.

A slight drop and then a climb and I was amongst the sand dunes. To my left was the Hartlepool Golf Course. This area reminded me of Dunstanburgh in Northumberland.

Following the tops of the dunes, I could see Crimdon Caravan Park to the north. The path drops down onto a golf tee where I saw a sign for the ECP. Following the path inland for a short distance the path turns right and drops down to the Crimdon Dene Local Nature Reserve. I continued to follow the signs up the bank and over the bridge and continued climbing up a steep path.

Near a white wooden hut I saw a sign to my right that led back to the beach.

Was I going to continue along the path or the beach. I had some time before it was too dark, so I decided to do more treasure hunting. I could hear the sand calling so I turned down to the beach.

I spent more time treasure hunting, looking for sea glass. The light was not as good as earlier but I still found some interesting pieces. Oyster Catchers were flying overhead. I was walking slow again but had the time so it did not matter.

Walking the beach I eventually rounded the rocks.

I reached the stairs, the steep stairs, and climbed back up to the corner of the Crimdon Caravan Park.

Following the path I had walked earlier on my way out. I round the field of the Belted Galloway, crossed the style. Climbed down to cross the dene and then the climb up to turn right and follow the fence around the northern edge of the dene. It was then a short walk along the tops back to the path that led me to the carpark.

It had been a good walk, I had covered 20.4 km with a 175m climb.

More to follow

Boz North
Earlier walks on the ECP.
South Shields to Roker Pier 23 December 2016.
Roker Pier to Seaham 29 December 2016.
Seaham to Blackhall Rocks 12 July 2017.