The last time that we checked out the route for the Newbiggin and the Carriers’ Way (Blanchland) walk was back in March of this year (First Blanchland recce). We were planning on doing that walk the weekend after the Recce. However, plans had to change when we found that the snow on the moor was over two feet deep in places, making it very hard going and extremely difficult to navigate. It was too dangerous to take people out on. So, we set the new date for this walk as the 1st September.
Confident that the snow had definitely gone, after a lovely hot summer, we decided that we should walk it again to make sure that everything would be OK.
The White Monk Tea Room
We started as we usually mean to go on with a visit to the local tea room at Blanchland. The White Monk Tea Room is in an old school house in the centre of Blanchland village. A nice pot of tea and a cake is perfect preparation to set out on this walk. Tea and cake consumed, off we went.
Passing the car park entrance we climb up towards Cote House Farm. This has the advantages of being a bit safer than walking on the road and giving the first great view over the River Derwent valley, towards Baybridge. Walking across the field, we saw what we think were Fairy Ring Champignon. They are reputed to be very tasty.
We descended through a field to Baybridge. This is a very peaceful and pretty little village, with some very nice houses. On approaching the village we saw a large bird. It disappeared, but soon reappeared again in the wood, just up the private road, that we follow. It was a very impressive and large Barn Owl.
Out of Baybridge, we quickly climb up onto the side of the fell. A little way along, Gibraltar is visible. Not the peninsular off the coast of Spain, but the farm on the other side of the valley.
The last time we came this way, there were trees along Beldon Side. However, a fair bit of logging has taken place. The woods were nice but the views are much improved without the trees.
Soon after this we reached the point where we took pictures of our poles earlier this year. Here is a comparison of the same place then and now.
Further along, we came to Riddlehamhope. There’s a lovely walled area of woodland here. It’s very pleasant and would normally be a great place for lunch. However, just past this, is a field of lush grass with incredible views. This was our lunch stop and a very pleasant one it was.
The Carriers’ Way
Lunch over, we carried on. It’s not far to where we join the Carriers’ Way, on Hope Fell. Here we saw quite and impressive ram, looking proud of his curly horns.
We stepped over the fence expecting to see the clear path that we couldn’t see last time. No such luck. All we could see was what looked like a bunch of sheep tracks through the thick heather. We just followed the one going in the general direction that we wanted to go. Luckily, this eventually lead to the right place but certainly didn’t follow the right of way. It’s open access land, so that didn’t matter so much.
Beldon Cleugh is a remnant of the ice age, as a glacier created this ‘S’ shaped feature. There is also a peat bog up here too.
We descended into Beldon Cleugh, through the overgrown bracken. This is definitely a long trouser walk. At the bottom, there is a boardwalk leading up to a stile. The stile is missing an extra rung (maybe it never had one) that makes it a bit difficult to get over, but get over we did.
From here we follow the Carriers’ Way up towards Beldon End Plantation. Here the path becomes unclear again, but a little searching showed a path. This was good enough until we found the Carriers’ Way proper again.
The Carriers’ Way is clear from Beldon End Plantation. The views are fantastic up here. We were able to see the Cheviot hills in the distance and, closer, we could see Hexham Racecourse.
The next feature is Blackburn Head. There is a road here that leads back to the path we followed up the fell earlier. There is also a shooting bothy here, to accommodate the shooting parties in the grouse shooting season. However, the shortage of grouse might mean that shooting is cancelled here. We took a look in the bothy. It’s a typical shooting bothy and is quite a well kept one. There was also a small tin roofed offshoot, rather less salubrious but still kitted with benches and table. This room was actually warmer that the main room.
The last leg is across Birkside Fell. We followed the Carriers’ Way as far as the way marker towards Birkside. We followed this path, which opens onto a lovely grassy path once off the fell, down to Birkside. Further down we found an area of Rowan. The looked great with their bright red berries festooning them. Through the fields and down the road, we returned to the car park, spotting some sloe bushes on the way.
Shoes changed and stretches done, we rewarded ourselves with refreshments at the Lord Crew Arms.
Hope to see you at the walk on 1st September.
Julie and Martin