It was a grey, grizzly morning when three of us (Geoffrey having opted for TV stardom with the lambs in Cumbria) set off north to the lovely isolated church of St. Andrew at Bolam. The Met Office had promised fine, sunny weather, but there was a stiff westerly breeze bringing overcast skies and light showers, so we quickly decide to disappear into the church for a look round.
There were some fascinating memorial tablets on the walls, a stone effigy of a 14th century knight, and the remarkable memorial window commemorating the unexploded bomb that fell into the church in 1942.
The walk was calling though, so we left the church environs via the gate in the churchyard wall, and descended a squelchy wet path towards Angerton Steads farm. We rather dawdled our way on this stretch of the walk to allow one of our party to retrieve his rucksack from the car ! It was providential that his memory had returned before we had covered too great a distance, and that the weather was improving – we even saw the sun as we waited !
Once we were three again, we quickly crossed the old Wannie Line disused railway track and headed around an arable field towards Low Angerton Farm and the River Wansbeck crossing. There was much evidence of money being invested into the farm, with new fences, gates and improvements to the farm buildings.
From the river bridge, the way climbed along the road to pass Angerton Hall and we drank in the sights and sounds of the emerging spring, with rooks calling in the treetops, the green furze of budding trees and the bright verdant vegetation along the verges, all contributing to our enjoyment of the walk.
The route then followed the edge of grass fields and soon led us alongside an area of mixed woodland above the Hart Burn, where we could see St. Andrew’s church on the other side of the valley. Crossing the stream over a narrow footbridge to the sound of tinkling water, we then climbed a steep bank to emerge onto the road opposite the church.
We sat in a very warm corner of the churchyard for a late coffee before investigating the church, and marvelled at the 12th century font with its 16th century ornately carved wooden cover, the two substantial 13th century stone coffins and the intricate stone embellishments to the main altar table.
Time passed, and, leaving the churchyard with its curiously embellished gravestones, we made our way out of the village, heading south, with the intention of finding a suitable lunch spot. The sun continued to shine on us, raising the air temperature up to 17*C and our spirits accordingly. A sun drenched grassy bank overlooking the River Wansbeck valley provided a wonderful location for lunch.
Our return route to Bolam retraced some of the outward journey, recrossing the Wansbeck at Low Angerton. From here we headed south west over some arable fields until we were able to traverse Bolam Parks, an area thickly studded with interested sheep and newly planted specimen trees, being reclaimed under a Defra stewardship scheme, towards the wet field path and the scarp slope back up to the church. St. Andrew’s looked an absolute picture bathed in the afternoon sun – quite a contrast from the damp, dreary and dismal building that we had viewed earlier in the day.
Once more, we’d enjoyed a wonderful walk in superb scenery, and we’d heard our buzzards mewing during the last mile to keep up the tradition ! We were truly blessed once again.