Three quarters of Footloose set off for their fifth walk in glorious spring sunshine from the small Durham village of Edmundbyers. The church of St. Edmund (dedicated to the martyred East Anglian king of 9th century legend) nestles amongst mature trees at the edge of the village, and we tarried there for some minutes to view the interior. Unfortunately, the dimness made it difficult to appreciate the fascinating woodwork of the old vestry and the stone arch separating the nave from the chancel. A peaceful place, nevertheless.
The walk began with a few steps along the road before we headed off southwards along an old lead mining trail towards moorland, contouring along the edge of Edmundbyers Common, where gorse bloomed and meadow pipits twittered. The path was easy, and we enjoyed good views across the valley of the Burnhope Burn. The small dam which fed the Burn was alive with the squabbling of Canada geese as we descended to a track, past an old cottage and evidence of old mine workings, and then over towards Muggleswick Common through heather and bilberry. The birds we saw and heard here were a total contrast to those on previous walks – no blackbirds, great tits and chiff chaffs, but red grouse, curlew and lapwing.
We stopped briefly for a breather overlooking Edmundbyers village to our west, and then made our way past West Cot Farm and on across the moor on a cairned track, with grouse butts and the “Three Curricks” to guide our route. We returned to civilisation at Key West and met up with a friendly group of donkeys before crossing some delightful small meadows towards All Saints church, with its fascinating lych gate.
With the sun still shining brightly, we thankfully found a suitable bench to have lunch, enjoying the peacefulness of our surroundings and the stimulating conversation. Unfortunately, this church building was locked, so we had to rely on the Church Walks book to enlighten us as to its history and architecture, as we wandered amongst the intriguing and unusual gravestones.
After lunch, we departed the hamlet and made our way along the road for a while, before turning right to cross some rough pasture and finally descending through bracken and scrubby woodland to cross the Burnhope Burn again. A stiff climb out of the valley saw us enter Edmundbyers from the north, past the Youth Hostel, to find a suitable seat on the village green to bask in the sunshine at the conclusion of our walk.
It was but a few yards down Church Lane to return to the car, content once more to have thoroughly enjoyed a wonderful day in glorious countryside. Alas, we saw no buzzards to complete our ornithological record !