Reunited !!! On another beautiful autumn morning, all four members of our small walking group met to enjoy our fortnightly constitutional of company, countryside and chat. This time we did not venture very far afield, just a matter of 7 miles or so southwest of Ponteland to the village of Heddon on the Wall.
Eventually however, we donned our boots and set off downhill along Station Road, heading southeast, past Heddon Hall, the former home of Colonel Ernest Robinson, whose family were benefactors of the church. We turned off the path after about a mile, and traversed some grass paddocks, walking just to the north of Throckley Ponds Nature Reserve, before joining a track that headed down to the banks of the Tyne, near Blayney Row. The well-kept, neat cottages, built in Victorian times for the employees of Heddon brickworks and later for miners and their families of Throckley Coal Company, is just one of the many evidences of former industries in the area.
The path now led us for a short distance along the old wagonway (the link between Wylam colliery and the coal staithes at Lemington, where horses drew coal wagons along on wooden rails); before we turned off down to the riverside path. We stopped here for a while for a coffee break, basking in the unseasonal sunshine.
Late morning saw us underway again, following the river upstream, rejoining the wagonway and eventually arriving at Robert Stephenson’s birthplace, where we stopped for lunch.
Rather than retrace our steps to cross over the golf course of Close House, we followed the track north eastwards until we reached the minor road that gave access to the estate for delivery vehicles. Dodging the students’ cars as they arrived for their sporting afternoon, we admired the immaculate and well-tended grounds of the golfing parkland. Our path now lay northwards along the main access road into the estate, a steepish climb, but with Heddon in sight over to the right, we were soon headed off through some woodland, past Close Lea and then onto a track below Heddon Banks. A quick hello to Pat Brooks as we passed below her house, and then hastily on towards our destination and the prospect of …… yes, you’ve guessed — a tearoom !!!
A conundrum : why does tea and a scone taste so much better after a good dose of fresh air and some gentle exercise in good company ?
Ah well, let’s just enjoy it !