31. Now North Northumberland – Ford and Etal – 7th August 2013

With two of the founder Footloose members hors de combat, we enlisted Clive, of bridge and beer fame, to join us for the much anticipated journey to Ford and Etal, two lovely villages in north Northumberland.  They were a long way north, so it was 10.30 a.m. before we entered the church of St. Michael and All Angels, set in a very large churchyard adjacent to Ford Castle.

P1060030A 13th century church originally, the north aisle was added during an extensive restoration by John Dobson in 1853. There are some P1060028interesting medieval grave slabs set into the floor at the west end, the Victorian pulpit with its statuettes of the four Gospel writers, and a modern stained glass window commemorating the 4th Lord Joicey, who died tragically in 1993.

We left the church and returned to Ford village, eschewing a visit to the Lady Waterford Hall and the numerous coffee shops, and headed out north eastward past the Horse Shoe FP1060032orge towards Hay Farm.  We crossed a field, turned left through a gate and dropped down a steepling path to cross a small stream on a footbridge. The path then continued along a field edge adjacent to a wood, where we were delighted by the sight and sounds of buzzards wheeling in the sky above us.  The field edge was damp underfoot with heavy dew, but the sun shone as we walked northwards.  We wound ourP1060039 way through the farm steading of Hay Farm, and on through ripening fields of corn, to cross another stream through a wooded valley, and on towards Letham Hill Cottages alongside a mixed plantation of hardwoods and conifers.

The lateness of the morning tempted us to a coffee stop, so we availed ourselves of the piles of cut logs at the edge of the path, near to the sawmill, to rest our legs and refresh the inner man.  With Etal village not far away now, we emerged onto a metalled road opposite the Errol Forge Smithy, and turned west towards a crossroads, with a view to Etal Manor visible at the end of a wide, tree lined ride on our right.

The lateness of the morning tempted us to a coffee stop, so we availed ourselves of the piles of cut logs at the edge of the path, near to the sawmill, to rest our legs and refresh the inner man.  With Etal village not far away now, we emerged onto a metalled road opposite the Errol Forge Smithy, and turned west towards a crossroads, with a view to Etal Manor visible at the end of a wide, tree lined ride on our right.

Leaving the church, we strolled the few yards to the village, and sat comfortably on a seat by the village hall to eat lunch (and enjoy a swift drink from the pub next door !)  P1060040From here, it was but a short saunter alongside the road to Heatherslaw Mill and a post prandial coffee, overlooking the River Till.  We were still enjoying sunshine for the most part, though as we walked across the fields towards Ford Bridge and the conclusion of our walk, the sun disappeared behind clouds, though rain never threatened.

We puzzled over the verge-side flowers in the field of rape – a garden escape perhaps ?  P1060042We have no answers as yet.

Soon after crossing Ford Bridge, we saw the impressive entrance to Ford Castle, with its adjacent Lodge, and very soon returned to the village, at the end of a super days walking.  What a privilege to be able to enjoy such gorgeous countryside with such good friends.  ‘Til the next time !

 

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About gardeningdave

Retired - living in Northumberland - walk, usually every two weeks, with a group of three or four friends in the wider Northumbria.
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