Yet another bright and sunny morning for the next instalment of Footloose walks, and this time Geoffrey and I set off north into the autumnal Northumberland countryside. We parked up in the small lane in front of Saint Maurice’s church (named after the leader of the legendary Roman Theban Legion in the 3rd century, and one of the favourite and most widely venerated saints of that group), and spent a pleasant time investigating both the interior of the church and the churchyard.
The Ogle and Collingwood families are represented here, along with their respective vaults, as is the Carr-Ellison family, with their box pews evident in the south transept. Past residents vicars also have commemorative tablets, especially those who were Archdeacons of Lindisfarne.
On leaving the church, we followed a minor road adjacent to a wood until a signpost beckoned us westward towards Harehope, through fields to a fork in the path near Ticket Hill. We continued to climb steadily out into open pasture, before turning left through a metal gate and then down to a footbridge over the Harehope Burn. We approached Harehope Farm to the sound of barking dogs, before turning north again up a gravelled farm track and then out into rough moorland. The routes here were myriad, though most were heading west by north following the course of Stock Brook. The path we followed led us to an interesting stone water trough, where we tarried awhile for a coffee break, enjoying the sunshine and the view back over the valley of the River Till.
We continued our walk northwards along an intermittently well-defined path towards the ruined farmhouse of Blawearie, viewed other walkers in the same area (it really was a super day to be out and about), spotted a fine, fat, beautifully marked caterpillar in the grass, and eventually turned west in the direction of Old Bewick. We traversed the northern edge of Bewick Hill, under Hanging Crag, on an uneven farm track, by the side of a small brook, before cutting off north just before we reached the hamlet. The path led us across a recently harvested cornfield to a stile in the boundary wall of Holy Trinity church, and then over a single span, stone clapper bridge over the Kirk Burn.
The narrow ‘priests door’ (very likely Norman) on the south wall and some very old gravestones (early 18th century) support the antiquity of this as a place of worship, and the squared off apse at the east end is unusual. Inside, there is a simple nave, chancel and sanctuary, each separated by a decorated arch. The sanctuary itself has a beautifully decorated frieze and ceiling, and retains the curved shape of its original Norman construction. We lunched here in the shade of an old yew tree.
We left the church down the lane to its junction with the public road and the Celtic cross erected in 1874, and walked the few yards to Old Bewick hamlet and the track we had left some time before, but this time we traversed under the Hanging Crag rocks past massed rhododendrons to eventually re-join the confluence of paths near Tick Law. From here it was but a few yards to our original outward bound route, but rather than re-trace our steps, we followed the track to Harehope Kennels and Hill End, and at the crossroads turned east through the woodlands surrounding Harehope Hall.
Thus we returned to Eglingham village, very well content with our walk, and blessed with sunny weather once more.