Despite the less-than-favourable weather forecast, three Footloose members drove north to meet up at Weldon Bridge. Leaving one car there, we headed west to begin our walk at Lordenshaws, passing the time of day in the car park with a minibus group from Clitheroe who were looking at the ancient “cup and ring” stones on Garleigh Moor. We heard grouse, skylarks and curlew calling as we prepared to set off.
Fully kitted out in waterproof gear, we set off in misty conditions over the moor towards Rothbury, past Whittondean with its attractive pond, and followed the metalled Hillhead Road towards the tower of Sharp’s Folly. We continued, with good views over the town, across a field and down to the river bridge, and decided to have a coffee stop in Tomlinson’s café – but no cake this time !
Retracing our steps across the bridge, we walked uphill for a little way before turning off down into the industrial estate, past a vintage Riley in a parking bay, and finally joined the old railway trackbed as it wound its way towards Wagtail Farm. http://www.disused-stations.org.uk/r/rothbury/index.shtml
The Way continued along the old railway until finally branching off towards West Raw, but we tarried awhile to eat our sandwiches and have a chat with a local sheep farmer who was moving ewes and lambs to pasture. We negotiated the farm buildings of West Raw and turned towards the river via a rather muddy, woody glade, before emerging into some grassy fields alongside the water’s edge. The skies here were full of sand martins and swallows – the first of the year in Northumberland, and a joy to watch as they wheeled and swooped overhead.
Pauperhaugh bridge was having some work done on it by NCC, but that didn’t impede us because we turned the other way, saw the familiar outline of a heron to the south then crossed a small stream to emerge into a grass paddock near to yet another derelict farm steading. We climbed (the last hill?) onto a ridge above the valley and made for Thorneyhaugh farm, which had been expensively renovated to provide holiday cottages as well as the large main house.
Our route now took us over the Maglin Burn (another descent and ascent !) before heading towards Middleheugh. We had to detour around some cows with calves at foot to attain this next farm, via another bridged stream and another “up and down”, and then skirted the woodland overlooking the River Coquet and Brinkburn Priory on the northern bank. Brinkheugh farm was our next port of call, though we stopped for a coffee break sitting on a fallen tree trunk before we reached it.
The bullocks in the sheds were enjoying their fodder as we passed, and we then had but one more “up and down” over the Todd Burn before threading our way through woodland to rejoin the river at the weir just upstream of Weldon Bridge and the finish of our walk. What a good walk, another 10 miles under our belt, chiff-chaffs, wrens and robins kept us company with their songs, and we eventually spied a buzzard overhead as we approached the final few yards. Altogether, a lovely day with good company and no rain !
St. Oswald’s Way is reckoned to be 97 miles long. We’ve now walked 42 miles, which leaves 55 miles to go, and once we reach the coast near Warkworth, it is non-stop coastal scenery almost all the way to Lindisfarne. Super !