On a hazy sunny morning, four Footloose fellas drove into Northumberland to start stage 6 of St. Oswald’s Way. With a temperature of 14*C on the car thermometer, we were looking forward to a dry, warm walk, and with the additional prospect of a previously walked route (albeit in the other direction), our spirits were high with expectation.
We started our walk from the Angler’s Arms at Weldon Bridge, crossed underneath the A697 road and turned left to join a metalled track adjoining a stretch of mixed deciduous woodland towards Weldon farm. We looped around the steading and on towards High Weldon, where the path swung between buildings and then followed a good farm track which circled past a barn and then on to a now familiar stone house close to the Coquet. We climbed up the grassy edge of the garden and emerged onto a gorsey area where we were happy to sit on a suitable wooden bench and enjoy the view of the Coquet valley whilst having a coffee.
We continued to follow the Way across a large grass paddock to Elyhaugh farm and then re-joined the riverside path as it followed the huge curve of the river. The woodlands through which we walked were carpeted with bluebells, which we identified as the English variety, rather than the Spanish invader. We also spotted wild garlic or ramsons just coming into flower, plus wood anemones and wood sorrel – a host of wonderful spring flora. The path crossed the Swarland Burn on a substantial wooden footbridge, and then climbed back up to the edge of the flatter land above the river. We stopped to eat our sandwiches in the sunshine on an old fallen tree before disappearing back to our woodland stroll and the path under the A1 road.
We emerged into Felton Park ( http://www.feltonparkgreenhouse.org/ ) with its majestic trees and fine view over to the Felton Hall and the private St. Mary’s Roman Catholic chapel. The map shows the parkland in about 1920 http://communities.northumberland.gov.uk/006730FS.htm with the line of trees clearly marking the path to the south of the buildings. We left the Park at the derelict, grade 2 listed Lodge, walked past the Parish Church and along Riverside to the Old and New Bridges, and the Running Fox café and bakery. We decided to push on to the end of the walk, and return there for coffee/tea and cake on our way home.
The path from Felton alongside the river was flat and easy, and we quickly reached the end of our walk near High Park farm. We were amazed at how high the river must have reached when in flood – there was ample evidence around, with lots of detritus festooned on the bankside trees and fences, and sand deposits on the pathway. The track we walked and the surrounding fields must all have been submerged by flood water during the winter.
Near the farm, we were relieved to see that no action had been taken over our car parking position, because obviously the local angling club like to think that they have sole use of the verges for their own cars in that area. We all piled in to Clive’s car, and back-tracked, with the hood down, to Felton and a delicious tea/coffee and cake. A super end to a day of blue skies and sunshine, amidst glorious scenery and great company.