With only three Footloose fellas available, we left St. Oswald’s Way for another day, and decided upon a gentle stroll around the lower reaches of the River Rede. This Northumbrian river rises on Carter Fell on the Border, feeds Catcleugh Reservoir near Byrness and joins the River North Tyne below the village of Redesmouth. It was a really sunny morning as we drove to West Woodburn, parked beneath a shady tree in the crescent of White Acres adjacent to the village green and set off south along the A68 and crossed the road bridge over the River Rede.
Not far along the road, there was a squeeze stile through the stone boundary wall which led to the path towards the far corner of the grass field. We then snaked our way through the buildings of Broadgate Farm before continuing to walk south westwards over a grass field. We had a really good view of the Roman Fort of Habitcanvm or Risingham (for details see (http://www.pastscape.org.uk/hob.aspx?hob_id=16913 and http://www.castlesfortsbattles.co.uk/north_east/risingham_roman_fort.html ) over to the north, and then crossed a small burn. We climbed steadily, crossed the Roman road of Dere Street (apparently, though there was no evidence on the ground), and crossed another grass field to pass through the edge of a wood near Cragg Farm, of castellated countenance. We intersected the old railway line and made for the woodland at Calf Close.
The path was extremely difficult to follow here, and we ended up wandering about trying to find the edge of the wood. Once found however, we had to negotiate some very difficult spoil heaps (from the old Ridsdale Ironworks – http://www.geograph.org.uk/photo/568557 ) but eventually emerged onto a minor road which curved under the former Wansbeck Valley Railway (the Wannie Line) beneath an attractive bridge. We diverted off the road to the left, crossed a footbridge over the Broomhope Burn, and then joined a field with cows and calves.
Having the birthday boy with us (Murray was celebrating his second birthday) we were a little wary of traversing this field, so we jinked left and joined the railway track bed which led us under another bridge, disturbing a deer, which Murray wanted to play with, and finally to Rede Bridge, where we stopped for lunch. It was extremely pleasant in the sunshine, munching our sandwiches to the sound of the birds in the trees, and the running water from the nearby weir.
Climbing gently to join the Border County Ride after lunch, we passed several fields of improved grassland, crossed the Conheath Burn before emerging onto a minor road at Hole Farm with its old bastle house and gingang. There was now an extended stretch of road walking towards Low Leam Farm, before we turned off left at the small car park for Low Cleughs Bastle, where there was an information board. Murray and I spotted a stoat scuttling across the road just before this, but it disappeared very quickly into the roadside vegetation and stone wall.
This track along the edge of the wood was very wet, with lush grass and tussocks of rush, which made walking particularly awkward and tiring, but we eventually came back onto the road near Little Ridsdale and finally to the Bay Horse Inn in West Woodburn. We enjoyed a refreshing drink and a group photo before getting back to the car, and home. What a good day, albeit a quite tiring one !