Two cars headed north up the A1 to rendezvous near Detchant, just north west of Belford, before driving to the start of our day’s walking at Outchester Ducket. The weather had brightened as we journeyed north, though there was a cool breeze coming in from the west, necessitating jackets over pullovers for the first few miles.
We followed the route 1 cycleway towards Chesterhill Farm, before turning off due west towards Belford Station. The track here was straight and true, gently undulating, with the craggy outcrop of the edge of Easington quarry to our right. There were magnificent views to the south west towards the Cheviot outliers, with the silos of Coastal Grains very prominent about a mile ahead, and we met a couple of fine fellows taking their ease in an adjoining field.
We crossed the old mineral line to the abandoned Easington Quarry (see the reference to this, and Belford Station http://www.disused-stations.org.uk/b/belford/) before making our way towards the towering silver structures of the silos of Coastal Grains. To access this area though, we needed to cross the main East Coast rail line. It was fortunate that a telephone link to Tweedmouth Control was available to check for trains, because it was only a few minutes before a high speed express passed our crossing spot. Superb !
Having been given the all clear to cross, we skirted the grain silos to emerge onto the A1 road, which was remarkably clear of traffic, allowing us to cross to the edge of the driving range for Belford Hall, and then into Belford village, where we stopped for coffee.
Our path out of the village took us northwest, past the moat near West Hall and along a stone pathway, and then onwards past Craggy Hall, following the edge of fields sown with winter barley. A sheltered spot in the lea of some gorse bushes on the edge of some mixed woodland afforded us a suitable lunch spot, with the sound of buzzards calling, high above.
After our lunch stop, as we climbed steadily alongside the woodland, we were presented with a wonderful view of Holy Island basking in the autumn sunshine, over to the north east. Our path still led us north west though, towards Swinhoe Farm, where we spied an interesting collection of small wooden huts at the end of the farm cottage gardens. Presumably netties for the farm workers in the past ?
We followed the farm track for a while, before turning south west and then west, to hug the edge of Swinhoe Lakes. The bordering trees here were showing good autumn colour, with hues of golden brown and yellow mixed in with the darker green of conifers and other evergreens – a really super sight. We emerged from the conifer wood to walk along the edge of a large grass field, bounded by gorse, to join the St. Cuthbert’s Way footpath and the Sandstone Way (http://www.sandstoneway.co.uk/) mountain bike route, as they all dropped down to Greymare Farm. We continued on past the farm buildings (and the Old Bath House cottage), booking a parking spot for future use from the owner, and eventually came back to the car. A quick hop down the A1 to Outchester and home – the end of a lovely autumn day’s walk. Not far to go now !