With only two members of Footloose available, we decided to eschew the next stage of the Wansbeck in favour of a railway walk. From the National Trust website about Wallington, we found the Wannie Line walk, so Geoffrey and I parked behind the former Regional Office of the NT in Scots Gap and donned boots ready for the walk.
We had driven through some very heavy rain on the way, and it was still raining slightly as we prepared to set off, so we walked across the road to Scots Gap auction mart and peeked in to see the fat lamb sale. Jeb and Mark Dodds were selling but we’d arrived close to the end of the sale, so, after a few words with the lads, we sauntered over for a coffee in the little café – £1.00 for a huge mug !!!
Now that the rain had stopped, we set off to follow the Rothbury branch of the old Wansbeck Railway http://www.disused-stations.org.uk/s/scots_gap/index.shtml The track from the car park led directly on to the old line, and only a few yards further along, the path diverged. We took the right hand route, a broad swathe of cut grass bounded by a verdant embankment on either side. A little further on, the path opened out to give us lovely views of the adjacent countryside. We came upon the Hart Burn as is flowed beneath the old line, and eventually reached the point where the Delf Burn meandered below, exhibiting a superb oxbow effect.
It was here we dropped off the old trackbed to cross into an area of newly planted woodland. The lush grasses and other foliage was extremely wet from the recent rain, severely soaking our legs, followed by the water trickling down into our boots. Our socks soon became very sodden, but we squelched onwards, making for the copse of trees near Gallows Hill.
There were some very attractive wild flowers by the streamside, as well as an excellent view of some old rigg and furrow cultivations.
We came across the very well maintained lime kilns at High Hartington (NZ 023 887), just north of Tut Hill farm; with its adjacent quarry, still evident amidst the vegetation growing along its edge http://www.brocross.com/industrial%20history/northumberland%20limekilns/high%20hartington.htm
A little further on, we crossed the Cambo to Harwood road and continued to make our way towards the farm of Fairnley, though we turned off south before the steading after stopping beneath an old tree for lunch. We then crossed two burns via fords (the Ottercops and the Fairnley Burns) before traversing grassy fields in a straight line to join the western branch of this railway themed walk.
The path wound its way between semi mature conifers and hardwoods, and we had an occasional glimpse of artefacts from when trains used this route. We crossed the Cambo to Knowesgate road (the bridge over it having been demolished at some time), curved left through a belt of trees and emerged onto the B6342 at Rugley Walls, and then curved right, passing through a series of grass fields, the track lined with wild roses and other early summer flowers. Eventually we rejoined the old Rothbury line just outside Scots Gap, and made our way back to the car and home. Another smashing walk, pity about the wet feet !