With a full complement for the third of our Wansbeck walks, we drove out to Middleton on a fine summer morning, high cloud screening us from the fierce sun. After parking the car, we walked out of the hamlet and then turned due south down a bridleway towards Middleton Mill. Rather than cross the river, we turned west to the Mill, and then followed the farm road out towards its junction with a minor road. We had a good view of the site of the Medieval Village of South Middleton on the opposite bank of the River Wansbeck.
At the junction, near to the Middleton Bridge, we turned right and then immediately left to walk along the minor road heading towards Wallington, parallel with the river. The day was overcast, but with high clouds, and we enjoyed seeing the evidence of the season in neighbouring fields – some corn was awaiting harvest, whilst other crops were in store, with the straw baled.
Our next port of call was Paine’s Bridge, which carries the B6342 road over the river, http://www.bridgesonthetyne.co.uk/walling.html and Robin, our intrepid explorer, decided to test the theory that the alcoves should perhaps have statues in them. Convinced ?
We continued to walk beside the river, over the metal Trout Bridge, and into the West Wood. Of the multitude of paths available to us, we chose one and skirted the pond before entering the courtyard. From here, the café and grounds being busy with families and other visitors, we headed for the East Wood over the road. We took a circuitous route via the large pond to the walled garden, where we took advantage of seat near the bicycle pond for our lunch stop. We chatted with a couple from the south who were holidaying in, and enjoying, Northumberland, and the guy kindly took our traditional photo.
Leaving the garden behind, we retraced the route from the previous walk, via Prior Hall (and its attendant sheep flock) and Saugh House, though this time we kept to the southern boundary of the field to cross to a very well marked path through a ripening rape field. Negotiating a rickety bridge over a stream, we soon achieved the B6342 road and returned to Middleton village, having discussed the whereabouts of some lost cattle with a lady near the junction, just as the rain started.
A lovely day, good company and interesting countryside – we were well blessed.