35 Blanchland – Allendale

Blanchland to Allendale Town 11 miles (17.6Km.)

Leaving the forest at Beldon Cleugh

Leaving the forest at Beldon Cleugh

I soon left the tourists behind even with a short section of road walk. The track to Newbiggin looked very institutional with good thick tarmac constrained by firm bedded concrete kerb stones. Signs at the start read ‘Private’ and a large highway type sign prohibited cycling but hidden in the overgrown bush was my invitation “Public Footpath”. Newbiggin House garden was open next Sunday but I could see no sign of frantic preparations, “……extensive herbaceous borders all in 5 acres. No dogs” and no cyclists.

Lost hope at Riddlehamhope

Lost hope at Riddlehamhope

Conifer plantations are not a favourite of mine but on a number of occasions I was attracted by the broken sunlight creating glowing pools and hard shadows among the trunks of these uniformly spaced trees forced to grow ever upwards in search of daylight. From the outside these forests look fresh and green but deep inside they are cold and brown with the remains of dead and decaying lower limbs confusing the otherwise stark row upon row of vertical lines.

Looking south from Harwood Shield

Looking south from Harwood Shield

It had been a steady and easy climb along a well defined track and as I approached a summit at Riddlehamhope a section of track covered in short grass offered an attractive place for lunch. Then in the warm sunshine I snoozed until a distant clang startled me then approaching voices and the only other walkers of the day pass by. When I eventually roused myself the gate clangs again and the derelict remains of Riddlehamhope come into view. The house is substantial and appears to have been abandoned many years ago but in this isolated location has only nature slowly destroying the past work of man.

Stobb Cross

Stobb Cross

At the junction of paths and tracks the definitive line, which is plotted on my GPS, parts company with the track on the ground and causes some confusion but all is soon resolved and my journey continues on a stone vehicle track until I’ve turned by Harwood Shield. The track bears off to the left and my plot goes right into the heather and the going gets tough until I make use of another track just off line but easier walking.

The map indicates a waterfall, which might live up to its name after rain, but not today but then Ladle Well (Reservoir) is a misnomer as well, or perhaps it’s hidden underground see www.geograph.org.uk. Again the easy walking track bears left and my plot bears right alongside a wall which eases navigation but not the walking of another tough section.

Looking down into Allendale Town

Looking down into Allendale Town

A bridleway crosses my path without a nod or a wave but then a sign on a cairn offers a feature in this bland landscape so I made a detour to investigate ‘Stubbs Cross’. Not far now to a walled track, green fields, cows, a road and a gentle descent into Allendale Town. Once a thriving centre for the surrounding farms it is perhaps now too close to Hexham. While three or was it four Inns vie for limited customers the proudly independent Allendale Co-operative Society Limited looks ready to serve me, but not at teatime on a Sunday.

Allendale Co-operative Society Limited

Allendale Co-operative Society Limited

My car awaited me on the expanse of tarmac that perhaps formerly held market pens and stalls but now provides ample parking in the centre of ‘Town’. I’d come prepared for a hot and sweaty walk with a small bowl, water, face cloth and towel. These were most welcome together with a fresh tee-shirt before I set off to Rookhope to retrieve the bike and then onward to digs for the night.

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Great English Walk map of section 35

Great English Walk map of section 35

Great English Walk hills and dales of section 35

Great English Walk hills and dales of section 35

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