Return to Northumberland: around Bellingham15th December 2006
Last Saturday, I took my chance after all of the naff weather that we have been having and headed off to the hills when the opportunity presented itself. Northumberland offered the chance of a dry day when showers were afflicting other parts. The railway got me to Hexham and back again, with changes at Manchester and Carlisle along the way. Hexham, with its centrally-located abbey, was a tempting proposition but my plans meant that it had to be left for another day. From Hexham, I took the useful Tyne Valley Coaches 880 to and from Bellingham. Plus Bus ticketing would have covered both rail and road transport but for the fact that I did not realise it: something for the future then.
While there, I took a stroll along a short section of the Pennine Way out as far as Hareshaw House before returning on another public footpath. The ramble took me into and out of the Northumberland National Park, which excludes Bellingham for some reason. Unsurprisingly given the weather that we have been having recently, muddy stretches abounded and extra care was needed when going through any gates: I still retain the memory of having mud up to my left shin after a careless step while following the Dane Valley Way as part of a walk from the Cat and Fiddle Inn in Cheshire to Rushton Spencer in Staffordshire around this time of year in 2004. On my way back to Bellingham, I followed what clearly was an alignment of some sort, almost like the bed of a railway track and raised in places. However, its bridges over streams have not survived so some diversions proved necessary; I still returned to Bellingham with an hour to spare, time that allowed me to savour some walks along the North Tyne (which joins with the South Tyne to give, you’ve guessed it, the same River Tyne that flows through Newcastle-upon-Tyne: they don’t seem to expend much energy naming rivers up here) before the light faded completely.
I only got to savour but a small sample of the countryside that surrounds Bellingham so there is further potential for walking trips. And I think that I need to find out more about the area as well…