One of our first harvests has been cabbage this year at our allotment. But, due to their size pulling one means we have to come up with a good few recipes to make the most of the whole head. Some of the outer leaves get thrown in the chicken cree and they enjoy them enormously. As well as using a good few leaves for our Sunday Dinner I searched for a decent cabbage soup online. Ingredients:
2 small onions Garlic 2 chicken stock pots Large cabbage (not white) Tin chopped tomatoes Tsp cinnamon 2 Tsp ground cummin 2 tsp ground corridor Tsp tomato puree Salt and pepper
Sweat down onion and garlic in a tablespoon of olive oil while you chop the cabbage. Add cabbage to reduce for 5 minutes. Add tomatoes, puree and spices along with the 2 stock pots in a litre of water and summer for 20-30 minutes. Salt and pepper to taste.
I reckon this would be spot on for all cabbages apart from white cabbage. Hope you enjoy it, and…apparently its good for you digestion!👍
Thought I’d turn over a new leaf and bring my blog back to life, it’s been some time since I posted a walk and had not been motivated enough to write about anything, but after writing a few Trip Advisor reviews I thought I’d show my blog some attention.
My sister in law owns Journey To Discovery, a guided walks venture, and she asked me if I’d recce a route with her in the area, so I said I would have a look out with her on my day off.
We met at the car park on the A689 on the north side near the bridge where the walkway from Hurworth Burn Reservoir crosses. It had been raining the whole journey to the spot but seemed to ease off as I pulled into the ‘free’ car park and met up with Ali.
We had a quick chat as I donned my day sack and I greeted my old mate Bruce, the enormous German Shepherd. As we chatted the rain started again so we made tracks and headed north east along a track towards Low Swainston and walked through the farm , heading north up to Embleton.
There’s a few buildings in Embleton but it is apparently a medieval village, like Swainston we’d just passed. After turning right and checking out the derelict church, the track drops down into a dip that someone has built a great, hidden house in fantastic grounds. The path goes straight up through a gate and across a large field called Embleton Moor. The path goes up to ’11 oclock’ and drops down into a beck and over a wooden foot bridge.
By this time it had been raining horizontal and the waterproofs had been put to the test. We laughed about the first time we went out walking about 8 years ago, the weather was exactly the same and it cost me a mobile phone due to getting so soaked.
The path circumnavigates
a large field and then heads north towards Embleton Old Hall. The path then goes around the house and grounds initially but cuts through the rear of the garden onto the track out of the grounds, west on another track towards the Castle Eden Walkway. We decided we’d stay on the small track running parallel ish with the walkway to Green Lane Cottages. Here we joined the walkway south down to the a car park and 4.9 miles later, back at the car.
A good short range route sorted for future use by Ali’s clients, hopefully the weather will be better next time.
I have a few friends from work who like the outdoors, we go on small dog walks and generally get together about once every two months (if we’re lucky) and take Alfie out for a leg stretch. We have a ‘What’s App’ chat group where we basically chat about anything and take the piss every chance we get too.
During one of these chats my friend Shiv stated she had never been up Roseberry Topping, which is situated in the hills in North Yorkshire, or Cleveland if you want. So, we decided to meet up and have a walk up the tiny hill.
Seeing as we all work shifts finding a date would be hard but managed to find a day we were all off, and would you believe it, the weather was even nice to us.
I’ve blogged about Roseberry before but it’s always nice to revisit and share different experiences. We all meet at ours and drive down the A19 and head for the hills. In the lovely little village of Great Ayton a quick left turn up Dikes Lane and before we knew it we were at the car park putting our boots on. We started walking up the path which heads north up onto the heather and the awesome views that stretch across for miles and miles.
We walked next the dry-stone wall which is an easy way of knowing you’re going in the right direction as it keeps with you the whole way. Once we all got our breath back it was time to start taking the micky out of each other. As anyone who knows
and does the work we do, getting the piss ripped out of you is a sign of affection. With a mixture of food chat and light hearted insults, the junction in the wall where we turned left was up on us before we knew it. From here you can see the path up Roseberry, which to be fair looks quite steep from this distance, but at least the drop down to the start of the path gave us a chance to build up the enough steam to march to the top which we did quite quick.
The night before, Kel had knocked up some Millionaire Shortbread and Lemon Drizzle Cake for the top after our sarnies, well to be honest, she had only made the Shortbread but she was guilt tripped into making the Lemon Drizzle by Lou so she knocked one up just for her. The top was busy and we settled down to stuff our faces and take in the view.
The top is covered in graffiti, or rather ‘etchings’ with ‘art’ stretching back to 1881 which, I can quite imagine the Victorians spending the day on the top taking in the view of the mines and the smog. After half an hour of munching and being robbed of any remaining lemon Cake by Lou we made our way down the way we came.
The journey back was filled with the workings of a ‘She Wee’ and the appearance of a football on the route which wasn’t there on the way in. Lou couldn’t get her head round the shape and the ‘fittings’ of the female urination equipment. Kel didn’t make the conversation any better by saying the last time she used it, “It squirted out the back!” And the football, well that’s still a mystery, although if it was a youngster who brought it with him and left it there to collect after he’d summited Roseberry, Alfie didn’t help by hiding it in the heather.
Towards the end of the route the talk turned to a conversation that is well ploughed during any of these walks: my accent! I’ve lived in the north-east for nearly 20 years now and have known people for the best apart of that, but my accent is still a source of amusement. I don’t mind to be fair and find it funny!
Back at the cars the talk turned to the pub and where to go, we found a nice little place in the village where of all places we started talking to a chap from Easington who had been in Yorkshire for 30 years.
Great day and lovely weather to boot, back to Casa De La Hyde for Toad in’t Hole!
We’ve been saving the walks for Country Walking magazine for ages now and today seemed a good day to have a flick through the little pile of cut out pages and find a nice little local walk. We settled for a nice 7 1/2 miler around the Shildon area!
Great parking at the Railway Museum and free to boot. Into the museum area and right down the lines towards the Welcome Centre further down the track. Passed the playground and into a quiet part of Shildon through a small housing estate and a bit of industrial estate then out into the countryside.
The route follows the old railway lines passed some old engine rooms and old railway sleepers which look like they’ve been well preserved. From the route, great views of Bishop Auckland can be seen and the surrounding farm land. And the KFC sign, which Kel pointed out, at least twice.
As the route ascends up into Brusselton Woods where the path needs some concentration and easily to lose the ‘scent’, trick is try and follow previous boot marks and not to get fooled by heavily used deer tracks. Plus, the shoulder high Ferns don’t help, luckily Alfie, our trusty Springer is a great pathfinder so we have an advantage. Once we were out of the woods the route hit the road a bit but it’s not so busy and very pleasant.
The route back towards Shildon was through scenic farm land and was well trodden, even through the farmers fields that were 99% cattle/sheep free, yay! Back into Shildon and back to the museum and a few pics for some of my spotter friends, not me, honestly!
Nice little walk with no dramas. Only advice i’d pass on is use your head in the woods otherwise you might get a bit ‘temporarily displaced’ and the midges are hungry.
After a wet day in the Lake District and a good drowning for the majority of the party, we were glad to have a sunny clear day for our next walk out. So, instead of hitting the A66 we set off down the A19 to continue with our next attack on the Cleveland Way, Osmotherley to Clay Bank.
The number of participants had fallen greatly for this hike in comparison to Place Fell, only the usual four suspects, Dicko, Sue, Kel and me. After the usual traffic on the A19 we crawled out of a jam just the other side of Stockton, however I had been ‘resting my eyes’ whilst Kel drove and she’d lost sight of Dicko’s Passat in the commotion and when I woke we were well on our way but no sign of our hiking buddies. My mobile rings and its Dicko enquiring where we were, stating he was on the A172 nearing our destination of Clay Bank whilst we were still blasting down the A19. We eventually caught up with the others in Stokesley and after a brief micky take in the Co-op car park we were on our way to drop our Aygo off at the view point Clay bank. At the car park we piled our kit into the Passat hampered by a thin but equally deadly layer of black ice covering the entire area.
We set off for Osmotherley in Dicko’s car and a chance for Kel to show off her new waterproof jacket to the others. She’d replaced her ‘old’ one after a good drenching on Place Fell where everyone’s waterproofs had been put to the test. My North Face jacket had stood well against the driving rain/snow on the Ullswater hill with only my over trousers failing me slightly. My poor wife had basically been soaked through to her knickers, her jacket, which did cost a few bob I might add, might as well as not have been there hence the purchase of yet another expensive piece of kit at Go Outdoors in Penrith.
We arrived in Osmotherley and struggled to park initially which was unusual for this lovely little village on a week day. We managed to squeeze into a space and began to don our kit and daysacks. Sue proudly displayed her new daysack and bragged about how much she’d managed to squeeze into it. I explained that my map pocket was bigger and congratulated Dicko on finding a daysack for his wife that was actually smaller than Kel’s.
We headed north out of the village and the sun was low and bright. After a quick left turn just as we left the built up area and headed for Chapel Wood Farm, the views were almost immediate stretching eastward. It’s hard to take photos on this walk because you’re always saying to yourself, “That’s a great view, no that is!” The path is so definite on this route and it’s very hard to stray. We headed north again towards South Wood taking the right in the fork at the start of the forest. As soon as you lose the view to the west the forest clears and the view east opens up across Hither Moor. On the left as Arncliffe Wood starts you get a wonderful view of a TV station; it sticks out like a pair of dog’s swingers and not the best view of the walk. The route comes away from the wooded area near Scarth Wood Moor then drop into Clain wood.
The sun was shining bright and the temperature was comfortable as we crossed the track that leads down into Swainby. We know this gorgeous little village quite well as it’s always were we finish off a good days climbing at Scugdale with a pint and some ‘real’ chips at the pub. If we don’t retire to the Eden Valley, then Swainby is second on our list so as you can guess we’re both counting down the next ten years. We pick up the Cleveland Way on the other side of the track and briefly head south east retracing our steps from our Whirl around Whorlton hike two years ago. After about ‘1 click’ we take a left across a field towards Swine Park and its lovely little beck and its ford and bridge then a weir. This is a gorgeous little spot that sees its fair share of Snowdrops and other wildlife, and a good place for Dicko to prove even more that his old leather Brashers are better than his fabric Salamons, dry feet!! As you leave the woods a track up to Hollin Hill is a festival of birdlife, tits (…stop it!), finches, robins, wrens and more Hedge sparrows (heggies) than you can shake a ‘Leki’ at, which all stay with you until the route crosses the back road to Scugdale and the start of a steady incline up hugging the west side of Live Moor Plantation and stunning views left over the flatlands surrounding the area. Soon the path shoots east and the start of a quick ‘thigh burner’ up though the plantation to the base of Round Hill.
Over the few years we’ve been walking and me been blogging I’ve had to put up with the barrage of jokes and quips from my old mate Dicko about my Yorkshire roots and background. I know it’s all said in good humor and I take it the way it’s meant. But from the top of Round Hill and, to be fair, the views from all the routes we’ve done in my beloved county, he cannot fault what he sees. I mean, after all, he’s from Stanley where you have to make the most of the views before someone nicks ‘em!
As I said the views from the top of Round Hill were amazing and we couldn’t have asked for a clearer day. We passed an old boy walking the other way nearing the top and again met an example of good old Yorkshire friendliness who stops and has a bit of craic. We set back off towards the summit with Dicko making the usual jokes about how nice Lancashire people are, Philistine! Round Hill, Gold Hill and Carlton Moor come and go with again cracking views and the sounds of gunfire in the distance and “Are we nearly there yet?” in the foreground from Sue. This leg of the CW was quite hilly and I think Sue had set herself up for a flattish walk and was getting a bit flustered by the ‘ups and down’s ‘ presented by this part of the route. Dicko, the loving hubby that he is likes to ensure his wife there’s only ‘another K left’ giggling as he tucks into his jelly babies….Oooh jelly babies! The drop down to Lord Stones Café appeared to cheer Sue up slightly; I even think I saw her looking for the car park. She weren’t too happy when I pointed at the view point at Cringle Moor and told her that’s our next destination.
So, with Sue like a coiled noodle we started up the short but steep accent to the gorgeous views that the top of ‘the Moor’ offers we trudged up a very soggy path. The wind greeted us with some great views as we quickly headed towards the top of Kirby Bank and some particularly nice looking crags under our feet. To the south are some lovely looking moorland again, the CW gives way to some great moorland which is one of my favourite terrains. For some reason I see it like the Falklands for which I have always thought I’d like to visit. I did have the chance in 1990/91 but decided to freeze my arse off in the Middle East instead sorting tash face Saddam out. To Sues delight Dicko and I informed her we were on the home stretch and the mood lightened, we carefully negotiated the steep descent from the top of Kirby Bank and set off taking the path between Broughton Bank and the Wainstones, a popular spot for climbers and home of ‘The Steeple and The Needle’.
The main road on Clay Bank was in ear shot and the end of this leg of the Cleveland Way in sight. There was just a small little descent down to the road where my mate Dicko decided to see how hard the floor was using his arse. I short squeal from Sue announced to the North Yorkshire moors that her hubby had come up close and personal with the earth. Everyone within a mile radius turned their head, only us fortunate ones were greeted with a grassy thump and blue air as my mate was helped to his feet by his wife. Now, you know that feeling when you know you shouldn’t laugh, but due to the amount of injuries acquired by my buddy during our adventures and the fact we’re BOTH not the best side of 40, it’s always a tongue in cheek affair on the rare occasion we become ‘one’ with the land. He got to his feet quickly and immediately and announced he was ok, thank god for that, now I can laugh!
I giggled to myself as we joined the road and turned left toward the car park and the awaiting Aygo and the sight of my limping mate you disclosed the fall had given him some grief after all to his repairing fractured ankle.
My guilt for laughing at my mate was short lived as we joked in the car on route back to Osmotherley to retrieve the dubiously parked Passat. Yet another leg of the Cleveland Way complete’ and yet another walk without event. After all, what would I blog about if it wasn’t for someone’s mishap!
Walking the Cleveland Way has some advantages over other linear walks, because the path is so well used and maintained to a high standard it’s virtually map free, leaving more time to enjoy the views. Anyway the views were quite breathe taking on our second leg of the CW from Sutton bank to Osmotherley.
I crisp morning met us as we prepared for this long leg of our winter walk. We packed ‘MY’ daysack into Kel’s new (ish) Aygo and took to the road expecting a nice long wait on the A19 but were pleasantly surprised by the lack of cars as we followed a solo Dicko heading for our first car drop off point at the quaint little village of Osmotherley. As we pulled into the village square to park up, the pub was in spitting distance which made Kel and Dicko’s day, I however wasn’t so impressed as I was going onto night shift so a post walk pint wasn’t in the mix for me grrrrr! We hopped into Dicko’s Passat and Capital radio and its minging music. You’d have thought a gentleman of his years would enjoy Radio 2 like me; however I had to endure chart chaff while Kel and Dicko chatted away. We pulled into the car park at the top of Sutton Bank and it was Dicko’s turn to get turned over by the parking meter. Boots on, me and Dicko put our daysacks on and Kel skipped off laden free back onto the most well-kept route I’ve ever seen.
Within a few metres we were back on the top of the cliffs that make up a good part of the CW. Looking west Sutton Brow gave way to Garbutt Wood revealing Gormire Lake secretly nestled in its trees. Even on a fairly overcast morning in the North Yorkshire moors the view stretched across to the Pennines that had a cloudy cap. The route was completely, with us as an exception, hiker free at this point with only a dog walker at the top of South Woods to pass. The breeze was fresh but not too cold but certainly not t-shirt weather, I was comfortable in a base layer and my trusty Rab jacket. Kel skipped along in her base layer, fleece and a light body warmer, again all sponsored by Rab. Sneck Yate Bank was soon up on us as the pace was brisk and with a clear path and no maps we were storming north. I had to keep looking at the map as I like to know ‘exactly’ where we were, looking at features and fencelines, keeping my mind active as well as looking at the cracking views. As we approached Sneck I was looking to see the road that crossed the route. We had stopped as the path forked off and decided what direction to take; a few Jelly Babies had appeared from Dicko’s bottomless Osprey so I was happy. Sue had passed on her apologies the day before as she could not get time off work to join us, however she had furnished Dicko with a bag of those liquorice sweets with sprinkles on them, Kel calls them ‘Spogs’ for some reason, it’s probably another ‘Pit Yacker’ expression that no one else has ever heard of. Then, just as we’d decided on the correct path, this wonderful old bloke came walking passed and began to speak to us. You could tell by his gear he was seasoned, saying he was local he began to explain, step by step our route to Osmotherley. He knew ever blade of grass, every twist and turn and every incline we’d encounter in the next 9 miles. He then further impressed me by mentioning AW himself, I’d have thought a born and bred Yorkshireman hardened in the heather, git stoned fells would probably dismiss the Lancashire legend, but the famous 214 were discussed which made me smile.
As we watched the t’old lad bimble off in the direction we had come, I had a second smile at his canvas gaiters and his ‘lightweight olive green trousers’. I have spent many years in those trousers, not his, in my first few years in the army. High Paradise Farm brought a couple of treats for us, well Kel in particular, it had a couple of Saddlebacks nuzzling around in their pen. They paid us some attention before getting stuck back into the undergrowth, the king size bacon butties gave us a last glance as we walked through the farm yard. To be fair, the farmer did come out to have a bit of craic, apparently the pair of porky pets had knocked out 21 piglets a few days before, of course Kel wanted one but we ushered her away before any deal was sealed. We carried on towards and knuckled down into Boltby Forest and a considerable drop in temperature. The festive mood was set alight by the sight of Christmas trees growing and the thought that Kel still won’t allow me to put the tree up back at Hyde Mansions. Time was getting on and the familiar sound of Tubs’ (Kel, it’s a family nick name nothing to do with her size) tummy rumbling had started to erupt in the grand Yorkshire Moors. To be fair she’d been dropping hints to stop for food for about a mile but Dicko wasn’t having any on it. The wind had picked up as we came out of the forest with Little Moor to the east of us, the pace was still good as we followed a path that came surly be seen from the moon it’s so wide and distinctive. At this point there was a competition looming between Kel’s rumbling stomach and the army Lynx helicopter buzzing the fells on exercise. Finally we stopped near the disused quarry and the path cross behind a dry stone wall and had lunch. The only hikers of the day so far came over the moors to the east and bimbled off the way we had come. Dicko phoned Sue at the office and gloated; she took it well and managed not to swear to much at his attempts to make her jealous.
Sarnies gone and back on track we headed towards the left bend in the route at White Gill Head and along Hambleton Street and a cracking view south west at the route we’d come, quite a distance in a short space of time. The route drops down quite a bit going passed the forest on Nether Stilton Moor and passed some Grouse Butts to the right, the closest approximately about 50 metres from this well used route, glad they weren’t shooting today! At Square Corner the route turns left and drops further passed two disused reservoirs and daft question time from my wife. “Why’s it disused?” she enquires. “Cos there’s no water in it!” Dicko replied. I go walking with some sharp tacks I’ll tell ya!
We’ve encountered some inclines in the past which, yeah, we all have ‘view stops’ to catch breath. But today we had not really climbed much but I saw my friend Dicko looking decidedly hot and bothered, too much wine I thought the night before. We crossed a tarmac road and pushed towards Whitehouse farm and another cheeky little incline making the old boy puff a bit more. I was shocked cos for his age he’s still a fit lad and generally can keep up if not storm ahead. We sneaked across the farm land and down into a small wooded area over a stream then up a few steps. Kel ran to the top, I trudged up thinking Dicko was hot on my heals. I turned to check and he’d stopped, face red as a baboons backside and a face that said “I’m goosed!” We got to the top and sat on a bench which sported a sign saying ‘Paul’s steps’, Dicko looked rough. The end was in sight as we passed almost through the back gardens of the cottages in Osmotherley, sometimes passing front doors with signs saying ‘Don’t stamp your boots on our drive’. Ha, obviously the residents have in the past taken exception to muddy ramblers stamping some of the finest Yorkshire soil over their nice clean driveways. Through one last ‘gennel’ and we were out into the village square of Osmotherley, it was a bit like coming out of the cinema into the daylight. We dumped out kit into the Aygo and went into the Queen Catherine Hotel for a post walk pint, or diet coke in my case.
As we settled down and ‘de-layed’ it became apparently why Dicko was struggling on the inclines, he took off the best part of ‘Cotswolds’ stock. Layer after layer of top quality outdoor clothing was thrown across a wooden chair, body warmer, Rab jacket, fleece and then not one base layer but two! Oh how we laughed, I had a base layer on and my trusty Rab jacket and I was comfortable, he must have been roasting daft bugger.
Another stage completed and another few miles under the belt, plus another head full of stunning views and lessons learnt. Hopefully the next leg will have a dusting of snow to add to the views, although I don’t think Dicko’s got anymore clothing to wear if it gets colder!
With the night’s drawing in and the days getting shorter and shorter, day trips to the Lakes to bag Wainwrights is near impossible. So about this time every year closer, more practical quests are sought with equally satisfying hikes and views. We’ve completed the Teesdale and Weardale Ways in the past winters, so after great deliberation with our pal Dicko and his long suffering wife Sue, the Cleveland Way looked favourite. It has everything to ask, hills, coastal paths and only half hour down the A19, plus I get to visit god’s country….Yorkshire!!
For those who don’t know the Cleveland Way it is basically a massive horseshoe up and around the North Yorkshire moors starting at Helmsley and ending in sunny Filey, 110 miles later. We’ve planned to complete it over the winter, hopefully.
We’d arranged for the Dickinson’s to meet us a ours about half seven giving us enough time to get down the A19 for a fairly early start at Helmsley, but like all linear walks, two cars are needed and drop a car off at the end, Sutton bank, to ferry us back to the start.
I would’ve preferred to get straight to Sutton Bank quickly to make a good start, I thought we’d sit on the A19 for an hour with loads of other cars and listen to Kel swearing at radio DJ’s for daring to talk in between records whilst attacking my vulnerable Aygo ‘sound system’ with her ever increasingly forceful fore finger. For the love of god, can anyone who reads this blog and works for the highways dept, please add another lane to the A19 between Newcastle and Stockton. Rant over and eventually we went from bumper to bumper to just our two vehicles on the road as we drove passed the sign for ‘North Yorkshire’ and clean air. I’ve driven on this road a few times and the climb up Sutton Bank is a test for most vehicles, especially HGV’s who take the road at their own risk.
We arrived in fairly good time in the car park at the top of Sutton Bank to leave my car and to jump in Dicko’s car to head to Helmsley, not before Dicko jumping out of his car to run to the toilets and me getting fleeced by the parking meter. Ticket displayed and Dicko’s bladder still full (toilets closed) we sped off to Helmsley and a chance for Kel and Sue to catch up on hair length only to realise they were both wearing the exact same clothing, ha!
Arriving in gorgeous Helmsley we found a parking spot outside the church after avoiding another parking meter dressed in a striped top wearing a mask. Boots donned and we had a look at the castle before we headed towards the start of the Cleveland Way. The hiking gods had graced us with ideal weather, very sunny with a chill in the air. The night had been freezing and the frosted grass and the frozen puddles gave testament to the low temperatures that had sneaked in overnight. Unfortunately Dicko managed to find one of these frozen puddles, I had an early scare with a minor skate across some frosty leaves, but the sound of my friend’s arse hitting the tarmac after hitting one of these puddles was initially concerning as he’s just got over a broken ankle, but a quick recovery turned my concern to micky taking and the start of our new fall count of the winter, 1-0-0-0!
Photos taken near the impressive stone monument at the start of this famous walk, we started the leg. We headed west out of the town straight out into the farmland and the muddy, but frozen, tracks sneaking up between the fields interrupting various varieties of cattle as they grazed on the frozen grass. The pace was brisk, Dicko’s attempt to warm everyone up I think but it was welcome as the cold nipped at my hands. The sun was beating down leaving frost in the shadows of fences and heavy hedgerows. But the mild breeze still carried a minus temperature and hands were firmly placed in pockets. My constant obs (observations) of my wife are always a pleasant pass time; I think from my army days I need to supplement my love of the scenery with the want to look after someone, Kel is a wonderful distraction! The night before our walk she had placed all the kit she needed in my daysack, I’m not bothered on these walks as we not too high. She had a massive smile on her face as she was daysack free and had a skip in her step, which always makes me smile. However, the usual daysackless Sue had been told by Dicko she had to wear hers today, she hates wearing it and will normally put all her waterproofs on rather than carry it, but today the spring in Kel’s step was only equalled by the slump in Sue’s back.
We reached Blackdale Howl wood which blocked the sun and sent the temperature plummeting down as the path regained its cold hard surface, which was briefly softened going through the exposed fields. Before you get to Whinney bank wood Griff Lodge appears on the right, god what a gorgeous place to live, the view from the south facing window must be incredible, damn those that live there, ha ha! Quarry bank wood drops you down onto a small road which takes you to within touching distance of Rievaulx Abbey, or what’s left of it. One of the good things about the winter low level walks is some of the buildings you come across, this abbey looked particularly grand but all we did was look from afar across the cow field, yep, a cow field! That was Kel sorted for a few minutes looking at the baby ‘Cooos’ while we stood like spare parts on the road. Dicko produced some jelly babies which was very welcome while Sue produced some liquorice allsorts that managed to distract Kel from the beef. We set off across a lovely little bridge crossing an equally stunning stream which also had a cottage siding onto the cold running water, another house on my ‘retire to’ list. It’s becoming a very big list!
The path stuck to the road for some time, I noticed a large amount of large, posh 4 x 4’s passing us with what looked like very grand looking people in them dressed in tweed. Back in the forest on Bridge Road the population of pheasants seemed to soar, they were everywhere! They did their usual trick of running like mad instead of flying away, which as I’ve mentioned before would be my choice of getting about at this time of year for game birds, take to the wing and you could be looking down the business end of a 12 bore held by Harry the Spaniel’s dad. We passed a few ponds on our right with the world’s supply of mallards, we were obviously in game shooting country. We hit a cross roads in the route and entered Callister Wood and time for bait. The owners have provided a wooden bench which was very welcome. Sue produced an array of lovely sandwiches which Dicko obviously complained about, even though he ate. I had my lovely broth and some ham and cheese sarnies which went down well. I didn’t sit down like the others as I’m still waiting for Christmar to get my body warmer that the others don on the breaks to keep them warm, so I scoffed stood up and I wasn’t long before we were back on the path and heading up to Cold Kirby. It’s a steepish rise up through the forest into the sunshine. The route was littered with the carcases of various game birds which strengthened my shooting area theory, me and Dicko suggested a day shooting which I thought was a cracking idea, if we were both millionaires as they charge thousands for the day as far as I know. Maybe clay pigeon shooting is more our bag.
We strolled through Cold Kirby like kids in a sweet shop, pointing at different cottages and houses saying, “I’d have that one, no that one, no that one!” I think Sue was eyeing up different properties for when Dicko retires soon, I am of course in full support of them spending his ‘lumper’ on a cottage in the countryside!
We pushed on to Cote Moor and our first sighting of deer this winter, another benefit of low level winter walks. The pair of Does (I think) were stood on the track in Hotel plantation that gave us about 30 seconds of their attention before running off into the forest, not before Kel could get a long distance piccy with her phone. We crossed the A170 onto High Town Bank Road and made our way down the road towards the Gliding Club and had the pleasure of seeing a few of the flimsy planes taking off and coming into land. Dicko expressed his desire to go up in one of these toy planes, I admit I do have a hatred for flying in planes, I can spend all day in a helicopter no problem but not planes. Plus, these gliders have collapsible wings which get closed down to transport them. If you can collapse them on the ground, they can collapse at 10,000 feet so no thanks. The route leads you to the top of the famous white horse land mark. You can’t actually get the gist of the horse from the top but there’s an info board near its ear if you wanna know the craic. Continue the route towards Knowlson Drop you’re in for a treat, there’s an info board with a painting from Turner, and the view is breath taking. It’s one of the views in the area where the industrial area isn’t in view, it’s gonna give an appearance later on in the walk which I might mention. The view of Sutton bank from the top shows the scale of the accent for vehicles, no wonder it’s had so many vehicles grind to a halt hallway up.
We got back to my Aygo a few minutes later and the sun was still blazing down on us. My car very rarely gets passengers in the back so 4 sweating adults steamed my windows up straight away. Sue’s bickering with her having to use her daysack continued into the car back to Helmsley and into the pub for our post walk pint.
A good start to this part of the walk, the weather was great, company good as always and the views were absolutely stunning. It’s great to be back in Yorkshire, I’ve done a few walks on this route in the later stages a few years ago, the eastern side of the horseshoe is fairly demanding but fulfilling. Stay tuned for the next few miles.
August and September were great months, well for Kel they were, I managed to get a really annoying eye infection which knocked me out of sorts but it wasn’t too bad. However, those who know us or follow us on social media and my blog, you’ll know about Kel’s ankle problem that has basically kept us not only off the fell’s, but kept us from any form of physical exercise for a year. But an operation and a long rehabilitation has sorted her troublesome joint out a treat.
Our hiking partners Dicko and Sue have also long awaited Kel’s return to the footpaths and bridal ways so it only seemed appropriate that they joined us on our ‘tester’ trip to the hills to see if the operation had done its job. There was no discussion about the first test, ‘Roseberry Topping’!! it made sense, close to home and a nice steady climb with no drama’s plus, as long as you don’t look at Middlesbrough, cracking views when the skies are clear.So, for the first time in ages I got my rucksack out and checked and checked again, rucksack sceptics like Kel and Sue think I carry too much kit, but as Dicko and I always say, the hills are a dangerous place and should not be taken for granted. Even a small hill like ‘Topping’ needs to treated respect and the weather can, even in mid-summer, close in and cut you off. Plus an injury can send a nice day out walking into turmoil and misery and god knows what else if unprepared.
As the ground levelled so did my heart rate, it calmed quickly which, from my army PTI days, shows I’m still quite fit. The heather was quite breath taking and because I’m a sado it wasn’t long before I was seeing how many different kinds of butterflies I could spot. Immediately the views are stunning, looking left over the stone wall Roseberry Topping was standing there ready to be ‘topped’, I’ve been to the top numerous times but this time was special, it was Kel’s first top in more than a year. With a smile that made me look like I’ve slept with a coat hanger in my mouth we cracked on along the wall line keeping Great Ayton Moor to our right. The banter was fun and times were great, we were back on the hills and life was good. As the temporary view stopper Slacks wood stops, the path drops down before the steep incline to the top of Roseberry.
The view was consistent and beautiful, the sky was clear and the North Sea was still. The incline is fairly steep but the path well maintained, as you’d expect with a section of the Cleveland Way. At this point we had a visitor to the walk; a Kestrel was patrolling its patch and was circling us. It came to rest on a fence post and seemed quite happy to be the subject of a photo shoot. It’s times like this that hiking shows it’s worth, views of wildlife like this seldom are seen in everyday life, well for me they don’t, this is one of the reasons I walk. The gorgeous bird of prey got bored with all the attention it was getting and took to flight to continue its patrol. We reached the dip on Roseberry Common and braced ourselves for the climb to the top of the popular peak.
I could see from here that the top was very busy and there were quite a few people coming down from the top, we passed a few who looked like they’d just come out for an evening stroll, trainers jeans etc. this always annoys me but I won’t dwell on it. After a short time and quite a bit of sweat we reached the top. I’d forgotten how ‘vandalised’ the stone work was at the top, it amazes me why people want to disfigure a piece of nature like this. I never could understand why someone would want to carve their name into a rock, idiots!! The others sat down for a rest but I wanted to have a look around. The west side of the peak is quite steep, it’s not accessible without rope and gear and looking at it, it doesn’t look like many have attempted to climb it. I also found what looked like someone’s ashes, I reminded Kel that I still want mine scattering off the top of Carlside. I got the usual response made up of expletives that I can’t repeat on a family blog, she don’t like Carlside!! We spent a few more minutes taking in the view and set off back down the way we’d come. Heading east down the CW with the intention of heading over to Hutton Moor. Our friend the Kestrel showed itself again with another brief pose before heading over to the corner of Slacks Wood. Back up the hill and instead of turning right back along the fence line to Slacks wood we carried on west towards Hutton Moor. This is a very ‘moory’ section of the route with acres of heather and the sound of cackling grouse to accompany us. Grouse Butts served as a reminder why the grouse were heard but not seen, dodgy time of year for game birds, it makes you realise why pheasant’s normally run across roads instead of flying.
The forest shown on OS map, Hutton Lowcross woods is now…. Not forest!! This is a very popular mountain bike route and they were coming thick and fast. I admire them, like fell runners, it’s a very demanding pass time that takes bags of stamina, however, I can remember when I used to run around the hills in my army days and looking back I never actually saw much scenery. Now I’m walking the hills I’m taking in more of the views and enjoying it more. Turning right heading south east took us up a slight hill again surrounded by heather. Now, about two hundred meters up the track there should be a path leading off to the right, there sign posts there, but the path ain’t. While Dicko was examining the map I decided to recce the path, or where it should be. I went for about 20 metres into the thick heather and couldn’t see any clearings, I saw what looked like a boundary stone about 300 metres in the distance and thought it wasn’t too bad. I trugged back to the rest and saw a familiar look on Sue’s face, that “I’ll be buggered if I’m walking across there” look! Dicko and me had shorts on and the girls had long trousers on so I thought it would be me and him getting scratched legs not them. After a deliberation between the Dickinson’s and Kel finding a chunky bright green caterpillar, Dicko had won and we set off across the moorland. No one had used this path for some time and it showed, the heather was thick and the grouse had strimmers. We reached the boundary post and the we could see the path we had started on, however that was about 500 meters of thick heather away and Sue’s face wasn’t a happy one. I didn’t help by bringing up the subject of Adders and that their bite can be very nasty, but we cracked on and found a grouse butt path and with bloodied legs we re-joined the path we had trugged up earlier.
The evening was drawing in but the temperature was ill comfortable, we dropped down the hill we had started on not that long ago and came to rest at Dicko’s car. I’ve had my boots for about 15 years and the outers are still going strong, however I couldn’t help thinking the inners are on their last legs as the steam piped out of them. My sandals were a welcome feeling, but the heather filled socks weren’t. The pint in Great Ayton went down well as the next step out was discussed.
Roseberry Topping is a nice walk out with lovely views, the top can get a bit busy and years of it being ‘topped’ has took its toll with pointless etchings daubed all over the rock.
June last year seems an age away, but its legacy is still living strong in our lives into 2013. Kel and I still cannot believe an injury acquired by simply stepping off a bunk bed ladder can be so painful and so life changing. I mean, we’ve spent hour after hour falling off rocks, slipping down slopes and jumping off rock faces with only scratches and a few bruises as a result. We have, in the past, just brushed ourselves off and laughed. But this has totally altered the way we live for over half a year and the doctors still cannot put their finger on what’s causing Kel so much pain in her ankle. As you can imagine, walking has been a ‘no no’ since that day at Ennerdale Scout camp. I have done a few local walks but I can’t imagine what is going through Kel’s mind, especially as it now is having a detrimental effect on work life.
However, Kel was going to work today and I was going to be at a loose end. There are plenty of walks in this area of Durham but I decided to have a leg stretch at one of the more famous designated routes in the county, ‘The Haswell to Hart Walkway’! This flat, fairly easy walk stretches from (officially) Haswell village to Hart Station near the border between Durham and Cleveland. It’s the route the old railway took which fed the neighbouring collieries throughout the coal era. It passes through Shotton, Wingate, Castle Eden and Hesleden. However, if you want to add an extra mile to the 9 mile walkway you can start it at a little village called South Hetton and walk to Haswell where the official route starts.
I planned to start the route fairly late in the day, as I wanted a much needed lie in and Kel wasn’t going to work till after lunch and I needed her to drop me off at South Hetton. Another problem associated with linear routes, logistics are a pain when it comes to transport. So I packed and repacked my day sack, taking only water proofs and basics, and as I put on my old faithful walking boots, I saw Kel putting on her Magnums wishing she was putting her Scarpa’s on and joining me.
We arrived in South Hetton and I jumped out and got my kit out of the boot, a peck for Kel and she drove off to work. I crossed the road and saw her pull to a halt about 50 metres up the road, she jumped out of the car and slammed the boot shut, she gave me that look…. that “you dickhead” look! I gave her a feeble wave as if to say I was sorry. She drove off and I set off on the first unofficial section of the Haswell to Hart Walkway. The wind had not let up and it was blowing like ‘a good un’ as I strode along the well-used track, which is also a national cycle route. This initial section is fairly exposed with farm fields on both sides and its only protection is a variety of bushes and small trees.
The view is quite good and the wildlife plentiful with a good few birds ranging from kestrel, which was struggling in the wind, to Thrushes, Blackbirds and a few smaller Tits and Finches. It climbs ever so slightly but nothing that’s going to get your heart pounding. It has a good all round view and with South Hetton in the distance I plodded on towards the road crossing and the official start/finish (whichever way you do it). At this point there is one of the numerous sign posts that furnish the route, but like all the others, it is in bad repair. It gives a brief history of Haswell, which is approximately quarter of a mile further down the road crossing. But due to half-wits that use this part of the walk as a drinking spot occasionally, the once very well set out sign is now hardly readable.
The start of this section is pretty much similar to the South Hetton section, it is lined with farmland and wildlife is plentiful. On a good day a good clear view of Durham city is possible and the acres of wheat fields that act as a foreground to the great city. To the left the disused quarry dwarfs the surrounding landscape, there’s still a few clues to the past of this little route if you look carefully, odd cuts leading to nowhere. Stacks of old railway sleepers that seem to have escaped the sticky fingers of passing white vans and their occupants. The path dips ever so slightly with Pesspool farm very prominent to the right and another crossing of a farm track leading to its 19th century out houses and the old farm house. There is a right turn here onto a footpath leading through the farm into Haswell, but it is a path seldom used as it goes bang smack in the middle of the farm houses and a couple of awaiting farm dogs that have teeth!!
The path is best avoided and carry straight on, the farmer ploughing his field can be seen at this time of the year, a late plough probably due to the weather. The said dogs chasing the seagulls that follow the tractor as they scrape for the unearthed insects. Ive walked this route before and at this point you can sense you have company everytime. As you stride back up the small incline there is a presence, a small black Patterdale Terrier follows but keeps a safe distance yapping as if to say, “YEAH YEAH keep walking, this is my land!!” He’s a lovable little dog and it adds to the character of the walk. As long as his mates don’t join him you’re fine!!
Along the route there are a few strategically places boulders along the side, ideal for plonking your backside down and enjoying the view which is very nice and if youre not too offended by ‘KEEP OUT’ signs that Farmer Brown has placed to stop hikers from deviating from the given route. The path surface is very well kept which gives you a false sense of security for the up and coming section of the walkway that is not for the faint hearted. I small dip takes you into the wooded part of this ‘picturesque’ where a junction states you can now deviate towards and the less ‘dog patrolled’ path into Haswell. This wooded section is sheltered by steep banks lined by trees and with this the wind stops dramatically and leaves you with an almost ‘blowing brushwood’ kind of feeling as you enter a darker, colder corridor as you start the entrance to the Shotton stretch. Initially you are greeted by a lovely boardwalk which the council have painstakingly provided to help you through this year round, flooded section of the route. It is the home of much wildlife in the warmer seasons; frogs, toads, newts and wagtails plus the usual critters. Old remnants of a another rail crossing bridge (I think) and what looks like an old station again make you think this is another twist to this stretch of an old artery that fed this part of the North east.
Then it happens, just as you enter Shotton (which you can’t see) there’s a bridge that goes under a main road running through the old pit village. It should be white and introduce you to an area that, by the older villagers, is considered a great old pit village. This is where the legacy of Maggie hits home! If you do take the time to read this, and past blogs you know I’m not a Tory by heart, but I did think Thatcher was a good leader (bosh, there goes a few followers on Twitter).
She was strong and kicked arse, something a certain someone should be like, but that’s by the by! Anyway, this bridge is a monument to the death of someone who crashed his off road bike at this particular spot fatally injuring him and the council are too scared to cover up the ‘graffiti’ In case it offends I guess. However, this is just the start of about ½ mile of, what I can only describe as the most disgusting, litter ridden part of the North East I’ve ever seen. The path is an assault course of burnt mattresses, plastic bags full of rubbish and drug paraphernalia. It is bloody disgusting!! The banks that line the route are the end of resident’s gardens, and it looks like some of the occupants have decided to throw their rubbish over the back fence to blight this supposedly picturesque walkway instead of putting it in their bin! The walk emerges briefly to cross the main road running through the village then drops back down to more rubbish and graffiti. At this part you are able to see the wonderful countryside on the left hand side of the path. But looking right only depresses and reminds you that not all people appreciate the lovely countryside that surrounds their village.
It’s a shame this part of the walkway spoils what is generally a very good leg stretch. It doesn’t clear up either for a good half of mile. The ‘Thornley Crossings’ industrial estate now takes the place of the squalor on the right hand side of the walk. Graffiti is the name of the game here as the industrial estates towering walls sport various daubing’s and again ‘crap’ thrown over the walls tarnishing the route. The estate walls disappear and trees take charge of the scenery as you come to a junction where you could, if you wanted, walk to Wheatley Hill by taking a right turn. This junction would be an ideal rest stop, as the previous mile or so was a little bit too disgusting to have a break.
The council must have thought this at one stage as they had erected what I believe to have been a bench on a nice grassed area. However, whatever once stood at this location is now a pile of ashes and all that’s left is the charred wooden post that I think supported an information board.
At this point there is some good news, the bird song has increased and the rubbish has cleared. We are now, I think, entering Forestry Commission land and very well kept. For the next half a mile, there is a marked difference and you really have to look for any litter. The track is surrounded with huge coniferous trees and the wind is greatly cut. It’s a very straight section and you can see other walkers and cyclists coming a mile off. The trees give way to farm land and the sound of the A181 and a steep bank upon to the very busy main road, which you cross with care as the traffic is treacherous.
Back on the walkway and it’s clear that recent maintenance is an attempt to improvement the surface of the route, but yet again, it’s the signs and the occasional graffiti that needs the attention. There are information boards scattered along the way which have been vandalised. There’s a small plaque which displays a proud collection of agencies that manage the route, but it’s the little things that spoil your walk that these agencies appear to be overlooking. The drug paraphernalia, the litter and the damage to the information boards all need some attention, but the council seem to have paid more attention to the surface, which was perfectly acceptable before the work.
In my job it is true that I would inevitably see the bad in everything and I’m probably pointing out things that would annoy me on a personal level. But if I can go a full week walking in the Lakes or the full length of the Weardale way without finding any faults, maybe I have a good point about the walkway……