Route recce around Embleton, Co. Durham.

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.

Another look up Roseberry Topping!

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!







Bolton Castle and a sheep dip with a difference…

We were holidaying at Westholme Estate yet again so we decided to plan walks from the door as it would be ridiculous not to take advantage of such a great base camp and the walks it offered without driving.  We had purchased a great ‘Dales Pack’ from and chose a walk up to Bolton Castle from the pack, taking in a quick look at Aysgarth Falls on route.IMG_6299

We walked from our lodge towards the impressive St. Andrew’s Church which looks over High Force Aysgarth Falls.  Crossing the road over the River Ure gave a photo opportunity of the Higher Falls.  Once over the bridge, there’s an area to the left where you can either go to have a closer look at the falls or turn right up IMG_6300a path into the National Park visitors centre.  We walked across the car park and crossed the main road into Freeholders Wood.  We had decided at planning stage to do the route backwards, not a reflection on the route card, just the way the weather looked we wanted to get onto the high ground sooner rather than later.

The track through the woods is well worn and simple to follow, exiting the woods and through the fields heading north towards Carperby.  The fields are open and give you a great view of the surrounding moorland and high ground.  We entered Carperby, a lovely village that looks like a great place to which I could retire, from the village we turned up an incline to Ponderledge Scar.  Then there’s a IMG_6301path bearing right following a fence/wall up onto moorland where it levels out nicely.  I know I do bang on about sheep and yeah, yeah they have equal rights to the hills, but as we reached the top, I saw something which made me think our woolly friends are sometimes just taking the piss out of me.  We saw a line of obviously pregnant sheep making their way into a gate.  I put Alfie on his lead and waited for the Ewes to make to complete their journey.  We waited, and waited, and waited as sheep after sheep trooped into this field in single file.  Initially in a rush IMG_6302but as the merry little bunch grew in confidence the procession became slower and slower, and the gap between them got wider.  So for about 5 minutes we stood staring at this slow moving queue of mutton filing their way through this gate, I’m sure some were laughing and if they had fingers, they’d have given me one.

When the flow of sheep had subsided we carried on the route turning east and a chance to get dive bombed by Lapwings protecting their nesting site.  I quickly glanced back to the field where the sheep had dawdled IMG_6303into, looked like bloody New Zealand!  From here you can see the dale, which I’m guessing the River Ure has carved out over the years.  The route is clear and with the added bonus of yellow spots dotted on the occasional fence post or wall which some kind soul has placed on for our benefit, for ease of navigation.

The path goes through probably the scruffiest set of farm barns (no house) I’ve seen in many a mile.  However, Alfie found the sheep manure which was spread across the path very exciting.  He found the IMG_6305freshest pile and probably the deepest, and proceeded to roll around in it ensuring a nice thick coat of sheep s@@t to accompany us for the rest of the journey.  My attempts to stop my naughty Springer were met with a scowl from the farmer as he sped past on his quad.  Mind you the air was a bit blue!

We walked through the grounds of IMG_6307Bolton Castle with a definite ‘air’ about us, god knows what all the visitors to the 14th century castle thought when we strolled through with what sort of looked like a dog, but bared more resemblance to a walking sheep pat.  The castle itself is in really good nick considering, a must for a nice cultured visit if you get the chance.

Just after the castle is the little village Castle Bolton, again looks very ‘retirable’ but maybe a bit out of our price range, but who knows.  The route takes the road down back over the main road and through another field, but this one graced us with not Ewes, but four hard looking Rams IMG_6309who didn’t appreciate the interruption to their sleep.  Down to the farm at Low Thoresbay and along Thoresbay Lane and through Hollins House and back to the sounds of Aysgarth Falls, this time the Lower Falls.  Back in Freeholders Wood and a look at one of the carved seats one of our twitter friends had told us about.

We ended the walk in Aysgarth Falls Hotel for a cider or two.  I shouldn’t laugh but whilst relaxing in the pub two or three people walked passed Aflie, who was still crusty and smelly, and they gave him a good old stroke before we had chance to warn them.  Hope they enjoyed their meals.IMG_6312

All in all, this is a great route, well-worn and marked, amazing views and wildlife plentiful.  Hats off to the author they have captured some good features along the way.

Alfie however, got a well-deserved bath in the beck back at the Estate!

Castle Eden Dene and beyond…..

There are many walks around my home but like most things, you have to go out and look. Amongst these are the Castle Eden Dene walk, this Dene is quite a depth and cuts right into the Limestone which surrounds the area. The map I have shows the Dene and a mish mash of routes which are hard to see on the map, never mind follow.  I’ve been in the Dene before but just a short route, I decided to start at the top and make my way down to the coast.

The start, luckily, is a stones throw from my doorstep.  If you have to drive to the start, the best think is to come off the A19 at the A181 turning and take a right down the old A19 road and park somewhere on this track, then walk down passed the metal barrier and at the bottom turn right through a tunnel under the A19.

However, I put my boots on sat on the stairs and warmth, I knew I’d only need basic kit so my day sack was emptied and just bare minimum went it.  I decided to leave the map as I knew the route (ish) and I know I love maps, I thought I’d leave it at home.  Like most of my walks from home I walked through my estate to join a little lane called Moore Lane and headed east passed a misty pond and as usual in this part of the country, more horses you can shake a stick at.  The sun was beating down on my neck and I was glad I hadn’t put too many layers on.  Then, I had a flash back, my mind went back to the bag of crisps I’d eyed up in the cupboard which I was going to pack……..which were still in the cupboard! ‘Damn blast’ I quietly bollocked myself.  This would never have happened if Kel had been with me, she was at work today teaching the local kids about the dangers of weapons, it was too far to go back so I cracked on.

I dropped on the the Haswell to Hart walkway and headed north west for a short while and then crossed the A181 to sneak past the VOSA guys at the weigh-bridge who were ripping some poor truckers wagon apart to drop down past the metal barrier (mentioned above) to the start of the walk.  As I skated down the short track the snow had not met the sun yet and I was doing a cracking impression of Michael Flately until I reached the bottom and the tunnel under the A19.

Right, this tunnel!  It’s big, dark and long and echoey. Don’t let it put you off, once through its like entering Narnia. At the other side I was met by a winter wonderland and the sound of a chorus of bird song. I went through the  gate with all the info about the Dene on a post and down a fairly steep path. I carried on with my enactment of ‘Riverdance’ and even my trusty walking pole wasn’t enough to steady me.  Time for the boot spikes! Not used them yet and they were quite a struggle to stretch when over my size eleven boots, but once on I was away with a spring in my step.  Not long down the path I sensed I had a follower rustling around in the partially snow covered under growth, at first I thought a little Robin or Wren wanted to join me on my stroll. Then, on closer examination into the leaves I saw my stalker, a small mouse was peaking up at me.  I carried on wondering if the minute rodent would accompany me to the coast, but after a few more metres it had stopped following and I was just left with the chirping Blue and Great Tits for company.

The path is well maintained and easy to follow, even with a good covering of snow, making the route easy and interesting as my face wasn’t stuck in a map,even though I love them dearly. As I got deeper and deeper into the carved out Limestone, the bird chatter silenced and I was left with just the ever so subtle trickle of the partially frozen stream which was broken every now and then by a small rapid. The sun was still peaking through the trees and the temperature was comfortable enough to leave my gloves in my pocket.  There are a few off shoots from the route but the idea is to stay with the stream, the path takes you over a few bridges which give you a pleasant rest to gaze up the stream, which today was carrying a mist to add to its magical appearance. 

The path climbs slightly which takes you away from the stream, this is frustrating as the noise of the trickle is quite relaxing.  But then after a couple of hundred metres you realise the reason for the paths untimely deviation from stream, a right turn back towards the stream brought me to Gunners Pool Bridge. Wow!  A shockingly painted red metal structure reaching over the stream.  At this point you may be forgiven for thinking, what’s this heavy duty feat of engineering doing crossing over a small stream that was previously negotiated by quaint little wooden bridges, until you cross and look down.  The stream has become a gushing mini river which has cut its way through the Limestone, which has dropped the best part of hundred foot.  I peaked over the side and had the courage snap a quick piccy than ran across to Terra Firma. I then looked at the route and realised the path I wanted was back over the other side, I steadily walked back across but could not resist another peak over the side…then I ran off again!

Back on track and heading back to the bottom, the path becomes covered by trees which canopy the route quite a bit.  Now I’m 6′ 3″ tall and I was just about on my hands and knees negotiating about 25 metres as the path dropped back to another bridge and a surprisingly once again babbling brook rather than the fast running pace I nervously looked down on on Gunners Pool Bridge.  The temperature had dropped and the silence was eerie, the Limestone was up close and personal and I couldn’t help looking for Bouldering problems on the numerous lumps of rock in front of me.  It was strange, there were Ferns growing out of the stone, but icicles right next to the vivid green of the foliage.

Maybe just me, anyway, I knew I was approaching the A1086 which connects Horden and Blackhall as the noise of the traffic was becoming louder and I know this area of the Dene, professional reasons.  The path climbs up left to the road, but there’s a cheeky right turn that takes me under the busy road through a culvert.  But by taking this turn you leave yourself open to a view which may, or may not spoil the whole walk.  The culvert is graffiti ridden and as you enter, the path is thin and visibility is poor, very poor.  A torch is needed or you may end up in the, now concrete lined, stream for about 25 metres.

But, once the obstacle is gone (and forgotten) I re enter the Dene and a short climb to a Tarmac road laid by the water authority to the treatment works at the bottom.  Further on you can smell the sea air and the North Sea is in your sights. The route opens itself out into a beautiful nature reserve which, in the summer, is the sight for the elusive Durham Argus Butterfly.

That is the end of the Castle Eden Dene walk for all tense and purposes. At this point you can turn back and take in the sights with a slightly uphill climb and if wanted a slightly different route.  The walk furnished me with a variety of wildlife, Jays, Coal Tits, two squirrels fighting very high up and the usual bird life that is usual in a wooded undergrowth. It’s a cracking walk and it’s a walk that is essential if you live in the North East.  I loved it and will do it again!

For those who care to read on, I finished the walk by joining the English Heritage Coastal route that blazes down the east coast.  I had a good few mile left in me so I carried on towards Blackhall.  The Kestrel that patrols this part of the beach banks was as ever, hovering and swooping awaiting the return of the Little Tern and it’s annual battle with the adult Terns for the chick reward.

I turned right and passed a decent gathering of Oystercatchers competing with the Starlings for God knows what in one of the coastal meadows.  I crossed the coastal road and made my way up Fillpoke Lane towards High Heselden and Heselden hoping to catch site of my Hen Harrier.  But he, or she, must have been elsewhere, however the sky’s were littered with more Oystercatchers and a Lapwings as I sped up towards Castle Eden.  As I normally do, I was keeping a firm eye on my phone, I had set of ‘Map my walk’ at the start and realised, my battery was on its last legs and had to turn the App off at 9.81 miles.  I got Kel to pick me up at Castle Eden when she finished work taking me to a total of just short of 13 miles.  And a cheerful, but cold ridden snotty face greeted me. 

It was a cracking walk and I got into the depths of Castle Eden Dene, which is a very well publicised walk,  and if anyone in the N East is at a loose end one day, it’s a good leg stretcher.