“Where will I find a crocus walk?” I asked my garden expert husband. “I’ve searched the web and can’t find one anywhere!” He gave me one of those looks, and said “You can’t find one, because there isn’t one. You’ll have to make do with snowdrops.” Now, I have nothing against snowdrops. Most years I visit our local snowdrop walk, in Greatham village. I simply felt a need for the uplifting surge of crocus colour.
We parked in Durham and walked out along the river- a direction we’ve taken many times before. From nowhere, one of those sparkling Spring days had materialised. Rowing teams skulled by vigorously, and the whole world seemed to have taken up sport. A university town, Durham has no shortage of able-bodied youth to indulge in running, throwing and kicking a ball.
One side of the river is still barriered off, following a serious landslide a year or so ago. I was delighted to see that work has finally started on the precarious river bank. The path will be open again to walkers. A gentle sun filtered through bare branches, reflecting ethereally in the river.
Out beyond the extensive sports facilities, the path meets the A177 at Shincliffe Bridge. Cross over the busy road carefully and you reach ‘The Rose Tree’- a pub with an inviting beer garden. A sign directs you to Shincliffe Village. As you enter the village, you’ll see the Poplar Tree garden centre. Always busy, I’m never sure if the plants or the tea rooms are the main attraction. Beyond this point no-one but the inhabitants of the village seem to venture. Which is a great shame, unless of course you are a villager and value your peace and quiet.
Did I mention crocuses? I had a real treat in store. And not only the crocus, but a bevy of Spring beauty.
Shincliffe is regarded as one of the most affluent villages in Durham, according to Wikipedia. Which is a pity as I could quite see myself living there. I was surprised to find that the Anglo-Saxon origin of the name Shincliffe means ‘steep hill of evil spirits’. The history of the village goes back to Roman times, when there is thought to have been a ford where Shincliffe Bridge now spans the River Wear.
In the Middle Ages Shincliffe belonged to the Prior of Durham Cathedral. It was a largely agricultural community until coal mining came to the area, with a resulting expansion. I was unaware that Shincliffe had had a railway station, but it was in fact Durham’s first. It opened in 1839, as part of the line to Sunderland, but closed again in 1893. The closure of the colliery meant a dwindling population. Shincliffe today is a gentle haven, seeming to have not a care in the world.
A small green leads to a row of raised houses, set back from the road. Originally the Durham to Stockton road ran right through the village. The post office would have been a busy place then. Now it’s a private residence. In 1826 a tithe barn was consecrated to become a Chapel of Ease for the community. It proved a little too cold and draughty, and in 1866 became the Rectory.
John Wesley is known to have preached in Shincliffe in 1780, and in 1874 a Methodist (Wesleyan) chapel was opened- the pretty one in the photos. The parish church, St. Mary the Virgin, was only completed in 1851. Snowdrops swaddled the graveyard in a soothing white blanket. I lingered, reading a few headstones and admiring the rose coloured church doors.
I peered through the windows of the Seven Stars Inn rather longingly. It was already lunchtime but my husband had to get back for an appointment. Go and press your nose up against their menu. You might be tempted. Alternatively, try the Brambles tea rooms at the garden centre, or maybe The Rose Tree. For me, it’s a swift walk back along the river, but not before I look for Shincliffe Hall. A sign points to it, down a private road. But it’s by invitation only.
There are some interesting snippets of village history, if you’re minded that way, under the link ‘steep hill of evil spirits’. Shincliffe is easy to find from the city of Durham. Do you know of a ‘crocus walk’ near you? I hope you enjoyed mine. Spring is wonderful, isn’t it?
Many thanks to all of you who keep me company each week. I do appreciate you looking over my shoulder and enjoying the view. If you’d like to join in with a walk of your own, you’d be very welcome. Details are on my Jo’s Monday walks page. Just click on the logo above.
The joy of having a son. Ask Jesh- she’ll tell you!
Anabel’s found a mural by one of my favourite street artists :
Smidge had me packing my bags to head for the Borders with this post :
Jackie is STILL strolling around in Mexico! Would you credit it?
Amy has some ravishing gardens for us this week :
Two ‘newbies’ up next! Please say a big hello to Liesbet :
And then please meet slightly offbeat sailor Ellen!
If you don’t mind getting awfully wet, you might like a ‘walk’ with Jaspa?
Or maybe an adventure in the desert with Drake would suit you better?
Perhaps you’d like to see another side to Geoff? You’ll have to go and look. I can’t give the game away!
While Denzil tries his hand (or feet?) at long distance walking :
Paul does some amazing things with the Scottish countryside :
And lastly, Lee Ann shows us some of beautiful Brisbane :
Hope you enjoyed all the contributions. They’re fantastic, aren’t they? Many thanks again for your lovely company. Have a great week!.