Jo’s Monday walk : Springtime in Shincliffe

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“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.

Never one to let me down, as we drove towards Durham he said thoughtfully, “What about Shincliffe Village?”  It seemed like a good idea.  IMG_3922

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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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?

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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.

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The joy of having a son.  Ask Jesh- she’ll tell you!

Going The Distance

Anabel’s found a mural by one of my favourite street artists :

Saints and sinners : a Glasgow urban walk

Smidge had me packing my bags to head for the Borders with this post :

St Abbs, Scottish Borders

Jackie is STILL strolling around in Mexico!  Would you credit it?

Around Puerto Vallarta

Amy has some ravishing gardens for us this week :

Monday Walk : Selby Gardens

Two ‘newbies’ up next!  Please say a big hello to Liesbet :

Walking and Seeing the Real Berkshires in Connecticut

And then please meet slightly offbeat sailor Ellen!

Going for a walk in search of Wild Pigs

If you don’t mind getting awfully wet, you might like a ‘walk’ with Jaspa?

Climbing Jamaican Waterfalls

Or maybe an adventure in the desert with Drake would suit you better?

Amazing outskirts

Perhaps you’d like to see another side to Geoff?  You’ll have to go and look.  I can’t give the game away!

To the woods, to the woods

While Denzil tries his hand (or feet?) at long distance walking :

GR571 : Comblain-au-Pont to Aywaille

Paul does some amazing things with the Scottish countryside :

RAW around the edges.  A day at Loch Leven

And lastly, Lee Ann shows us some of beautiful Brisbane :

Southbank Gardens of Friendship

Hope you enjoyed all the contributions.  They’re fantastic, aren’t they?  Many thanks again for your lovely company.  Have a great week!.

144 comments

  1. I loved everything about this walk. Your husband’s thoughtfulness for coming up with it in the first place, beautiful crocuses, the Shincliffe Village architecture, and oh, those glorious reflections!

    1. Speaking of the OH (as Jude always puts it 🙂 ), what progress? Any more treatments or is that it? This was a perfect day (except we didn’t get to the pub 😦 ) and a lovely village. Down the coast with him later this morning (workwise) so I’m hoping for nice weather. But it is what it is. 🙂 Hugs, sweetheart!

      1. Thank you for asking. Round 3 now compared with minimal side effects. Scabs to assess progress on the 17th (will be reviewed with the doctor on the 21sr. Round 4 starts on the 22nd. I hope you have nice weather too! And this time, don’t miss the pub 🍻

    1. Yes, it can be, Smidge 🙂 It’s been miserable the last couple of days but it’s supposed to be better tomorrow. Thanks a lot! I love botanic gardens. 🙂

  2. You’ve started something here Jo…crocus walks could be the next big thing thanks to you, after snowdrops! How beautiful…I want to move to Shincliffe Village and not just for the crocuses… or is that croci? 🙂 xx

      1. I’ve got lots of little tete-a-tetes in bloom in pots right now Jo, it looks pretty round the summerhouse and that makes me smile 🙂 The strong winds of yesterday haven’t done any damage…phew! I need to take some pics…thinking of Jude’s March challenge too! A lot to do though, the garden looks like a jungle in many ways…time to get out there!

      1. Tomorrow we are waiting for some rain in here… but the weather seems so strange… I love clear weather, without any mist, etc. Today it was sunny but also there was a strange mist in the air… I love UK and also I love you, so it would be great moments for me to walk with you🙂 But I am talking toooo much, probably I break your silent walking🙂 Love, nia

    1. It’s lovely to have you over for a chat. 🙂 I’m listening to Annie Lennox and preparing a post for tomorrow, but really I should be thinking about preparing a meal 😦

  3. What an unusual meaning for such a beautiful village – not an evil spirit in sight! I love the crocuses – delightful and a welcome bright sparkle to still grey days. I planted so many last November and many are happily flowering but some knocked down by the gusty wind. That’s about the closest we have to a crocus walk! Thank you for bringing us along on your walk, Jo.

    1. They don’t come out in daylight, do they? (those spirits- or is that just Dracula 🙂 ) There are quite a lot of crocuses planted in drifts around our town, Annika, but nothing I could use as a walk, so I was happy to see Shincliffe in all its glory.

  4. Is there anything more uplifting than spring flowers? We’ve got crocuses and snowdrops and others already blooming here, too. Add a charming village and a hill of evil spirits and you’ve got one interesting spring walk!

  5. Just sat down with a cuppa Jo and have thoroughly enjoyed reading about Shincliffe Village and following the crocus walk🙂 My dad said the crocuses took ages to emerge this year (he lives in Harrogate) . There’s usually a carpet of them across the road from his flat but he thinks they got waterlogged with all the recent rain and he was in fact thinking he wouldn’t see them at all but then they finally came out🙂 I love the rose coloured doors on the church – they are so pretty and quite unusual. I should imagine the Rector must be very busy if Shincliffe was known originally as “the steep hill of evil spirits”! It looks very calm and tranquil now though🙂 Good to see spring is starting to make an appearance – hope you are having a lovely week🙂

    1. Yes, the ‘croci’ looked very limp and soggy for a while, Rosemay, but just a hint of sunshine and away we go! The joys of nature 🙂 As I read it back this morning I thought that the word ‘genteel’ might be more accurate than gentle, but definitely a nice village. And that Rector’s done a great job- no spirits, except in the pub 🙂

      1. Not good Jo. Got MRI back yesterday and need surgery. Really upset – out of tennis for 6 months and running for 3. I’m so active I can’t really comprehend this right now! Going to write a skiing and safety post next..

      2. It was so silly..my daughter and I were gliding after we got off the chair oft – she was holding my hand – and she suddenly turned to go the other direction and her skis got caught in mine and my body went one way, my legs another and I went down. Freak accident. Be glad you don’t like snow not sure I’ll be skiing again!

  6. What a delicious post! I think I’m going to have to use my international licence to do an English road trip. I’ve never seen a crocus – I hope they’ll still be flowering in Warsaw.

  7. You (or, in this case, Hubby) find the most delightful walks Jo I am so going to enjoy seeing spring unfold in the coming weeks as I cyber walk with you. The photos of the bare sculptured branches reflected in the river are a delicate reminder of winter slowly morphing to spring.

    1. There really isn’t much of the year when we don’t have any colour, Nicole. The snowdrops were out in early January and then we’re on a roll! 🙂 And speaking of colour, I have a flaming red sunrise behind me right now. 🙂

    1. He has done work in the village a time or two, Ad, so knew it quite well. I haven’t had cause to go there but I’m really glad I did. I’m quite partial to that shot too, thanks, Ad. 🙂 Not sure if I’m supposed to say that!

  8. My kind of walk. It looks flat, it has water, flowers and pretty buildings (not to mention several eating places). Love the Wesleyan chapel – is it a private house now? And the pink doors of the church. And the red door with the griffin. I quite fancy a griffin. Looks like a lovely village to live in. Another exhausting day – I swear the spiders are following me making twice as many cobwebs as I am clearing! Feels like this cleaning business will never end😦 Thank you for a most relaxing walk.

    1. Cute griffin, isn’t he? D’you know I’m not sure about the chapel and whether it’s a private house now. I went back to my photos and tried to peer in the windows but I can’t decide. Spiders? Ugh! Counting down yet, Jude? 🙂

      1. Running out of patience! My WP is so slow tonight! I keep flitting off to do other things while I wait for a screen to roll over. I’ll pop down and grab the duster, shall I? 🙂

  9. Wow! What a peaceful and sleepy little town Jo! And you’ve captured all the beauty around you so perfectly! Love the crocus flowers. Those colours are amazing and the reflections on the water and that architecture! Love the doors! Absolutely stunning! Makes me feel I can just jump in and stay there. Thanks for the lovely walk and for sharing.😀 ♥

      1. I definitely would darling. Always great to go on a walk with you.😀

        You too, thanks sweetheart. ♥

  10. What no cake? He owes you one😉 What a pretty walk, I love crocuses (croci?) and cyclamen, in fact everything that blooms in spring. i can’t think of a crocus walk, but the best I’ve even seen is the crocus lawn at Dartington. That tithe barn is fab, I’d like to live there, or rather I’d like to live in it but here🙂
    I was talking to Andy from Fife Photos and Art yesterday, about the fact that every riverside has the same blocks of flats now, nice for the people that live there but often as a result of historic buildings being lost.
    Have a good week honey x:-)x

    1. I had to feed him soup and an apple turnover before he went off on his appointment, Gilly. Feel free to choose yourself something from the menu. Seven Stars looks good to me 🙂
      Durham’s pretty good for retaining its historic buildings. There’s a hotel and a small shopping precinct on the riverside but miles of open space.
      Thanks, darlin’. 🙂 I was back at the seaside this morning. Cold but lovely and bright. Have you been watching Julia Bradbury’s latest walks series? She was down your way (Golden Cap?) and it looked beautiful. Monday hugs!

  11. Love crocuses – if you are ever heading south at this time of year one of the colleges in Cambridge has a area which is just full of them.
    Great walk, glad you didn’t bump into any evil spirits!

    1. So am I, Becky! I’m a scaredy cat 🙂 Andrew has me scurrying off to Grimsby. Maybe I should just keep going. I’m sure Cambridge is much prettier 🙂

  12. Oh, spring is in the air! Love your first signs of the season, Jo, on this pretty walk. We haven’t seen any buds here yet, but it’s supposed to be warm today. Maybe I’ll spot some while out and about.🙂

    1. Hiya Cathy! I was thinking of you at the weekend 🙂 Enjoy your trip away? Nothing like warm here yet (up to about 7C today) but when the sun’s out it’s ok. Will pop over to yours for an update a bit later. Hugs, darlin’!

      1. Hi Jo! We had a nice trip; it was cold and a little dreary at points, but it was nice enough to walk a lot. We walked about 10 miles on Saturday, all over the streets of Philadelphia. I don’t know how I managed to put on 3 lbs with all that walking; I guess it was eating out at all those great restaurants! No updates for me yet, but I hope to get busy soon.🙂

      2. Yes, it will be a long one with lots to see.🙂 I also tested out my new Canon Rebel, so I hope the pics turned out! I was singing the “Rocky” song after running up those iconic steps at the Philadelphia Museum of Art!

  13. Well, I know Durham well enough, but have never been to Shincliffe, or I don’t think so. However, I’m fairly sure my father must have preached in that chapel at some point. Lovely walk!

    1. How nice to be able to make that connection, Anabel. 🙂 Because we always come to Durham from the south we bypass the village on a regular basis. It’s the first time I’d actually walked around it and it was lovely.

    1. I like the mauve ones too, Tish 🙂 The church and houses are at head height, up a few steps, so it made that shot very inviting. Thanks for strolling with me.

    1. It’s a lovely time of year if you get a sunny day, Miriam. I was out with my walking friends down the coast this morning. Really cold but fine if you wrap up. 🙂 Thanks for your company.

  14. You images are so – English! Sorry – as an Aussie such delights are a very long way away – and so tempting! Thank you.

    1. I guess these are, but if you’d been with me on Saturday they would have been very Portuguese 🙂 I do know what you mean because I feel the same when I look at Australian friend’s posts. Many thanks for joining me today. Have a nice week!

  15. What a pretty place for a relaxing stroll. The spring blooms are gorgeous. Ours seem to start growing earlier each year. We’re only just into autumn but I’m expecting to see the first shoots of the bulbs in my pots any day now.

      1. I have daffodils in my pots and I usually add some pansy seedlings in April. It’s very difficult to grow tulips here. They have to be refrigerated because the winters are not cold enough. Further south they grow better.

  16. As always, lovely pictures🙂 England is so beautiful, I especially love the houses. “Unfortunately” I have mostly spent time in London, and not really been to any smaller cities/villages.

    1. There’s plenty of time, isn’t there? 🙂 And actually Chelsea and Kew and Camden would all have been villages once. 🙂 Many thanks for your company, Caroline.

  17. The Shincliffe Bridge pics and the last one might be my favorites, but hard choice – amazing captures, so inspiring – only miss the coffee break after the walk…😀

    1. I was robbed! Had to go home and cook lunch that day 😦 I love the wistful river shots 🙂 Thanks, Drake! Walking down at Saltburn with my group this morning. Sunny but cold 🙂

      1. Left Tunisia this morning and return to the cold and wet Europe again about a couple of hours ago…🙂

        Next month april I’ll be in Liverpool, really hopes the rain have finished the commando raid upthere…😀

    1. It comes and it goes, Paula! This was an isolated day. 🙂 Bright and sunny again today but it will be bitter cold. Off down the coast with the walkers soon. Thank you so much. You surprised me, as ever! Hope life is treating you not too badly?

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