Jo’s Monday walk : Vindolanda Roman Fort

Knee deep in history this week, I spent a fascinating day out at Vindolanda, on Hadrian’s Wall in Northumberland.  Come and walk with me, in Roman footsteps.  Can you believe, this tiny child’s boot, found here on this site, is from Roman times?

At the edge of the Roman Empire, the Wall was to stretch 73 miles across Britain, from coast to coast.  A formidable undertaking!  The garrison at Vindolanda was the first of a series of bases enabling the Wall to be built, and then defended.  The name means ‘white field’ or ‘white moor’, and I can testify that freezing conditions are often to be found at the border in winter.  On a warm Spring day, the beauty of the surrounds was what struck me first.  But I’m getting ahead of myself.  Let’s build the suspense a little.  What might I find here?

I had, of course, heard all about the Vindolanda Tablets– telling scraps of bygone lives, written in ink on wafer thin slivers of wood, they are the oldest surviving hand written documents in Britain.  But what would they look like, and how did they come to be still intact after almost 2000 years?  This UNESCO World Heritage Site has ongoing live excavations, and it was incredible to watch history being unearthed before my eyes.

Meet Graham, and his merry team, and let him enthrall you with tales of some of the finds from the 14 years he has been helping to excavate this site.  The twinkle in his eyes can’t disguise the passion he has for this very special place.  The stories will give you goosebumps.  It was from Graham that I first heard the explanation as to how well preserved everything was.  The first 4 forts here were made of wood, but over time they were demolished and 5 new stone forts were built over the top.  Each layer of new building sealed the previous levels, creating anaerobic (oxygen-free) conditions, effectively preserving them from decay.  An unbelievable 6000 items have been recovered so far.  As they continue down they hit further pockets of discovery, adding to the already amazing haul.

Throughout the site information boards help you to reconstruct what once stood there.  The Romans were very resourceful, channelling water from nearby streams in stone aqueducts or timber pipes.  They had underfloor heating systems, steam rooms and communal but comfortable toilets.  It was a well-ordered society with a recognised chain of command and luxurious, for the times, quarters for the Governor and his guests.  It is believed that the Emperor Hadrian himself once stayed here.

On the Vindolanda website there is a detailed timeline and enough information to keep you reading for a considerable time.  I can only skim the surface here.  The Romans arrived in the mid AD70s and were here for more than 300 years, building and rebuilding a sequence of forts and, from AD120, Hadrian’s Wall.  When the Romans withdrew from Vindolanda it continued to have a life for a further 400 years, before falling into decay.

It is a spectacular site, built on a hill, and would have been easy to defend.  Follow me down to the reconstructed Temple of the Nymphs, in the valley below.  The Romans worshipped a number of gods, Jupiter, Mars, Mercury and Neptune among them.  The wall paintings inside are based on examples at Pompeii and Herculaneum.

The museum is in a beautiful setting, in what was formerly Chesterfield Cottage.  It was purchased by Vindolanda Trust in 1974 and has been extended and modernised, and includes a very friendly little restaurant.  If you can make it here, I cannot recommend it highly enough.  One of the collections that I found extraordinary was the shoes.  I had no idea that the Romans had so much choice in the range of footwear available to them. (especially if they had plenty of money)  Coloured socks are believed to have been worn with the latticed style, to highlight the pattern.  The soles were studded to prolong wear, children’s shoes being a smaller version of adult footwear.

Whatever attracts or interests you, I’m sure you can find something to marvel at, be it fine bronze armour, worn by the legionaries, oyster forks, a range of keys, painted glass from the Rhineland or the military standard and horse brasses of a cavalry troop.

Goods were made locally by craftsmen but were also trafficked throughout the mighty Roman Empire.  Leather for clothes, shoes and tents for the military was produced at Vindolanda, and woodworking was an essential craft.  A workbench belonging to ‘Atto’ bears his carved name and the punch marks from his tools.  Another compelling recent find is a pair of ancient ‘boxing gloves’, probably used by a soldier during fitness training.

In a darkened corner I finally find what I’ve been looking for.  Described as ‘postcards from the past’, the Vindolanda Tablets inspire awe.  I peer into the illuminated cabinets, trying to decipher the writing from a world 2000 years ago.  Defeated by language, I gaze numbly through the glass.  Many hours have been spent transcribing these events from everyday life, and many more could be spent reading them.

Finally I pull myself away, and head back outdoors.  Clouds have scudded in and I feel the chill that must once have settled on Roman bones.  I linger just long enough to climb one of the wooden forts, hoping to find a degree of shelter from the wind.  Looking down on the remains of a bathhouse, I shiver and then march briskly, back to the car.

I hope you enjoyed this venture back in time with me, and can only urge, if ever you have the chance, that you visit.  The rewards are rich.  Full access details for Vindolanda and the Roman Army Museum (to follow) are on the website.

Another bumper crop of walks to share with you this week.  Many thanks to everyone for their efforts, and for many hours of pleasure.  Join me any time on Jo’s Monday walk.  You’ll be very welcome.  Definitely time to put the kettle on!


Drake was swift off the mark with a bit of fun this week :

Garden party

Closely followed by Lady Lee, with a garden of her own :

The moon, apple blossom and our garden

And then Lisa took us all the way to Israel :

From Crocodiles to Tarantulas

Always fascinating to see where someone lives.  Let Suzanne be your tour guide, with quiet atmosphere:

Morning walk

And, not to confuse you, a very different Suzanne takes you on a forest walk :

A saunter down GRAND AVENUE

Grab a coffee next, and go look at some books with Janet!

Monday walk…book walk

Then check out life with Jesh :

Between bricks or rocks

And a few thoughts on life from Geoff and friends :

Walking Talking Reminiscing…

My good friend Pit takes you on two, quite different, sculpture walks :

Sioux Falls/SD : A stroll along Sculpture Walk

Galveston 2017 – Impressions #2 (Tree Sculptures)

Wonderful to find yourself alone in one of the world’s most popular cities- a lovely photo walk with Jaspa :

The Calli, Campi and Canali of Cannaregio, Venice

And talking of popular cities, I wish I could join Susan in this one :

Walking Lombard Street in San Francisco

Two Susans this week, and it’s so nice to have this one back :

A Jane’s Walk in Douglaston, Queens

I love a lady with wanderlust, and you can certainly describe Pauline that way :

Reasons to return : Preview…

It’s always pleasant to see a bit more of Belgium with Denzil (and a daughter too!) :

Walking around Lavaux-Sainte-Anne

And what is it about villages with a stream running through?  Join Eunice on a sunny day!

Bank Holiday walk round Barrow Bridge

It’s another sunny morning here in the north east, and I shall be making the most of it.  Have a great week, everybody!

Jo’s Monday walk : The beauty of Bamburgh

Last Monday I left you with one eye on the sky, looking towards beautiful Bamburgh.  Soon after, I was high in the battlements of the castle.  It’s just 3 miles around the coast from Seahouses, and the coach whisked me there in minutes.  You know I would have prefered to walk, but time was of the essence.  I had never before gained access to this, one of the north’s mightiest castles, and was hugely excited to be there.

Bamburgh is a small village, totally dominated by the castle, seat of the former Kings of Northumbria, and the burial place of Grace Darling.  I would have loved to visit the museum to her memory but today I was on a mission.  I had just a couple of hours and it wouldn’t be wasted.

The sky was dark but the flag flying proudly as I climbed the hill towards the gateway, and caught my first glimpse of the dunes.  In the far distance, the Farne Islands, home to a colony of puffins and numerous seabirds.

Inside the gateway a sequence of information boards gives a brief history of the castle, and then you’re approaching the battlements.  A small boy is very enamoured of the tubbiest canon, and I wait patiently while his Dad coaxes him away.  Beyond the battlements an expanse of green stretches out, a roller propped against a wall testifying to hours of work to maintain its pristine appearance.

The castle astounds with its scale, and venturing through the doorway you may well pause in surprise.  The walls are thick, as a castle wall should be, but light flows in from high windows. The alcoves are deep and have been used to display the castle’s many treasures.  I am particularly taken with the clocks, which appear throughout the castle, and there’s a fine collection of Chinoiserie, historic paintings and photographs.

Be prepared to gawp in admiration as you enter the King’s Hall.  Built on the site of the medieval Great Hall, it is a Victorian masterpiece.  The ceiling is made with teak from Thailand. The King of Siam, as it was then known, was a good friend of Lord William Armstrong, the industrialist who was responsible for completing the restoration of the castle.

Perhaps it’s time to squeeze a little history in.  There is archaeological evidence that as early as 10,000BC this area was inhabited.  The Romans arrived sometime between 43AD and 410AD, to find a Celtic fort, and knew it as Din Guayrdi.  Written history begins with the Anglo-Saxons, when Christianity was brought to the area by saints Oswald, Aidan and Cuthbert.  The Vikings destroyed the fort in 993, the Norman castle and tower which eventually replaced it being the foundation of the present one.  The Percy family, Earls of Northumberland, were based at the castle when a 9-month siege by Richard Neville, 16th Earl of Warwick, ended the Wars of the Roses in 1464.  King James 1 then gifted the castle to the Forster family.  Somewhat surprisingly it became a surgery and dispensary for the poor and sick under John Sharpe.  Finally, the castle was bought by the first Lord Armstrong in the 1800s, but he died before restoration could be completed.  It’s obviously much more complicated than this, but I’ve brought you full circle.  The Armstrong family still own the castle today.  Now let’s enter the King’s Hall.

Impressive, isn’t it?  Did you spot another clock?  A little too ornate for my mantelpiece but looking fine against the wood panelling.  And so it goes on.  Opulence follows opulence and I spent considerable time admiring.

But that clock was ticking and, after a brief interlude in the kitchens and scullery, I tore myself away and made for the outdoors.  A quick tour of the castle walls, then will I have time to make it down to that beach?

At the rear of the castle I find a narrow pathway down through the dunes.  A sign points it out as the Victorian path to the beach.  I imagine swishing skirts and parasols, and certainly the steadying arm of a gentleman friend.  I follow it most of the way down but it twists and turns and I doubt that I have time to make the return trip.  I retrace my steps to the front of the castle.

A band is setting up on the huge village green and I wish I could hang around for the festivities, but it’s time for my return to the coach.  I hope you enjoyed walking with me in this beautiful part of the world.

The Bamburgh Castle website is a beauty, and will give you many more details than I can provide here.   You can even stay at the castle, if you wish.  Meantime, let’s get that kettle on and visit a few more walks.

Many thanks to all my contributors and to you folks in the armchair too.  You liven up my Mondays beautifully.  If you’d like to join me there are details on my Jo’s Monday walk page. Please do!


Anabel finds a little incredible beauty of her own :


Much nearer to home for me, and looking lovely in full bloom :

Simonside Hills – A walk amongst the Heather in the deceptive heat

Jackie’s menu planning and sunshine!


A misty lake and horses!  Nice combination, Janet :

Let’s go the lake

Liesbet has some very interesting formations to show us this week :

Day Trips around Santa Fee, NM : Kasha-Katuwe Tent Rocks National Monument 

And I can always rely on Jude for something beautiful :

Loe Bar Circular Trail through Penrose Estate

Delighted to welcome Madhu here, with some fascinating insights into Brussels :

Brussels – Glimpses of an Eclectic Cityscape

Drake takes us back to his Danish roots, where the living is easy :

Lazy living mood

Welcoming more beauty with Meg’s rock hunting post :

Eurobodalla beaches: Tomakin Cove (north) and Barlings Beach (south)

Woolly’s back on the Memorial Trail this week :


We all need a little of this, and Annika’s sharing :

Creative energy

And lastly, a wonderful surprise for me-  Gilly playing hopscotch!  Enjoy Florence, hon  :

The High Lands of Orcombe

That’s it for another week!  Fabulous, aren’t they?  Please do find time to visit.  I’m off out walking with my group, if the rain holds off.  Have a happy week ahead!


Jo’s Monday walk : A sally round Seahouses

Recently I ventured further up the north east coast than usual, to the little harbourside village of Seahouses.  Over the border and into Northumberland, in fact.  Aside from the beaches stretching north and south, the main attraction of this village is the prospect of a trip to the Farne Islands, a well-known seabird sanctuary.  Boat trips run to the islands year round, weather permitting, and from April to October it is usually possible to land on one of the islands for a closer look at the wildlife.  Puffins are the stars of the show.

I strolled along the pier eyeing the queues, and smiled when I came to the ticket office for Billy Shiel’s.  The Shiel family have been running boat trips to the islands since 1918, just after the First World War.  They started the business to supplement their income from fishing, escorting a few keen ornithologists. Allegedly there are 28 islands out there, but many of them are submerged at high tide.

I was on a coach trip that day, and had opted to spend more time at Bamburgh, just around the bay, so no boat trip for me.  I carried on around the harbour, in the direction of the golf links. Something to eat, maybe?  Those views across to the islands are very tempting.

There was bunting up in the village, and I like a warm welcome, but I discovered there was to be a bike race the next day.  No matter!  I felt welcome enough as I strolled back through the village.  It’s typical seaside, with buckets and spades, crazy golf and a smattering of knick-knack shops.

Back at the seafront I survey the scene.  It’s a wide and wild vista.  The craggy shoreline and harbour, and off in the distance the mighty bastion that is Bamburgh, my next destination.  Will the weather hold out for me?  I do hope so!

There are lots more details on the National Trust pages about the Farne Islands, including how to get there.  I think they’re worth a trip.

I expect you’re disappointed not to have something to eat?  Fish and chips are a popular choice around here.  You might remember that a couple of Saturdays ago I posed you a question?  I totally forgot to give you the answer.  Did I have chocolate and almond brownie or creme brulé? I could very easily have eaten either, but let me tell you the brownie was delicious!  Many thanks for staying with me.  I do appreciate your company.  Time to put the kettle on now, and share a few walks.  If you’d like to join in, details are on my Jo’s Monday walk page.  You’re always very welcome!


It’s a bit shivery, but undeniably beautiful where Amanda is this week :

Walking with Edmund at 760 metres

Bunkers on the beach!  Quite an unusual sight, from our man Drake :

Concrete nature

Come trainspotting in Hamburg with Lady Lee?

Holiday in Hamburg, part 2

You can always rely on Jackie for cake.  And the rest!

Wedding Cake

I love the diversity my walks attract.  How about some quilting with Violet?

263 times 120 feet

Things are looking a little brighter for Denzil this week :

La Foret du Pays de Chimay

I know nothing of Adelaide, but it looks like there’s plenty to know.  Please say hello to Anne-Marie :

Footsteps in Adelaide Walk Seven : Stepping Out along the Beach

And while we’re at the beach, look what Woolly’s found!


Not too many walks today!  It’s been the Summer hols for some of us.  Time to dig the boots out again. Have a great week!


Six word Saturday

What is it about the oriental?

Remember I mentioned a quilt exhibition in my walk at Belsay Hall and gardens on Monday?  I thought that some of my craft working friends might like a closer look.  Personally, I can look and admire, but I’m not much good at the making.

The hall is a mighty Palladian building and you step inside respectfully.  The wood panelled walls and lofty ceilings create an interesting exhibition space, where my eyes are drawn immediately to the kimonos, bobbed hairstyles and coy smiles of the oriental ladies.  There are many more traditional quilts, ranged throughout a series of rooms, with knowledgeable ladies, poised to enlighten and inform.

It was the last week of the exhibition when I was there, but Belsay regularly hosts events in the house, castle and magnificent gardens.  Debbie has us dangling this week in Six Word Saturday. Why not join in?

Wishing you a great weekend!

Jo’s Monday walk : Belsay Hall and quarry

If there’s anything in life that gives me a kick, it’s a rhododendron!  Find me a quarry full of rhododendrons and perhaps you can imagine the effect. So I was very happy to make a return visit to Belsay Hall in Northumberland, a week or two ago.

Managed by English Heritage, the Belsay estate dates back to 1270, when it was first bought by the Middleton family.  Heritage on the grand scale, it comprises a medieval castle and a Greek Revival mansion from the 19th century, linked by some truly wonderful gardens.

As you can see, it’s not only rhododendrons vying for first place in this beauty contest. Bypassing the more than stately hall, I cannot wait to feast my eyes.  Frilled tulips and those with plainer frocks, delicate iris, and a shy magnolia are just some of the blooms that greet me. The grounds are the very essence of grandeur.  There’s even a croquet lawn, for that most refined of pastimes.

Tree heather lures me on and I find myself shoulder to shoulder with these beauties. Don’t they just sing with colour?

Even looking at them in photographs, I am mesmerised.  But this is only a beginning. Next, the quarry, with its magical patterns of light and shade.

The colours are rich and mellow, and the quarry towers above you.  It’s like a fairy glen, scaled up for a friendly giant.

Are you speechless yet?  I don’t know where I’ve ever seen a better display.  The castle is close by, approached through a bluebell wood.

In this serene and pastoral setting it’s hard to credit that a family would need a castle for protection.  When it was constructed, in the 14th century, conflict and border disputes were commonplace between England and Scotland.  The castle has one of the best preserved examples of a pele tower- built by rich families in this area in the Middle Ages for self defence.

From past experience, castles make a good subject for Paulas’s After and Before in Black and White Sunday.  What do you think?

The Middleton family lived in the castle, with modifications, until the completion of their mansion, at Christmas, 1817.  Inspired by a honeymoon in Greece, Belsay Hall was built with rock carved from their own quarry.  Let’s stroll back round there now, past the lake and the grazing sheep.  I try to get a close up of a cluster of cygnets, but they’re too far away to be more than a splash.

There was an exhibition of quilts taking place inside the hall, but I’ll save that for another day. Let’s adjourn to the tea rooms.

Directions on getting to Belsay are on their website.  I hope you enjoyed our visit. Many thanks for your support and the wonderful contributions I have received again this week.  Details of how to join in are always on my Jo’s Monday walk page. Let’s settle in for a good read:


Almost missed Eunice last week, so she’s starting us off today :

A reservoir ramble

Can there be anywhere lovelier for a dawdle?  Thanks, Drake!

Wet wet streets

Budapest has a lot to recommend it too, as Anabel can show you :

Budapest: Margaret Island and Obuda

Jackie gets up to some strange things, doesn’t she?

Dirty laundry

Geoff, Dog and a lighthouse- I’m happy!

A wander about#sundaywalks

Ann Christine takes us back to terrible times in Irish history, but with a happy ending :

A Peaceful Walk in Belfast

A whole heap of lovely photos from Lady Lee :

Thursday’s Special: Traces of the Past

If ever you’re needing a beautiful view, or three, tap Debbie on the shoulder.  She’ll have them :

Moorish to more Moorish

Becky uses that eagle eye of hers to good effect in the Algarve :

The Military Stairs of Alcoutim

That lass Jude knows how to make me smile.  A splash or two of azalea in a National Trust garden:

Garden Portrait: Coleton Fishacre

SO excited to be sharing this from Madhu!  A small part of her beautiful Indian heritage :

Kashmir – Afoot in Shehr-e-Khas

How would I describe Gabe?  Warm and whimsical, I suppose.  Go and see for yourself :

Hiking in Venice

So lucky and privileged this week!  Another wonderful share from Paula.  Don’t forget to listen too!

Light Catcher

What do you know of Peru?  Not much?  An interesting read here from Jill :

Ollantaytambo at dusk

And, much closer to home, Carol finds me some stone circles :

Walking in Circles

That’s it for another week.  All gems!  Hope you enjoy your long weekend (if you’re having one). Take good care!


Jo’s Monday walk : Aydon Castle


I still have a sackful of balmy, Algarve images to post but, here in England, the Autumn colour is fading fast.  I thought I’d share this walk to Aydon Castle before the leaves have all departed.  Though it’s just over the border into Northumberland, I’d never heard of this 13th century, fortified manor house until a couple of weeks ago.

I know lovely honey coloured Corbridge, where my walk starts, quite well.  It’s riverside walks often tempt me.  This is Roman Wall territory and there are any number of sites you can visit to delve back in time.  Today though, I’m after a good tramp in the outdoors. No, don’t ask ‘which one?’

The walk starts from the free car park, just over the bridge, where you will also find a helpful map and suggestions for other trails in the neighbourhood.  Cross over the bridge and head gently up through the town, bearing to the right.

Corbridge is a very genteel and affluent looking place.  Not easy to imagine the Scottish border raids that once were a regular feature of this area. Livestock were often brought in from the fields at night, and a watch placed at each end of town to protect them from marauders.  Way before that, Corbridge was the most northerly town in the Roman Empire.

Keep a watch for a signpost off to the left.  Aydon Castle is one and a half miles from this point, initially following a narrow lane and then a footpath beside a lovely old stone wall.  It’s a bit of a surprise to find yourself walking next to the noisy A69 but, once you cross the road bridge over this busy highway, you are again enfolded in English countryside.  Did you notice the kilns off across the fields?  It was my intention to circle around to see them on the return leg, but that didn’t quite happen.



The sheep are quietly contemplative, their fleece crisply white against the shimmering autumn foliage.  Ahead, the trail drops down into the woods and weaves in and out of dappled shade.  It’s a bit of a climb up towards the Castle.

Suddenly the solid walls are right there in front of you.  Robert de Reymes, a wealthy merchant, built a manor house here, beside the Cor Burn, in 1296.  It was originally a 2-storey building but in 1305 he obtained a licence to add battlements, crenellations and curtain walls.  Despite this it was pillaged and burnt by the Scots in 1315.  Two years later the English recaptured it, only to lose it again to the Scots in 1346.

In the middle of the 16th century the building was renovated, and mid 17th century it was converted into a farm.  It remained a farm until 1966.

It is a remarkably solid building.  Information panels showing the floor plans are strategically placed and, on the ground floor, there’s a charming storybook on a sturdy wooden table.  Sunlight dances off the wall hangings in the regal hall.  I find myself gazing at the rough roof tiles, high above the timber beams.  The patterns intrigue.

Outside, Autumn continues to glow.  I hope for a tearoom attached to the Castle, currently managed by English Heritage, but a small shop has to suffice.  Lunch proves to be a bar of fudge and a hot chocolate, clutched for warmth. Still, it’s a fairytale setting and I’m not disappointed.


Leaving the castle behind, there are decisions to be made.  Left or right?  Left is a longer walk, which passes by the pottery kilns, but the light is already beginning to fade.  I’m afraid that good sense prevails.  A country lane eventually leads back to Corbridge.

I have some bad news for you.  The Castle is now closed until April next year.  I caught the last weekend, but the location is still lovely.  The English Heritage website provides all the details, and if you want the full 6 mile circuit, pottery kilns included, this is how.  There are some great pubs for food in Corbridge, if you’ve time to linger.  Here it’s time to put the kettle on and settle in for a good read.

walking logo

Many thanks to all for your wonderful contributions again this week.  Your enthusiasm and support drives me ever onward.  Hope you enjoyed this week’s walk.  It’s easy to join in, if you’d like.  Details are on my Jo’s Monday walk page.  Just click on the logo above.


Debbie has a delicious waterside stroll for us this week.  But do take care of your ankles!

Walking the Path of Customs

Desmond has a barrow in the market place.  Molly is the singer with the band.  Thanks Drake!

Ob-la-di, ob-la-da 

Pink houses, peach houses, or how about lemon?  Jude, in colourful Colchester :

A brief look at Colchester

Violet has found us some more delights this week!  And it’s not even snowing!  (Yet!)

Polar bears in a park

Anabel tests her fitness levels and comes out on top!

Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone River

And looking at glorious locations, not much can top this.  Thanks, Lady Lee!

Monserrat, Spain – the trip of a lifetime

Jackie’s in Jamestown.  I’m pretty sure it wasn’t named after my son :

Day 4 – Jamestown 

Woolly is waving goodbye this week :


While Paula has a very special, luminous night time stroll to share :

Thursday’s Special: Pick a Word in November

And Susan has searched out some very beautiful fountains in Central Park :

Central Park’s North End

You can almost hear the noise from Carole’s Mute Swans!  They’re fabulous :

Swanning Around

Next please let me introduce Unicorn and Bear, a hiking couple from Canada :

Grouse Mountain and Lynn Canyon, North Shore of Vancouver

Miriam’s feeling a bit adventurous this week, and why not?

Waterfall Therapy in Trentham

I wouldn’t get far on Kathryn’s walk because there’s a recycle book store.  Serious temptation!

Campbell downtown

That’s it for another week.  Hope you all have a good one.  See you soon!


Jo’s Monday walk : Bellingham and Hareshaw Linn

Hareshaw Linn, or waterfall

Hareshaw Linn, or waterfall

If I told you that today’s walk takes us to the site of two former blast furnaces, you could be forgiven for being less than enthusiastic. But you might remember lovely Hareshaw Linn from a previous post.  I was in the company of two friends with whom I go back a long way, so I had a smile on my face, even in the uphill stretches.

Ian and Pam have a caravan on a small site on the edge of Bellingham, a neat little market town in Northumberland.  It just so happens that it also sits right beside one of that county’s best walks. I hadn’t been to Bellingham for more than 30 years, but I have an enduring image of waking up there one morning to a winter wonderland.  The railing of our hotel balcony was delicately traced with snow, of which there hadn’t been a sign the night before.  No snow on our walk today!  It might make the going a little slippy, but wouldn’t it be pretty?

This is where we'll start

This is where we’ll start

This area was once the site of an iron works, established in 1833.  At the height of operating, it contained 70 coke ovens, 24 large kilns for roasting the iron ore, a blacksmiths, stables and stores.  It remained in production until 1848.  The dam in the photo above supplied water to power the works, and is one of few reminders of the past.  Nature has taken this valley back to herself, and it’s hard to imagine now the roar of those ovens.

Let's follow the path down into the woods

Let’s follow the path down into the woods

And look what we find!

And look what we find!

Growing right up into the tree

Growing right up into the tree

There are six bridges to cross, but for some reason only the first is numbered.

Looking for fish!

Looking for fish!

The trees are laden with moss

The trees are laden with moss

Tangling with ferns and water

Tangling with ferns and water

Which gurgles on its way!

Which gurgles on its way!

There’s an element of fantasy to this woodland setting.  It feels somehow lost to the real world.

And look!  Someone's been wishing on a penny!

And look! Someone’s been wishing on a penny!

A last dramatic curtain before the grand reveal

A last dramatic curtain before the grand reveal

Isn't it lovely?

Isn’t it lovely?

And below- peaceful today!

And below- peaceful today.  Before the rains!

There’s only one way out of the valley, and that’s to retrace your steps, so you can’t get lost even if I rush on ahead.  You might want to pause to examine a few flowers.  The trail is one and a half miles long, so that’s a round trip of 3 miles, with a few ups and downs.

The path brings you out by the old bridge.  If you cross over the road and take a few steps back the way, you will see evidence of former times and the power of water.

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I’m pretty sure you’re ready for a bite to eat by now, and the Rocky Road cafe will give you a warm welcome.  Or there’s the ‘Rose and Crown’, just as friendly, next door, if it’s open.  The houses are largely built from the local grey stone, enlivened by troughs of flowers and hanging baskets.  I continue past the village hall to St. Cuthbert’s Church, consecrated in the 12th century. Unlatching the door, I step briefly inside, then leave quietly again.  St. Cuthbert’s Well (Cuddy’s Well) is easily missed, down by the river.

A wooden nativity outside St. Cuthbert's

A wooden nativity outside St. Cuthbert’s Church

I couldn’t leave without a quick look at the hotel where we stayed so long ago.  There was still a lovely view down to the river, but agreeably, no snow!  A footpath beside the river will bring you back into town, where you might want to visit the Heritage Centre.

I hope you enjoyed this week’s walk, in the company of my lovely friends.  This link will take you to the Northumberland National Park site, with a map and full details of the location.

walking logo

Time for a cuppa and to share some more brilliant walks!  Many thanks to all of you who’ve submitted walks, and to those of you who are simply armchair readers.  To join me, you’ll find details on my Jo’s Monday walk page, or just click on the logo above.  Here we go!


Got to brave the weather when you’re in the Hebrides.  Well done, Geoff!

A walk around Luskentyre

Still learning new words this week!  Thanks a lot, Anabel :

Torwood Castle and Tappoch Broch

I just know how much I would love Corsica!  Look at this!

A walk in shadow of history

Amazing share from Violet- the most incredible Junk Art!

Junk Art

For those of you who didn’t see it on BBC2, here’s Laura’s version of the Pennine Way :

Peaks and troughs

I am so privileged again to feature Suzanne’s beautiful handiwork.  Don’t miss it!

Walking in Tower Hill

Henry Moore sculptures a-plenty from Jackie this week :

Monday Walk- Toronto

Did you ever see anything lovelier than this?  I know Sue S will approve!  Many thanks, Amy!

Monday Walk : Bow River

You have to applaud the sentiments of the next one, as well as the beauty!  Cheers, Jesh!

Friends Walk Together

And if you’d like, share some reminiscing with my beautiful friend, Meg?

Walking a memoir

It wouldn’t be Monday without Jude in Cornwall, now would it?

St. Just in Penwith

For something a little wilder (and spectacular!) grab your poles and join Ruth :

A rocky walk to Bicheno Blowhole

First the water spouts up, and then it flows down!  Thanks to the Eternal Traveler!

Over the Cliff

That’s it for this week!  Next week I hope to schedule my Monday walk, as I will be in Bristol gazing at hot air balloons.  Pinch me, somebody- I must be dreaming!  I don’t get back until late on Monday evening so I may be rather slow with my responses, and I will be all in a daze.

If you have any spare time, pop in to see those lovely folks at Monday Escapes, won’t you? Meanwhile, have a great week!