Bardon Mill to Haydon Bridge Walk – River Tyne Trail

This Bardon Mill to Haydon Bridge Walk is a 7 mile (one-way) section of the Daft As A Brush trail.

This scenic and enjoyable hike ended up being longer than planned because I failed to check Daft As A Brush’s website before starting out for updates on route amendments. Had I done so, I would have found out that the ‘wobbly’ suspension footbridge across the River Allen was washed away some time ago. This would have saved me some shoe-leather but the unintended diversion gave me the chance to see more of the ancient forest at Allen Banks.

Start Point

Bardon Mill railway station.

End Point

Haydon Bridge railway station. I parked my car at Haydon Bridge, caught the train to Bardon Mill and walked back.

Highlights

From Bardon Mill station you take a metal footbridge across the Tyne.

The route passes through the quaint village of Beltingham. A corner of the graveyard at the village church, St. Cuthbert’s, is reserved for members of the distinguished and colourful Bowes-Lyon family including Francis Bowes Lyon, uncle of Queen Elizabeth the Queen Mother.

The Queen Mother planted this tree in the churchyard in 1989.

The trail continues by turning left here at the Victorian letter box.

Looks like somebody took a pot shot at this road sign near Ridley Hall.

The best part of the walk is through the heavily wooded Allen Banks and Staward Gorge valley. The Allen is a tributary of the River South Tyne.

I crossed the River Allen at Plankey Mill where lead smelting mill ruins can be found.

From here a footpath across fields and a quiet country road eventually bring you to a point above Haydon Bridge near Langley Castle.

On the edge of Haydon Bridge you pass East Land Ends farm where local artist John Martin was born in 1789.

Nearby Attractions

Vindolanda
Langley Castle
John Martin Heritage Trail

Chesters to Warden Walk – River Tyne Trail

This Chesters to Warden Walk is a 3 mile (one-way) section of the Daft As A Brush trail.

All of this stretch is along roads, mostly the B6319 which has no pavements but has almost no traffic so is safe enough to walk.

Please note I am not providing detailed maps or instructions of the route. You will find all that in Daft As A Brush’s book. You can buy a copy here with proceeds going to support the charity’s good works.

Start Point

I parked at the Chesters Roman Fort car park (free for English Heritage members). Of course you shouldn’t park in their car park without visiting Chesters. I’ll write about Chesters Roman Fort and Museum in a later post.

End Point

Boatside Inn, Warden (parking for patrons only).

Highlights

Chesters Stables at Walwick Hall. This attractive building was built in 1891 as the stable block for the Chesters Estate. It has recently been converted into luxury self-catering accommodation as part of the Walwick Hall boutique country hotel and spa. For anyone planning to walk Hadrian’s Wall in style, this would be a smart place to break the journey.

Remains of an ancient monument (cross?).

Some of the route was partially flooded (this walk was in October 2019) but when the sun came out it was pleasant enough.

Church of St.Michael & All Angels, Warden. The church describes itself as ‘one of the cradles of Christianity, not only in the north of England, but in Britain.’ St John of Beverley, Bishop of Hexham was thought to have founded an oratory at Warden in 704AD, as a private prayer retreat. The early foundations of the church used Roman-era masonry.

The name ‘Waredun’ meant a look-out hill and referred to the hill overlooking the village.

The lower portion of the church tower is one of the oldest Saxon towers in Northumberland and survived the Danish invasions which destroyed so many churches. Most of the church that we see today dates from 1764.

An ancient stone cross was moved to the churchyard in 1957 from an unknown location. Perhaps it was the top part of the ancient monument mentioned earlier. A plaque reads ‘Warden Village Cross. Early 7th Century.’ Looks more like a sword to me.

A few graves are enclosed by iron hoops which were added to prevent grave robbers from stealing bodies for sale to medical schools. This ghoulish practice was seemingly widespread in the 19th century.

This ornate lych gate was erected in 1903. Coffins were sheltered under the gate while waiting for the clergyman to perform the burial ceremony.

Nearby Attractions

Chesters Roman Fort and Clayton Museum
Brunton Turret – Hadrian’s Wall

Chollerton to Chollerford Walk – River Tyne Trail

This Chollerton to Chollerford Walk is a short 1.9 mile (one-way) section of the Daft As A Brush trail.

I made this a short walk because the weather was poor, the trail alongside the Tyne was muddy and about half of the route was along the A6079 with no pavements.

Please note I am not providing detailed maps or instructions of the route. You will find all that in Daft As A Brush’s book. You can buy a copy here with proceeds going to support the charity’s good works.

Start Point

I did the walk in reverse order starting at Chesters Roman Fort and Museum near Chollerford, leaving my car in their car park, walking to Chollerton then back again (total 3.8 miles).

End Point

Chollerton, St Giles Church.

Highlights

George Hotel, Chollerford is a pleasant ivy-covered riverfront hotel for a meal, drink or overnight stay. Distinguished guests have included W H Auden, John Steinbeck and Lord Baden-Powell, founder of the Boy Scouts, who stayed here while writing Scouting for Boys, published in 1908.

Chollerford Bridge was built in 1785 by Robert Mylne, replacing a medieval bridge which was damaged in the great floods of 1771. It is a Grade II listed stone bridge with 5 semi-circular arches and a total span of 90 metres. Pedestrians on the bridge can get good views of the river and weir. The abutments of a Roman bridge can be found a short walk away at Chesters.

After crossing the bridge the trail runs alongside the south bank of the River North Tyne. It was muddy in places but a short stretch of boardwalk helped cross the soggiest parts.

The path merges with the A6079 and the remainder of the walk is along the road which thankfully has light traffic. Approaching Chollerton the road passes underneath a beautifully engineered railway viaduct of the defunct Border Counties Railway which closed down in 1963.

At Chollerton, opposite the war memorial, stands the parish church of St. Giles which has Roman pillars (probably borrowed from the nearby Roman fort at Chesters) supporting the nave roof and a Roman altar re-used as a font. There are Commonwealth War Graves in the churchyard. The low building in the foreground was the stable and hearse house which now serves as a mini-museum displaying interesting information boards on the history of the parish, the church, village life, the school, local industry, the railway, the ferry and farming.

Nearby Attractions

Chesters Roman Fort and Museum
Chesters Bridge Abutment
Brunton Turret, Hadrian’s Wall

Derwentcote Steel Furnace – Britain’s Oldest Surviving Steel Furnace

Derwentcote Steel Furnace is a 300 year old steel-making furnace making it one of the pioneers of Britain’s industrial revolution.

Derwentcote Steel Furnace is a relic from the earliest days of the Industrial Revolution. It was built in the 1730s to convert wrought iron into steel using a process known as cementation. It is the last surviving furnace of its kind in the north-east and the only intact and complete example in the UK.

The building, which is managed by English Heritage, can only be viewed from the outside but it is a pretty woodland setting and worth the effort. It was in use until 1891 following which it fell into disrepair until restored by English Heritage a century later. The roof tiles are obviously recent but the walls, conical chimney and steel furnace door have great character and look like originals.

You can read more about the cementation steel making process on English Heritage’s website.

Opening Hours & Admission Charges

Open daily during daylight hours.
Closed 24-26 December and 1 January.

Admission to the grounds is free.

Although there is normally no access to the inside of the building, a sign outside says access can be arranged for groups by appointment, please call 0191 269 1200.

How To Get to Derwentcote Steel Furnace

The exact location is marked on this map (it’s actually in County Durham, not Northumberland, but still within the scope of this blog):

Address

Derwentcote Steel Furnace
Forge Lane, Hamsterley, Rowlands Gill NE17 7RS

Tel: 0191 261 1585

GPS: 54°54’11.3″N 1°47’53.2″W
54.903133, -1.798098

Parking

There is a carpark and picnic area a couple of minutes walk away on the opposite side of the A694 and is clearly signposted.

The Hopper Mausoleum St. Andrew’s Church, Shotley

The Hopper Mausoleum commemorates several generations of the Hopper family who were buried in this somewhat bleak cemetery at St Andrew’s Church between 1752 and 1818.

The Hopper Mausoleum is a grand and ornate tomb thought to have been built in 1752 by Humfrey Hopper in memory of his wife Jane Hodgson. Humfrey himself and later generations were also subsequently buried and commemorated here. The elaborate structure, which is a Grade 1 listed monument, stands in the corner of the cemetery of St. Andrew’s Church at Kiln Pit Hill close to the Northumberland/County Durham border. The mausoleum is described as neo-classical in style with a dome and cupola, a number of pyramidal finials and a family crest.

The church and mausoleum stand on a lonely and bleak hill, set well back from the road and can only be reached by a three minute walk on a footpath alongside a farmer’s field. The elevated site gives a fine view of the surrounding countryside, shown here in the fading light of an autumn afternoon.

A plaque on the mausoleum reads:

Erected by Humfrey Hopper of Blackhedley, in memory of his wife Jane Hodgson, who died February 29th, 1752, aged 77. Humfrey Hopper, died [date blank] 1760, aged 83. John, his son, died December 16th, 1776, aged 76. Joseph, his son, died October 18th, 1795, aged 86. Mary Walton, wife of Joseph Hopper, died [date blank] Humfrey, captain 32 Regement [sic] Foot died at St. Vincent, August 10th, 1765, aged 43. Nicholas, son of Joseph Hopper, died February 22nd, 1807. George son of Joseph Hopper, died January 24th 1818. Joseph Hopper, captain of the ship Formosa.

One of the statues on the mausoleum appears to be wearing a mitre and, according to The Churches Conservation Trust, is believed to be the martyred Bishop Hooper (presumably no relation to Humfrey?) while another statue has been decapitated and another is missing.

St. Andrew’s Church itself is a simple building more typical of the style you would expect to find in this part of the world. It was built in 1769 replacing a much older church on the same site. The church was declared redundant in 1973 – not surprising given its remote rural location. While it is no longer in regular use it is looked after by The Churches Conservation Trust who put on occasional services and events. There are even plans to place a stargazing pod in the churchyard to take advantage of the area’s dark skies due to lack of light pollution. Unfortunately the church was closed and locked on the day of my visit so was I was unable to peek inside.

Location

The Hopper Mausoleum is well worth a visit if you are in the vicinity. The location is shown on this map.

Address:
The Hopper Mausoleum, Greymare Hill,
Kiln Pit Hill, Consett DH8 9SJ

GPS: 54°53’29.9″N 1°55’50.9″W
54.891636, -1.930804

Parking

There is just about space to park one car on the verge opposite the entrance to the footpath without blocking the farmer’s field. Otherwise you will have to find a parking spot elsewhere and walk.

Wallington House and Gardens, Cambo, Northumberland

At Wallington House and Gardens you can enjoy a pleasant few hours admiring the interior of this historic stately home and exploring the extensive grounds with woods, ponds, walled garden and conservatory.

Wallington was the home of the Trevelyan family from 1777 until it was gifted to the National Trust in 1942.

Here are some of the highlights:

Indoors

The central hall is decorated with a series of eight murals by Newcastle-based Scottish artist William Bell Scott (1811-1890) telling the history of Northumberland. Here are a couple of them:

“The Romans Cause A Wall To Be Built For The Protection Of The South.”
“In The Nineteenth Century, The Northumbrians Show The World What Can Be Done With Iron And Coal.”
Some fine crockery is on display in the dining room.
Lady Trevelyan’s parlour with William Morris wallpaper.
Dolls houses and model soldiers.
Cosy library.
Caroline Trevelyan’s sketches, watercolours and other paintings.

Outdoors

Conservatory.
Walled Garden.
Ponds.
Woods.
Dragon Head Sculptures.

Other outdoor attractions include a wildlife hide from where you might be lucky enough to spot red squirrels, an adventure playground, a play train and a play fort

Visiting Wallington

Walllington is a National Trust property with all the facilities you would expect including a café and refreshment kiosk, parking, toilets etc.

You can find details of opening times, ticket prices etc. on National Trust’s website.

Where is Wallington?

You can find the location on this map:

National Trust Wallington
B6342, Cambo, Morpeth, Northumberland NE61 4A

Tel: 01670 773600

Prudhoe Castle

Prudhoe Castle dates from the 12th century, originally a stronghold for two leading northern families, the Umfravilles and later the Percy family, Dukes of Northumberland. It has a turbulent history and is famous as the only castle in the north never to have been captured by the Scots, having survived two sieges during the 1170s.

The chapel above the gateway contains England’s earliest example of an oriel window, built around 1300.

This fine Georgian manor house was built within the walls of the castle by the Duke of Northumberland in 1816, during the Napoleonic Wars. Major repairs of the ancient castle, which was in a ruinous state, were also carried out at this time. The manor house now contains exhibits on the 900 year old history of the castle.

Prudhoe has many of the features we associate with a traditional medieval English castle such as a moat, fortified gatehouse, a bridge, surrounding curtain wall, cross-shaped window slits, crenellated walls etc

This outer courtyard, or outer bailey, was the site of the kitchen, brewhouse, stores, workshops, latrines and accommodation block.

Prudhoe Castle from the south by Samuel and Nathaniel Buck, 1728.

Painting (print) on display at the castle. Possibly by, or in style of, Thomas Miles Richardson (1784-1848).

The castle is managed by English Heritage and is open to the public. You can find details of opening times and ticket prices on their website. The castle is closed during the winter months (4 November – 31 March).

Location of Prudhoe Castle

If you get in a taxi and ask for the castle and pronounce it as ‘prood-ho’ the driver will know you’re not from the area. The locals pronounce it as ‘prudda’.

The location is shown on this map.