Steel Rigg car park is a short distance from Layside, and a great place to start and finish a circular walk. Whereas most choose to head east following Hadrian’s Wall towards Sycamore Gap and Housesteads, this morning we chose to head west. Following the road from the car park, walking west takes you past Melkridge Common with Winshields Crags and Hadrian’s Wall to your left. The paved surface of this little-used road makes this part of the walk easy going and relatively flat with wide verges for well behaved dogs to roam off the lead. On reaching the T junction, turn left, and after a short distance the road meets the Pennine Way. Turning left will take you back towards Steel Rigg following the Roman wall, and although this part of the walk is moderate with the odd strenuous (but short) climb, you are rewarded with spectacular 360 degree views of Hadrian’s Wall Country and beyond. We allow 1.5-2 hours for this circular walk, which gives us plenty of time to stop and enjoy the dramatic and picturesque landscape!

    

    

Following on from the RSPB Big Garden Birdwatch over the last weekend in January, farmers, land managers and gamekeepers are being urged to count birds between Friday February 9th and Sunday February 18th, hoping to record much loved birds such as the barn owl, bull finch, lapwing, grey partridge, tree sparrow and yellowhammer. We will be taking part at Layside where we enjoy seeing a variety of birdlife, as well as Roe Deer and the odd Northumberland Hare.

A short drive from Layside is the market town of Haltwhistle, claiming to be at the geographical centre of Britain. The South Tyne Trail can be accessed from behind the railway station at Haltwhistle, and follows the South Tyne River to Lambley Viaduct and beyond. There are some lovely views of the river as well as Hadrian’s Wall Country, and plenty of opportunities for your four-legged friends to cool off in the water. Salmon can also be seen jumping upstream in Autumn as they migrate to their breeding grounds. This part of the trail is roughly 4.5 miles one way to the viaduct, and requires some sturdy footwear in parts! Comprising of a series of elegant stone arches, Lambley Viaduct is approximately 850ft long and once carried the Haltwhistle to Alston railway which opened in 1852 to haul coal from the Alston mines, and was closed in 1976. It is a particularly elegant example of Victorian engineering: the river is crossed by nine 56 ft wide arches 105 ft above the river. This is a favourite walk of ours and loved by Archie – stopping at the viaduct for a cup of tea and a sausage roll before turning back.

           

There are a number of short, medium and long walks to be enjoyed from Layside. On a clear day, even a stroll around the block provides some exhilarating views of the Tyne Valley, Hadrian’s Wall and beyond.

A very Happy New Year from Layside – we look forward to welcoming you to this beautiful part of Northumberland in 2018.

We also welcome your four-legged friends, and with so many great walks from the doorstep they too can make the most of the stunning countryside, whatever the weather. Our 12 year old black lab proves that he is never too old to have fun in the snow!

    

    

Wishing everyone a very Merry Christmas from us at Layside – and a thank you to the mystery person who covers a tree at the end of our drive with Christmas chocolate treats every Christmas Eve!