Bart enjoyed his first walk on Hadrian’s Wall – following in Archie’s footsteps on one of his (and our) favourite circular trails. Now at 5 months old, he had his first experience of this rugged and beautiful landscape, with many more to come. He did well and managed a good 2 hour walk, stopping half way for a snack (and a good bite of my pastrami and cheese sandwich) to keep up the energy levels!

Now, with the Layside breakfasts delivered to our guests, we may take a return journey but head east this time. Sycamore Gap is looking stunning this morning – following the brutal winds delivered by storm Ali, it is always a relief to see that the tree is still standing!

           

Scarecrow festivals are popular in the UK, where the use of the scarecrow as a protector of crops dates back hundreds of years. In medieval Britain, scarecrows were young boys who were tasked with the responsibility of scarring away birds, patrolling the fields with bags of stones to throw at the crows and starlings. The Great Plague of 1348, however, wiped out half the population and not enough boys could be found, so sacks were stuffed with straw and faces carved in turnips – and so was born the scarecrow as we know it today.

Every year, hundreds of villages all over Britain bring coolur, vibrancy and fun to the countryside by organising Scarecrow Festivals, where residents compete with each other to build the best scarecrow from whatever material they can lay their hands upon! Bardon Mill and Henshaw runs a scarecrow trail each year – a “scarecrow map” can be purchased from Mike’s Village shop in Bardon Mill, along with a voting form – a fun way to explore the Village and get to know the residents! For those wishing to participate, voting forms must be returned to the Village shop by 8th September, with the winners to be announced at the Presentation Night and BBQ at the Bardon Mill village hall on 15th September.

We have voted for our favourites – some of the best from past and present shown!

    

    

The village of Bardon Mill is a 30 minute (downhill) walk from Layside and well worth a visit if only to appreciate a good coffee and home-made scone, cake or sandwich at the Village Store and Tea Room. Positioned adjacent to the Village Green, the store is at the heart of the village and owner Mike provides a warm welcome seven days a week. Opposite is the Errington Reay pottery which started life as a water-powered woollen mill in the mid-1700s before it was burnt down by an employee, Harvey, whose ghost is said to remain in the upstairs of the building. The pottery was founded in 1878 by William Reay and Robert Errington. Originally specialising in clay sewerage pipes then from the 1970s (following the advent of plastic pipes), it diversified to produce garden pots, which quickly became popular with clients from across the country.
The park is also well worth a visit – Bart took a short stroll following the Pitman’s Trail which was once the site of the Bardon Mill Colliery (once employing 300 men and producing more than 156,000 tonnes of coal every year). Following the hard work of a team of local volunteers, the reclaimed woodland is flourishing and provides a great backdrop to the state-of-the-art community building (the UK’s only earth-sheltered village hall)!

It is always a lovely sight to see spring lambs in the fields surrounding Layside. The weather has improved and these new arrivals are enjoying some long awaited sunshine.

We took our first walk yesterday without Archie at our side. A ten minute walk up the road took us to The Sill, and it was a glorious day to enjoy a cup of tea and a snack on the living roof, with fantastic sun-drenched views of the Whin Sill and Hadrian’s Wall. Planted to replicate the unique natural grasslands of the surrounding area, The Sill’s fully accessible living roof sweeps gently upwards, giving visitors a bird’s eye vantage point across one of the UK’s most magnificent landscapes and the UNESCO World Heritage Site of Hadrian’s Wall. Sad to be without our loyal companion, but uplifted by the sheer beauty of Northumberland on a sunny day.

  

 

The walk from Walltown to Chollerford  takes in many of the most spectacular sections of Hadrian’s Wall, including the Sycamore Gap. Northeast Guides are offering the opportunity to walk this section of the wall with them, giving you the chance to enjoy 17.5 m / 27 km of stunning Northumberland. Choose your own Charity and collect your sponsorship, and this can be a great event for single walkers or groups. Current dates available are May 6th/20th, June 3rd/17th, and July 1st/15th (Northeast Guides do require at least 4 persons participating on each walk).

For more information contact Paul Mitchenson at Northeast Guides:

http://Guided Walk Walltown-Chollerford

Why not stay with us at Layside beforehand to prepare, or afterwards to recover?!

Haltwhistle is a small town in Tynedale, Northumberland, approximately 10 minutes drive from Layside. Walking festivals are organised by a group of enthusiastic volunteers who wish to share their love of the local area with others. All walks are guided by trained leaders who aim to provide interesting routes and good information about the area in a friendly and sociable atmosphere. The Spring Walking Festival runs from April 28th to May 7th, and there will be 24 guided walks over the 10 day period as well as 2 evening events.

For a full list of events and for bookings, please visit:

Haltwhistle Walking Festival 2018

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!

    

    

Coco Charity team up with North East Guides for a Walk the Wall challenge taking place on Sunday 29th April. To take part in any of the three challenges, visit http://www.coco.org.uk or contact jess@coco.org.uk.

There are three challenges available, differing in length so you can pick a distance to suit you, and all start and finish points are easily accessible from Layside should you wish to relax with us before or after the event!

Challenge 1: Walltown Quarry to Chollerford – the full 17.5 miles.

Challenge 2: Walltown Quarry to Housesteads roman Fort – approx 8.5-9 miles.

Challenge 3: steel Rigg to Housesteads Roman Fort – 4 miles.

Our best loved walk from Steel Rigg (5 minutes from Layside) to Housesteads Roman Fort was voted in at no. 18 of “Britain’s Favourite Walks” by over 8000 enthusiasts. Facing some stiff competition from the Highlands of Scotland to the Lake District and Snowdonia National Park to name but a few, we are incredibly proud to have this gem on our doorstep. If you are thinking of walking just a part of the Roman Wall, this is the walk of choice, and one can enjoy one of the richest parts of the country for Roman archaeology whist appreciating the stunning surroundings and the impressive Whin Sill that the Wall was built on. It also takes the walker through Sycamore Gap, and past the tree made famous due to its appearance in “Robin hood Prince of Thieves”, and the 2016 winner of the Woodland Trust “Tree of the Year”. This walk is enjoyable in so many ways, but one of its greatest advantages is that despite the numbers of people visiting the area, there is always an opportunity to enjoy solitude and take in the incredible views whilst soaking up the history of rugged Northumberland.

We still believe this walk deserved the number one spot!

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.