NORTHUMBERLAND FOR A CHANGE - 3.7.16

 HAYMEADOW NEAR GREENHAUGH

Five LDWA members and one guest, Pete, convened at the Hareshaw Linn car park in Bellingham on a fine Sunday morning.  An initial short section of road walking took us above the town on the Pennine Way route, which we were to follow for the first part of the walk.  At a right-hand bend in the road, the Pennine Way struck out over higher ground, passing through Blakelaw Farm and out onto the moorland, offering fine views over to Bellingham.  Continuing North on the Pennine Way, we encountered a Pennine Wayfarer near Hareshaw House, who accompanied us until we paused for coffee at Whitley Pike, the highest point of our walk.  The coffee stop offered an excellent 360 degree panorama and it was possible to discern distant fells, including Cross Fell, the feature of our April walk this year.

A short distance from Whitley Pike brought us to a minor road where we bid farewell to the Pennine Way and turned west and followed the road down to Highgreen Manor, where we came upon an unusual fingerpost.  Inscribed on its three ‘fingers’, the words ‘Protestant’, ‘Catholic’, and Anglican’ pointed in three separate directions.  The finger post, known as ‘Polarisation’ is a piece of public art, reflecting on religious differences within North Pennines communities in times past. 

We paused to view the impressive façade of Highgreen Manor as we continued downhill and thought wistfully of taking tea on the broad front lawns!  Our route continued over rough, tussocky moorland where a shower caused waterproofs to be hastily donned.  Fortunately, the shower was brief but attempted to resume as we were about to stop for lunch.  A decision was made to have lunch on a bridge over the Tarset Burn, rather than continue to Greenhaugh, as this site offered a wall for seating and plenty of tree cover.  Unfortunately, this presented a problem of a different nature; midges!  Additionally, the road was much busier that it had at first appeared. 

We were soon on route for Greenhaugh, where the pub looked particularly inviting!  Beyond Greenhaugh, a short section of woodland led out over colourful hay meadows containing many species of wild flower, before our route met the main road to the west of Bellingham.  We soon left the road and picked up the disused Border Counties railway line (Hexham to Riccarton branch) from which the vegetation had been cleared and which made for pleasant walking.  A footbridge took us over the trackbed and up towards Longloughshields from where Bellingham came into view.  Passing through Reens Farm, we followed the farm track down to the main road, which returned us to the town.  Tea and cakes were the order of the day for some of the group prior to our homeward journey!