Posted: Thursday 27 January 2011
North East Associates
Ponteland and Darras Hall Walk
- Thursday 27th January -
Promised a level walk to break us in for the new season over forty of us met up at the Blackbird Inn in Ponteland, a village a few miles to the north-west of Newcastle.
The longer walkers prepare
In our customary two groups we headed off to join the bridleway which follows the Darras Hall branch of the long defunct Gosforth & Ponteland Light Railway.
The path runs for nearly two miles through the Darras Hall estate, this started about 100 years ago as a rather exclusive housing development. It remains as such, being the home to the local rich and (in)famous. Some Associates are believed to live here too, but we weren't invited in for a cuppa!
After passing the termimus of passenger operations at the site of Darras Hall Station we continued on the railway alignment, this section a long-disused colliery railway and headed north to find the River Pont. Mud in this area was a bit of a nuisance but we coped well.
Time for an energy top-up beside the river
Having crossed it we headed back towards base following the river bank, except where the watercourse had been included as a garden feature for many houses.
The path then followed field boundaries, how sensible after our November experience, leading us back to the main road through the village.
Here we came across "Vicar's Pele Tower" which dates from about the 14th century, something never noticed before when driving through over the years.
A sign with a few words about its purpose, history and restoration provides an understanding of its rôle.
Now it is only required to protect itself from marauding pigeons.
At the Blackbird, 5½ miles after we left, lunch was ready and a convivial time was spent there by most walkers and some other Associates who joined us. The longer walkers were apparenty delayed in their return by a diversion.
Promises had been kept regarding a level walk and even the one stile we met wasn't an obstacle. With cool but dry weather and lots of company this was a very pleasant outing.
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