Monday, January 21, 2008

Day 5 - Blanchland - Hexham

This is the shortest day of Wainwright's original walk at only 10 miles. He wished to position himslef to arrive at the Wall in a morning rather than late in a day so he chose to pause at Hexham ready for the Wall on the 6th day. It is also an easier day that helps overcome the tiredness of the previous day's labours.

Setting our from Blanchland the old and new routes travel the same way, starting out north west heading to Pennypie House where it turns north and follows a good path over Blanchland Moor. He could see the giant furnaces away to the east at Consett - he wouldn't see them now for as with so much of the industry he encountered they have now gone.

The path continues northward until it becomes enclosed with the plantation to which Wainwright referred. The forest is now much more extensive than it was in 1938 and the route is more difficult to follow without recourse to distant landmarks. Following the forest road though leads to a crossroads where Wainwright headed straight on with the prospect of macadam walking for the rest of the route to Hexham. These roads are sufficiently narrow and sufficiently busy to render them unpleasant so the new route winds its way through the undulating countryside via quiet tracks and paths.

Local detail of the forestry would be useful for Wainwright referredto it being newly planted and when I passed in 1998 I did so passed large conifers, 60 years the older.

The two routes remain some distance apart and the only disadvantage of the new route is that it is some way from the house at Linnels Bridge which Wainwright had so adored and dreamed of his perfect woman keeping him company. It would be very interesting to know something of the house's history which was being renovated when I passed in 1998.
The new route passes through Smelting Syke, Diptonmill and on and up close to the racecourse. It also passes the Diptonmill Inn which might be useful for a brief civilised stop. Details about these name places would be useful.

Once beyond the racecourse the route descends steadily into Hexham via Causey Hill and comes into the west end of Hexham where turning right will join the Wainwright route again in the centre.
Wainwright stayed at the Abbey Tearooms in a cold second floor room. Built directly next to the Abbey details about the tea room would be interesting.

Day 5 is a short day, basically positioning the walk for a good full day's walk along the Wall on day 6. As ever, details of and infomation about the people and places circa 1938 would be of interest.

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