Monday, January 21, 2008

Day 7 - Haltwhistle to Alston

For Wainwright day 7 seems to mark a distinct change in his mood. It started badly when all the picture he had had printed were ruined and from that point on he seemed destined to walk mainly on roads and get back to Settle with his aim of writing a book where "...the best feature was not to be the narrative, but the first-class illustrations...".

Day 7 does pay a last brief visit to the Wall but it can't be denied that the pinnacle is passed and Haltwhistle itself had gone nothing to improve Wainwright's demeanour.

I had stayed at the Grey Bull in 1998 as had Wainwright 60 years earlier and any information about the owners in 1938. From Haltwhistle the old and new routes find their way following Haltwhistle Burn north to the main road after which a minor road leads back to the wall.

Following the wall westwards the route continues as far as Carvoran (now a Roman Museum) passing a disused quarry lying just to the north of the wall. I would be interested to know more about the quarry as it is suggested that it was still in operation on the old map and presents a huge eyesore and is an ugly blot on the landscape. There is an aerial ropeway marked on the old map which presumably served the quarry taking the rock down to the railway - confirmation would be useful.

At Carvoran the routes diverge as Wainwright proceeded into Greenhead. The new route follows a minor road before crossing meadows and the Tippalt Burn near College Farm (why that name?) then over the railway and road and onto another minor road heading south toward Featherstone Common.
The road is followed for 2 miles to Featherstone Bridge after which the west bank of the river South Tyne is followed with Featherstone castle on the opposite bank. There is past evidence of more quarrying and at Lambley there is a grand disused viaduct that carried the railway that one weaved its way to Allendale. Details about the railway and the quarrying would be useful.

A short road walk takes the new route to join the old where they proceed along the Maiden Way, the old Roman road that Wainwright had tried to follow. South of Lambley it is easy to track because once again Wainwright had found himself walking the route that was to become part of the Pennine Way some 30 years after he had come this way.
All three routes coincide as far as Burnstones where the new route has the chance to follow the disused railway track bed. There is reference on the old map to Burnstones Inn - any detail would be very useful about the inn for I do not recall one from 1998.

Slaggyford found favour with Wainwright for its "complete tranquility" and in 1998 the old railway station was very tranquil for it, like so many other, is now dead. It was a delightful little station and can be imagined as being bedecked with flower baskets in earlier times tended by a keen station master. Any details about this remnant of a past life would be very interesting.

The railway track continues south where the tiny dots on the old map between Wainwright's route and the new route is actually the Pennine Way and all three cross the river South Tyne to the footbridge that Wainwright was very pleased to discover having thought he would have to ford the river. The footbridge is a sizable structure in the middle of nowhere and its building must have a history as to why its there - any details would be gratefully received.
Then there is the church to which he referred which seems to have been built to serve but a few. It is as though there was once a greater population in this area to merit the bridge and the church.

Once the river is crossed it is a short walk on minor roads into England's highest market town, Alston. Passing Kirkside Wood Alston is less than 2 miles. A stretch of the railway has been rescued hereabouts by volunteers as the South Tynedale Railway and it runs in the valley below the path which rises before descending again into Alston.
Wainwright had arrived on the day of the Alston Show and stayed with the Richardson family. Mr Richardson, a poultry keeper, was the show secretary and I failed to find any details about him so any now would be very useful, such as where did they live and where is the family now.

Day 7 is the first day heading home but has passed 18 pleasant miles re-visiting the wall and tracking the South Tyne valley and finally pausing at the delightful Alston. Details about the valley, the railway, the people would all be very welcome.


Anonymous said...

Hi Andrew!

just to say that i've finished work for the day and am reading and enjoying

all best

more soon

Martin Wainwright

Anonymous said...

hello andrew

I read a penninejourney some years ago. I have rcently been thinking of recreating the route and by googling I found this blog. Excellent stuff!

Have you got any further wit this project?

Dave m

Andrew Lambert said...

Thanks for the comments, it is good to feel that the work is along the right lines. The project slowly progresses but as I have already taken 10 years I am not panicing other than as each year goes by there will be fewer folk about who recall the days when Wainwright was about.

andrew lambert said...

I am back after some while of being away. Is anyone out there reading my blog? I am in the throes of restarting things so any comments would be really good. Ta