Leader : Jan Mole Distance : 10 miles.
|Grey towers of Durham ,yet well I love thy mixed and massive piles
Half Church of God, half castle˜gainst the Scot
And long to roam these venerable aisles , with records of deeds long since forgot
Sir Walter Scot’s immortal words set in stone in the parapet of Prebens Bridge welcomed us to the city for Jan’s fascinating walk during which we would see glimpses of the famous Norman Cathedral from all four points of the compass. A truly round trip.
Eleven of us assembled for the off outside the foreboding edifice that is Frankland prison, one of her Majesty’s correctional institutions, having been made aware by our leader that our every move was being monitored by the plethora of pole mounted CCTV cameras around. In reality a slightly surreptitious advance warning for us all to behave. We were delighted to have two new members, Michael & Geoff with us for the day and with much ado we set off at a brisk pace due south along a wooded track, part of the Weardale Way..
We headed for the river briefly glimpsing the 14th-century Grade I listed manor house Crook Hall on our right and after crossing the footbridge near the Sands we turned back alongside the river towards the Kepier Hospital. The current building was erected in the fourteenth century although there had been a hospital on the site since 1112. Built for the relief of the poor and to provide a welcome for travelling pilgrims, we reckoned that we belonged to one or both of those categories, so we had our elevenses within the hospital grounds and then set off up the hill towards Gilesgate and Pelaw Woods.
It was here that the 11 became 10 as Bill reluctantly capitulated and headed off toward the city (his old war wound was playing up, actually he fell off a chair that wasn’t there, silly b….r) and as the pace picked up it was decided that the scheduled 9 mile route could well be extended to just over 10.
The woods were entered by crossing the famous and elegant Silver Link Bridge which is reputed to be a scaled down replica of a crossing over the Zambezi River, Africa’s fourth longest river. A walk through the woods soon took us to Old Durham where unearthed Roman remains suggest a road which headed up north towards Hadrian’s Wall. In more recent times the village itself like so many others in the area has a coal mining heritage .Soon we again dropped down to the river and after crossing via the footbridge at Maiden Castle we headed for our lunch stop in nearby Houghall Woods. The heavens opened, It had been forecast and this time they got it right so lunch turned out o be a rather soggy affair.
Post lunch we got on our way again, we were now past the point of no return so headed once again to the river and the magnificent riverside walk with its magnificent views of both the old and new architectural offerings.
Tis final leg revealed the Eastern aspect of the magnificent cathedral, now sadly looking a little forlorn with the scaffolding hat adorning the tower which is undergoing much needed restoration work. We had now seen all four faces of the building on our ramble, a somewhat unusual achievement on a day out.
All that remained was to enjoy the rest of the riverside stroll and head retrace our steps past Frankland Farm back to our waiting chariots. There is probably no safer parking place for those out for the day than outside a prison. The day ended in traditional fashion with a small aperitif in the Newton Grange pub and Bill was rescued from hordes of charming young ladies enjoying a day out on the town.
Thanks to Jan for the text and Ian for the photograph