Leader : Maz Burrows. Distance : 7 miles.
Lying a few short kilometres south of Durham City, Sunderland Bridge is unusually both a bridge and a village and it twas from there our Saturday sortie started. Once the few forgetful stragglers eventually arrived it was all systems go and our leader, (she who must be obeyed), set off along he south side of the River Wear, which was to be our companion for much of the day.
Five minutes out and suddenly our leader stopped and frantically searched for her map. Now historically we have records of walk leaders getting lost on outings but five minutes in must constitute some sort of record. Undaunted we pressed on.
The ambient temperature was not terribly low but the strong biting wind not only introduced a chill factor but also posed difficulties for some of our lighter members who on occasions were in danger of being unwillingly transported by an icy gust to the north bank of the river. Some lightly wooded sections grantered brief respite but in the main we were pretty exposed.
After a couple of miles or so walking SW along the river we turned sharp left into Spring Wood where we climbed a little (the only climb of the day we were assured) alongside the little bubbling Valley Burn. Conditions were a little sticky underfoot there and two of our mob got up ‘close and cosy’ with the mud but survived with only pride being hurt.
Having summited the hill and leaving the Sewage Works in our wake we skirted the village of Tudhoe which until the end of the 20th century was a renowned mining village- alas no more.
We were now heading for Whitworth Hall along hard surfaced tracks and field paths. En route we negotiated a series of newly constructed kissing gates but despite it being the season of ‘goodwill to all men’ kisses were pretty much at a premium- well, non existent actually. (is that being misogynistic?)
On reaching the Hall, now as so many of it’s peers a fine dining hotel, we took our time wandering past the deer enclosure where the little and large Bambis congregated in the shelter of trees and close to food provisions. The Hall is the ancestral home of the North East’s favourite son, Bobby Shafto and his name is perpetuated in the local hostelry that carries his name.
Leaving the deer we were directed to a convenient picnic area where we enjoyed lunch sitting at tables, a change from grassy mounds and stone walls. The nearby gardens encompass England’s most northerly vineyard but alas samples were not on display.
During our break a couple of hinds, or were they harts were attracted to John who proffered a sample of his lunch. The deer rejected his advances so either they were not hungry or John’s sandwiches were not up to standard.
Post lunch we exited the hall grounds and after a short roadside walk we took a sharp right and followed the Weardale Way alongside the river back to our start at the bridge.
Post walk aperitifs were taken In the nearby ‘Honest Lawyer’ pub (now there’s a misnomer if ever there was one).
A lovely enjoyable and bracing walk in familiar territory
Maz led 18 walkers from Sunderland Bridge.
Weather was fine, sunny and dry.
Lunch was in the grounds of Whitworth hall where we were joined by a few deer hoping for a few treats from our lunch boxes!
Post walk drink in the Honest Lawyer.