2020_03_07 West Tanfield

Leader : Kate Haynes.          Distance : 8 miles

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Nigel reports :-

A rather nervous Kate led 21 other nervous walkers on today’s 8 mile route from West Tanfield. The nervousness on Kate’s part was a result of this being her debut as a walk leader. The trepidation on everyone else’s part was because Kate cannot tell left from right. Where would the walk take us? In the end it was a delightful day out. Before leaving the village Kate took us to see the Marmion Tower, which is now in the care of English Heritage, but which dates back to the fourteenth century when it was the gatehouse to a now vanished Manor House. Some of our party climbed up the stone staircase and waved down to us from the first floor balcony. Although time did not allow us to visit St Nicholas Church, an investigation of the interior is well worth a return visit. It contains alabaster and stone effigies from the mediaeval period. Leaving the village we crossed the Tanfield Bridge over the River Ure which took us from North Yorkshire into West Yorkshire. Following the Ripon Rowel walk the lovely riverside path meandered past the weir to North Stainley. There we had a coffee break around the village cricket pitch before continuing past the duck ponds. On a grassy verge we saw a sculpture of a stag made from old bicycle parts. In the distance at the edge of the village was a circular toll booth with windows facing both ways to enable the tollkeeper to see traffic coming from either direction. Our route took us past deep quarries with Lightwater Valley Theme Park visible across the chasm. Behind and to our right were views of the Cleveland Hills. A short section of road walking took us onto a bridleway where we lunched perched on wayside stones. Through a wooded area dropping down to Mickley village, we rejoined the Ripon Rowel walk for a return riverside walk to Tanfield Bridge. We finished the day with refreshments at the Bull Inn, which was originally the home of the ferryman before the bridge was built. All breathed a sigh of relief that Kate had delivered us back safely and she is threatening to practice her map reading skills on us again on the next walks programme.