LETJOG – Day 33: Saturday 19 June – ALLENHEADS to HEXHAM (18 miles)
Up early for a special day! Rachel is braving the returning football fans on the East Coast Line, taking the train up to Newcastle and thence to Hexham, so that we can be together for three days, including two of my LETJOG day walks. I need to be at Hexham Station by 3.00 pm.
Leaving the Old School House early, I walked down the main road of Allendale, quiet at this time, with open views across the valley to the farmsteads and the moors beyond. At Sinderhope I took a road eastwards, soon becoming a farm track and finally a rough rocky path as it approached the moors. The six-mile crossing of Hexhamshire Common reached just over 400 metres near Stobb Cross, and from here, although overcast, the high cloud allowed far-reaching views in all directions of these heather-clad grouse moors to the hills beyond.
Having woken up this morning in Allenheads, just over the border into what I believed to be the final English county of my LETJOG trek, namely Northumberland, I was quite intrigued by the name ‘Hexhamshire’, and of the concept of a relatively small market town seemingly having its own named canton. Superficial research suggests that Hexhamshire was indeed granted county status in the 12th century as a political ploy by King Henry I to reduce the realm and power of the bishopric of Durham, only for the area to be subsumed once more into Northumberland in Tudor times.
Continuing this theme, my descent from the moorland, down country lanes and over lush pastures and cackling brooks, was with the intent of dropping in on the Hexhamshire Brewery at the Dipton Mill Inn. Alas, a sign: ‘Sorry, we are not re-opening just yet’ greeted me – another, hopefully temporary, victim of the impact of the pandemic. With this potential distraction avoided I arrived in Hexham somewhat early, allowing me the chance to explore the town centre, the Abbey and the Park, before making my way to the station for my rendezvous.
This evening we have been blessed not only with each other’s company, but over dinner in Hexham with my second cousin Fergus and his wife Susan. A lovely evening, and so good to catch up with you both after three eventful years – thank you for joining us, and I hope that I didn’t embarrass you all in my (clean!) walking gear amongst such fine surroundings!