St Oswald’s Way: Day 3 – Rothbury to Warkworth

(21st March 2014 – 18 miles)

I had a spring in my step as I stepped out of ‘The Queens Head,’ paused for a little window-shopping, picked up some lunch and crossed the bridge over the River Coquet.

Rothbury

On a warm, sunny morning, I had the fine prospect of several hours riverside walking.  And at day’s end I would see my partner and two friends.  Phew.  After twelve days away from home, I was looking forward to that.  As much as I enjoy my own company I was beginning to bore myself.  But I urgently needed to practise my talking-to-anyone-else-but-myself skills.  (Apparently, listening and appearing interested are important).

St Oswald's Way Day 3 (2)

Soon after leaving Rothbury, the path joined the line of the old Northumberland Central Railway.

St Oswald's Way Day 3 (3)

Passenger services on this spur-line were withdrawn in 1952 after a train derailed and crashed down an embankment killing a guard and three passengers.  The line closed for good in 1963.

St Oswald's Way Day 3 (4)

As the old track hooked away to the south, I left it behind and struck out eastwards along the river valley to the sea.

St Oswald's Way Day 3 (5)

I had passed sad, derelict houses the day before amongst the gloomy trees of Harwood Forest.

St Oswald's Way Day 3 (6)

This was the first of several I passed today but these sat in pretty, open countryside.

St Oswald's Way Day 3 (7)

Curiously the last inhabitants left without their piano.  Perhaps they were in a hurry or perhaps the piano was simply broken.  Or perhaps they couldn’t bear their child’s interminable “Chopsticks”.  Perhaps they left the child behind too.

St Oswald's Way Day 3 (8)

I walked away, swivelling my head and wondering again whether a house like this, especially in such a beautiful location and near to Rothbury, couldn’t be used.

St Oswald's Way Day 3 (9)

I marched on through West Raw Farm

St Oswald's Way Day 3 (10)

and immediately passed another abandoned cottage.

St Oswald's Way Day 3 (11)

I suppose that mechanisation, farm amalgamation and the resultant drop in the need for manpower have made these workers’ cottages redundant.  But you’d think they would be viable – and valuable – if only as holiday lets.

Pauperhaugh Bridge

The path dropped me down to the Coquet at the pretty bridge at Pauperhaugh – built in 1862.

Pauperhaugh Bridge (2)

The builders added two ‘dry’ arches to relieve flood pressure on the structure.  Clever builders.

St Oswald's Way Day 3 (14)

Another forlorn, stone cottage (but I’ll shut up about them now)

Brinkburn Priory

and I arrived above Brinkburn Priory.   I wanted to explore this English Heritage site but there is no access from the south side, my side, of the river.  I satisfied myself with a glimpse of the C12th church through the trees.

St Oswald's Way Day 3 (16)

I crossed fields and woodland, farms and small country lanes but always with the Coquet nearby.

St Oswald's Way Day 3 (17)

I recrossed the river at Weldon Bridge – built 60 years before Pauperhaugh.  Here, large circular holes above the arches release excess flood water.  It must be an amazing sight when the river is in full, tumultuous spate and water roars through those arches and ‘windows’.  And beyond the bridge?  Why, a pub!  And as it was 12.10pm – beer o’clock!   I sat outside The Angler’s Arms, unloosed my boots, sipped a pint of lager, closed my eyes and hummed.

Goosanders

Back on the river, I ran after a pair of goosanders – who weren’t nearly as excited to see me as I was to see them.  I managed a couple of quick shots before they left me far behind.  Goosanders first bred in Scotland in 1871 and only spread into northern England after 1970.  (That’s your interesting – and only – goosander fact of the day).

St Oswald's Way Day 3 (19)

According to my guidebook red squirrels, kingfishers and otters can all be seen along this stretch of river.  According to my guidebook.

St Oswald's Way Day 3 (20)

The day’s walk was pretty, gently changing and fairly easy.  But the path regularly climbed and fell; and it was still a long 18 miles.

St Mary's Church, Felton

St Mary’s Church, Felton

By the time I reached the village of Felton at 2.30 I was a little weary.

St Michael and All Angels

The church of St Michael and All Angels dates from 1199 but with my feet throbbing, and with 6 or 7 miles still ahead of me, I didn’t linger.  Besides, the more tired I become, the more my interest in ‘things’ slides away.  I’m quite shallow like that.

Felton Old Bridge

Felton Old Bridge

I crossed a fourth handsome bridge – this one C15th and sagely now only open to foot traffic.

St Oswald's Way Day 3 (25)

Beyond Felton, the miles felt endless, the sun hot, my provisions non-existent, my water low.

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And even the slightest climb struck me as a personal affront.

St Oswald's Way Day 3 (28)

(Got to like coltsfoot).

Morwick Water Tower

When I saw the remarkable 1960’s Morwick Water Tower on the outskirts of Warkworth my day’s trek was almost over.  At 5pm, and 8 hours since I had left Rothbury, I arrived at the very-good-indeed Westrigg B&B where my partner Jim, friend Tracy, a very welcome pot of tea and a slab of cake were waiting.  The former two would accompany me on the rest of the path to Berwick. The latter two didn’t hang around.

Hermitage Inn Warkworth

In the evening, we strolled down into Warkworth to meet local lass, and old friend, Jonquil at The Hermitage Inn: she would join us for the following day’s walk to Embleton.   After eleven days solo walking, it was good being amongst friends, chatting (when I could get a word in edgeways) and an end to the loneliness of the long distance walker.

16 thoughts on “St Oswald’s Way: Day 3 – Rothbury to Warkworth

  1. What a delightful perambulation. Eighteen miles…I feel exhausted just contemplating it! Those houses are quite fascinating..as you note, one would imagine they would be occupied, at least for holidays. Love the churches, bridges, the lovely pathways… Very inspiring…Thanks for sharing – always enjoy your observations…

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      • It looks stunningly beautiful, and your account was an absolute delight to read…apart from the jealousy : / Looking forward to your next missivie…The nice thing about this sort of writing, I imagine, is that the scenery isn’t changing particularly quickly, so one has the luxury of some time…Also, I think you really brightened up several people’s dreary November day with your incredible vistas, and flaneur observations. So, the timing seems quite good : )

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        • Ah, yes. Well of course brightening up November days was always part of my grand plan (cough). I’m trying to think of a way to get new walks out much quicker but short of giving up the day job and spending even more time in front of my laptop, I’m struggling. An occasional walking blog is what this is! D

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  2. Miserable goosanders. Lovely bridges though. But what we really want to know, is have you bought one of these derelict cottages? You’ve told us you have bought and sold but kept us in suspense about what and where.

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    • Ha! Wouldn’t that be something? A derelict cottage and a piano in the middle of nowhere – worthy of a whole new blog, I suspect. And oh goody, I’ve managed some unintentional suspense. As I say to Charles below, you too can live in one of the cottages, Janna. Come on now – no excuses (like living on the other side of the world for instance). D

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  3. Living in Florida and not knowing anything at all about the English countryside it is always a pleasure to read about it while you are doing all the walking. Your photographs are excellent as usual. I especially liked all the old stone, abandoned buildings.
    Good idea of yours to have them restored and rented out as vacation homes.

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  4. March 2014! I’m surprised that you can remember anything at all. But I noted that you ommitted those important details, such as what you picked up for lunch or what kind of cake you had at the end. Wonderful bridges. And all those houses. I always find them very disturbing,giving me fantasies of buying them for a song and having a holiday home. I could have had a property empire if I had bought them all.
    Good to hear from you.

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    • *hangsheadinshame* It could be worse, Charles. Couldn’t it? OK, perhaps not. And I like to tease you with hanging details (but for your ease of mind it was 2 not very nice Co-op sandwiches and a Victoria sponge in the afternoon). And yes, aren’t the dilapidated cottages tempting … and lovely. But as you ask, here’s one you can have. The house which featured in the previous post is on Rightmove to let. Here it is: http://www.rightmove.co.uk/property-to-rent/property-53170445.html. (Click on the letting particulars for some particularly cosy interiors). Should keep you busy. D

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