Blanchland is almost as far south as you can get in Northumberland. The Derwent is more stream than river, but here it forms the county boundary.
A beautiful, unspoiled monastic village, with a reasonably easy walk of approximately 4 miles by a small river. The village has a post office that sells takeaway coffes and snacks, a rather more upmarket cafe, a pub, and public toilets.
The route is not disabled friendly, but should be safe and suitable for all sizes of dogs.
Postcode for Satnav - DH8 9SR - This is the post code for the Square in Blanchland just below the parking area.
Blanchland is about 10 miles south of Hexham, on the Northumberland - County Durham border.Coming from Newcastle, follow the A69 Carlisle road for about 18 miles until you reach the A68 roundabout, and take the first left on the A68, signposted The South, Darlington. Follow this road for about a mile down over the Tyne, then turn right at the roundabout on the A695 for Riding Mill. Follow the road through Riding Mill village, past the Corbridge turn off, then on your left you will see the B6307 road, signposted Blachland, Slaley. Take this turn and follow it for about 2 miles to the 'T' junction with the B6306 where the left turn is also signposted Blachland, Slaley. Turn left here and follow the road of 8 miles into Blanchland village. In village, turn right up past the post office, and you will see a large car park on your left. This car park has a £1 honesty box..
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From the car park, head down into the village, under the arch by the post office, and down to the bridge. You will see a narrow path on the left side of the bridge leading down to the river Derwent. Take this path and turn left, following the path along the river bank. After almost a mile, you will see a signposted turning off on the left up hill. For a shorter walk, turn up here, otherwise continue along the riverbank.
About a hundred yards past the turning, the main path heads into some gorse bushes, while a smaller path goes nearer the river. Take the river path on the right, as the main path gets steadily more overgrown, until it becomes unpassable for dogs. This diversion eventually rejoins the main path, and we continue down the river. After a while, the path takes a diversion away from the river into a small wood, where three streams are crossed by small wooden bridges. The last bridge is partially blocked by a fallen oak branch, but is passable with care. You then walk into a field, then down a steep slope to the river bank again. Follow the pathway along the river for as far as you wish, or until you reach a roadway. Here, you have to turn back and retrace your steps.
When you get back to the point where the pathway splits, follow the path up the hillside, past some large oak trees. The path now turns left and runs above the field, with an open deciduous wood on the right. This straight path eventually reaches a gate, then onto the road back to Blanchland. You need to walk by the road for a short distance until it turns a corner, where you will see a raised pavement on the right. Follow the road into Blanchland past the Abbey, and so to the car park.
There are other walking options in Blanchland. You can turn right at the bridge and walk up river past the children's play park, and there are signposted walks leading uphill from the car park. You can see the details on the attached map.
Blanchland is one of the prettiest villages in the north of England, and has been around for nearly a thousand years. The abbey was associated with the Prince-Bishops of Durham, and was eventually disbanded by Henry VIII. Some of the Abbey buildings were then incorporated into the village, for example the post office is right next to the abbey gatehouse, while the Lord Crewe Arms hotel was once the west range of the abbey buildings. Other parts of the village were built using stones from the abbey. Lord Crewe, the bishop of Durham, purchased Blanchland estate in the 16th century and left it to be administered by a Charity, which is still the case today.
The Lord Crewe Arms hotel is said to be haunted by the ghost of Dorothy Forster. Dorothy lived during the Jacobite rebellion and rescued her brother from jail in London. She helped him escape to France, and her ghost pines for his return.
Walter Besant, a Victorian author, also describes ghosts in Blanchland, refering to a story that marauding Scots were attracted to the Abbey when the monks rand the bells. "In the twilight or moonlight one may see, or think he sees, the ghosts of the murdered friars among the ruins. In the dark winter evenings, the people said, they could be heard, when the wind was high, chaunting in the chapel; and every year, on that day when they rang the fatal bell and so called in the Scots, may be heard at midnight the ringing of a knell. Many are there who can testify to this miracle; and at night the venerable ghost of the Abbot himself may be sometimes met upon the bridge. But this may be rumour, for the people of the place are rude, having no learning at all, little religion, but great credulity, and prone to believe all they hear."
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