A walk of approximately 4 miles up the river Tyne from Riding Mill near Hexham.
A walk along a riverside path from a pretty village. No real facilities except what you find in Riding Mill village.
Postcode for Satnav - NE44 6EP - This is the post code for railway station.
Riding Mill is near the point where the A68 crosses the A69 at a roundabout. Coming from Newcastle, follow the A69 Carlisle road for about 18 miles until you reach this 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 the village, then just past the Wellington Inn, turn right into a narrow lane that leads to the station. You can park in this lane, or at the station
You can, of course, use the train to get to Riding Mill.
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Walk onto the station platform, with your dog on a leash of course, and cross to the other side of the tracks by the footbridge. Head under the footbridge to the end of the platform, where you will see a small gate leading into the woods. Once you are in the woods, the walk is off-the-leash dog friendly. However be warned that there are a lot of grey squirrels at the beginning of the walk, and dogs love to chase them.
Follow this path down to the river, then turn left and follow it upriver. The pathway follows the river for quite some distance, then heads away slightly. In high summer, this part of the path was quite narrow and overgrown, especially the part that went through some snowberry bushes, but it is still easily passable. Eventually, the path widens out again and becomes a trackway used by cars to access the fishery car park. Pass the car park and the track narrows again, until the main path disappears over a cliff edge. Turn back here.
The River Tyne has eroded the sandy cliffs at this point, and while the pathway continues up the top of the cliffs, it is dangerous and NOT recommended. At times the pathway runs on the very edge of the crumbly cliffs, which will only get worse as time goes by. The sensible and recommended thing to do is to turn back here. However if you do chance the cliff path, it eventually takes you to into Corbridge.
The present village of Riding Mill was developed once the station was built in Victorian times, and was essentiall a commuter village for Newcastle. The name Riding Mill most likely means the mill by the clearing. The Wellington Inn in Riding Mill is supposed to be haunted. The Inn was originally called Riding House and was built around 1660.
In the 1670s a local teenage girl called Anne Armstrong had an argument with an old woman about some eggs, and this lead to her accusing three other local women of witchcraft. Anne was questioned by magistates at Morpeth, where she accused Anne Forster, her neighbour, of turning her spirit into a horse, then riding her to Riding Mill. There, they joined in a witches Sabbath with a number of other local women, where they danced and sung with the devil, described as a 'dark man'. Questioned further by the magistrate, Anne claimed that the women had transformed themselves into various animals, including greyhounds, cats, mice, hares and even bees.
She was forced to attend further sabbaths, where the devil sat on a golden chair and dispensed various rich foods, such as a capon boiled in a plum broth. After listening to Anne's account for some days, the magistrates decided she was making it all up, dismissed the case and acquitted the three accused women. The witchfinding hysteria had ended about 20 years earlier, and witchfinders were no longer allowed to torture 'confessions' out of innocent women.
The story so far is true, as it can be checked from the court records. However local legend says that Anne Armstrong's body was found hanging in Riding House some time after the court case. Did she commit suicide, or did the accused have their revenge? Her ghost is supposed to haunt the Inn still, which provides a perfect excuse to visit the Inn after your walk and check the story out over a pint.
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