Blanchland is a beautiful, unspoiled monastic village south of Hexham, right on the county border. The 3 mile walk starts from the village car park, involves a climb up a farm track, then back over a moor.
Blanchland village has a cafe, a pub, and public toilets.
The route 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 Blanchland, 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 Blanchland, 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.
Click here to see a routemap of the walk. It will open in a new tab.
The walk is roughly triangular, with the last bit the shortest leg. From the car park, turn left uphill by the farm road marked as a dead end. Follow the road up and over Shildon Burn, until you reach Shildon house. Here you will see the remains of an old engine room, or pumping station. It looks like you could maybe get down to see it, but in high summer, the footpath was blocked with high nettles and willowherb.
So, keep going uphill past a barn, until you see Pennypie house in the distance. Here you turn left onto the moors, by the footpath sign. After about 10 yards, there is a trackway on the left that doubles back and goes over the moors. Right at the start of this track there is a huge muddy puddle, which you can bypass with difficulty through the heather (while a dog, of course, goes straight through the puddle and gets filthy!). On the other side of the puddle you will see a small footbridge, which the more observant would have noticed is the easy way to bypass the puddle.
The pathway winds up through the moors, up to a mobile phone mast,
then goes back downhill by a roadway.
until you reach Baybridge at the bottom of the hill.
The road back to Blanchland looks very narrow, but if you look over the road, you will see a gateway that leads to another path. This path will take you right back into Blanchland, where you go into the village, then turn left uphill to the car park.
Blanchland is one of the prettiest villages in the north of England, and its history is described in the River Derwent walk from the village.
The North Pennines in the Blanchland and Allendale regions contain some rich crystal veins which forced their way, almost vertically, through the layered sandstone and limestone rocks. The Shildon veins are composed mainly of purple Fluorite and Chalcedony, a variety of banded quartz. However the veins also contained a significant amount of Galena, or lead ore. The veins were progressively dug out, deeper and deeper, but by the turn of the 18th century, they were filling with water and too deep to empty by hand.
By this time, steam engines had been invented, so in 1805 a coal-fired Cornish pumping engine was built over a 715 feet deep shaft, which kept the mines free of water for a while. However it was too expensive to haul coal to this remote site, so the engine was converted to water power a few years later. Around 1850, it became cheaper to import foreign lead, and the mines finally closed. The families that had depended on the mines emigrated to the gold fields of the USA and Australia. The engine house was then converted into flats and renamed 'Shildon Castle', but was eventually abandoned about 100 years ago.
Today, there is a short footpath from the farm road by Shildon House, which leads to a viewing area with information boards. There is a gateway on the far side of the viewing area, but when we were there in high summer, and the gate chocked with nettles and Rosebay Willowherb, that high pink wild flower with thick woody stems. The map that accompanies this walk does show a footpath leading past the gate and some way down the hill, so maybe you could do it in early spring.
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