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Slaggyford, Williamston Common, Whitfield Lough, Kirkhaugh Bridge, River South Tyne, Northumberland
[19.7 km] Wed 03 Jun 2015

OS Grid Ref: NY 67611 52355
Lat/Long: 54.864918, -02.506154

My drive to Slaggyford was through Melmerby and over Hartside Pass. In Melmerby there were many gypsy caravans, horses and vehicles everywhere. They must be on their way to the Appleby fair. On the descent to Alston there some more caravans parked on the grass verge by the road.

Gypsy caravans

I reached Slaggyford and parked in the area by the old railway station. I always find it odd that a centre for good walking rarely has cars parked in it. I set off down the lane back to the A689 then south to the minor turn off left over the River South Tyne. Along the lane I walked up to Williamston Farm where I wanted to take a track up onto the moors. It wasnít shown as a right of way so I took another track to connect with it.


River South Tyne

Lime Kiln

Shawhead ruin and stabilised coping

Shawhead ruin and stabilised coping

I was surprised to see a sign on a gatepost saying permissive path. I followed the track steadily upwards to an old limekiln where it descended slightly before joining the main rough track up the hillside. I came across a cage trap by the road with a live crow in it. I was puzzled why a crow would be trapped but later found out the bird was live bait, presumably for a bird of prey. Further up the track and near a gate was another cage trap but this one was of a different design.

Bait in the trap

A man turned up on a quad bike to check the trap and told me about the bird in the one lower down. He turned round and went back while I continued up the hillside to a substantial stone shooting hut on Williamston Common. Itís a great pity it was locked. The views down the valley were very impressive.

Stone shooting hut

I now left the track behind and picked a way across the hillside to a line of shooting buts going up the hill to the summit ridge fence line near Hog Hill. I turned right (east) to follow the fence to High Bradshaw Hill towards Whitfield Lough. I was last here three years ago but this time decided to walk round the tarn.

Stone ruin

Whitfield Lough

It is interesting to see it being called a lough which sounds like an Irish name. I then took a direct line to Pikerigg Currick and an interesting stone hut. Itís not shown on the current maps but I found it on the 1860s map. Inside were net cages and bird food so it looks as though itís for grouse management. Nearby is the trig post and an adjacent currick.

Pikerigg Currick hut

Pikerigg urrick and  trig post

Horseman Ford Waterfall

I followed a path south to Whitfield Law. I had to climb the low fence to continue down to Horseman Ford at the top of a nice waterfall. I followed the fence for a while then turned west to walk down Dewley Fell. There were signs of old workings and further down above Dewley Field was a large spoil heap looking like it was caused by a filled in level. I continued down to the substantial ruins of Dewley Field Farm.

Dewley Field Farm

Along the track I came to Blackcleugh Farm which was empty but had been refurbished. I think it was in a similar state the last time I was here three years ago. I reached the farm gate at the lane and saw a Ďfor saleí sign. Walking along the lane I passed Barhaugh Hall with is a Robinwood Activity Centre for 7 to 11 year old children.

Blackcleugh Farm

There were a lot of activities going on in the grounds such as rope slides through the trees. I continued along the lane and met several groups of children walking back to the hall. Each group had about 10 children with 2 adults. I left the lane to follow a path down to the river and a footbridge across the River South Tyne.

Footbridge over the River South Tyne

Across the field ahead I reached a path running along the South Tynedale Railway. It is a narrow gauge railway and I didnít know the path ran along it. It was a pleasant surprise as I was able to follow the railway to the end of the rails shortly after Lintley Halt.


Footpath by the railway

Lintley Halt

End of the line

Overgrown rail route

The sign said it was the end of the public path but access was permissive. My map showed a bridleway continuing. I continued but the path was fairly muddy in places. About half a mile before Slaggyford the route was so deep in mud and water there was a diversion along the top of the bank on the right. I reached Slaggyford and ended my walk.
My return drive over Hartside was as I feared. A wagon train of six horse drawn caravans were holding the traffic up for miles. The caravans Iíd seen earlier had moved on but left a large pile of plastic bin bags on the verge and rubbish strewn around.

Gypsies on the Hartside Road