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Slaggyford, Coanwood, Lambley Railway Viaduct, South Tyne Trail, Northumberland.
[18.9 km] Thu 02 Jul 2015

OS Grid Ref: NY 67609 52358
Lat/Long: 54.864946, -02.506173

My drive north started misty but stated to clear by the time Iíd reached Penrith. Over Hartside Pass there was still some high cloud which was still there when I reached the small car park at Slaggyford by the old railway station. I set off in warm weather to walk south along the road then east over the bridge crossing the River South Tyne and the lane to Williamston farm.

Slaggyford

Through the farm the track heads north along the side of the hill. The rough track soon began to head steeply up towards Stockeld Green but the path stayed on the contour to head towards a wooded area before Parson Shields. There were no path markers and little more than a sheep track to follow in places. I reached a gate through the trees then emerged onto green pasture that took me to Parson Shields buildings.

Old limekiln

Tidy cobbled yard at The Bog

Eals Bridge

The path is signposted to the right of the buildings and joins a track to The Bog. The farm is very tidy with a clean cobbled farmyard. After the farm the track is tarmac and I followed it to Eals Bridge over the River South Tyne.

To Eals

I didnít cross it but continued to the lovely finger post pointing to Eals. I headed down the cul-de-sac for a while then turned right over a wall to follow the path through fields to Towsbank Wood.

Eals cottage

I crossed a small brook by a substantial wooden footbridge. The unmarked path now climbs diagonally up through the woods. I soon came across some old abandoned mine workings. They were relatively modern, say 20 years old, but now totally overgrown. The tunnel entrance had a metal frame around it but inside was bricked off.

Towsbank Mine

Large metal cylinders sat in the trees above. It wasnít shown on my map and when I did a search afterwards I found out why.
http://www.subbrit.org.uk/sb-sites/sites/t/tows_bank_colliery/index10.shtml
The excellent Subbrit website had a lot of information about it saying it was only opened in 1986 by three partners; Ted Nancarow Snr, Willie Armstrong and Frank Shepherd.

photo by Nick Catford showing the site in use.

Mine equipment in the woods

Chickens roam free

I continued up through the trees and at least had some path marker posts to follow. I reached a field full of deep bracken which I had to wade through to reach the open ground to the wall and Towsbank Farm where chickens roamed freely. Up the track I was on the high road heading north. On the right was Quarry House which was now considerable improved and renovated after the last time I saw it 2 years ago.

Quarry House

Lambley Railway Viaduct.

Lambley Railway Viaduct.
Engineers drawing.

I continued on the road for just over a mile then crossed the wall to the left to follow a path down through fields to Coanwood. This is where I reached the South Tyne Trail where the road meets the line of the old railway. The railway line was opened in 1852 and was the Alston branch. It kept going longer than most and was eventually closed in 1976. I followed the path to the SW, passing the old Coanwood railway station of which only the overgrown platform remains. My main objective of the day was the Lambley Railway Viaduct.

Along the railway route

I reached the amazing structure to see a sign saying it was only a permissive path across and I should seek permission. The sign said:
This path is not a public right of way, but walkers are normally allowed to use it by permission of the landowner, and at their own risk.
With no indication of who the landowner was the sign is a nonsense.
I continued over the bridge. It was built in 1852 for the Alston branch of the Newcastle and Carlisle railway and trains brought lead and coal down the valley to Haltwhistle station.

Crossing Lambley Railway Viaduct.

View from the viaduct

Lambley Viaduct

I reached the far side of the bridge to the intensely annoying sight of a large barrier blocking the way. My map shows a path continuing. A series of metal steps took me down to the river bank then eventually emerged to rejoin the line of the path along the railway. A sign there said the Ordnance Survey map was wrong in showing a path.

The route is blocked. I hate this!

The path now continued uninterrupted along the line of the railway. I didnít have much of a view at first because of the trees but eventually came out into the open.

Lambley Viaduct

I met a couple coming the other way who asked how far the bridge was. They were doing the Pennine Way and turned out to be the only people I saw all day. After a few more miles I was back at Slaggyford and my car.

Lambley Viaduct

Bridge strengthening

Approaching Slaggyford Station

Slaggyford Station

Slaggyford Station