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Blanchland, Ruffside Moor, Belmount Farm, Presser Pumping Station, Co Durham.
[17.7 km] Thu 06 Aug 2015

OS Grid Ref: NY 96485 50433
Lat/Long: 54.848693, -02.056271

Drove via Hexham to Blanchland for the start of my walk. The arch building was still covered in scaffolding as I walked through the village and out along the B6306 towards Edmundbyers.

Blanchland

There was no footpath so I followed a path through woodland for a while to avoid the road. Back on the road I walked to the entrance gate to the derelict farm of West Ruffside. An estate sign on the gate said ‘No Access’ so I continued along the road to a gate with no sign then headed up the wooded West Plantation on Ruffside Moor.

Looking back to Blanchland


Trig post on Ruffside Moor

There was a line of shooting butts and an access track which took me almost to the summit of Bainbridge Hill. The last part of the walk was through the heather to the summit trig post. It was overcast but mostly fine weather and there were great views all around. I started my descent by following the fence line to the SW. There was no path so I had to negotiate the heather which was quite deep in places. At a junction of fences and a gate I reached the path and continued over the hill to the long abandoned farm of Belmount.

Belmount

Belmount byre, scene of the murder

Belmount

It was here in Jan 1880 that Robert Snowball was murdered by having the back of his head hit with a sledge hammer. The main suspect was the housekeeper Mrs Jane Barron, the widow of a lead miner. She was never sentenced and moved away from the area to continue as a housekeeper.
 

Belmount

I continued along the track to the road at Near Sandyford. I wasn’t on it long and continued on another track towards Sykehead. I left the track to visit the isolated chimney by Sykehead Dam, The chimney was the end of a long underground flue that comes up the moor. I followed the collapsed flue and found some sections still almost intact. As I descended I could see the building and chimney of the Presser Pumping Station.

Sykehead chimney

Sykehead flue

Sykehead flue

I reached the track and walked to the deserted pumping station buildings. They were deserted and empty inside. The area was used for lead mining but apparently the pumping station was built after the mines closed and was used to supply water to Consett. I returned to the road and followed it round to the Derwent Lead Mines area. I noticed a ridge in the field which looked like an old flue but checking the old map turned out to be the Deborah Incline between Deborah Mine level and Presser Lead Mine.

Presser Pumping Station

Down through the woods I tried to find a river crossing. I crossed at what looked like a collapsed bridge but there was no way to continue on the other side. I noticed a footbridge further up the river so crossed over that. An overgrown path took me up to a terrace of cottages and a Primitive Methodist Chapel dated 1877.

Primitive Methodist Chapel

Primitive Methodist Chapel

St James’s Church

The path continued to the road where I continued to Hunstanworth with its distinctive St James’s Church with patterned roof. I descended to the River Derwent where I followed the riverside path back to Blanchland. The car park is by donation and £1 is suggested. I put a bit more in.

Blanchland