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Slaggyford, Railway South Tyne trail, Lambley Viaduct, Tows Bank Mine adit, Knarsdale, Northumberland.
[17.6 km]  Wed 25 Dec 2019

Lat/Long: 54.864711, -02.506253
OS Grid ref:
NY 67604 52332
Being Christmas Day morning my drive north along the M6 to Penrith was incredibly quiet and I didnít a single HGV truck the entire way. As I drove over Hartside Pass I climbed into mist and at the summit could just see the fencing surrounding the site of the now demolished Hartside Top Cafť. It was still misty and wet as I descended towards Alston so took it easy. I turned left to head north along the A689 to Slaggyford where I parked on the new Railway Station car park. My plan is to walk along the South Tyne Path which follows the line of the old railway. Since the Railway Station has been re-built the first part of the path has been diverted away from the railway lines but I decided to follow the line and through the gate.

Slaggyford this morning

2nd July 2015

Slaggyford this morning

2nd July 2015
 I soon came to another gate and joined the official path. I hadnít been going long when I came to a very wet stretch which was actually flooded and was impassable. The side ditches were also flooded so I had to climb the fence to the left and walk along the field to re-join the rail route further on. I could see others had made the same diversion. It is interesting to note that the nearby farm is called Merry Knowe.
The very wet path.

Approach to Lintley Station House

Probably 1970s dont know the author
I came to a wooded area where there were signs of tree damage from the wind and one fallen tree had been cut to allow access. At Waughold Holme there was a tracked excavator parked by the track and this is where cyclist have to leave to re-join the nearby road. The track is now the access to Lambley Station House. There is no public access to the station buildings which are now a private residence. The path now descends a steep and slippery flight of steps down to the river South Tyne and shadow of the Lambley Railway Viaduct.
Lambley Station around 1910
The last time I was here I had crossed the viaduct but this time I wanted to cross by the narrow footbridge with its single supporting column in the middle of the river. Part was across I stopped to admire the viaduct before continuing to the east bank. It looked like an unofficial path climbed back to the viaduct path but I wasnít sure. I spoke to a couple out walking and they said there was a scrambly path. I climbed it and through the fence at the top.
Lambley Viaduct from the footbridge.

Engineers drawing of the Lambley Viaduct.
The 9 arch viaduct was opened in 1852 and closed in 1976.

My view of Lambley Viaduct after crossing it.

Lambley Viaduct (1852 - 1976)

Lambley Viaduct (1852 - 1976)
I did a double crossing of the viaduct path then continued NE for a short way then left the railway to follow a footpath sign to the right that took me through trees and past the interesting Castle Hill. I crossed some very wet fields to emerge on to the road at Ashholme. I headed south passing the refurbished Quarry House, which seemed empty, and on to Towsbank buildings. Then I followed the unsurfaced track down through between the buildings where very tame chickens were wandering around.
Towsbank chicken.
Over a wall the path descended down through a field to Towsbank Woods. The path became very steep and indistinct and I lost it completely. Eventually I saw a path marker post below and was able to regain the route. Eventually through the woods I reached the Tows Bank Coal Mine entrance. It was opened in 1986 and closed in the late 1990s. The whole area is being overgrown by nature. Inside the entrance it looks like a steel door blocks access. The rails where wagons were hauled up the incline are still there. 

Towsbank Coal mine

Same view in the 1990s
photo by Nick Catford showing
the site in use.

Tub exiting from mine - taken from a Dutch news film.

Hauling up the incline - from a Dutch news film c1992.

Inside the mine entrance.

Inside the mine c1992

I continued down to the footbridge then across fields and ladder stiles to the track by Eals buildings. I reached the road and on to Eals Bridge. It was originally built in 1733 and widened in 1973.

Eals Bridge.
I followed the road south and up the hill past Knarsdale Hall and on to the Knarsdale Village Hall, or Community Hall as similar buildings are called. I could see someone was inside, which seemed odd on Christmas Day. As a walked on a lady came out and asked if Iíd like a Christmas Dinner. They were enjoying a family re-union and the hall was the only building big enough to accommodate them.
Knarsdale Community Hall.
I gladly accepted and was treated to a chicken and veg dinner with pudding. There was also lots of good and very varied conversation. We tried to keep away from politics but kept sliding that way. Unfortunately time was getting on and I had commitments at home so had to leave. It was such a pleasant surprise. A case of the kindness of strangers. I only had a mile to walk along the road and back to my car.

Inside the hall.

My Christmas Dinner.
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