Walkers step out for their final evening stroll

THE final Morpeth Footpaths Society evening walk of 2011 took place recently when members and guests set off from the Leisure Centre on a warm cloudy evening to follow the River Wansbeck to Bothal and back.

We walked along the river to Swinneys Field, where junior football training was already under way, before joining the newly-restored Whorral Bank to Bothal footpath.

This section of the Castles, Woods and Water footpath has been restored with funding obtained by the Greater Morpeth Development Trust and support from Morpeth Footpaths Society and is now be accessible all year long, not just in the summer months.

After reading the information board at the start of the walk we continued along the footpath, stopping for a breather at the picnic tables and another information board, which gave details of the wildlife we might expect to encounter along the way.

Shortly after our stop we came to the nine-arch railway viaduct and right on cue, an Edinburgh-bound train crossed the river. After marvelling at this amazing structure which was completed in 1849 (though sadly there was no information board with details of the construction) we continued, passing Lady’s Well and the 15th Century Lady’s Chapel — again we were surprised that there was no information about these two historical sites, though there is information to be found on the GMDT website so maybe the signs will appear at a future date.

Ninety minutes after leaving Morpeth we arrived at Bothal Bridge where we observed a lone angler trying to catch supper.

After a short break we climbed the steep hill and began our return to Morpeth via the fields high above the river, passing the hamlet of Shadfen where we debated as to whether we had glimpsed a badger or a very fat cat and shortly before entering Primrose Valley spotted a deer in the fields. The woods of Primrose Valley were a contrast to the open farmland we had been walking through.

Once past Park House Farm we began our return back to the Wansbeck, crossing the railway line again, until we reached Swinneys Field (the young footballers were still there) and followed the river back to Morpeth and a well-earned drink to mark the end of a very enjoyable walk.

Sarah Howells