Walking in the footsteps of monks

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ON a recent sunny Sunday morning, 39 members and guests of the Morpeth Footpaths Society met at Stannington village hall, the start of our popular Stannington circular walk.

The route took us over open fields and across several stiles, passing Bellasis farm, until we reached Bellasis Bridge.

The word Bellasis, which can be spelt in several ways, means a handsome place and this description is still true of the scenery in 2011. Records of the farm date back to the 13th Century when it was the site of the manor of Bellasis, which was owned by the Lords of Morpeth.

The bridge itself was built for the monks of Newminster Abbey by Lord Robert de Merlay of Morpeth in 1239. Passage over the land was also granted to the monks to allow the transportation of produce from Horton Grange to Newminster Abbey. After stopping to admire a handsome pair of swans in the field close to the river we continued to Make Me Rich Farm at Blagdon, home of the Northumberland Cheese Company.

Several members took advantage of the tea room to sample the local produce whilst others took a lunch break outside in the warm spring sun.

Continuing on our way we walked along the permissive path to Bog House and onto the estate road towards New Kennels, passing cottages belonging to the Blagdon Estate.

Blagdon Hall and estate were established between 1730 and 1752 by Matthew White — his descendants, the Ridley family, still live in the hall.

Approaching the Hall, we could see evidence of the ongoing opencast activity.

We then left the peace and quiet of the rural landscape and walked a short distance along the busy and noisy A1, before returning to Stannington village, past the two wooden bus shelters on the old A1 designed by Edward Luytens, which were presented to the village in 1937 by Lord Ridley to celebrate the coronation of King George VI.

Some members finished the walk with a welcome drink in the Ridley Arms before returning home.

The group’s next outing is on Sunday, with a seven-mile walk from Hexham, following the Tyne to Warden Bridge, then climbing to Low Gate.

It will be led by Christine Wright and Pat Scott, starting from the children’s play park in Riverside Park at 11am.

For further information about the programme visit www.morpethfootpathssociety.org.uk or call Secretary Sarah Howells on 01670 513757.