Following in the footsteps of Capability Brown

ON a fine autumnal day, 34 members and guests of Morpeth Footpaths Society met at Rothley crossroads for the start of a six-mile walk around a beautiful area of Northumberland.

Passing Rothley Crags to the east – a wild tract of country which was once Sir William Blackett’s deer-park – we walked through muddy fields towards Rothley Park Farm and Hill End farm.

En-route we made slight diversion to avoid some very lively vociferous cattle.

A few weeks before Christmas the cattle certainly were lowing.

A lunch break was taken overlooking a fishing lake, which was part of the landscaping laid out by Lancelot ‘Capability’ Brown, who was born in nearby Cambo, in the 1760s for the Blackett family of Wallington Hall.

In the distance we could see Codger Fort, which was originally a gun turret built in 1745, possibly to frighten off any Scottish invaders. Brown used it as a folly when he landscaped the area 15 years later.

Sitting in the autumnal sunshine, it was hard to believe that a year ago the whole area would have been covered with snow.

After lunch we passed by the former Rothley Station. Mick, our leader, had a picture of the now-demolished ticket office.

After entering National Trust land, we walked along part of the former Wansbeck Valley Railway, or ‘Wannie Line’, which ran for 25 miles between Morpeth and Reedsmouth, near Bellingham, and was originally part of the Newcastle to Edinburgh line.

The line opened in the middle of the 19th century and saw its last train run in 1966.

Before returning to our start point, we made a short detour to have a look at the peaceful and secluded southern end of the Rothley Lake, still stunning 250 years after Brown’s landscaping. The perfect end to a wonderful, if somewhat muddy, walk.

Sarah Howells