THE final Morpeth Footpaths Society evening walk for 2012 took place on a rare fine summer’s evening in July.
Leaving the Ridley Arms car park we walked down a lane and through some woodland before crossing a field, which two weeks earlier had been very muddy and boggy due to incessant heavy rain.
Although still ‘clarty’ in places, the walking was much easier, and we were grateful to the landowner for cutting back and strimming some of the overgrown grass and foliage.
At Bellasis Bridge we could see evidence of how high the water level had been during our wet summer.
We continued along the road, admiring the wildflowers and hedgerows, before taking the road down to Make Me Rich Cheese Farm.
We had a short break here but sadly the cafe was closed for the evening.
We were startled by a heron, which swooped over our group before landing on a tree in a nearby garden.
Eventually the heron departed and so did we, continuing along the permissive path to Bog House
Here we could see the evidence of the opencast activity which is taking place in the area and changing the landscape.
Turning left towards New Kennels we passed the kitchen garden and cottages belonging to the Ridley Estate, Blagdon Hall.
The hall and estate was built in the mid 1700s for Matthew White.
The hall is still occupied by his descendants, the Ridley family.
The 5th Viscount Ridley took over the Estate earlier in 2012 following the death of his father.
We passed a tree and commemorative plaque to generations of the aptly named Hudson family, who were in service to the Ridley family until 2001.
After passing a field inhabited by free-range pigs, we then found ourselves walking for a short while along the busy and noisy A1.
We then took the gate into Stannington Vale and returned to the Ridley Arms after two-and-a-quarter hours and six miles of walking.
Some of the group then enjoyed the hospitality of the Ridley Arms, where it was still warm enough to sit outside, before making the short trip back to Morpeth.