A deer surprise on walk

Morpeth Footpaths Society

ON a recent bright Sunday morning, 30 members of Morpeth Footpaths Society met at the village green in Stamfordham for the penultimate walk in the 2012 programme.

After brief introductions, we were off, walking through the village towards the parish church of St Mary’s. Originally built in the 13th century and rebuilt in 1848, the church is attractively-located at the west end of the village.

After briefly walking through the churchyard, we crossed over the River Pont, which would be our companion for much of the walk.

As we skirted Sweet Hill, a roe deer ran across the path around 100 metres in front of the group.

The white rump patch was very noticeable, as otherwise the deer merged very well into the dark brown of the ploughed field it was running across.

After that excitement, we continued on a road through North Lough House to Gilchesters, which we walked around on our way across open fields to Thornham Hill Farm. After admiring the cattle in the byres at the farm, we continued along a farm track to the lunch stop at the bridge over the Whittle Dene Watercourse.

This is an aqueduct which carries water from a number of reservoirs to the north, such as Catcleugh, down to treatment works at Whittle Dene and Horsley before continuing to help meet the water needs of Tyneside.

After lunch, we continued along roads and farm tracks close to the site of the medieval village of East Matfen, which dates from the 13th century and is shown by the presence of areas of ridge and furrow in the fields. We then continued to East Matfen Farm, before turning north and then east to start the journey back to Stamfordham.

A short section of road took us past a pumping station for the Whittle Dene Watercourse and then to a tree-lined avenue, where we walked on a bed of recently fallen leaves. At Fenwick Shield, we made the acquaintance of Joseph, an attractive rescue horse, who was out for a stroll with his new owner. Joseph gratefully received our gifts of apple core and mints.

After crossing the appropriately named Horse Bog, we walked around a couple of ploughed fields before arriving back again at North Lough House. A short section on a minor road took us to Hawkwell and its attractive properties. We then crossed the River Pont again to come back into Stamfordham.

Although the walk has been awarded the accolade of being ‘the muddiest of the year’ after recent rain, this did not spoil our enjoyment of the day.

The next walk is the final one in the 2012 programme and is the Christmas walk. Starting from the Dyke Neuk, it is on December 16, at 10.30. For further details, please contact the Secretary Sarah Howells on 01670 513757 or by visiting www.morpethfootpathssociety.org.uk