Tuesday, April 17, 2007

17 April: Swallows and a Bishop

As I walked past the farm, something swooped past the barn and low over the field. Familiar flight. Another one, perched on the wire overhead. The swallows have arrived! Just two of them so far, sitting and sorting out the feathers from the long journey. It won't be long before the house martins will be zooming about outside our windows.

It was a beautiful morning for a walk, so I went all the way into Bishop Auckland. Along the path which used to be the railway line there are several bridges, taking lanes and farm tracks across the cuttings.

One bridge is quite peculiar; it has trees growing on it. It is also more than twice as wide as the other bridges.

Here are views from both sides.

This is what it looks like on the bridge; trees growing close to the stonework of the parapet -

And what used to be the roadway, now part of a field - this morning full of sheep and small lambs shouting for their 10 o'clock -

I've been told that the reason for this strange bridge is that this used to be a main approach to the Bishop of Durham's Palace at Bishop Auckland. When the railway was going to be constructed, cutting through the Bishop's land, the then Bishop didn't want to see the railway or the trains from his driveway, and so trees were planted on the bridge to hide the railway from his view. Whether this is true or not, I don't know, but it explains the curious bridge quite nicely.

Nowadays Auckland Castle, the Bishop's Palace, is approached from the end of the Market Place, past raised flower beds not yet planted up, under the arch with the clock -

Along a wide tree-lined gravel driveway, and round through the gate in the wall -

I think he must be having some friends round, as there was a gigantic marquee on the lawn over to the right through the gates.


Granny J said...

A lovely walk. Countryside-- that's something we do not have in this part of the USA. Countryside is quiet and somewhat gentle-- and, of course, gets enough rain. I would enjoy another walk through your countryside, especially if you can find another bridge growing trees.

stitchwort said...

Hi granny j - bridges with trees are pretty rare, I think. But I've just been e-mailed to tell me that the bluebells are out in the woods near Durham, so I'm just off out again.

Murph said...

There's something very appealing about old railwayline footpaths...I think it's the fact that you never have to mingle with traffic.

Look forward to some early bluebell pics!

KAZ said...

Swallows are Bill Oddie's favourite.

Do the roots from the tree come out underneath the bridge?

I, like the view said...

I was wondering about the tree roots! what a lovely walk. . .

I love that blue haze effect you get when you see the bluebells from a bit of a distance and they are like a mist just above ground level

stitchwort said...

Tree roots go more sideways than down, as you can see when they blow over - but as they must have been there for over 100 years now, and there's no visible damage, the Victorians must have over-engineered it.

Bluebells to follow when I have time to post. Just off out now....