East Durham - land of pit villages and closed pits, poverty and poor health. The place for our country walk on this bright sunny January Sunday.
We set off along an old wagon way, and then turned into fields with the remains of ancient hawthorn hedges -
One of the fields sloped down to this limestone outcrop covered with beech trees -
The sheep have prevented any natural regeneration of the trees, so there are only old ones to be seen. The path wound between trees above a sunken trackway -
Further on we got confused, as the leaflet describing the walk had clearly been written several years ago, as gates, fences, and stiles had changed or disappeared, and we had just walked off the edge of the Ordnance Survey sheet we took with us.
Eventually we found the right path, with only a small trouser tear and several hands covered in muck from clambering over fences, and in an overgrown tussocky area we sat on mossy logs in the sunshine and ate our lunch.
More fields, lots of clarts, and as the boots grew heavier with the accumulating mud, we reached a lane, where we turned towards the main road; we crossed this, then took a bridleway through another wood, past a small lake where members of the local angling club were enjoying gazing at a bit of dark water; onto a tarmac path (EU investment in economically depressed areas), and up another bit of wagon way, back to the car.
I used to drive through here on my way to work for several years, but had never explored it on foot. From the road there is no hint of how pleasant the landscape is. We plan to return and explore further another time.