Along the South Tyne Trail to Featherstone Park

Part of the thinking when visiting this area was to combine sections of Hadrian’s Wall into our walking plans. However, we have already realised that there are a couple of key obstacles to this.

Firstly the footpath that follows many sections of the wall in this area crosses small fields with regular stiles, meaning that Dexter and Crosby will have to be frequently lifted over these obstacles.

Secondly the vast majority of these fields appear to be home to bears and at this time of year many of them have calves so will be at their most protective. At the best of times bears take an unhealthy interest in Crosby, so we decide that they are best avoided.

Following our risk assessment we plan today’s walk with safety in mind. Our wander starts in the centre of Haltwhistle. We go out of town on the B6322 heading west, after a couple of hundred yards on the pavement we take a left turn leading us gradually down towards the footbridge over the River South Tyne. The river is broad but slow flowing with the water level low.

On the far side of the bridge we turn right and follow a track that goes under the A69 and soon joins a road. We turn right and follow the road up Bellistar Bank and is it starts to level out our route is a footpath along a farm track to Broomhouse. This is a cracking farm with a wonderful collection of well-maintained old stone barns.

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We aim to join the South Tyne Trail here, however, our fascination with the farm buildings results in our following a footpath sign taking us in front of the farm and about five minutes later that we realise that this path takes us above the trail. So we turn and retrace our steps to the farmyard and then take a path to our left that leads us to South Tyne Trail.

For much of its route The South Tyne Trail follows the old South Tynedale Railway, which went from Garrigall to Haltwhistle, a distance of almost 23 miles. We start our walk along this route in a steep cutting and it stays this way for over a mile. However, the collection of wild flowers and occasional glimpses of surrounding scenery make this a pleasant jaunt.

We cross the road near to Park Village and continue along the trail until we reach the disused Featherstone Park Station. The station platform still remains and the Station House has now been converted into a private home.

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In the early 1900’s this station would have ben a hive of activity with coal from the nearby colliery being loaded in the sidings and the miners arriving for work on the trains. Today it is just us enjoying the tranquillity of this heritage site.

On reaching the road we turn right to follow it for about half a mile, our intention to do a loop and rejoin the trail back at Park Village. But we decide that walking on the trail is preferable to following the road, albeit a quiet road, so we return along the trail back towards Haltwhistle.

On reaching Broomhouse we stay on the trail and follow it until we reach Plenmeller Road, turning left and then following the disused Bellister Road until we once again reach the footbridge to cross the River South Tyne. From here we head back into Haltwhistle.

Our walk has been just short of nine miles on a warm afternoon, it is therefore time to head back to the Unicorn for some refreshment.

30th June 2015

[To follow our walk you will need Ordnance Survey Explorer Map OL43 – Hadrian’s Wall, Haltwhistle and Hexham]

© Two Dogs and an Awning (2015)

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