Sunday, May 29, 2005

I'm Back! - or - Tales from Northumberland

As can be gathered, there was no computer link at either Hostel.
Acomb YH lies about two miles due north of Hexham. The village of Acomb is a sleepy little spot, or so it appears at first. For all it is very rural, it has a twenty minute bus service to and from Hexham which is far better than some urban services. The hostel itself is described in the guide book as "simple accommodation". This "simple" bordered on the primitive. My wardens residence compared favourably with a garden shed! The showers and toilets are in similar corrugated iron sheeting huts. After the initial culture shock, the charm of the place grew on us. You can't help but like its little quirks. The hostellers liked it too. It was really just like good old fashioned hostelling the way it used to be.
Brenda came along too and proved a great help in getting the daily cleaning chores done. It was not my intention to have her doing this but she got stuck in with a will and I greatly appreciated that.
We did a couple of woodland walks. Fallowfield Dene is a peaceful tree filled valley. The forest floor is a blaze of colour right now with bluebells, wild garlic, and a host of other flowers I am quite unable to name.There are beeches oaks, both sessile and English, huge ancient ash trees and of course rowan and thorn. As the old Northumbrian folk song goes,
"Oh the oak and the ash and the bonnie rowan tree
Are the trees that do grow in my country."
On another day we walked down to Watersmeet where the North and South Tynes join to form the River Tyne that flows on to Newcastle. Watersmeet is an exquisite place. We walked through a thickly wooded area, the air heavily scented with garlic, until we came to a clearing in which the meeting of the two rivers was in full view. The South Tyne comes in a good three feet higher than the North Tyne and thus forms a series of minor rapids. It must be a spectacular sight after heavy rain. But today was a balmy day of butterflies, mayflies and the like.

The second week was spent at a completely different hostel, Edmundbyers, which lies on the high moors to the west of Consett, near Durham.We only got out for one walk on the fells that week. The rest of the time it was either raining or blowing a gale. Edmundbyers YH is an erstwhile pub built around 1600. The village itself has a pub which is sometimes open and sometimes not. There are only four buses a day and no shop or post office. Not quite the vibrant metropolis.
The drive back to Lancaster took us over spectacular moorland under enormous ever-changing skies.
Considering this is the tail end of May, it is remarkably cool; 14ÂșC at best. Global warming? What global warming?

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