England

Beautiful Beamish Woods

Autumn is by far my favourite time of the year and for once I have managed to be in the same country to experience the whole thing. The best thing has to be jumping in the crunchy leaves in my wellies that I got for Christmas last year (no wait it was two years ago in Lanzarote!). I’m lucky to live in an area with many woods and forests close by. The route I chose was rather short because a) my photographer has whiplash and b) it rains non-stop in the UK. The walk itself walk meant to be around 3 miles long but due to the weather, the last mile was cut out and a shortcut through Beamish Museum was taken instead.

Beamish is a really old area and I think the most modern part is the 18th century pub, The Shepherd and Shepherdess, a great place to stop for lunch. Sadly, I didn’t stop because my photographer said 10 am was far too early for lunch. Turning left past the 18th century pub, I headed into the trees. I knew the trees would be going bald (note from photographer: losing their leaves). I wasn’t expecting them to turn various shades of orange first.

Though that wasn’t the best part. The old quarry now has smaller trees reclaiming their land. The floor was covered in a carpet of orange leaves. Perfect for jumping in and throwing at my photographer. I am please I was wearing my wellies because the floor was really muddy. Wellies meant no bath for me!

Anyway I digress, I decided to head deeper into the woods by going through a tunnel of holly trees (rather festive for November). It was very quiet for a weekend and I only saw a single horse in the first mile of this hike. I headed up and down some hills. The footpath got very muddy at some points and I nearly slid off course once or twice. This took me to a hidden staircase which I decided to make my way down the steps.

At this point I had headed off the trodden packhorse route. Making it to the bottom I had found the old paper mill next to a small stream. It was picturesque, mainly because of the colourful trees. I thought it was an abandoned area but someone lives close by so I didn’t stay long.

Feeling adventurous I decided to go off the beaten path and try to stick to the riverside. This was one of the best ideas I’d had since breakfast. My photographer and I managed to spot a couple of Kingfishers in the water. A really rare sight in the North East of England. They’re my favourite bird, mainly because they are blue.

I found half a wheel along the path. The ‘wheel’ situated on the side of the path is made out of old railway sleepers and serves as a reminder of the valley’s industrial heritage. This part of County Durham was at the forefront of rail, coal mining and paper milling.

My photographer told me that we needed to cross the water, I was rather concerned because I couldn’t see a bridge anywhere. The old ford is still present which can be used if you are feeling rather adventurous. Luckily, someone built a bridge so I didn’t have to get my feet wet.

This area has had many different jobs over the years. First it was middle forge, then in the 1750’s it was the place to be for tanning leather. Finally, it changed from being a shop to a tea room. Nowadays it is the most perfect place to recreate a Studio Ghibli film.

Following the instructions from the hiking book I headed up to the road. Then in true Veganosaurus style, I got lost. Unable to find the waggon way and getting soaked from the rain, I headed down the first public footpath I could find. This took me through a few trees and came out at Joe the Quilters cottage inside Beamish Museum.

A quick note: I have a yearly pass for the museum and took a wrong turn. This walk doesn’t normally go into the grounds of the museum, though it should because it is always a fun day out. Anyways, it was lashing down by the time I got to this point, so I raced my photographer up the steep hill of the car park to get back into the dry car.

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