Sunday’s walk – walk number three. Yes, I know we missed a day but yesterday was the occasion of The Pieman leading 12 Wolsingham Wayfarers on an 11 – mile ramble around Doctor’s Gate and Black Banks, so we both reckoned that was far enough to avoid a second doggy walk till bedtime.
So, today (dontcha just hate people/dogs who begin explanations with the word “So”?), we headed off up past Kittys Wood and some back lanes to the left of Billy Row to find some re-established/unmapped footpaths leading up the hill to Sunniside. All of this area has been mined andthis particular bit has, in addition, been opencasted twice, most recently in the last couple of years. The result is that the landscape is super-smooth. All random lumps and bumps like wot you get with most British landscapes, have been dug up, ironed out, and replaced very very neatly. It’s not unnatractive. They do tend to put in extra bits of woodland, some rough and tussocky bits for animals and birds that enjoy rough and tussocky, and a few small ponds.
On the top of the hill, we find Stanley Moss. This is a nature reserve, although, the weather being spectacularly cold today with a bitingly strong Northerly blowing that seeped into the very pores , and, also the paws, naturists were noticeably thin on the ground. Stanley Moss is also liberally decorated with wind turbines, which are somewhat noisy.
Stanley Moss is a Durham Wildlife Trust reserve; a lowland blanket peat bog and more info about is can be had by clicking here (recommended, but please come back)
We returned via well-known tracks and bridleways. Aoart from the nithering cold, it was quite a nice day and there were many opportunities for running about daft, investigating suspicious smells and, generally sniffing. We met just a few people, three on horseback and one with a small and friendly dog. We wagged our tails at each other and enjoyed a brief moment of bum-sniffing until rudely interupted by an old lady, who thougt she was in control of the other dog. (Hah)
We also came across a fine example of the work of the local Roddymoor Feral Art Group. The artist in this case has, by the clever interplay of an image of a soft and incompetent male member roughly inscribed onto the hard brick ediface of a small culvert or bridge, suggested ironic tension between eroticism and humour, and, quite cleverly, I feel, failed quite spectacularly and deliberately to describe either, thus attacking the concept of male aggression in inter-gender sexual relationships. Amazing. Either that, or he started the image from the bottom and , during the process, suddenly realised he was too near the top of the wall to get the whole image on. It is, of course, criminal damage.
Here’s a map: The walk is 10.18 km (6.73 miles) with 198 metres (about 650 feet) of ascent. The map doesn’t shopw the new paths but has the word “workings” where the new fields are. The high-quality coking coal – about 70, 000 tons, went by train from Wolsingham to Lincolnshire to make coke and , then, presumably, steel. There should have been more coal but the old miners had removed 85% of the coal instead of the 75% considered safe, so there was a bit less.
Landscape by Banks, drawings by Mr Floppy.