This is taking my short-distance approach to long-distance trails to a new extreme. A mere 2.8 miles; but the joy of taking little sips at Isaac’s Tea Trail is that I can dawdle and revel as much as I like, with no pressure to push on, and no danger of exhaustion or aching joints leaching away the pleasure.
The start point of the walk was Gate House (grid ref NY785548) and I finished at Keenley Church (grid ref NY803567). It’s mostly good underfoot along grassy paths and woodland track, with just a few squishy patches of mud. Nothing to trouble my new walking boots on their first outing.
At first the route follows the contour of the valley side, with the River West Allen below.
Walking along, it was like having a window seat in a very low-flying, slow-flying plane. The view unrolled down below and I hardly dared look away as each new aspect built on the previous scenery. I’m a painfully slow uphill walker, but this path tricked me into ascending almost without noticing, and the con continued as the route moved into woodland.
Walking through Monk Wood there was an almost constant soundtrack of pheasants in a tizzy, each bird sounding as though it’s choking on a kazoo. I could hear a shoot in progress on the other side of the valley, so I suppose their agitation was understandable.
Emerging from the woods, recent clear-felling of trees meant a good view of Whitfield Church.
After the woods the route moved out into open pasture, under bright blue skies and a hot sun (yes, you Southern cynics, we DO have hot sunny weather in the North East). Here was the only steep part of the walk, a short section up through rough pasture to a gate guarded by four stubborn Shetland ponies. They eventually agreed that I could pass through: the password is “Sugar lumps” although it came out as “Shift. Now.”
Then just a little bit of gentle uphill across fields, and a little bit of gentle downhill along the road, and I reached Keenley Church. Another super walk that has left me anticipating the next one very keenly.
I’m walking Isaac’s Tea Trail for the North Pennines Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty as part of their HLF-funded Allen Valleys Landscape Partnership Scheme. The weather and the seasonal scenery will dictate when and where I go next on the Tea Trail. Looking forward to it already.
This map is only to locate the route – full details can be seen on Ordnance Survey OL43 Hadrian’s Wall (annoyingly it crosses from one side of the map to the other so I hope it’s not windy when you have to open and re-fold your map),
There’s more information about Isaac’s Tea Trail at http://www.allenvalleys.com/isaacs-tea-trail/