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Allenheads and Byerhope Bank

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Allenheads and Byerhope Bank
Author: clairesharpuk, Published: 26 Jun 2014 Walk rating : Rating:star1 Allenheads and Byerhope Bank Walking Guidestar1 Allenheads and Byerhope Bank Walking Guidestar1 Allenheads and Byerhope Bank Walking Guidestar1 Allenheads and Byerhope Bank Walking Guidestar1 Allenheads and Byerhope Bank Walking Guide
Northumberland, Allenheads
Walk Type: Hills, valleys and dales
Allenheads and Byerhope Bank
Length: 6 miles,  Difficulty: boot Allenheads and Byerhope Bank Walking Guide boot Allenheads and Byerhope Bank Walking Guide boot Allenheads and Byerhope Bank Walking Guide
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A 5.5 mile circular walk from the former lead mining community of Allenheads in Northumberland. The route explores the remaining traces of the mining industry and then climbs onto Byerhope Bank, striking out through the high moor. You will be sharing the moor with sheep as well as many ground nesting birds which the moor is specifically managed to protect. The return leg follows the course of the River East Allen, a pretty river through the valley bottom which flows over several rocky and stepped weirs.

The route has several fairly steep climbs and descents and follows a mixture of quiet lanes, stone tracks and grass paths through the moor and alongside the river. The open moor is very exposed so ensure you have appropriate clothing with you. The riverside can be muddy and can also get a little overgrown in one section so long trousers and good boots are a must. Take care of any traffic along the quiet lanes. There are two stiles near the start of the walk, although these can be avoided by taking a small detour along a quiet lane. The other obstacles are a number of single gates plus two footbridges (which have a couple of steps up to them). You will be sharing most of the route with sheep so take care with dogs. The section of high moor is managed to protect ground nesting birds so dogs must be kept on a short, fixed lead along the public footpath on this outward stretch. There are public toilets within the Heritage Centre at the start of the walk and a cafe, The Hemmel Cafe, behind the centre. Approximate time 2.5 to 3 hours.

Allenheads is located in southern Northumberland, within the North Pennines Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty. The village is accessed via the B6295, between Allendale and Wearhead. There is limited parking in the village alongside the Heritage Centre, so it may be best to avoid peak times. Approximate post code NE47 9HJ.

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Walk Sections

Start to Stone Track
Start to Stone Track

Start point: 54.8025 lat, -2.2199 long
End point: 54.8023 lat, -2.2041 long

Before setting off on the walk, it is worth taking a moment to understand the history of this small village. You can find out the full story at the Heritage Centre, before or after your walk. Lead mining at Allenheads probably started in the 1500s but was at its height in the 1700s and 1800s. Water power was the most important source of power at the mine and local reservoirs were built to drive the hydraulic engines (of which one is restored an on display within the Heritage Centre).

Standing with your back to the Heritage Centre, turn right and follow the village road uphill. On the left you will pass the Gin Hill mine shaft, a circular shaft which drops down vertically for 70 metres. It provided ventilation for the workers below as well as being an entrance for workers and equipment.

At the road junction, cross over with care and take the small lane opposite signed to Rookhope. On the right you will pass a long single storey stone building, once the main office for the mine company. On the left you will pass the Horse Track, a cobbled slope which miners led their ponies down to work within the mines.

Ignore the two roads off to the left, simply stay on the main lane which weaves fairly steeply uphill, taking care of any occasional traffic. Some way up, at a fairly sharp left-hand bend in the road you have two choices:

For the most direct route (which includes two stiles and crosses marshy pastures), go straight ahead onto the footpath signed for Rookhope Road. Cross the wooden step stile and cross the pasture at about 11 o’clock to reach a ladder stile over the stone wall ahead (just alongside another circular stone shaft). Cross this stile and then follow the line of the stone wall on the right. As you emerge to the tarmac road at the top, turn left for a few paces then turn right onto the stone track signed for Byerhope Bank.

For the slightly longer route (which excludes the stiles), follow the lane as it swings left and then right, still climbing (taking particular care of any traffic). Cross the cattle grid (or use the gate alongside) and then continue up to the stone track signed on the left for Byerhope Bank.

Stone Track to Grass Bridleway
Stone Track to Grass Bridleway

Start point: 54.8023 lat, -2.2041 long
End point: 54.8221 lat, -2.2185 long

As you join this stone track, look down to the left where you will be able to see Eastend Reservoir. This is one of the five reservoirs that powered the hydraulic engines for crushing and processing the lead ore.

Shortly you will come to a wide wooden gate ahead. (Note: there is a sign here stating that dogs are not permitted on the open access land, but do not worry, the stone track that this route follows is a public right of way, so dogs are permitted but must be kept on a short, fixed lead and kept off the surrounding moorland). Pass through the gate (or the smaller gate to the right) and keep ahead along the stone track.

You will be following this track for some distance, so take your time and enjoy the extensive views. The surrounding open moor is managed specifically for the preservation of ground nesting birds. In the summer months you are very likely to see birds such as lapwing and curlew circling and calling overhead as they protect their nests.

The track will swing to the left of an old quarry and pass a tall rock cairn on the left. Further along you will pass a restored stone house with several other derelict cottages dotted across the moor. These once formed the hamlet of Byerhope.

You will pass Byerhope Farm, with its wind turbine, down to the left and beyond this you will come to a T-junction. Turn right and follow the track winding and climbing. Towards the top of the slope, just before the track swings hard right, you will see a waymark post with yellow arrows on the left, marking a bridleway to the left.

Grass Bridleway to Ford
Grass Bridleway to Ford

Start point: 54.8221 lat, -2.2185 long
End point: 54.8241 lat, -2.2343 long

Turn left onto this grass bridleway and follow the obvious path steadily downhill. At lengthy intervals you will pass waymark posts confirming that you are on the correct route. At the bottom of the hill you will pass a disused quarry on the right (now a haven for rabbits).

The path leads you out (via two gates) to reach the main B6295 road (with a row of terraced cottages across to the left). Cross over the road with care, turn left for a few paces and then fork right down the tarmac lane which leads behind the terraced houses. The lane winds downhill to reach a ford with the River East Allen. Cross this ford, the safest option being to use the wooden footbridge just across to the right.

Ford to Road Bridge
Ford to Road Bridge

Start point: 54.8241 lat, -2.2343 long
End point: 54.8126 lat, -2.2331 long

Beyond the ford, turn left along the lane with the River East Allen running on the left. Ignore the first signed footpath off to the left, instead follow the lane which swings steadily right and climbs. Where the lane swings hard right, go straight ahead onto the stone access track. Follow this downhill passing Laurel Cottage and Middlehope Green on the right. Keep ahead along the wide grass track and it will lead you to the river ahead. Turn right along the riverside path, with a pretty stepped weir within the river ahead.

Ignore the footbridge over the river, simply continue along the right-hand bank. The path leads you across the footbridge over Middlehope Burn, a stream coming in from the right. To the left, within the main river, you will see a pretty cobbled slope. There are a couple of benches here should you wish to take a break and enjoy the tranquil setting.

Follow the path through the pretty river valley with a stone wall running on the right. Where the road steps back, the path becomes less distinct. Veer right here to climb to the brow of the ridge running on the right. Follow the ridge with the river running below on the left. The ridge steadily swings left and you will emerge, alongside a wooden footpath sign, to a tarmac lane (with an old stone barn opposite). Turn left for just a short distance to reach the road bridge over the River East Allen.

Road Bridge to End
Road Bridge to End

Start point: 54.8126 lat, -2.2331 long
End point: 54.8028 lat, -2.2199 long

Cross the bridge and turn right at the T-junction, taking care of any occasional traffic. The lane leads you between rows of pretty terraced cottages (where the lead mine smelters once lived) and then continues with a pavement on the right. On the right you will pass the old Methodist Chapel, many mining families having been devout Methodists.

Pass another pretty stepped section of the river on the right and then follow the lane (once again without pavements, so take care) for some distance further. You will pass occasional properties, including Allenheads Farm. Eventually the lane will lead you back to the Heritage Centre on the right where the walk began. Make your way to The Hemmel Cafe at the back of the centre where you can find some well-earned refreshments as well as collect a guide to the Heritage Centre exhibits to finish your tour.

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Text and images for this walk are Copyright © 2014 by the author clairesharpuk and may not be reproduced without permission.


1 responses to "Allenheads and Byerhope Bank"

Lovely walk - saw loads of curlews; a few lapwings; those picnic tables by the river on the return leg were ideally sited too!

By Hero on 2015-06-16 15:34:20

The information in this guide has been provided in good faith and is intended only as a guide, not a statement of fact. You are advised to check the accuracy of the information provided and should not use this guide for navigational directions nor should you rely on the accuracy of the weather forecast. You are advised to take appropriate clothing, footwear, equipment and navigational materials with you according to the current and possible weather and nature of the terrain. Always follow the country code and follow any additional warnings or instructions that may be available. Some walks may be very strenuous and you are advised to seek medical advice if you have any doubts as to your capability to complete the walk.

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