Thursday, 21 January 2010

Blackhall Beauties

The venue for this Sunday's walks (17th January, 2010) was the Blackhall Colliery {NZ 458 394} area of County Durham - with a meal to follow at the Hardwicke Hall Manor Hotel {NZ 450 392}. Although I had not planned to attend the culinary event, I thought this would be a lovely area to do a walk, take some photographs and, maybe, collect a few geograph points.

As I motored up towards County Durham along the A19, I was confronted with a beautiful blue sky, lots of sunshine and not a cloud in sight. I could not help thinking that this was probably the best 'walking day' we have experienced in 2010. What an absolutely marvellous day!

My first 'port of call' was the Hardwicke Hall Manor Hotel where I wanted to take a few photographs. As can be seen in the picture below, Duncan and the coach had already arrived at the venue.

Hardwicke Hall Manor Hotel
After a short 'walk-about' to take a few photos of the Hall and the nearby farm, I drove over to Blackhall Colliery {NZ 460 392} and then went south to the coastal car park near Blackwell Rocks {NZ 471 387} - where my circular expedition began. The car park gave me easy access to the Durham coast and the Durham Coastal Path (DCP).

From the car park, I headed north along the DCP - stopping to take photographs as and when necessary. Because of the remarkable weather, some of the coastal views were truly spectacular. At Castle Eden Dene {NZ 455 406} I saw the HM Coastguard having fun in the mud and water with their 4x4. I was amazed by the number of such vehicles there were on the beach in this stretch of the coastline - no doubt contributing to the erosion in the area.

HM Coastguard
I continued along the Durham Coastal Path until I reached Warren House Gill {NZ 442 426}. I now turned onto a westerly bearing and went inland (under the railway bridge) towards the B1283 road {NZ 438 425} at the northern end of the village of Horden.

I passed Horden Hall {NZ 433 424} on my right; I thought this was quite spectacular as it looked like something from a 'horror movie' - a typical haunted house! I continued on my westerly trek until I reached the cemetery {NZ 427 422} on the A1086 road - see the picture below. I now turned left and headed south towards the site of the Medieval Saxon Village of Yoden {NZ 430 416} (see here).

From the nearby, now dis-used, Peterlee Community Association building {NZ 431 416}, I navigated a route through the housing estates in the north-east part of the town towards the centre of Peterlee. Continuing on a south-easterly bearing I made my way to a path that took me into the Castle Eden Dene Nature Reserve at {NZ 437 400}. I crossed the dene with the aid of a bridge at {NZ 439 399}. As can be seen in the following picture, there was still plenty of snow about down here.

After crossing the dene I climbed up a track on my left which took me up Craggy Bank to a footpath at {NZ 437 396}. From here I continued my south-easterly trek across the fields to reach a road junction on the B1281 road at {NZ 442 386}.

Rather than continue on my southerly bearing, directly to Hesleden, I decided to do an anti-clockwise half-circle. At the road junction I therefore turned right and went along the B1281 until I reached {NZ 437 385} where I turned back onto a southerly bearing - now walking along the eastern edge of grid-square NZ4338. Holding this direction for about 400 yards, I turned onto an easterly bearing at {NZ 438 382} and passed through the centre of the village of Hesleden {NZ 441 382}.

The final part of my expedition took me pass the communications mast on Mickle Hill (see the picture below) and back to the car park at Blackhall Rocks. I got back to my car at about 4.20 pm and it was still quite light.

Mickle Hill
Well, it was a lovely day for walking and a beautiful day for taking photographs. I managed to take 44 photos and capture 41 geographs - amongst these, there were some real beauties!




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