Field Notes - Walk 9

Field Notes - Walk day 9

Friday, June 17, 2011
Bellingham - Tarset; Saturday 18th June; Natural Historians – Keith Bowey, Tina Wiffen and Steve Westerberg

View VARC Walk 9; 18th June 2011 in a larger map

Leaving Bellingham at 11.00 am we travelled northeast following the river past Copseford, skirting Shaw Banks, joining the Bellingham Road at Cuddies Loop and walking towards Charlton. On the right we saw see evidence of ancient settlements. Just before Charlton, we turned off the road and crossed over the disused railway. We were still able to see the river at around half a mile away along the next section through Newton to Lanehead where we re-joined the Bellingham Road for a short while before taking a footpath across fields, meeting and following the Tarset Burn. Near Greenhaugh Hall, we diverted to look at a Hay Meadow before dropping back down to the North Tyne opposite Hott Farm. Our walk finally took us across a mixture of metalled tracks and footpaths, through fields, and onto Thorneyburn Common finishing up at Thorneyburn Rectory.

Day 9: Bellingham - Tarset; Saturday 18th June


Natural Historians – Keith Bowey, Tina Wiffen and Steve Westerberg


We left Bellingham at 11.00 . It is, perhaps, worth noting that the church at Bellingham is dedicated to St Cuthbert and is said to have been one of the places where St Cuthbert's body was brought to, following the Viking raids on Lindisfarne in the ninth century A.D. Bellingham is regarded as the modern capital of North Tynedale. It is situated right at the heart of what was once part of Northumberland's Border Reiving country. The nearby Hesleyside Hall was the home to one famous Border Reiving clan, the Charltons who derived their name from the hamlet of Charlton, to the west of Bellingham. The Charltons were one of the four main Border Reiving clans or `Graynes' of North Tynedale. The others were the Milburns, Robsons and Dodds.

 

From Bellingham, we travelled northeast following the river past Copseford, skirting Shaw Banks, joining the Bellingham Road at Cuddies Loop and walking towards Charlton. On the right we saw evidence of ancient settlements. Just before Charlton, we turned off the road and crossed over the disused railway. We could still see the river at around half a mile away along the next section through Newton to Lanehead where we re-joined the Bellingham Road for a short while before taking a footpath across fields, meeting and following the Tarset Burn.


Near Greenhaugh Hall, we diverted to look at a Hay Meadow. Hay Meadows are a rich and colourful habitat full of flowers and grasses. As man-made areas, they have been present in Britain for thousands of years, and are very much an identifying part of the UK's landscape and countryside. Wildflower meadows are 'unimproved'. They are not intensively farmed, but rather managed in traditional ways through activities such as grazing and haymaking. This promotes a very high diversity of wild plant species and stops grasses from taking over. The variety of flowers in turn attracts lots of insects and, of course, the creatures that feed on them. For instance, in Northern Hay Meadows, we might expect to find some of the following:

 

Wildflowers 

Common Knapweed

Pignut Wood

Wood Cranesbill

Meadow Vetchling

Birdsfoot Trefoil

Ribwort Plantain

Cowslip

Meadow Buttercup

Yellow Rattle

Common Sorrel

Great Burnet

Devils Bit Scabious

White Clover Common Vetch

Dog Violet

Grasses 

Common Bent

Sweet Vernal Grass

Red Fescue

Cocksfoot

Rough Meadow Grass

 

After visiting the Hay Meadow, we dropped back down to the North Tyne opposite Hott Farm. Our walk finally took us across a mixture of metalled tracks and footpaths, through fields, and onto Thorneyburn Common finishing up at Thorneyburn Rectory.  


As we approached the Rectory, we could see Burnbank across the fields. The Dodd family (see above) were associated with Burnbank Pele tower, in the valley of the Tarset Burn. Dodds are said to be descended from Eilaf, an Anglo-Saxon monk who was one of the carriers of St Cuthbert's Coffin at the time of the Viking raids in the 9th century. Legend has it that Eilaf pinched some cheese from his fellow brethren, who prayed that the culprit be turned into a Dodd (the Anglo-Saxon word for a fox). When the identity of the thief was revealed the monks had Eilaf turned back, but it is said that from that day on Eilaf and his descendants were known by the name of Dodd.


An old border cry regarding the Tarset Burn and the adjoining Tarret Burn was once heard in many a border fray involving North Tynedale reivers like the Dodds and Charltons.


Tarset and Tarret Burn
Hard and Heather Bred
GYet! GYet! GYet!
(GYet means clear the way)


This final section was a lovely walk along the rivers and burns of the North Tyne Valley, through its fields and rich Hay Meadows and, for good measure over  rough open common land. We saw a wide range of flora and fauna. Many of the wild flowers have been mentioned above – and we also saw or heard Dipper,  Goosander,  Sandpiper, Lapwing, Wheatear and Redstart.


For further info about this area see www.bellingham-heritage.org.uk - I am afraid to say that I made these notes some while ago and omitted to record their source, so for further information on Hay Meadows it might be best to Google Hay Meadows in the North of England!