Northenden to Newcastle to Newburn

One day to go before our next Big Adventure and I spent a couple of hours prepping the next radio show. I’ll be away from the Home Studio for a while and I’ll only have a small window of opportunity to finish it before the deadline. Apart from that, packing the right amount of stuff was the order of the day.

We’re going for a long walk so of course, this was the perfect opportunity to buy a new pair of trainers. It’s not the done thing to go on a major hike with shoes not yet fully worn in, but the old ones are probably a bit too worn out. But I found a pair in the shop that felt comfortable straightaway. Result!

Later on, Liesel dropped Jyoti and me off at Quarry Bank Mill where we had a very pleasant, relaxed wander around the gardens, down by the river Bollin.

River Bollin

Yes, the rhododendrons were out in force, and combined with the sunshine, our mood was lifted several notches on the happiness scale.

We had a look around the Mill itself too, and all its machinery. We’re so lucky that neither of us have ever had to work in such a hostile environment. But what amazing technological and engineering accomplishments from 200 years ago. Just to turn a few plants into tea towels.

Engineers make things that ‘work’ and make things ‘work better’. In the past Quarry Bank relied on the engineering brilliance of a few key men. Today, anyone can be an engineer. You just need to be able to think is a certain way. There are six habits that engineers all share:
Engineers work out what problem they want to solve
Engineers look for patterns and what connects things rather than just focusing on the smaller details
Engineers adapt and change, learning from what happens when they try things out
Engineers are creative, whether working on their own or with other people
Engineers imagine what the end result might look like
Engineers tinker. They test, try, improve and experiment!
There is an engineer in all of us.

What an inspiring sign for budding engineers.

In the evening, we all enjoyed a comedy night at Northenden Theatre, just up the road.

Dawn Bailey, Big Lou, Pauline Ayer, Bella Humphries

The MC was ‘Big Lou’ Jones, who I’ve seen before, and the other comedians to look out for in the future were Pauline Ayer, Bella Humphries, Dawn Bailey and Chris Oxenberry. They were all very funny but I only remembered to take pictures of four out of the five. And how nice to see a majority of female performers, yet sad that even now in the 21st century, it’s so unusual, it has to be commented on.

Late to bed, early to rise, makes a man tired. We had to rise early as a taxi was taking us to the coach station in Manchester. There was of course a spate of last-minute packing, and as usual, we were in that limbo between taking too much stuff and leaving something vital behind.

The cab driver was very fast. Well, he slowed down for speed cameras and sometimes stopped for red lights. Liesel felt nauseous and opened the window in case she needed to throw up. But we arrived in one piece, walked from the coach station to the temporary bus stop down the road, via Manchester’s Gay Village, and enjoyed a much more leisurely ride on the National Express to Newcastle.

I slept for a bit, did some puzzles, read my book but didn’t listen to any podcasts, which I’d come prepared to do. Overall, an uneventful coach ride but the highlight was passing by the Angel of the North.

Angel of the North

This work of art by Antony Gormley has only been standing there for a quarter of a century but this is the closest we’ve been to it. So far.

In Newcastle, we had a 15-minute walk to our accommodation for the night. The first landmark we saw was St Mary’s Cathedral.

St Mary’s Cathedral

But, carrying heavy bags, we didn’t pay a visit. The second landmark was the iconic Tyne Bridge. Google Maps insisted that we’d arrived at our destination but it was wrong. The Premier Inn was down below. A reminder that Google Maps isn’t very helpful in the third dimension. The other thing that surprised us was the number of gulls all around the bridge. What a racket!

Tyne Bridge
Birds’ eye view of the birds

The third landmark was The Sage, Gateshead, over the river. It’s designed to look like three ships approaching in the fog, and I’m sure one day, we’ll go to a concert there.

The Sage, Gateshead

We couldn’t check in yet, so we left our bags behind the desk, and went for a walk along the river. So many choices of food on offer, and what a great atmosphere.

Jyoti, Liesel and I did visit Newcastle’s other Cathedral, drawn in by the sound of organ music. Later, a boy’s choir started to sing, a wonderful noise and a reminder to me that I’m not really choir material, no matter how polite the other members of Northenden Choir might be to my face

Meet the Maddisons

Here are the colourful Maddisons that stand out in scarlet, blue and gold. Medieval St Nicholas’ Church once shone with colour, before the Reformation dictated plain stone and bare walls for churches.

Wealthy coal merchant Lionel Maddison paid for this memorial to his parents, Elizabeth and Henry, in the 1630s, Lionel was an alderman, sheriff and mayor, like his father before him. He was involved in Newcastle’s two wealthiest Companies – the Merchant Adventurers and Hostmen.

Our luck was in as we enjoyed a photography exhibition here in the cathedral too. Peter Marlow has taken pictures of all 42 of England’s cathedrals, and these photos were on display here. So of course, I had to take a picture of Guildford Cathedral while visiting Newcastle Cathedral.

Guildford Cathedral

I had a nice chat with someone who volunteers at this Cathedral, who has walked Hadrian’s Wall several times, who comes from Aberdeen but now considers themselves total Anglikised (sic).

The three of us crossed the Millennium Bridge, walked along the river and back over the Swing Bridge. This was of course all good training for the start of our long hike the following day.

At the hotel we met our fellow walkers from the USA, Teresa and her sister Tammy. I’d met Teresa before, in Portland, and she hasn’t changed a bit.

A personal recommendation took us to Träkol, by the By The River Brew Co. Thanks, Ross! We had a very nice meal, the four American ladies each choosing lamb, while I enjoyed a nut roast. The whole place is built inside old shipping containers, but you can’t really tell once you’re inside.

Our hotel room looked out over the Tyne Bridge, but here’s an unusual sight.

An open window

Yes, it’s a hotel window that you can actually open. Not too wide, mind, otherwise them pesky gulls might fly in.

The routine for the next few days is that we have breakfast, and we have to have our bags ready by 9.00am. Then some haulage fairies will take those bags to our next stop. We can walk with just the bare necessities for the day.

We could have walked to the start point of the Hadrian’s Wall Walk, or Hadrian’s Way, but we chose to take a taxi instead. It was only about three miles, but it seemed much longer in the cab, knowing we’d be walking back again!

Roman soldier (centre)

The Roman soldier at Segundum Bath House and Fort, at Wallsend, wished us well on our travels and we set off in a mainly westerly direction. The weather was perfect, and we made good time. Actually, in hindsight, I wonder if we set off a bit too fast to start with, we ended up with various aches and pains.

This first day wasn’t too hilly, but it was a hard surface all the way. We were looking our for the iconic bridges far too early, well, maybe that was just me!

On one path, we saw a couple of discarded supermarket trolleys. As Liesel remarked, if this were Manchester, they would have been in the river by now. In any case, one of our party decided to have an easy ride.

Jyoti, Teresa and Tammy (in the trolley)

On this day, we never deviated far from the river Tyne. And the route itself was well signposted. It was Hadrian’s Walk at this point, because there’s not really a lot of the Wall to see. But from the next day, we would see the occasional section of well-preserved Roman wall.

Four American ladies by the Tyne

I can’t remember who first noticed it and yelled ‘Bridge ahoy’, but we soon found ourselves back in Newcastle. It was canny to see wor old bridgey friends again. Picking up the lingo.

Millennium and Tyne Bridges

Last night, we’d been talking about Costco. So imagine our surprise when we actually saw one today. What a shame it was on the other side of a very wide river with no bridge nor ferry in sight! (Or, what a relief!)

We saw some bits of old wall, but weren’t convinced they were older than Victorian. Still, we can dream.

Not a Roman Wall

To bring us back to real life and remind us of more recent history, we passed this memorial in Scotswood.

Yesterday Today Forever

In memory of the 38 men and boys who tragically lost their lives in the Montagu View Pit Disaster on 30th March 1925, when an inrush of water from a burst seam flooded the mine shaft. The pit was finally closed on 13th November 1959

The pitman, pony and tank depict our past heritage. The house represents the present regeneration of our community. The children are our future.

The official unveiling took place on 9th June 2012 by Councillor Hazel Stephenson and children from Scotswood Village Nursery, Scotswood Village Playgroup and Bridgewater School. The children and local community were involved in the design. The sculpture was made by Xceptional Designs.

In Remembrance of “Men of Steel”.

We stopped for a late lunch at Healthworks Lemington Centre. Jyoti fulfilled her dream, finding a scone with clotted cream. I think we all realised we should have stopped sooner for a break. Various muscles ached but the break helped a lot.

Just a quick (-ish) jaunt to our final destination for the day and we nearly had our first disaster.

Jyoti by the river

Jyoti went down to the river and from where I was standing, it looked like she was in the river. Hence the photo. But then she dropped something, and I assumed it had fallen into the water. Big sighs of relief all round when the phone was picked up from solid ground.

I don’t think I’d heard of the Battle of Newburn Ford before, but we came across a memorial to it with a very good description of the events leading up to it. And it all boils down to religion, of course.

Battle of Newburn Ford

And look, the sky is still blue, a nice way to complete our first day. We stayed at The Keelman’s Lodging, Newburn,  after 11 miles and in my case, over 32,000 steps. There’s a micro-brewery here that we didn’t take advantage of, on this occasion.

Rules of the Inn

After confirming that none of us fell foul of the rules, we dined well. Unsure of what dessert to have, Jyoti decided on a bowl of custard.


Yes, an Olympic-size pool of custard. And look at that bloke next to her, concentrating hard on his rhubarb crumble.

The night ended too soon, we could have done with a little more sleep, but we met up early for a hearty breakfast before beginning Day 2 of our hike.

Author: mickandlieselsantics

We are a married couple, one American, one Brit, one male, one female, neither of us as fit as we would like to be, well over 100 years old altogether.

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