Gayles Christmas Ramble 7 December 2017
Gayles Christmas Ramble
7 December 2017
Eighteen members assembled on the green in Gayles for the now customary festive walk of about 9 miles through the varied local landscapes. Glenys’s festive cheer is also an added inducement even on a threatening, blustery day. The walk itself commences with a climb up to Gayles Hall, through Gayles Quarry as far as Hergill Lane. A short ascent brings you to a long track that finishes at Sturdy House Farm. It offers panoramic views across the dale to Teesdale; it is also a “Parliamentary Enclosure Road” i.e. it provided an access road in the 1770s when the surrounding land was extensively enclosed into a regular field system and clearly described on the OS map.
The route then follows Green Lane before veering off left short of Coalsgarth gate and, after a stretch of boggy track, opens up at the Richmond Road. Across the road lies the delightful Gilling Wood and a track leading down to Jagger lane whose name derives from the hauling of lead. In fact there are the remains of a lead smelting mill close to the route. The track bears left on the edge of Hartforth Wood and a descent into one of those splendid wooded dells of which there are few in our local area but where time is trapped and defies the sweeping changes that have sculptured the surrounding farmscape. From that point the path leads up to Whashton passing Whashton Hagg Farm where Yvonne recollects delivering boar semen in her former life as a posty. “I was a bit worried about spilling any on the driver’s seat”, she reminded us all. From Whashton the route takes to the open fields up to Kirby Hill which is a fascinating village from a historical perspective with its former grammar school, almshouses and the impressive fortified tower of the parish church. Its circular church yard and broad enclosure immediately speaks about a place that initially came into existence as a site of pagan worship and evolved into a defensive settlement. We then rejoined the route back home to Gayles, a crackling fire, coffee, cake and mince pies – the perfect pre-Christmas walk and enjoyed by all I think.
Here endeth the historical lesson.