Summer walk: Alston

4/10/14 Alston Circular ‘A’ Geoff Palmer ‘B’ Margaret Palmer
On a wet and cold morning, 45 members travelled to Alston stopping for coffee in Hexham. At Alston, the coach parked at the South Tynedale Railway station. 21 members set out on the ‘A’ walk while a little later, the ‘B’ party, 15 in number, set out to the road bridge crossing the River South Tyne. After crossing we turned immediately right to follow a fenced path between housing to reach open fields. As we approached Harbut Lodge lots of conkers were collected from the ground. Upon crossing the road we ascended the hillside to reach open fell. Before long we descended into the valley bottom, crossing a raging torrent of a stream over a footbridge. Here we stopped for lunch sheltering from the chilly wind. As we ascended up another hillside, the ground was wet and muddy then quite marshy but we reached stony tracks and carried on to the site of Whitley Castle Roman fort. It was used by the Romans as an auxiliary fort to accommodate troops and due to its position in the South Tyne Valley it enabled the Romans to exert control over the local area and in particular over local lead production. We descended to the main road and on the other side crossed fields to reach firstly a bridge over the railway and then a bridge over the River South Tyne. After a short stretch of road walking we deviated into woodland just as a heavy shower of hailstones fell. The shower didn’t last long and we crossed level fields to reach the railway track. We walked on a trackside path back to the station.

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