The Grand Tour 2018 – part 7

Categories: News and Rail Trips and Visits.

I have spent 5 days at a lovely cottage, Riding Hills Farm, near Hexham in Northumberland exploring Hadrian’s Wall and associated Roman forts It is hard to imagine that these were built in 122AD with the walls being 4 metres tall.

I was having a coffee at a café in Corbridge and saw a brochure for the Northumberland County Show that was on that day and only 7 miles away. It as a beautiful warm day and decided to go straight there, along with 1000’s of other people as it turned out. It was held on farm land with lots of huge marquees put up just for the day. I enjoyed all the farm machinery and the tool stands as well as the arena events. It was a great day out.

Grand Tour, part 7. Photo: Ross Tonkin
Grand Tour, part 7. Photo: Ross Tonkin

The cottage I was staying in was well appointed with a huge bath that was too hard to resist using despite having a walk-in shower just behind it.

I have had only one day of rain since arriving in the UK and it was the day I visited Alnwick Castle, built over 700 years ago and more recently used for filming of Harry Potter movies and scenes for Downton Abbey.

I then moved south to Folly Farm near Penistone (west of Sheffield) in South Yorkshire for a week with the intention of exploring the Peak District. I did go on a number of walks over rolling hills with views in all directions. One day I went for a long walk through (up) the hills followed by a walk on what used to be the Great Central Railway line. The cottage had maps with a number of walks starting from the cottage. I went for a walk around a reservoir near the farm on the first morning I was there.

Folly Farm is a horse property with stables for at least 30 horses and a ménage. There were people coming and going from the farm all the time and horses clip clopping around. In fact today a farrier has been re shoeing horses all afternoon. The cottage itself is excellent with a lounge room far bigger than mine at home. The bed room is so big they have put in two double beds still with lots of room to move.

I visited the National Coal Museum at Wakefield and joined an underground tour which took the group 140 feet underground using the original pit lift cage. The tour took almost two hours and took us from the start of the mine in 1884 through to the mining technology of when the mine closed 30 years ago. It was a fascinating experience and would highly recommend it. There are no photos from underground as we had to hand in wallets, phones, cameras, watches, car keys, in fact anything with a battery. Wallets were handed in because of the tight spaces and very low head room (we all had hard hats and special torches), they thought we might drop a wallet as we moved around.

I am moving much further south tomorrow to stay with my railway friends Roy & Lorna in Lyme Regis.

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