Category Archives: Outdoor Adventures

Large subjects - cumulus cloud

Cee’s Black & White Photo Challenge: Large subjects

For Cee’s Black & White Photo Challenge this week we are looking at large subjects. ‘Large’ is a relative term. To appreciate the scale of a subject, we have to look at size compared to something else. The large subjects I have chosen from either the built or natural landscape are all quite substantial … at least compared to a human.

Medieval manor house - black and white photo
Medieval manor house

This medieval manor house was three storeys high and even the remaining ruins are quite impressive. In this image, you can see the scale of the building compared to the oak tree immediately behind it.

Victorian railway bridge - black and white photo
Victorian railway bridge

This Victorian railway bridge has been built very tall to accomodate the contours of the ground here on the banks of the River Derwent, so that the railway could be constructed on a given level. You can see the scale of the bridge compared to my son who is walking underneath it.

The Broad Oak - black and white photo
The Broad Oak

The Broad Oak gives its name to the farm on which the tree stands and what a magnificent ancient oak tree it is too. The scale of the tree can be deduced from the other trees and bushes in its vicinity.

Whitburn windmill - black-white photo
Whitburn windmill

Whitburn windmill is a restored 18th century flour mill and now it towers above the new housing nearby.

Do take a look at the large subjects others have found for Cee’s Black & White Photo Challenge this week.

J Peggy Taylor

Abbey Road sign in black and white

Having fun with signs for Cee’s Fun Foto Challenge

First, I shall say, “Thank you so much!” to Cee for choosing my Fun Foto Challenge entry last week on bridges, as one of her Featured Bloggers πŸ˜€

This week I decided to have fun collecting some new photos of signs for Cee’s Fun Foto Challenge. A day of appointments in places at opposite ends of our valley gave me an ideal opportunity.

Under Offer sign under a tree
Under Offer sign … under a tree

My son spotted this one first. “Under Offer”, the sign declared boldly. “That’s not under offer,” said my son, “it’s definitely under a tree!” Oh ha ha! Very funny!

We have no idea what is or was “Under Offer”, but I doubt very much that it was referring to either the tree or the mid-high street small oasis of greenery to which the tree belonged. By chance, the blue-fronted shop in the background does happen to be an estate agents office. Now that could be a possible source of an “Under Offer” sign … however, the truth remains a mystery πŸ˜€

Abbey Road sign and other signs in antique shop window
Signs in the Consett antique shop

A little further along Consett’s Middle Street is an antique shop. In the window, the “Abbey Road” sign stopped me in my tracks. For many of us, Abbey Road immediately makes us think of the legendary 60s group, The Beatles.

I don’t know if this is a genuine road sign, somehow acquired from the leafy London road made famous by The Beatles album of the same name. The “Abbey Road” sign was accompanied by a “Baker Street” sign – Sherlock Holmes’ home territory. Seeing both these road signs together made me wonder whether it’s more likely that these signs are perhaps replicas rather than originals.

The hand-stencilled “Jewellery Repairs” sign in this window struck me as rather quaint and in keeping with being in an antique shop. Nowadays, we tend to see signs that have been printed off a computer (like my next sign) rather than being hand-made.

Door-signs Blaydon Primary Care Centre
Door signs at Blaydon Primary Care Centre

There are three signs on the main entrance door at the Blaydon Primary Care Centre. Two are fairly standard signs for doors of this type, but the third sign always makes me smile πŸ™‚ The term “heely shoes” is apparently a colloquialism that even I, as a native of this area, hadn’t encountered before I saw it on this door sign.

In case you’re wondering, ‘heely shoes’ will refer to shoes with stiletto-type heels or similar. As this building doubles as a sports centre with swimming pool as well as a health centre, I imagine that there could be a risk of skidding or slipping on wet floors in some areas, hence the very sensible decision to prohibit the wearing of high heeled shoes.

A1North - road signs
A1 North – road signs

After our day’s appointments we headed for our bus home. The view from the bus stop includes several road signs (you can make this image a little larger to see the details by clicking on it) : the green “A1 North” indicating this is a slip road onto the A1 major trunk road for drivers travelling north of Newcastle; the yellow sign with black arrow and triangle, I believe indicates an emergency diversion route for this major road; a little further up the slip road is the “No stopping on the motorway” sign – a blue circle in a red circle with a red cross.

My favourite sign is the last of this group of road signs – the white sign with the pictures in red circles. The pictures indicate that no farm tractors or road digging machines are allowed on this major road during the hours specified in the lower sign – 7-9am and 4-6pm Monday to Friday – that is the hours commuters generally call ‘the rush hour’ when everyone is frantically trying to get to work or school on time, or trying to get home afterwards.

If you can imagine being stuck behind a farm tractor or road digger while trying to rush to work in the morning, you can probably understand why prohibiting these vehicles at peak times may a good plan. However, it always makes me smile because during the rush hour along this stretch of road, the traffic stands nose to tail, edging occasionally along the road at a snail’s pace. I’m not sure it matters much whether you’re stuck behind a farm tractor, a bus or the most powerful car on the road … you’ll still be standing still πŸ˜€

I hope some of my signs make you smile too πŸ™‚

Do take a look at Cee’s Fun Foto Challenge this week for more signs.

J Peggy Taylor

Cee's Fun Foto Challenge Badge

Victorian rural railway bridge in snow monochrome

Bridges for Cee’s Fun Foto Challenge

Living in a landscape of rivers and old railways means we have lots of bridges in our area. Here are some of my favourite bridge pictures that I’ve previously featured on my blog – from Tyneside icons to forgotten relics – for Cee’s Fun Foto Challenge this week.

Bridges in our woods

The old railway path and railway bridge in the woods where we often walk. I think in this misty shot it looks like something from a Victorian mystery story!
The old railway path and railway bridge in the woods where we often walk. This railway was a mineral line carrying coal from local mines. I think in this misty shot it looks like something from a Victorian mystery story!
Stone-built culvert in monochrome
This stone-built culvert was part of an old stream crossing in our woods.
Industrial inspirations - bridge to the old colliery yard
Industrial archaeology in the woodland undergrowth. Remnants of the bridge that carried laden coal tubs from the mine over the stream into the old colliery yard. Green mounds mark the brick bases of the bridge arch.

Bridges in our valley

The new Butterfly Bridge, River Derwent, Gateshead
The new Butterfly Bridge over the River Derwent in Gateshead. The old bridge was destroyed by the floods in 2008.
The Nine Arches viaduct that carried the Derwent Valley Railway. The C2C cycle route follows the Derwent Valley Railway Path through this part of Gateshead's countryside.
The Nine Arches viaduct carried the Derwent Valley Railway. This wonderful piece of Victorian engineering was built because the Earl of Strathmore would not allow the railway to pass over his land at Gibside.

Tyneside bridge icons

Newcastle Tyne Bridge, the High Level Bridge, the Swing Bridge and the Queen Elizabeth II Bridge, all crossing the River Tyne
Newcastle’s Tyne Bridge, the High Level Bridge, the Queen Elizabeth II Metro Bridge and the Swing Bridge, all crossing the River Tyne
Gateshead Millenium Bridge
The award-winning Gateshead Millenium Bridge – the newest bridge over the River Tyne between Newcastle and Gateshead’s quaysides.

Do take a look at the bridges others have found for Cee’s Fun Foto Challenge this week.

Cee's Fun Foto Challenge - Featured Blogger

J Peggy Taylor

Cee's Fun Foto Challenge Badge

Favourite walks - beechwood path

Favourite Walks for Cee’s Fun Foto Challenge

We love to walk. Our favourite walks take us on modern multi-user routes, along coastal paths and old railways, but we also love to scramble along leafy, muddy woodland tracks in our own local woods. For Cee’s Fun Foto Challenge this week, we are sharing walks, both indoors and out. All of the photos I have chosen, feature places we love to walk.

My header shot is of our beautiful local beechwoods. We know and love this path in all seasons and all weathers. Its surface can be dry and sandy or distinctly soggy, with deep puddles and rivulets cascading between the tree roots. Its popularity with cyclists in recent years has prompted the addition of limestone gravel to some parts of the path to keep it passable in wet conditions.

Favourite walks - the aerial walkway, Sunderland Winter Gardens
The aerial walkway, Sunderland Winter Gardens

I thought I add one indoor walk for this challenge. Sunderland Winter Gardens are like a little oasis in the heart of the city centre. This high level aerial walkway is a wonderful vantage point from which to view the impressive tropical plants in the Winter Gardens. For Cee’s Fun Foto Challenge last week, I showed you the fountains you can see both inside and out at Sunderland’s miniature-tropical-rainforest-in-a-giant-greenhouse.

Favourite walks - Whitburn Coastal Path
Walking along Whitburn Coastal Path to Souter Lighthouse

At least once every Summer, we head out to the North East coast and walk along South Shields Leas to Souter Lighthouse or walk the Whitburn Coastal Path. Both of these paths are maintained by the National Trust along this beautiful and fascinating – but also the most dangerous – stretch of England’s coast.

When we aren’t walking coastal paths, we love to walk along old railways. Here in North East England, we have many old railway tracks that have been turned into a connected set of footpaths.

Favourite Walks - Lintzgreen Station, Derwent Walk
Walking through Lintzgreen Station on the Derwent Walk

Here we’re walking through one of the old stations that stood along the Derwent Valley Railway which carried passengers and freight through our leafy green valley last century when coal mines and steel furnaces were the main employers. You can see the train platforms on either side of the track. My son had evidently found something interesting and had climbed up onto the platform from where passengers would have travelled northbound through to Newcastle. This footpath is now known as the Derwent Walk, a multi-user route that forms part of the C2C long-distance cycle route, and which links up to the Waskerley Way, below.

Favourite walks - Waskerley Way
Heading out across the heather moors on the Waskerley Way

The Waskerley Way railway path takes us out over the heather moors and is another favourite walk of ours in Summer when the purple heather blooms. I love walking this path but you have to go prepared – this is real moorland and the weather can change suddenly. A warm Summer’s day in our valley can mean a cool and brisk breeze on the moor and passing showers envelop you – you literally have your head in the cloud! Warm clothing and waterproofs are definitely a good plan.

Favourite walks - going to our camp
Walking to our camp in the woods

Not all of our favourite walks are on wide and well-defined footpaths. We also love leafy woodland tracks. A few years ago we built a camp entirely from natural materials and there I taught the boys to cook outdoors over a small wood fire. The camp was deep in the woods, so the walk to reach it required a bit of scrambling through brambles and steep-sided streams. Here we are taking the narrow track along the top of the stream gorge on our way to cook at the camp.

Favourite Walks - going home along the old railway
Going home along the old railway in our woods

Wherever we may roam, we always return home, and quite often the walk home is along the old railway in our local woods. Just like our favourite beechwood path that we saw at the beginning of this post, we have walked the old railway in every type of weather – sun, rain, fog, frost, ice and snow. We knew all its muddy puddles. We sometimes even sledged along it on the way home from school, years ago when the boys were young.

When the railway was very dry, you could still see the impressions in the ground where the old wooden railway sleepers had lain when it carried the mineral line that took the coal from our village to Newcastle. I’m slightly sad that this Spring the old railway has been resurfaced with gravel to make a modern multi-user route. However, with the increasing rainfall due to climate change, the puddles in some places were becoming so deep and wide, a boat was almost needed! So perhaps the new path surface was the only practical solution πŸ™‚

Do take a look at the walks others have shared for Cee’s Fun Foto Challenge this week.

J Peggy Taylor

Cee's Fun Foto Challenge Badge

Steps and Stairs for Cee’s Black and White Photo Challenge

Stone stile, Whitburn
Stone stile at Whitburn

As a keen countryside footpath explorer, I have climbed over many stiles in my life. Most of them tend to be of the wooden rickety type. But I think this one we found a couple of Summers ago at Whitburn is magnificent … and definitely the most sturdily built one I have ever traversed! There was no need to perch precariously on the top of this fine sandstone edifice. I was able to stand atop and gaze out across the meadow to the North Sea beyond, completely without any risk of the stile giving way beneath me!

Steps to castle entrance, Newcastle Castle Keep
Steps to main entrance of Newcastle’s Castle Keep

Regular visitors to my blog may have seen my photo of the view looking down from the top of Newcastle’s Norman Castle Keep for Cee’s Fun Foto Challenge last week. This time we are looking up the steep stone main steps to the ‘front door’ of the Castle Keep. Can you spot the silhouettes of our two boys in the dark doorway? πŸ˜€

Castle Stairs, Newcastle upon Tyne
The Castle Stairs to the Quayside

When are outdoor stone steps called ‘stairs’? When they lead down the steep slope from the old medieval town onto Newcastle’s Quayside. There are several sets of ‘stairs’ in this vicinity. My two photos show the Castle Stairs and the Long Stairs (known in Newcastle’s Geordie dialect as the ‘Lang Stairs’). The Castle Stairs and the Long Stairs between them lead from the Castle Keep right down to the Quayside.

Another set of stairs that lead from the Castle grounds is the more oddly-named ‘Dog Leap Stairs’. Apparently ‘Dog Leap’ is an historical reference to β€˜a narrow slip of ground between houses’. This set of stairs has two claims to fame. Firstly, according to local legend, when the well-to-do Bessie Surtees eloped with the coal merchant’s son, John Scott (later to become Lord Chancellor of England) in 1772, they escaped on horseback up the Dog Leap Stairs. Unfortunately, I don’t seem to have a photo of these stairs, but if you can imagine, this is a long set of steep, stone steps – on horseback? That sounds as if it would be a hair-raising experience! The Dog Leap Stairs are also mentioned in the song ‘Down to the Waterline’ by the band, Dire Straits.

Castle Stairs, Newcastle Quayside
The foot of the Long Stairs at Newcastle Quayside

At the foot of the Long Stairs is one of the oldest buildings in Newcastle. This timber-framed building dates from the 15th century. In the 19th century it was owned by a family called ‘Cooper’ and was an actual cooperage (barrel-making!). It retained the name, “The Cooperage”, but I knew it as a quaint old public house in the closing decades of last century. The pub closed down in 2009 and it seems, sadly, the building is no longer in use.

Do take a look at what others have found for Cee’s Black and White Photo Challenge this week on the theme of Steps and Stairs.

J Peggy Taylor

Cee's Black & White Featured Blogger Badge