Tuesday, November 12, 2013


Newcastle Rural Walk Part 1. Jesmond Dene.

Newcastle is a huge bustling, vibrant city. Like most cities it has many places of interest and beauty and some run down areas in need of some sprucing up.
How wonderful to be able to enjoy a country walk in the middle of it.
There are many open spaces; but perhaps the most beautiful on a sunny autumn day is Jesmond Dene.
Jesmond Dene was  a project for William Armstrong in the 1850s.
He bought the house (now a hotel).

He then set about transforming his land from the straggly woodland round the Ouseburn into something more planned.He planted exotic trees, laid paths and built bridges.
The people of Newcastle could explore his grounds twice weekly for an admission charge which was donated to the local hospital.
He presented the park to Newcastle Corporation in 1884 for the benefit of the people.

We entered Jesmond Dene just below Armstrong's house.
Countryside, seemingly miles from the city.

The Ouseburn waterfall, created by Armstrong.

Dating back to the 13th Century, the mill was occupied for three or four generations by the Freeman family who used it as a flour mill. Ownership then passed to a man called Pigg who ground spoiled grain into pollards, a kind of feed for pigs. The lease next transferred to a Mr Charlton who used the mill for grinding flint which was barrelled and carted to a pottery near the mouth of the Ouseburn, and the remains can still be seen of the cobbled path along which the flint was hauled; the ground flint was used in a process of putting a glaze on the finished pottery. The watermill was an overshot mill late in its life span and the last waterwheel was removed in 1978 for rebuilding and eventual replacement. 

1910 postcard showing the mill as a dwelling house.

Stream (Ouseburn) in the woods.

Clare on a bridge.

Armstrong acquired many buildings when he purchased the land, including a ruined chapel built in the 1200s.
St Mary's Chapel was (and still is) a place of pilgrimage and is the oldest Christian building within Newcastle.

It was quite a climb up to the chapel, high above the Ouseburn.
We passed Armstrong's banqueting hall on the way. And the tree planted by the Princess of Wales in 1884.

The path is wider here. We are approaching the visitors' centre and cafe, alongside Pet's Corner.
We were walking on a sunny day during half term week and we were not surprised to find lots of people at this point.
We decided to wait for a cup of tea. The cafe was so hot and crowded.
But we did enjoy the animals.

We left Jesmond Dene when we reached Armstrong Bridge - high over the Ouseburn.

Built by Armstrong in 1878.
It is said that his wife wanted the bridge because she was sorry for the horses struggling up and down the slopes with wagons.

On Sundays an arts and crafts fair is held on the bridge.

We may have left Jesmond Dene, but our rural walk continued as we entered Armstrong Park and later Jesmond Vale.