Saturday, November 16, 2013


Newcastle Walk. Part 3. Jesmond Vale

We had walked through Jesmond Dene and Armstrong Park. We continued onwards to Jesmond Vale.
The Ouseburn continued to flow through woodland between the steep sides of the valley.
By this stage the landscape was not managed to create anything formal.
We were in a more industrial land, which had once been home to thousands.
Jesmond Vale is  a lost village, demolished in the 1960s in favour of clean tower blocks.

This looks quaint and picturesque to our eyes, but I have read that conditions were unhealthy.

Vale House.

Our walk took us down a wide track. This had once been the main route for land traffic by the Ouseburn out to the River Tyne.

We were ambling down when a man came and almost demanded that we come and learn some local history.
The Ouseburn was once a vital waterway for carrying goods.
The boats took coal down river and maybe then took it down south. They returned with flint - maybe from our own Sussex hills.
The flint was crushed and used in the pottery industry.
There have been many renowned pottery factories in the area. The Maling family made their pottery on the banks of The Ouseburn.
Crushing flint must be hard. An old water mill was used for the job to grind the flints into a powder.
Until a certain George Stephenson (he of The Rocket locomotive) came to Jesmond Vale and installed a steam engine into the mill.
The flint mill has long gone. But you can see how the banks of the river were reinforced to act as a docking point for boats.

Our teacher was as fascinating as the history.
He was amateur historian, artist, wood worker and all round interesting man.
He had a house, with his good wife, above the river.
Down below he had his "shed"

I can't help wondering if maybe this den was converted from old cottages.

These are flint mill cottages.

The Angel of the North.

A man's den is  private, or so I believed.
But we were invited in.

He said it has been his shed for 8 years began on Hallowee'n 2008, when it was used for a spooky rave up. The next day they returned to finish the beer and thus a home from home was formed.
He has Sky TV and a music centre and it's warm and cosy.
I don't know his name - but I thank him for giving us one of those special times that cannot be planned for.
We told him of our lunch plans.
"Oh, you ought to go to The Blue Bell for lunch"  was his reaction.
And we did.
We retraced our steps through the bare land where the flint mill had been.....yes there were traces of it, but I couldn't be sure about any of it.

This was our view as we approached the back way.
There had been 3 pubs in the lost village of Jesmond Vale and only The Blue Bell remains.
The proprietors pride themselves on their food - everything fresh and home cooked.
Nothing for main meals is bought in frozen and heated it up. It is all cooked in their kitchens from scratch.
And they give people so much!
We would never have found this pub on our own and probably wouldn't have thought of using it.

And the fajitas, with spicy meat and beans was mine with loads of salad and dressings.

We had quite a climb after eating that lot. Slowly does it!

The Ouseburn disappeared through a culvert, but we had to climb up and over.

We were heading for The Biscuit Factory. No, we were not already hungry - our diet would art and culture.